Turkey Ragu and Banana-Nut Muffins

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    This website has been a long time in the making. I have thought about it for years and have been recording information and making notes for this very moment, when I can begin to share it all with you.

    This week we begin with MAKE. Cooking and food have become my main ancillary passion in life. This may strike some of you as odd, as my friend Mark Bittman of the New York Times once told me, "you have a terrible food reputation, everyone thinks you eat some dry seaweed and a little brown rice." How did this come to be? I suppose it was my rather strict four-year foray into macrobiotics. I am no longer so restrictive with my diet, far from it. But some of the tenets of macrobiotics have stayed with me and they always will. I try to eat locally, seasonally and always organically. I don't eat processed foods or red meat and I try to stay away from sugar and dairy but I have a major cheese weakness and, well, you only live once.

    These first two recipes are ones that I make all the time. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.


    Turkey Ragu

    This is one of my all-time favorite dishes, Turkey Ragu. When I gave up eating red meat 15 years ago, bolognaise was the dish that I missed the most. This recipe cooks slowly and gets a deep, layered flavor — you won’t miss the red meat at all. I like to do the prep work on a Saturday morning when my kids are having breakfast or running around the garden. It can then cook slowly all day and dinner is done! It keeps well in the fridge, and even tastes better the next day.

    • 1lb ground organic free-range light and dark, or all-dark turkey meat (room temperature)*
    • 2 15oz cans Italian plum tomatoes
    • 2 15oz cans Italian chopped tomatoes
    • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
    • 2 medium or 3 large brown onions, peeled and diced
    • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
    • 1 cup red wine
    • 2 sprigs rosemary
    • 1 tsp fennel seeds
    • olive oil to taste
    • pinch of red pepper flakes
    • salt and pepper

    1.Put a big glug of olive oil in a big saucepan over a medium-low heat.

    2.Add the carrot, onion and garlic and cook until soft (about 10 minutes).

    3.Add the red pepper flakes and bashed up fennel seeds (Jamie Oliver makes a great spice basher, incidentally).

    4.Meanwhile, in a frying pan over a medium heat, add olive oil and the ground turkey and throw in the rosemary. Let the meat get a lovely deep brown and then add it to the big pan with the soffritto.

    5.Season with pepper and fleur de sel (I like one mixed with Herbs de Provence) and stir well.

    6.Add the tomatoes and bring the sauce to the boil and then add the red wine (not something so cheap you wouldn’t drink it, a good wine makes a good sauce!).

    7.Let it boil away for a few minutes, then turn the heat down low and and partially cover the saucepan. Let it blip away slowly and gently and gently for a good 2½ to 3 hours, stirring often.

    Serve with rigatoni and freshly grated Reggiano Parmesan.

    * I read in Giorgio Locatelli’s cookbook that meat sears and browns when you fry it at room temperature, whereas it boils in its own juice when it’s cold. He is absolutely right (obviously), the turkey browns quickly and deeply, giving it lots of flavor.

    Banana-Nut Muffins

    These wholegrain muffins are light and sweet even though they contain no sugar. Proof that health food can still taste decadent. These never last long in our house.

    Makes a dozen muffins

    • 3 medium ripe bananas
    • ½ cup maple syrup
    • ¼ cup brown rice syrup
    • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
    • ½ cup barley flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • ½ cup raisins
    • ½ cup walnuts
    • 2 tsp fine sea salt
    • 6 tbsp oil (canola or sunflower)
    • 1 cup whole spelt flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
    • ½ cup white spelt flour (or plain white flour)

    1.Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and roast the walnuts on a sheet for approximately 7 minutes, then finely chop.

    2.Sift the flour and baking soda into a medium-sized bowl and add the salt.

    3.Puree the bananas in a food processor and add the remaining liquid ingredients. Mix well.

    4.Make a well in the flour and pour in the wet mixture (scraping the processor bowl well) and fold together until the flour is moistened. Add the walnuts and raisins and fold just a few more times to incorporate them. Don’t over-mix or you will have tough muffins!

    5.Line the muffin tin with baking paper or brush with oil. Use an ice cream scoop to distribute the batter evenly among the cups.

    6.Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean. Cool in the pan for a few minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.

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