All-time favorites, from my favorites.
Many people may look back on their wedding and remember it as a single day of excitement, getting ready, hugs and kisses, special reunions. But ours was an entire weekend that I will never forget -- one that brought my family, my best friends, and my in-laws to one lake for four days. Everywhere I turned there was someone from a different part of my life, who knew me in a very different way. My girlfriends made garlands with my sisters, my mother, and my aunt on the patio. My dad went for a boat ride with my father-in-law and my brother-in-law. My college roommate danced with my husband's cousin. It was all a bizarre, overwhelming, and truly incredible blessing.
And I wouldn't have it any other way. Why have just one wedding day when you can spend an entire wedding weekend celebrating the love, family, and friendships that have made you and your husband who you are, and who make up the foundation of what your marriage will become? I could relive that weekend over and over again. Of course, the celebration had to end eventually, but I was lucky enough to bring some souvenirs with me.
The night before the wedding, at our rehearsal dinner, my girlfriends presented me with a recipe book. A homemade recipe book of homemade dishes, passed along from grandmothers and mothers, Spanish house moms and aunts, college roommates and high school best friends. These are the recipes that my friends grew up with, that got them through late-night cram sessions and soccer practice and bar exams, that helped them make new homes in places like Guatemala, New York, Spain, and Denver. Each recipe has a story. Each recipe makes me smile. And hungry.
I let Murdo choose the first recipe we would share here. The one he picked wasn't passed down from a grandmother in the old country, with secret codes and special seasonings. It's an Emeril recipe, for spaghetti bolognese, and in the recipe book is labeled in all caps: MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE PASTA RECIPE. - DI. Well, if you know Di, you know that little message is saying a lot. And that's enough for me, really.
As as I read over the ingredients and the instructions, I quickly realized that this recipe and this dish are so very Murdo and I, and the perfect meal for a crisp Sunday afternoon in October. It brings together vegetables, garlic, sausage, beef, bacon, and tomatoes into one pot, to simmer on the stove for an hour or so while we go about our Sunday business. Murdo watched football, and I played with cameras and photos. At the end, in goes a pat of butter and a glug of cream. It's a meal that sticks to the ribs and makes you very happy for lazy Sundays with your husband and your cat.
Thank you Di, Leslie, Jenna, Krissy, Marci, Tori, Laurie, Nick, and to all who contributed to these touching, mouth-watering recipes. Each recipe is like sharing a favorite meal with my best friend -- whether I'm sitting at the dinner table with the Elkins family, or hanging out on the couch with Jenna and a bowl of chickpeas. Here's to a lifetime of cooking, eating, and smiling together!
Diana's All-Time Favorite Pasta, or Spaghetti Bolognese (from Emeril Lagasse)
I halved this recipe and cooked the sauce in my Le Creuset dutch oven. It ended up thickening plenty after just 1 hour, rather than 1 and 1/2.
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces bacon or pancetta, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
3/4 cup diced carrots
3/4 cup diced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pound ground beef or ground veal
1/2 pound pork sausage, removed from the casings, or ground pork
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes and their juice
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup beef or chicken stock or broth
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 pound spaghetti
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until browned and the fat is rendered, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the beef and sausages, and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, to deglaze the pan and remove any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan, and until half of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and their juices, the tomato sauce, beef broth, and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the sauce is thickened and flavorful, about 1 1/2 hours. Add the cream, butter, and parsley, stir well, and simmer for 2 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and adjust the seasoning, to taste. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm until ready to serve.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and return the water to a low boil. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent the noodles from sticking, until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander.
Add the pasta to the sauce, tossing to coat. Add 1/2 cup of the cheese and toss to blend. Divide among pasta bowls and serve with the cheese passed tableside. (Alternatively, toss only the desired portion of pasta with a bit of the sauce at a time in a serving bowl, reserving the remainder for another meal.)