This is our ninth week. I love sharing with you all and hope that you are enjoying Strong Coffee to Red Wine. I would love any feedback you have to make this blog a “go to” spot each week.
Intense, Rich, Dark, Black Hot Coffee
Coffee gets me out of bed in the morning. It keeps me going all day. I am not sure what the world would be like without this beverage. I am generally a pot a day kinda guy. Sometimes I need more but rarely any less. There are days I feel exactly like the towel on the right. It is from Etsy (so is the mug) OMG! When I saw that I had to laugh and had to buy. That is why, as I mentioned in my very first post, that Gary and I have 4 coffee makers with three on the counter ready for whatever the day brings. I should also point out that this does not please my doctor in the least. All that caffeine… she said. So she and I compromised and I drink half caff. It still has to be dark roast and boldly brewed (the water drips slower than regular brew).
I actually like Starbucks French Roast but Gary finds it a tad too bitter so for the caffeinated portion we settle on Kirkland Sumatra Whole Bean. It sells for $13-16 for three pounds so it’s a great deal. We used to buy Starbucks Decaf Espresso Roast Whole Bean until I discovered one of my favorite online food sources that I shopped at for the best dried papaya and other dried fruits also sells great coffee. It’s Nuts.com. In addition to the decaf coffee, I have started buying my gluten free flours, palm sugar and other products I like to use. They are an awesome company.
Back to the decaf.
Gary likes variety and I do not like to pay for shipping so we are on a subscription program where I buy $50 worth of coffee and other stuff and they ship it at regular intervals. Because I hit the $50 threshold I get free shipping and Gary gets a variety of roasts.
My fave is the Copenhagen Roast but we also get French Roast, Spanish Roast and Italian Roast. Each roast is whole bean and in a 1 pound bag. All these roasts sell for $11.99 a pound which is a steal of a price for a high quality decaf bean. (a dollar less for caffeinated). I have not tried any but they also sell seven Ultra Premium Coffees like Jamaican Blue Mountain, Hawaiian Kona and others that sell for $13 to $60 per pound. This online store does not take itself too seriously and the packaging is simple and the website is full of “tongue in cheek” humor. This site is one of my all time favorite online finds.
30 Minute Bolognese Hack
I LOVE Bolognese sauce but never make it because takes forever to do it properly. Most recipes say that it has to cook for 3-4 hours and most days I do not have that kind of time to watch a pot simmer. On Monday, I was craving pasta with red sauce. It never dawned on me to make a bolognese because of the above stated time constraint until I started pulling out my “gotta make it fast” ingredients and a light bulb went off in my head. I wondered what would happen if I use the already cooked Italian Style Turkey (Gary does not eat beef) Meatballs that I have in the fridge as the meat in the sauce. Note: I am sure it would also be great with a beef/veal/pork meatball so use what you like and have used before.
But think about this… a Bolognese is a meat sauce cooked low and slow to build intensity of flavor. But in 25 minutes the flavors of any ground meat would be bland as there would not be enough time for the spices, herbs and meat to meld together. So by using the pre-cooked Italian seasoned meatballs that flavor is already there. I was not sure but I had to give it a try.
A fantastic jar of sauce
I make a great red sauce from scratch using canned San Marzano tomatoes but it also needs hours to simmer. So when I don’t have time I start with my favorite jarred marinara sauce – La Famiglia DelGrosso Sunday Marinara. I have searched the world over for a GREAT jarred sauce and when I found this one and it took me back to eating on Mulberry Street in NYC or Taylor Street in Chicago, I knew I had found “the one”. You can use your favorite jar sauce but if you have not tried this one you are missing out. It is available all over the country. It is a premium brand that sells for about $7 a jar but I always load up when it’s on sale.
OK, this is what I did.
I put the 2- 12 ounce packages of the meatballs in a large bowl and using my potato masher, I mashed them up until it looked like like a minced ground meat. Note: I imagine that you could use a food processor but I did not want to pulverize. Place your 5 quart dutch oven on your stove top under medium high heat. Once the pan is heated add a thin layer of good olive oil to the pan. Allow the oil to heat up a bit and then add in the crushed meatballs. The oil should sizzle. Once you have them all in the pan do not stir or move the meat at all until bottom layer caramelizes (gets crispy).
You gotta add this next ingredient
While caramelizing add in a teaspoon of anchovy paste. It adds an umami layer to the sauce that makes it have a much more intense flavor. It will not make the sauce taste fishy. You can add more garlic or other spices to your sauce at this point (or not). I added two additional cloves of garlic and a small handful of oregano.
Once the bottom layer has a good caramelized layer you can blend in the anchovy paste and any other ingredients you added. If the meat is stuck to the bottom of the pan, don’t worry but turn the heat down a bit. Do not scrape it off the pan, just stir above the stuck portion. Now add in the can of tomato paste and stir into the loose meat. After the paste is stirred in add the 26 ounce jarred DelGrosso Marinara Sauce and the 28 ounce can of San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes juice and all, but be sure to crush the tomatoes in your hands as you go. Note: You can use a cheaper brand of tomato if you like but this is a great sauce tomato.
Blend it all together. Adjust the heat to get serious bubbling action at which point turn the heat back down to a simmer. Simmer covered with a steam vent for about 25 minutes stirring at least twice in that time period. If it did stick to the bottom of the pan do not leave a vent so that the steam can build up and loosen the caramelized, meaty goodness. Once unstuck allow to vent again. Serve with a pasta of your choice and top with parmesan.
Is it just like a 4 hour simmered Bolognese?, no. But it is damn good and perfect for a midweek meal. So far everyone who has tasted it was shocked at how good it tasted. And it was done in 30 minutes with plenty of leftovers because it makes a lot of sauce.
I used a tagliatelle because I love the wide noodle on a bolognese.
Note: Yes you can allow this to simmer longer if you like but it is ready after 25 minutes. Of course, it will taste better the next day… what sauce doesn’t.
PDF of Recipe: 30 Minute Bolognese Hack
What to do with leftover Krispy Kreme Donuts
A friend stopped by the other day to hang out for a bit and for whatever hateful reason she brought a dozen fresh, warm Krispy Kreme Glazed Donuts. Geez, I hated and loved her all in the same moment. I love, love, love Krispy Kreme Donuts but I never go there because I can eat 6 before I know it and then feel like I am about to go into a sugar coma and can’t move for at least an hour. So she and I paced ourselves because we knew this was a real treat.
Fresh and Warm
Krispy Kreme Glazed are great when they are fresh and warm. And a perfect pairing with a cup of coffee. They are still good once cooled for about two maybe three hours later. But after that they get nasty. Have you also noticed that as they cool they shrink? It is totally bizarre but very true. Anyway, we had some leftover and while I could have thrown them out, I grilled them instead. You heard right. I remembered something that my mom used to do when we were kids and I remember fighting over the leftovers with my sisters. So save your leftovers…
…prepare yourself for a treat.
Slice each donut down the middle so you end up with a top and bottom (like a bagel or english muffin). Melt a generous portion of butter in a hot skillet. Don’t be shy, you are already eating leftover Krispy Kremes so what is a few hundred more calories. You really want enough butter so that it can soak into the interior of donut. Place each donut half cut side down in the melted butter. Now be sure the heat under the skillet is not too hot as they can burn easy with all that sugar.
breakfast treat or decadent dessert?
Leave them be until the donut easily flattens when you touch with a spatula (kinda like there is no air in the tire) and the bottom is golden brown. Remove from heat and eat immediately. Use a fork cause the sugar is hot and can burn you. This can be a sweet breakfast treat or place each half in an ice cream dish and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and your fave sauce and you have an awesome dessert. Of course either way you need coffee with a grilled leftover Krispy Kreme.
Now go walk three miles to burn it all off.
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These wines are ones we tried but we are not fans. However there is a wine for every palate and you may want to give it a try if you like this sort of wine.
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