Another Bolognese Sauce

This is David Rocco’s recipe that he uses for the lasagna-my previous post. If you are just making it for pasta, you should reduce the tomato puree to 3 cups. Makes one large pan of lasagna-three or four layers.

1 onion, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

3 T. olive oil

2 T. unsalted butter

1/2# ground beef

1/2# ground pork

1 cup white wine

1 cup milk

5 cups tomato puree

salt and pepper

Heat  a saucepan with olive oil and add the finely chopped vegetables. Slowly brown and saute vegetables. Add butter and ground beef and pork. Cook on medium high heat until meat is browned. Stir in the wine and cook until evaporated. Add milk, which gives a creamy texture and will soften the meat as well. Add tomato puree and salt and simmer a few hours over low heat, stirring occasionally.

The best Lasagna

I made David Rocco’s Lasagna from Dolce Vita and it is fantastic. You layer bolognese, bechamel sauce, and mozzarella cheese, finishing the last layer with grated Parmesan. You could use other cheeses, like taleggio and/or ricotta. You could also add a layer of spinach or other greens. I used Molto Mario’s bolognese sauce (see December 8 entry). It is better to use the next recipe I post that is perfect for this lasagna! This recipe makes a large rectangular pan. I made a half batch and it worked out fine. My rule of thumb with lasagna is to make it a day ahead or at least a morning ahead-there are so many dishes involved that it is good to get it out of the way!


6 cups of bolognese sauce

1 # lasagna sheets (see note below-I used cooked noodles)

3 cups bechamel sauce (4 T. butter, 4 T. flour, 4 c. hot milk)

3 cups grated mozzarella

freshly grated parmesan

Bechamel Sauce

4 T. butter

4 T. flour

4 cups milk

Heat up milk, just to before a boil. Set aside. Melt butter, stir in flour with a whisk and cook a few minutes. Add milk slowly, whisking until absorbed.

Layer pan with a little bolognese, layer of lasagna noodles (the author says you can use dry lasagna noodles which I did not try because my bolognese sauce is not very tomatoey) bolognese sauce, drizzle béchamel, sprinkle with mozzarella. Repeat 3 or 4 times and the last layer should be pasta, bolognese, parmesan. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes. I baked my smaller version covered. Let rest before serving.

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Another great cookie from the Little Flower cookbook. The author uses browned butter* in the recipe that adds some nuttiness. The cookies need to be refrigerated or frozen before baking.

3/4 cup brown butter (*boil butter stirring after the first foam, let foam a second time and the solids will be a deep brown. Remove from heat and cool before using.)

Brown butter for Ginger cookie

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

1/4 cup molasses

2 t. freshly grated ginger

2 cups flour

2 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

1 t. ground ginger

1 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. ground cloves

1 T. finely chopped candied ginger

1/2 cup sugar, for rolling the cookies before baking

Ginger Cookies

In mixer, beat the brown butter with both sugars until creamy and pale. Mix in the egg, molasses and fresh ginger. Scrape down sides of the mixing bowl. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, ground spices and candied ginger. Add the flour spice mixture to the egg mixture and mix just until combined. Form dough into 1 1/2″ balls and roll in sugar mixture. Lightly flatten balls with your palm. Chill thoroughly. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, until the cookies start to crack and the center is still soft.

Split Pea Soup

This recipe is from my sister, Meg and it is the best pea soup I have ever made! The texture of the soup is perfect! Makes about 3 quarts. If the soup is too thick, add water or sherry to get the right consistency.

Combine, bring to a boil. Cover, simmer 2 hours

Split Pea Soup

2 cups split peas

6 sliced carrots

1 sliced shallot

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 large chopped onion

1 ham bone

1 quart chicken stock

4 cups water

3 T. parsley

1/2 t. each basil, marjoram, oregano, thyme

1/4 t. black pepper

Add more water, if needed. After simmering, add 2 t. salt.


This recipe is from my husband’s family and is German. They are a crescent shaped nut cookie that is rolled in cinnamon sugar, but can also be rolled in powdered sugar. They are very similar to the Mexican Wedding cookie. Very easy and fast to make. I roll the cookies into 1″ or so balls or a sausage shape and then form them into a crescent shape around my finger.


4 oz. butter, softened

4 T. powdered sugar

1 cup flour

1 cup ground nuts-pecans, walnuts or almonds

1/2 t. vanilla

cinnamon sugar to roll cookies in while hot

Preheat oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Add flour and nuts and roll in to rounds and then crescent shape. Bake 20 minutes. Makes 15 walnut size cookies

Binx’s Christmas Cookies

My great aunt gave us each a box of these delicious Christmas cookies every year! Everyone of us would consume the entire box, the size of a small gift box, within hours of opening them on Christmas morning! I usually decorate them with colored sugars and red hots but did not have any so they are simply frosted and ready to pop into your mouth! Makes about 60, depending on the size of the cookie cutters you are using. Note-I am going to try this recipe with 2 c. of flour as I think it will reroll easier.

Binx's Christmas cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 t. vanilla

2 eggs, well beaten

2 1/2 cups flour


2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

2 T. butter, softened

1 t. vanilla

3-4 T. warm water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar and vanilla. Add beaten eggs in two batches, beating well until combined. Add flour and thoroughly mix. Roll out dough on a lightly floured board (it helps to divide the dough into two batches). Roll it as thinly as you can and still be able to remove the cookie to the cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until edges are lightly browned. Ice while warm.

Combine all icing ingredients and beat well.

Quinoa Tabbouleh

A fabulous new restaurant opened in Denver called True Food and the cookbook is full of great recipes. I am a huge fan of quinoa and this is a delicious fall salad with beets, pomegranates and marcona almondsQuinoa tabbouleh


1# beets

1-2 cups red quinoa (depending on how much quinoa you like)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 garlic cloves, mashed and minced

1/2 t. salt

pinch of red pepper flakes

1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

3 scallions, chopped

2 oz. arugula

1/2 pomegranate, seeds removed and reserved

1/4 cup chopped Marcona almonds (or any almond-Marcona are crispy)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse beets and wrap in foil, bake for one hour, until easily pierced with a knife. Cool, peel and dice and set aside.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add rinsed and drained quinoa and simmer, covered for 20 minutes, until the quinoa is dry and fluffy. Cool.

In a salad bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes. Add the beets, quinoa, parsley, mint, scallions and arugula and toss well to combine. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and almonds.


Molto Mario’s Ragu Bolognese Sauce

This is the easiest recipe for a great , meaty bolognese sauce. I love that it only has tomato paste in it!

Mario's bolognese

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 carrot, finely, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 rib celery, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic sliced
  • 1 pound veal, ground
  • 1 pound pork, ground
  • 1/4 pound pancetta or slab bacon, ground
  • 1/2 tube tomato paste
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan reggiano, for grating


In a 6 to 8-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, and garlic and sweat over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent and soft but not browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the veal, pork, and pancetta and stir into the vegetables. Add the meat over high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking together until browned. Add the tomato paste, milk, and wine and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and remove from the heat.

When ready to use, the cooked pasta should be added to a saucepan with the appropriate amount of hot ragu Bolognese, tossed so that the pasta is evenly coated by the ragu.

Makes 8 cups.



For the pork:

  • 3 (5-inch) fresh marjoram sprigs
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled and quartered through the root end
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes (do not trim the fat)

For serving (optional):

  • Corn or flour tortillas
  • Guacamole
  • Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Lime wedges
  • Makes: 8 to 10 servings
  • Carnitas

Carnitas may seem like a complex Mexican dish to pull off, but really it only takes a little patience to perfect. Just toss a few ingredients into a pot and slow-cook the pork in its own flavorful broth. In a couple of hours, the broth reduces and the pork fries in the fatty juices left behind, resulting in crispy yet tender meat perfect for stuffing into tacos or burritos, or serving atop tostadas. This is a great recipe to make a day ahead as it takes time to reduce the water out of the pork and get to the frying in its juices.

 Special Equipment You’ll need cheesecloth and butcher’s twine for this recipe.

  1. Place the marjoram, garlic, coriander, and bay leaf in a small piece of cheesecloth and tie it tightly with butcher’s twine. Place the bundle in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot along with the onion and salt. Arrange the pork in a single layer and add enough water to just cover the meat. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Skim and discard any foam that floats to the surface using a large spoon. Simmer, skimming the surface and turning the pork pieces occasionally, until the meat is tender and just beginning to shred apart, about 2 1/2 hours. (You may need to adjust the heat to medium low to keep it at a simmer.)
  2. Remove and discard the herb packet and onion quarters. Increase the heat to medium high and cook until the remaining water evaporates and just the rendered fat coats the bottom of the pan. (This could take up to an hour.)Reduce the heat to low and let the meat fry in the fat, turning occasionally, until browned all over, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard any large pieces of unrendered fat and serve the carnitas in tacos, burritos, or tostadas with your desired toppings.

Pasta e Fagioli

This is the most wonderful soup recipe that my mother discovered in a magazine. It makes a lot and freezes well. I plan on serving it for a party soon with baguette, and a salad.

Serves 10 as a first course or 6 as a main course

Pasta e fagioli

3 tablespoons pure olive oil
3 to 4 ounces pancetta, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 cups (about 14 ounces) dried cranberry, borlotti, cannellini, or other small white beans, soaked overnight in water to cover, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups diced canned plum tomatoes, with juices
8 cups water or chicken broth, or as needed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound small shells, ditalini, or other small pasta shape
Extra virgin olive oil for finishing
Grated Parmesan for finishing

1. In a large soup kettle, warm the pure olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until it renders its fat and is golden, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the soaked beans, the tomatoes and their juices, the 8 cups water, and 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.

2. To give the soup more body, remove 2 or 3 large spoonfuls of beans and vegetables, place in a food processor or blender, and purée until smooth. Return the purée to the pot. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

3. Although you can cook the pasta directly in the soup, there is a danger of the soup scorching if the beans have been puréed. To avoid this, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, stir well, and cook until al dente, according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, add to the soup, and simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavors.

4. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls, and top each serving with a generous swirl of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of Parmesan, and a liberal dusting of black pepper. Serve at once.