My bolognese sauce recipe

Somehow, I’ve ended up writing the entire recipe for my own way of making bolognese. Out of boredom? Possibly. I’ve been cooking this for years now and I think I’ve finally got the recipe to a tee. And here it is. It is a winner, trust me. And very easy.

Serve with either spaghetti, or pasta shells.

A tip – if there is some left over, put the sauce into a tupperware box, or even a dish with cling film over it, and put in the freezer for another day. Be sure to defrost it thoroughly when you want to eat it. Defrosting will take several hours.

 

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon of oil (sunflower, vegetable or olive)

2 onions

500g minced beef (or a standard pack)

2 carrots, grated

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed (or chopped)

1 Oxo cube

1 beef stockpot

Oregano (a sprinkle)

Mixed herbs (a sprinkle)

Salt & pepper

1 tablespoon tomato puree

350g jar of Napolina Bolognese sauce

Napolina tomato pasata (to your preferred consistency)

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and set a shelf to be in the centre of the oven. While the oven is heating, prepare the onions, garlic and carrot. I find it is best to grate the carrot first as that takes the most amount of time. Next, heat a tablespoon of oil (sunflower, vegetable or olive) into a frying pan on a medium heat.

While the oil is warming, coarsely chop two onions. As soon as the oil becomes hot (not smoking, just hot) put the onions into the pan and fry until soft. This will take 5-10 minutes. In the meantime, top and tail 3 cloves of garlic and peel the skin off. If you have a garlic crusher, place the garlic to one side and wait until you need it. If not, finely chop the garlic and leave to one side.

Once the onions are soft, add the minced beef. Break up the mince to avoid clumps of mince and keep stirring it around the pan until it becomes grey/brown in colour. This will take, at the most, 15 minutes.

After the browning of the meat, there may be excess fat in the pan. Place a bowl into your sink and put a colander over the bowl. Place the contents of the pan into the colander and the fat will drain off. Stir the mince around the colander and then put the mince back into the pan and back onto the heat.

To give the mince, and the Bolognese, a meatier flavour, crumble in an OXO cube over the mince and stir. Next, make a space in the centre of the pan and drop in a beef stockpot. Allow the stockpot to melt, which will take 2-5 minutes, and as soon as it has melted stir it into the mince.

Now it is time to add the other ingredients. To the mince, add the grated carrots. This gives the Bolognese an extra dimension. Stir in, which allows the carrot to amalgamate with the beef. Next, add the crushed garlic. 3 cloves of garlic is enough. Although garlic can lose its flavour, more than 3 cloves (from experience, trust me!) is too much.

What gives a Bolognese its flavour is the herbs that go in. Your kitchen will start to smell like an Italian kitchen which is an evocative smell. First, sprinkle some oregano onto the mince and then the same with mixed herbs. Don’t overdo it with the herbs as the sauce will be too strong. Just enough to barely cover the surface. Of course, you can experiment with different herbs. Basil goes well with tomato based sauces but I find it too overpowering. After the herbs, add salt and pepper.

The mince is now ready for tomato – a trademark of a Bolognese. But first, add a tablespoon (or as much as you can get out of a tube as a tubes of puree quickly shrink) of tomato puree and stir. This enriches the sauce. I find that THE BEST tomato sauce for a Bolognese is Napolina Bolognese sauce. I’ve tried lots of sauces and I’ve found this one to have the best flavour. Empty the contents of the jar into the pan and stir into the mince. A little tip – there may be a little bit of sauce at the bottom of the jar. Put a little bit of water in the jar, put the lid on and shake. The jar will (sort of) be clean and then put into the pan and stir.

After this, open the pasata and put in as much as you like. I find that the Napolina sauce alone is far too thick. The pasata gives the sauce extra tomato flavour and makes it moreish. Also, don’t be afraid of the sauce appearing too liquidy. The pasata will cook out in the oven. Once the sauce is the consistency you like, let the sauce bubble which should take 5-10 minutes. As soon as it bubbles have a taste. Have a taste?! Is it not cooked? Of course it is cooked, everything is cooked. Having a taste of the sauce will decide if you need any more salt or pepper to improve the taste.

The Bolognese sauce is now ready to be put into an oven proof dish that has a lid on. It is best to use a ladle in putting the sauce into the dish. Ladle the sauce into the dish and place into the preheated oven on the centre shelf. Allow the sauce to heat and cook out for 30-40 minutes. Not only does this cook the excess moisture out from the Napolina Bolognese sauce and pasata, it makes the sauce piping hot.

Britain’s BEST sitcoms? A prologue.

In honour of the BBC sitcom season, to celebrate an incredible 60 years since the first showing of Ray Galton and Alan Simpson’s Hancock’s Half Hour (the TV version not the radio version), I have decided to share my top ten favourite sitcoms and attempt to do a review of them and why they are, quite simply, the ten best British sitcoms of all time. Or rather, what I think are the best sitcoms of all time.

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The genius of Tony Hancock.

In 2004, the BBC made a show titled Britain’s Best Sitcom shown on BBC 2 for several Saturday nights to find the nation’s ‘best’ sitcom and Only Fools and Horses came out on top. Only Fools? Nah. Sorry. But, it is difficult to label something “the best” as many viewers may not agree with “the best”. Not that Only Fools isn’t worthy. Because it is, it is because comedy and humour are subjective. That’s what is so marvellous about a sitcom – audiences have their own sense of humour and what they might find hilarious, others might not and vice versa.

gold

Only Fools… good but not amazing. Blame UK Gold for CONSTANT reruns!

Historically, this country has produced some of the best ever situation comedies in the world and, arguably, the golden age of the sitcom was in the 1970s with classics such as Porridge, Dad’s Army and The Good Life attracting millions of viewers and lifelong fans. But what makes a sitcom great? A sitcom has to make the viewer laugh. That’s self-explanatory really. But not just this, we have to enjoy the characters and the situation they are in. That’s why comedy is so wide ranging; audiences laugh at what they find amusing. On one hand, I fail to see why The Office is funny, yet millions of others adore it and on the other, I love Mrs Brown’s Boys and find it hilarious. Comedy and humour are both subjective. We should never forget this, and we should be grateful that there are so many sitcoms past and present out there to watch and enjoy. The vitriol Mrs Brown got in the recent Radio Times poll was appalling. This proves my point. If people like something then they’ll vote for it!

Awesomeagnes

That’s nice… and hilarious!

david-brent-dance-bbc-the-office1-1024x768

But this dance, isn’t…And isn’t it remarkable, as a closing word, that barely any of ITV’s sitcoms have been lauded as much as the BBC’s?

Stay tuned for the beginning of my countdown. I’ll try and make it interesting and enjoyable…🙂

 

What the fuck happens now?

Some rambling, alcohol fuelled thoughts that may not be agreed with.

Today, the United Kingdom left the European Union. And for what? You know, I still don’t know why this referendum has taken place. Why do the establishment want us out? Immigration or national pride? Or both? National pride? Pictures of bowling greens and strawberries and cream. In an ideal 1950s chocolate box world maybe.

Frankly this result is shit. I’m boiling with rage. I mean, it’s fabulous that Cameron will no longer be PM. But BORIS COULD BE THE PRIME MINISTER! This is not good. This is a man who is a laughing stock. The image he has is that of a buffoon. What would people across the world think? Jesus wept I’d rather have Theresa May as PM.

It’s not all just about image of one silly man. Frankly, I’m scared. I’m scared that MY future has been decided by the older generation. And, you know, democracy is a marvellous thing. We are lucky to have it. Lots of countries and nations across the world don’t have this privilege. On Facebook especially, I’ve seen status after status all saying the same thing – immigration. “People coming over here and taking our jobs”. Blame this government for the lack of jobs, especially in the North East. But what I do agree on is that we are always forgotten. To be honest the whole of the North is forgotten. London is not the centre of the universe. But to get back to the older generation, the people I saw yesterday were just the type to vote leave. You could tell by looking at them. I can just hear them saying “send the lot of them back” which is disgusting. They live in their own little world and don’t think outside the box. Ok, people are set in their ways. But to vote leave because of something that probably won’t affect them is concerning and downright wrong.

Oh and re jobs, etc, PLEASE do not get me started on the Northern Powerhouse that doesn’t exist. The only Powerhouse I know of is the gay club in Newcastle.

But I am scared. Bigotry has triumphed. We are stepping into Nigel Farage’s Britain of ignorance and xenophobia. And not only that, what about security? What about neighbourliness with our European friends and nations? That’s now gone.

With a deep sigh, I (like everyone) now have to trundle on with my life and accept what has happened. There’s nothing we can do about it. I’m still boiling with rage though.

Taking back control? Sod off. The elite and establishment still control our lives.

What’s next?

My goodness me, it’s been a whirlwind three years at university. And they’ve gone by so quickly! Far too quickly in fact.

As I sit here putting the finishing touches to my comedy-drama screenplay I thought I would reflect on the past three years and how university has changed my life. When I think back to September 2012 I was so immature. I embarked on a completely different life really. Moving into halls was daunting and lonely and meeting new people was terrifying. Particularly for someone like me who is extremely introvert and quiet. Very quickly I began to adapt to university life. At first it was a complete culture shock. Of course it would be. Lectures and seminars are challenging. But more on those in a minute, I have strong opinions on those.

First year was not really enjoyable. I was so unhappy during those twelve months. But it was second year that I have enjoyed the most. The modules in particular were fantastic. The module ‘American Film and Society’ has changed my life. It made me love and obsess over classical Hollywood. If I wasn’t forced to choose that module then Sunset Boulevard would not have become my all-time favourite film. Dramatic but true.

And we come to third year. It’s been good but very challenging. My dissertation has been a joy to write and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed research modules, particularly Cultural Theory and Popular Culture where I wrote an essay on my favourite film. Can’t go wrong there! Scriptwriting has got me my passion back for writing (yay!). Popular Music Cultures was like a whirlwind. Was so busy and lots of assessments. Enjoyable though. Media Studies has been a stinker. Enough said really.

Enough moaning (I moan all the time) what will I be doing in the next few months? I hand my dissertation in on 7th of May, a fabulous essay on media and modern life on the 14th of May and my script and critical analysis on 21st and 28th of May. That’s four weeks and university is finished! *Whimpers*. I don’t want it to end. I’ll miss the structure and routine. It’s drilled into my head that I’ve got a lecture for MAC301 at 12pm in David Goldman on Tuesdays. Results day is 29 June and graduation is 5 July. I’m so scared. I would LOVE  a first class honours degree but I don’t think it’ll happen. No doubt I’ll trip up on stage in front of 300 people and fall over.

BUT. Enough negativity. I’m applying for a Masters degree at Newcastle University in Film: Theory and Practice. Firstly, Newcastle University?! It’s so prestigious! Only clever people go there and I’m certainly NOT clever. But it’s a course I really want to do and if I get a chance of writing an 18,000 word dissertation on someone like Greta Garbo or Barbara Stanwyck then I’m going for it! So not the end of education for me just another step into the wide blue yonder of the future. Eventually I would like to do a PhD. God knows what. Probably film/classical Hollywood.

So that’s my future kind of sorted. I salute Sunderland University for allowing me to meet some life-changing people and to do modules that have been fantastic and have enriched my life. I’ll be sad to leave that place.

As a footnote, after the 28th of May I’m going to be writing some film reviews of around 20-30 classical Hollywood films. Possibly 3 reviews a week. So stay tuned!

kate-bush-tickets

I’ve just about recovered from this morning’s announcement that Kate Bush (yes Kate Bush) is to do 15 live shows at the Hammersmith Apollo from 26 August to 19 September! Tickets go on sale on Friday 28 March at 9:30am, my 21st birthday would you believe? The announcement came out of nowhere and is definitely the biggest news of the music industry of the last few years. Twitter, and the media in general, have gone into a frenzy. Well of course they would! It’s been 35 years since her last (and only) tour of her career. Kate has played a few live shows for charity events but has stayed away from the arena of touring if you’ll pardon the pun!

Almost instantly I resigned myself to the fact that these tickets will be like gold-dust and will be an instant sell out. However, I am extremely lucky to have signed up to the Kate Bush mailing list whereby fans like me who have gone crazy can have a chance at obtaining presale tickets on Wednesday 26 March at 9:30am before general release on Friday 28 March. I’ve got some hope of getting them but there is always that chance of missing out on them. We shall see!

So…….. what’s going to happen in these live shows? Well at the minute no-one knows, apart from Kate obviously! The shows are titled “Before the Dawn” and judging from the promotional picture the shows might be have some reference to water or someone in difficulty in water. Or it could be a live version of The Ninth Wave (“side two” of her masterpiece album Hounds of Love from 1985).

Personally, I would love to hear a range of songs from her back catalogue. Maybe even a few new songs. I’m also sensing a new album from Kate. An album release would be a great tie in with the live shows. It’s all very exciting! If us “Kate Bush lot” manage to get tickets on Wednesday or Friday we will be the luckiest people on the planet! To quote Cloudbusting “I just know that something good is gonna happen.”

Below are quite a few of Kate’s songs that I could easily see her play live (listed in order of appearance on each album):

James and the Cold Gun
The Man with the Child in His Eyes
Them Heavy People
Blow Away (For Bill)
The Wedding List
Army Dreamers
The Infant Kiss
Breathing
Houdini
Running up That Hill
Hounds of Love
Cloudbusting
Under the Ivy
Deeper Understanding
This Woman’s Work
Moments of Pleasure
King of the Mountain
Bertie
Mrs Bartolozzi
How to Be Invisible
A Coral Room
Sunset
Nocturn
Aerial
Flower of the Mountain
Lily (Director’s Cut version)

Wild Man

I’ve picked these songs because there is a wide range of material from her back catalogue and a lot of them are piano based and I’ve also picked songs that I feel Kate likes and would willingly perform. I can’t see her sing Wuthering Heights but one never knows! If she sings Running up That Hill and/or Nocturn I can die happily.

So that’s that. When more information is announced I will write a more in depth account of Before the Dawn. Still can’t believe this is happening! If you have signed up to the Kate Bush mailing list before 1 March then you will be eligible for presale tickets which go on sale at www.eventim.co.uk at 9:30am on Wednesday 26 March (search for Kate Bush in the searchbar from that link and the list of shows will appear). The general release is on Friday 28 March at 9:30am and I’m predicting it will sell out in minutes. The ticket prices are £45, £59, £75, £95, £135 including a booking fee and are on sale at www.eventim.co.uk , www.gigsandtours.com and www.ticketmaster.co.uk . Last bit of “admin” – the ticket purchases are limited to four per order and the name of the lead booker (the person who bought the tickets) will be printed on the first ticket. And on the night of the show you will need to have some form of photographic ID to prove that you are who you say you are. And that’s the end of the important “admin” stuff. 

Here are the dates for each of the 15 shows:
Tuesday 26 August
Wednesday 27 August 
Friday 29 August
Saturday 30 August 
Tuesday 2 September
Wednesday 3 September
Friday 5 September
Saturday 6 September
Tuesday 9 September
Wednesday 10 September
Friday 12 September
Saturday 13 September
Tuesday 16 September
Wednesday 17 September
Friday 19 September
 

So that’s that. Thank you for reading this! I just can’t even believe that a) I’m writing this and b) Kate is DOING 15 LIVE SHOWS! To those who are hoping to get tickets I have my fingers crossed!

Dissertation – let’s talk topics

So since my last post about my dissertation I *think* I’ve come up with my topic/case study – British television culture of the 1980’s. This is a pretty broad area as there is so much to talk about and there’s a heck of a lot of genres. 

As I said in my last post Thatcher ruled the roost in the 1980’s. The 80’s reeked of Thatcherism – greed and money making. In the world of television (especially TV broadcasters) the sense of greed came into place thanks to Thatcherism (you can tell I despise all aspects of Thatcherism).

So that leads me onto my main question – “to what extent does British television of the 1980’s offer a critique of Thatcherism?”. This would be my case study but I’m torn between sitcoms/comedy and drama to show a critique of Thatcherism. I’ll literally have to toss a coin and more books and journals have been written about TV drama of the 80’s. But then again, a study into 1980’s sitcoms hasn’t been written about meaning that there is a GAP IN THE MARKET (BA-ZING!). 

My head hurts thinking about the dissertation. It’s going to take over my life and is already starting to take over. I’m making things easy by compiling a bibliography, I’ve got 50 books/journals already listed so I’m well prepared. It’s just the writing up of it that scares me.

Thanks for listening, I’m going to try to blog the processes involved in creating my dissertation in the coming weeks.🙂

Let’s talk about dissertation topics!

This is something I’ve been thinking about since last summer. I consider myself to be very odd when it comes to things I’m interested in. Most people my age are interested in games, films or music; what am I interested in? Old TV shows. Yes I know, how odd! I love reading about the history of TV, especially the 1980’s and historical/political/social contexts the TV show was made in. Also, the 1980’s are an utterly fascinating decade to read about which was ruled by two ladies; The Queen and Margaret Thatcher. 

So that brings me to what my dissertation should be. Well I’m torn if truth be told. I really want to include the 1980’s in my dissertation as there is so much to talk about and link it into TV but yet I’m worried that a) it’ll be too difficult to research and b) too time consuming.

Possible dissertation titles:
‘From EastEnders to Only Fools and Horses: an examination of television in 1980s Britain’
‘To what extent can British television in the 1980s be considered ‘quality’ television?’
‘A social and cultural examination into British television of the 1980s’
‘From Countdown to EastEnders: a critical examination of British television in the 1980s’
 

So from these titles, my research interests clearly include quality television, talking about the programmes themselves and social/political changes within the 1980s. But what I’m also concerned about is the fact that I would need to do some form of textual analysis. My only gripe (good word, gripe) is that I wouldn’t be able to do any textual analysis if I talked about TV within the 80s.

So that brings me onto Coronation Street. I ADORE that programme! Again I am unusual as I love the olden days of Coronation Street, 1960-1985 is just gold. So many classic characters and stories. This leads me on to this title:

‘Let’s hear it for the girls! Notions of femininity and gender within Coronation Street

This would be good as it can involve textual analysis and I can do a historiography of the show which is something I love reading about and talking about. But yet I feel underwhelmed about the topic, I get bored talking about gender (I did a module called Writing Gender in first year and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would). 

So…. this leads me once again to television in the 1980’s. Margaret Thatcher ruled the country in the 80s and implemented many changes within society. I was in the bath when I thought of this and a possible topic could be:

‘To what extent did British television of the 1980s offer a critique of Thatcherism?’ 

This would be ideal as I could narrow it down to multiple TV genres and I could do a textual analysis bringing in academics, etc. I have literally weeks to decide and I need to decide on a topic pretty quickly!

If you’d like to offer me advice then post a comment or tweet me. Thank you for reading🙂