The Cooking Chronicles: Italian-Inspired Comforts

I’m certain that with the simplifications made to recipes these days to help the beleaguered home cook, some of the authenticity could be lost. But for the most part, I don’t mind – so long as the dish still tastes good. Two recipes I tried recently were a good illustration of this truth, at both ends of the spectrum.

Ricotta Gnudi in Parmesan Broth

I’ve posted about many Giada de Laurentiis recipes before, and I will continue to do so. Part of that reason is because I have two of her cookbooks, but the other has to do with the fact that her recipes are accessible and straightforward. Her ricotta gnudi in parmesan broth is an example of this, especially because they worked out so much better than a very similar spinach and ricotta dumplings I made a few months back.

While the chicken stock simmered with parmesan, a bit of parmesan rind and pepper, I formed the gnudi. I probably ended up making them a little larger than she had originally intended, but they held together and cooked up nicely.

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Forming the gnudi

I was worried that they wouldn’t end up at all light and moist, but they turned out pretty tasty, even if they weren’t picture perfect. Served with the spicy, concentrated broth, it was comforting and something I would make again – for us, or for company.

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Ricotta gnudi in parmesan broth

Bolognese with Bacon & Stout

Mack and I had just been talking about bolognese when I flipped open the fall issue of Flavours magazine to a recipe for bolognese with bacon & stout. It seemed like fate.

Besides Guinness, which we don’t normally have on hand, the rest of the ingredients for the sauce were basic – ground beef from Nature’s Green Acres, bacon from Irvings, rosemary and onions from Kuhlmann’s and parsnips, celery and crushed tomatoes. It wasn’t the smartest recipe for a weeknight (between prep and cooking time, the sauce took over an hour and a half), but it would have been worth it if we enjoyed the final product.

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Bolognese with bacon & stout

Mack disagrees with me on this, but the parsnips were off-putting, so sweet and almost candy-like in the sauce. Carrots would have worked so much better. The stout also didn’t give the sauce the depth that we thought it might; there is a good reason why tradition calls for red wine.

I don’t mind trying new recipes – but of course, I always hope for an outcome similar to the one we achieved with the ricotta gnudi. Better luck next time!

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