“Fine.” Her fiery eyes were glassy with tears as she turned to face the edge. Though her shoulders were set in stubborn determination, Sebastian could see that her hands were shaking. She rocked back and forth a few times from one foot to the other, biting her lower lip as she stared down at the water below, and he found himself wondering if her drive to jump was not based solely on thrill-seeking, but something more, perhaps a desire to prove something to herself. For a second it seemed she had reconsidered as she took a few steps backward, and Sebastian closed his eyes in relief. When he opened them, however, she was gone, and terror pierced his heart like a knife. He lunged toward the edge and looked down just in time to see her enter the water, the resulting splash a mere pinprick of white in the center of the emerald-green pool. Sebastian squinted, holding his breath as he waited anxiously for her to reemerge. He could see the other jumpers who had followed her surface and make their way to the sides, but Chloe’s entry-point was gone, and her body was nowhere to be seen. His mind was now imagining the worst. Could anyone sitting on the rocks down below see her? Was anyone besides himself realizing she hadn’t resurfaced yet? Was she sinking to the bottom at that very moment, unconscious and possibly wounded? Without thinking, without even removing his clothes and shoes, Sebastian threw himself over the edge feet first, his arms pinned to his sides. The freefall seemed to last forever as all he could hear was the thundering of his own heartbeat and the rush of wind in his ears, yet it was only a matter of seconds before he penetrated the surface with his eyes screwed tightly shut. His impact with the water was what he imagined hitting a wall of concrete felt like and was only exacerbated by the shock of the frigid temperature. Despite being helplessly dragged away from the light and down to the murky depths, Sebastian forced his eyes open in hopes of locating Chloe, but he could see nothing past his own outstretched hands. He began to kick furiously upward, and when he finally surfaced, he didn’t even allow himself time for a breath before frantically scanning the water surrounding him for a blonde head.
Graham’s Dutch Oven Pasta Bolognese With Fresh Papardelle
because “the pasta is everything”
Happy beginning of summer, everyone!!
That sentiment doesn’t mean a lot thanks to the entire world coming to a virtual standstill for the past couple of months. But even a global pandemic can’t come between me and my love for food, and no better time to test a recipe than when there is literally nothing else to do and nowhere to go, amirite?
Let me make one thing very clear before we continue.
I don’t cook. That is, I can cook when forced, but I’m not overly fond of it. Hours of work, dozens of steps, time-sensitive processes, and a week’s worth of cleanup just aren’t my cup of tea. (Oooo, tea.) I will bake until the end of time – cookies, cupcakes, banana bread, you name it – but cooking stresses me out. Even watching cooking on TV stresses me out. I honestly do not understand why people voluntarily go on those competition shows where they get yelled at and judged and rejected for something they supposedly enjoy doing. However, I will admit the shows where people travel all over the world eating food and getting paid to do it – now that I can get on board with. Where do I sign up?
You are probably wondering why on earth someone who hates to cook would be testing a recipe. So am I. Just kidding, you guys. I may hate to cook, but one of the characters in my latest novel, And There You Were, loves to cook. Therefore, I decided to crack my knuckles, get some good stretches in, channel my inner Graham McKenzie, and brave the unknown in order to do him justice. I even drank some of the wine (a lot of the wine) to get the full experience of the characters. Call it research. And let me tell you, it was SO worth it. Pasta Bolognese is absolutely delicious. He is one amazing chef, that creation of my imagination called Graham. And he’s also hot…he’s really hot (wink, wink).
If you don’t already have a Dutch oven, get one. I’m serious, they are amazing. And please, whatever you do, don’t make this fabulous Bolognese without the fresh pasta. YOU WILL NEVER EAT DRIED PASTA AGAIN. It’s that good. I promise you. If you give this recipe a go, give me a shout and tell me how it went and how you liked it! And make sure to read my book so you can fully appreciate the scene where Graham and Juliet make Bolognese – preferably while you are chowing down on yours!
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 finely chopped bacon rashers
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium chopped yellow onion
3 stalks chopped celery
1 medium chopped carrot
2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound ground beef chuck
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
2 (28 oz) cans Italian plum tomatoes, whole and peeled
1 bay leaf
- Fry 4 finely chopped bacon rashers in 1 tbsp olive oil on medium heat for 10 minutes until golden and crispy. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, butter, and chopped onion in Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook and stir the onion until it becomes translucent, then add the chopped celery, carrot, bacon, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook for about 6-8 minutes, stirring vegetables until softened.
- Add garlic and tomato paste and cook an additional 30 seconds.
- Add ground beef and pork. Break up the meat with a fork, stir well and cook until the meat is browned. Stir in thyme, oregano, pepper, nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon salt.
- Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring continuously until it has bubbled away completely, about 10 minutes.
- Add wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated completely, about 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Strain the tomatoes, saving the juices and setting aside. Cut tomatoes into pieces and add to the Dutch oven mixture, stirring thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. Add bay leaf. If the mixture looks dry, add some of the excess tomato juices until it resembles a thick sauce.
- Place Dutch oven in oven and cook for 2-3 hours, checking each hour to make sure the bottom of the pot doesn’t become dry. If it does, add more of the saved tomato juices.
- Serve over pappardelle or drained pasta of choice, with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.
Homemade Pappardelle (from the Food Network)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup semolina flour, plus more for dusting
6 large eggs, at room temperature
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Make the dough. Sift both flours together on a large work surface and make a well in the center. Place the eggs, olive oil and a pinch of salt in a bowl, then pour into the well; with a fork, break up the eggs, then gradually mix the wet ingredients into the flour mixture just until combined.
- Knead by hand. Gather the dough into 2 equal-size balls; flour the surface. To knead each piece, push the dough away from you with the heel of your hand, fold the dough over itself and turn it counterclockwise. Continue pushing, folding and turning until the dough is smooth and elastic, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Rest the dough. Pat each piece into a ball. Flatten slightly, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight. (You can freeze 1 ball for later, or roll out both and freeze the cut pasta.)
- Roll out the dough. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and dust with flour. Starting in the middle, push away from you with a rolling pin, easing up on the pressure as you approach the edge. Continue rolling the dough into a sheet, turning occasionally, until you can see your fingers through the bottom. Let dry about 10 minutes.
- Cut the pappardelle. Dust the top of the sheet of dough with flour and loosely roll it into a cylinder. Using a sharp knife, cut into 3/4-inch-wide slices. Unwrap the noodles; dust with semolina and gently toss to separate. Place on a sheet pan and cover with a tea towel until ready to cook (or freeze in freezer bags for up to 2 months).
You can make your pasta as wide or narrow and as long as you want. Ours was pretty wide and took about four minutes to cook in boiling water. Enjoy!! After this experience, I might just change my mind about cooking. Who knows? Maybe one day I will even try to make my favorite British dish – Shepherd’s Pie!
Here is the link for And There You Were, available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble – please check it out and thank you so much for your support! Next up is dessert – stay tuned!!
And There You Were is Available on Amazon!
I am so excited to announce my third novel, And There You Were, is FINALLY available for purchase on Amazon! It was a long journey, but it was so worth it, my friends. Seeing an idea that started as just a few scribbles in my composition book come to life is like a dream come true. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Let me tell you a little bit about this book and the thought process behind it. While I was writing my second novel, I knew I would take two of the characters in it and give them their own story. If you’ve read it, you may or may not remember Juliet Evans and Graham McKenzie. They take the spotlight in And There You Were as individuals living in different countries who meet by chance. I read an article a few years ago written by a journalist who visited a celebrity at his home and interviewed him about something personal he was dealing with at the time. When she was back at her hotel room packing to fly home, he showed up unexpectedly at her door and asked to speak to her one more time because he needed someone to talk to. She gave him ten minutes and then left for the airport. I loved the idea of an average girl-next-door meeting a celebrity in a similar situation, but with an entirely different outcome. That fun, lighthearted storyline is only the tip of the iceberg in a plot that is full of deeply emotional moments. Like all stories, there are also secondary characters who end up stealing the spotlight in their own ways. Once you’ve read it, I would love to hear who your favorite character is and why!
This was my first experience writing from multiple perspectives, and it was SO fun and challenging. I loved getting the chance to speak in different voices, and there were so many characters with completely different personalities – women, men, American, and British. I realized I was channeling myself in all of the characters a bit, but one was definitely me more than the others – can you guess which one?
There are tons of Easter eggs scattered throughout the novel. If you know me (or even if you don’t), you might just pick up on some of them. If you do, please make my day by letting me know which ones you find!
I can’t wait to hear your reactions and thoughts about And There You Were. I am so proud of it. As always, thank you for supporting me and my passion for writing! Please drop a comment below and say hello!