By nature, I’m not a person that enjoys confrontation. Like any other person I enjoy having my own way if possible, but if it’s not or if someone else is being particularly stubborn, I consider myself as fairly easy-going and flexible.
This all changes when it’s Boxing Day sales time. These sales are a yearly highlight for The Sister and I, and there’s the ritual of the dawn wake up, dressing in a form-fitting outfit that’s tight yet modest enough for clothes to be tried on in the middle of a bustling department store floor, and driving bleary-eyed to the shops as we mentally formulate the best strategy of how to get what we need while avoiding the worst of the crowds.
I can say that after our first sale day on the 26th, I am now the proud owner of my first SLR, the Canon 100D – the smallest SLR ever. I’ve always been adverse to purchasing an SLR due to their colossal size making it difficult to transport and me fearful of dropping it, so this little baby that just fitted to my hand was perfect.
While I’ve been happy enough with my tiny, easy-to-stash-in-my-handbag-for-impromptu-meals-out compact Canon IXUS 130, it couldn’t give me what I needed in low-light settings. With so many restaurants having dim, romantic mood-lighting and it not being plausible for me to restrict my reviews to brunch and lunches only, I needed the upgrade. I spent most of the afternoon playing around with it and testing it out; as the best way of getting to know a camera is not by reading the instruction manual, but through practise. I made a nicoise salad in the evening and snapped a shot of some roast potato sexiness.
So look forward to some amazing new photos to come, lovelies 😉
Anyway, to the recipe of today. So I had finished my sale shopping and exhausted, I dropped by the supermarket for groceries. When hunting down some arborio rice, I passed the pasta sauces and couldn’t help but laugh at how a few years ago I was the type of person who was perfectly content with sauce from a jar and not adding anything more to it before consuming it.
I’m happy to say that I have since changed and now the only shortcuts I will take is boiling package pasta and using tinned tomatoes on occasion. I don’t eat much pasta nowadays as I’m trying to cut down on processed carbohydrates, but when I do I try and ensure that I pack in a load of vegetables and that the addition of lean meat will also give me a good kick of iron.
This recipe is another one from Valli Little’s Love to Cook and I enjoyed it immensely as it was incredibly easy and had such a kick of flavour. I did however, make a couple of modifications:
- The recipe states to use a celery stalk, however as I find celery tremendously abhorrent, I just substituted it with another carrot;
- Also, as I had chorizo on hand in the fridge, I just used them instead of buying other pork sausages. As chorizo already has a heady amount of garlic, I therefore cut down on the amount of garlic in the recipe;
- I had no fresh oregano on hand so used fresh basil from my herb patch instead.
Always feel free, with savoury recipes, to substitute as you like.
To serve 4-6, you will need:
- 1 onion, chopped;
- 2 carrots, chopped;
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped;
- 4-6 medium-sized basil leaves, chopped, plus extra to serve;
- 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes;
- 2 tablespoons olive oil;
- 500g chorizo sausages, casings removed;
- 500g lean pork mince;
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste;
- 200ml red wine;
- 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes;
- 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley;
- 500g rigatoni or other short dried pasta;
- Shaved parmesan, to serve.
Place onion, carrots, garlic, basil and chilli flakes in a food processor and whiz until finely chopped. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage meat and mince, then cook, breaking up lumps with a wooden spoon, for 3-4 minutes until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the vegetable mixture to the pan and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until it starts to soften.
Add the tomato paste and cook for one minute. Stir in the wine, then return the meat to the pan with the tomato and parsley. Bring to a simmer, then cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for one hour or until reduced. Ensure it is partially covered as it will spit and you will be cleaning up little orange splatters around your stovetop for the next hour.
Remove from heat. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a saucepan of boiling salted water according to packet instructions. Drain, reserving half a cup (125ml) of the cooking liquid.
Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to combine, adding a little reserved cooking liquid to loosen the sauce, if necessary. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and serve with shaved parmesan and extra basil.
Have a Happy New Year 2014, all! I hope you spend a beautiful evening with loved ones, whether they be friends or family, spending it as you like; whether it be cosied up at home not bothering to watch the fireworks at all, or dancing the night away amongst other revellers in the city. Personally, I craved something dramatically different this year and decided only a couple of weeks ago to spend New Year’s Eve in a different country entirely on my own. So I’m off on a plane this morning for a whirlwind four days in Singapore – the city that never stops eating!
This year has been a particularly challenging one for me and while I don’t believe in New Year resolutions, I’m aiming to make 2014 my year of taking more opportunities (and risks!) and making more time to spend with friends who I’ve lost contact with due to my hectic schedule over the last couple of years.
Whatever your goals for 2014 may be, go and get ’em 🙂