Tuscan Inspired Ragú – #TuscanyNowCookOff

Being a food blogger often presents you with opportunities to review products and enter competitions, and when such a task presents itself I’m only too happy to get involved. Having said that, I’ve come to adopt rather a casual approach to cooking. The thought of making everything over fussy and complicated doesn’t fill me with glee; in fact it makes me anxious at times. How can a self confessed foodie say this? Well, I’ve tried cooking many recipes and many variations of the same recipe and more often than not I find that simple is best. As long as you are not compromising on flavour and satisfaction, why wouldn’t you choose the easier recipe? Not only does it save you hours slaving in the kitchen, but quite often it saves you money too.
It’s not to say that I don’t like taking the time to cook up something delicious and spend a little cash being indulgent with food, especially where a competition is concerned, but sometimes I prefer recipes that are undemanding – especially on a Monday. Recently, I’ve become a slave to the clock, work has been busy and my social life, not that I’m complaining, seems to have flourished. All in all, it’s left me feeling exhausted and in need of the sort of food that can replace a loving embrace, if you get where I’m going with that – comfort food.

So the easy part is that I’ve made this recipe before and you can batch cook the ragú and freeze it for days when you feel like this, making it an incredibly quick supper. 
Although we’ve been lucky enough to have a gloriously sunny weekend, today has been all too gloomy and overcast for my liking. Incidentally, as I write, it has just beginning to rain. And, it’s weather like this that brings me back to the thought of comfort food. Today that comfort is in the form of a delicious rich Tuscan inspired ragú.
Ragú is perfect for this lazy approach to cooking, aside from chopping a few ingredients, you pop everything into a big pot and leave the hob to do the hard work. Apart from a little stirring here and there it’s effortless. Serve it up with some delicious toasted ciabatta, rubbed with a little garlic. Top it off with some sweet cherry tomatoes, basil leaves and a few shavings of parmesan and you’ll be in comfort food heaven. Once you’ve poured yourself a glass of red wine that is.
And, as I finish this post the rain is lashing down on my window whilst I scoff down my delicious fuss free supper.
I was recently contacted by Tuscany Now asking if I would like to contribute to their Cook-Off Competition #TuscanyNowCookOff. This recipe is perfect as it’s a Tuscan inspired creation that is simply delicious.

Recipe makes a large batch for freezing
250g Beef mince
250g lamb mince
200g Chicken livers, finely chopped
5 tbsp Italian extra virgin olive oil (such as De Cecco Il Classico)
800g chopped tomatoes
5 tbsp tomato purée
200ml of red wine
Salt and black pepper
Handful of freshly chopped basil
10 vine tomatoes, halved
4 tbsp parmesan shavings
A combination of the following ingredients finely chopped is what the Italian’s call Soffritto, which forms the basis of many authentic Italian meals:
2 Red onions
2 Carrots
2 Celery sticks
1 sprig of rosemary (optional in most Soffritto recipes)
2 bay leaves (optional in most Soffritto recipes)
Start by heating the oil in a pan and gently frying the red onion, carrots and celery. Add the rosemary and bay leaves. Cook until golden, about 12-15 minutes. Remove the rosemary and bay leaves and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Add the meats to the pan and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes. Once browned add the wine and stir well. Cook until the wine and fat from the meats has evaporated.
Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée and season to taste.

Serve with toasted ciabatta, topped with a generous spoonful or ragú, a few chopped vine tomatoes, freshly chopped basil and parmesan shavings.

Many Foodie Endeavours

Yet again, time slips away from me. How is it possible that seven weeks have passed me by without a single blog post?  Now, although I’ve not managed to get round to blogging any recipes, many foodie endeavours have presented themselves to me over the past few weeks. I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few pictures with you, which might explain what on earth I’ve been up to.
I’ve written and had my first recipe published in the Local Network Magazine, which you can read here. Hurrah for me! I’ve also just submitted the July article, which will be published any day now. I’ve been in consultation with the magazine about doing some freelance copy editing for them. I proof read for a living, so this opportunity is quite apt. As you can image, I’m feeling rather busy at the minute.
I embarked on a two week healthy eating pre-holiday style diet, which went fairly successfully, until my uncle invited us over for a pasta making party. Yep, you heard right, pasta making party!  Everyone got stuck in and we ended up with about seven different pasta dishes, so we had a little of everything.  I’ve been camping in Mersea, which to my delight gave me the perfect opportunity to check out the Oyster Bar for some… yep you guessed it oysters, and lobster. And, of course, I’ve been on holiday to Tenerife for a week, which obviously bought many delicious delights. All in all, not a bad few weeks really! 
On top of all of this, I’ve had a couple of delicious picnics and beer festivals to see in the summer in proper British style. So, having given you all of my excuses as to why I’ve been too busy for the world of blogging, I thought it best to share with you some pictures from the last few weeks…