Tag Archives: basil

No Cook Cooking.

The no cook season has begun.

But there is no no eat season, only no eat hours here and there…..

It’s the heat I can’t stand, not the food

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Food Network Magazine. Right now.

Rigatoni with No-Cook Tomato Sauce

Rigatoni.  Tomatoes. Basil. Olive oil. Garlic.

If you need more instruction, follow the link. I’m off to get tomatoes and basil….

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/rigatoni-with-no-cook-tomato-sauce.html

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Filed under Eating, Summer, Supper

Rat-a-tat-touille

Back to the garden……

Back in the day, we walked out back, pulled weeds and gathered what was ripe.

And tossed what was eaten by insects and animals.

One year the peppers had strange bites taken out of them, while they were still on the plant…..rabbits??? squirrels??

Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat...Maybe next time!

Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat…Maybe next time!

Turns out it was

Baby Brother

A typical mid-August haul would include zucchini, summer squash, peppers of various sorts, possibly an eggplant or two. We didn’t grow eggplant every year, some years omitted by design, some years there just weren’t any that survived drought or flood or powdery mildew or cutworm….

cutworm800px-Neil_Phillips_-_Large_Yellow_Underwing_caterpiller_(by)

Large Yellow Underwing Caterpillar

Our eggplants were always purple...

Our eggplants were always purple…

It was not uncommon to bring in a haul, wash them off and start lunch.

A good circle of oil in the bottom of a good sized frying pan.

Cut up an onion (we never grew onions, for reasons I know not, which is a pity (was a pity?) because they are dead easy if you start with sets); cut up the pepper and add it next. Nothing really browns, it cooks and gets a little weepy….cut, add, stir around……

Then the green zucchini, cut into circles or half moons or triangles, depending on big around they are….they should all be the same size, and not too terribly big.

Summer squash….same delio.

Cucurbita_pepo_collage_1Salt. Pepper. Stir.

Cut and seed tomatoes.

I know you got’em

……add them last, stir again.

Any fresh herbs in your garden?

Come on – if you’ve got tomatoes, you must have basil

– wash, chop and add.

Basil-Basilico-Ocimum_basilicum-albahacaSmells good?

You betcha.

Serve over pasta or leftover rice or just put in a nice bowl ….top with grated cheese…..Lunch is ready.

Mangia!

Imagine my surprise when I caught Julia Child making this on The French Chef….and it was called

Ratatouille

Julia tasting

Julia Child – taste as you go!

Ratatouille

from Mastering The Art of French Cooking

serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 lb. eggplant

1/lb. zucchini

1 teaspoon salt

6-7 tablespoons olive oil, more if necessary

1/2 lb. (about 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced yellow onions

1 pound firm red tomatoes, or 1 1/2 cups pulp

2 (about 1 cup) sliced green bell peppers

2 cloves mashed garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Peel the eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8 inch thick, about 3 inches long, and 1 inch wide.  Scrub the zucchini, slice off the two ends, and cut the zucchini into slices about the same size as the eggplant slices.  Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with the salt.  Let stand for 30 minutes.  Drain.  Dry each slice in a towel.

One layer at a time, saute the eggplant, and then the zucchini in hot olive oil for about a minute on each side to brown very lightly.  Remove to a side dish.

In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers slowly in olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until tender but not browned.  Stir in the garlic and season to tastes.

Slice the tomato pulp into 3/8 inch strips.  Lay them over the onions and peppers.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until tomatoes have begun to render their juice.  Uncover, baste the tomatoes with the juices, raise heat and boil off several minutes, until juice has almost entirely evaporated.

Place a third of the tomato mixture in the bottom of the casserole and sprinkle over it 1 tablespoon of parsley.  Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half the remaining tomatoes and parsley.  Put in the rest of the eggplant and zucchini, and finish with the remaining tomatoes and parsley.

Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.  Uncover, tip casserole and baste with the rendered juices.  Correct seasoning, if necessary.  Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes more, basting several times, until juices have evaporated leaving a spoonful or two of flavored olive oil.  Be careful of your heat; do not let the vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole.

Set aside uncovered.  Reheat slowly at serving time or serve cold.

JCMastering

https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/news/in-news/ratatouille-mastering-art-french-cooking-and-day-julia

Julia cooking up ratatouille on ABC network

Julia cooking up ratatouille on ABC network

Ratatouille – it’s also a movie….starring…a Rat.

RatatouillePoster

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Filed under Eating, Influencers, Lunch, Recipe, The 1970's

Salad (in the) Day

 Once upon a time salad was leafy green….mostly that meant iceberg lettuce

iceberg lettuce Doleand tomatoes came in packets  – except when they came from the garden.

And salad dressing was a verb, what my mother did after the potatoes were mashed and before we had to wash our hands to sit down to supper,

The lettuce was ripped and put in the salad bowl, and then the tomatoes were cut on top. Cukes – peeled and sliced. Cut in half to make half moon or in quarters to make little triangles. Radishes – sliced and added but not always.

cuke3tomato

No fancy radishes - red on the outside and white on the inside radishes

No fancy radishes – red on the outside and white on the inside radishes

Not a lot of fancy ingredients – olives always got their own dish, croutons didn’t show up until the ’80’s – salad was salad and not much more.

Now do I remember the order of what comes next?????

Oil, a circle around, not too much. And not EVOO, this is before Rachael Ray. Our oil often had

Wessonality

wessonality

Toss.

Sprinkle the salt –

When it rains, it pours

When it rains, it pours

Sprinkle the pepper

pepper black tinSprinkle the dried basil

basil dried jar More tossing.

Wine vinegar – just a little.

Not balsamic, not artisan, not fancy

Not balsamic, not artisan, not fancy, salad was for supper not showing off.

Toss some more.

Put the bowl on the table, wash those hands and sit down at the table.

Things got fancier in the ’70’s…..

Good Seasons dressing

Good Seasons Dressing Mix – with cruet included

Up until a few minutes ago, I've been calling this Good Seasonings. Probably for decades.

Up until a few minutes ago, I’ve been calling this Good Seasonings Salad Dressing.

Good Seasons, of course was the gateway bottle to the Wishbone and Kraft and Kens Dressings that would flood the market – and our table – in the ’80’s…

To be continued……..

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Filed under Supper, The 1960"s, The 1970's

#WatermelonDay

August 3rd is National Watermelon Day. This is endorsed by the Watermelon Board.

This is a watermelon Cutting board, not the Watermelon Board. Still cool and at Target...

This is a watermelon Cutting board, not the Watermelon Board. Still cool

I’ve been somewhat melon obsessed because of work…There was a watermelon article that used a 17th century painting as a source, which made me wonder:

How do you cut into a melon in the 17th century?

How do you eat a watermelon in the 17th century?

This was the painting that started it all for me last week...is it cut into chunky bit because that's what was done OR is the artist making it more arty?

This was the painting that started it all for me last week…is it cut into chunky bits because that’s what was done OR is the artist making the melon  more artsy?

Soooooo

I looked at more paintings of melons

Lucce Forte, Naples before 1670

Luca Forte, Naples before 1670

Eckhout, before 1660

Eckhout, before 1660

The swirly bits holding the seeds are not some sort of varietal variation, but are a sign that the fruit is not ripe.

Photograph of a 21st century unripe melon, sacrificed for science!

Photograph of a 21st century unripe melon, sacrificed for science!

Buoppolo Naples late 17th century

Buoppolo Naples late 17th century

Cooseman, 17th century

Cooseman, 17th century

All of this is going to take a little more work and study…but first I must find some watermelon to EAT!

Murillo Beggar Boys Eating Grapes and Watermelon

Murillo 17th c   Boys Eating Grapes and Watermelon – not all watermelon is red – some is yellow

Moon and Stars Yellow Watermelon Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Moon and Stars Yellow Watermelon Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

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Filed under Summer

Leading by a nose…..

Herbal Inspirations.

This is the time of year that the garden is just bursting….

and it’s cool enough to want to eat it all!

cuke3

cool as a cucumber – they don’t even realize that their days are numbered

 

Thyme, ready to hang up and dry

Thyme, ready to hang up and dry

oregano

oregano

Basil

Basil

This time of year just plain smells good!

Herbs in the Kitchen was one of the earliest herbal reference book I bought.Herbs in the Kitchen I’m pretty sure I got it from the Paperback Booksmith in Hanover Mall, in either ‘75 or ‘76. It was one of the standards.  I still love it, and get inspired every time I read it.

My modern herbal library- not to be confused with my early modern herbal library – has grown since then.

Helen Morganthau Fox, gardening with herbsMrs Grieve, modern herbal

Eleanour Sinclair Rohde  ESR a garden of herbs I’ve read them and studied and collected all.

AGSAdelma Grenier Simmons inspired trips to Caprilands in Connetitcuct and I was able to attend several of her lectures and workshops, as well as collect her books;

Jeanne Rose’s Herbs and Things, herbsthingsnew_smallwhich nicely bridges the centuries of herbal lore;

Susan Wittag Albert and the China Bayles series. China Bayles even has her own book of herbal days, China Bayles Book of Days. China Bayles Book of DaysYes, a fictional herb guru has her own book!

Carolyn Dille and Susan Belsinger have written together and separately….

This is a together one

This is a together one

But it’s only recently that herbs and other things you eat that come from the garden can be equal (ish) partners between the covers.

Vegetable Literacy Deborah Madison has her chapters based on plant families…..it’s very different kind of organizing and makes a whole lot of sense. This is from her blog

‘Vegetable Literacy’ is centered on 12 plant families and how they meet in the kitchen. It’s also a cookbook (some 300 recipe). Mostly it’s about connecting the dots between botany and the garden and the cook. People ask me what inspired this exploration and I have to say that I don’t recall a single moment in which that intention suddenly leaped to the fore. It was more like the idea of botanical families and the relationship between them and the kitchen had been there for a long time. Maybe it’s in my genes—my father was a botanist and gardener and farmer among other things. And even though it didn’t occur to me plant anything until I was in my mid-thirties, something must have rubbed off.  And it rubbed off from my botanist brother, Michael, my many farmer friends and the gardeners I have known. Most of all, though, it was starting to garden that made plants and their families come into view with increasing clarity. Once I started to grow vegetables, I saw them in different ways: how much space they need, how large and many their leaves, how similar the blossoms within a family, the possibilities of eating more of them then what we see in the store or even the farmers market—hence the many little pointers about eating the whole plant—and more. The garden reveals the big and sometimes gnarly world that lies behind the pretty vegetable.’

Deborah Madison with allium

Deborah Madison with allium

So, stop and smell the mint,mint close upand the fennel

fennel flowering

fennel flowering

and the borage….

borage

borage

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Filed under Books, Influencers, Summer

The Tomatoes of Summer

This is the season for tomatoes in Plymouth County. Tomatoes season begins in the D0g Days and last until the first good frost. This is when I eat fresh tomatoes, when they’re local and juicy and unrefrigerated . Unless they’ve been dried or put into a can, the lovely tomato just does not travel well.

Fresh fresh fresh

Fresh fresh fresh

Going to the AWARD WINNING Plymouth Farmer’s Market to get me some ‘matersmusic

There are  plenty of ways to eat fresh, JUICY tomatoes that aren’t really recipes

Out of hand, out of doors with a hose nearby ….

Sink sandwich – sliced, on bread with some mayo, a little salt and pepper – over the sink….even better if you call it a sammiches (but just don’t go to ‘sammy‘ please)

Cut into slices and put with anything else on your plate

Cut into wedges with a little oil and vinegar

or add a little fresh basil to those wedges

or add a little cheese – almost any sort – to those wedges

Sing tomato songs….

Tomato Songs from Red Beet Records in Nashville

Tomato Songs from Red Beet Records in Nashville

tomato-songs

 

But since the season also bring bulk tomatoes, cooking with the fresh fruit (and it is a fruit) is also an option.

Red Gravy d’Estate (for summer)

2 # fresh plum tomatoes

¼ pound butter

1 med yellow onion – not a Vidalia, just a regular ole onion, peeled and cut in half

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon sugar

  1. Wash the tomatoes in cold water. Dry.
  2. Cut them in half lengthwise. Put them in a covered pan, bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Run them through a food mill or strain them through a fine mesh colander. Put the puree back in the pan.
  4. Add the butter, the halfed onion salt and sugar.
  5. Cook at a low simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
  6. Taste and correct for salt; discard onion.( I save it for frittata)
  7. Serve over spaghetti.

Marcella Hazan. The Classic Italian Cookbook. Ballantine Books, (1973) 1984. p. 91.

Classic Italian cb

Marcella and Victor Hazan

Marcella and Victor Hazan

Since I started writing this post, edibleSouth Shore and South Coast have set up a workshop for, you guessed it, Tomato Sauce. I’ll let you know how goes….

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Filed under Books, Eating, Influencers, The 1980's

Red Gravy…on a just another Meatless Monday

NOT to be confused with red-eye gravy,

Red eye gravy needs a ham steak a-frying and some black coffee to make it, well, red-eye. If there are some long cooked greens and some grits nearby, maybe a biscuit....heaven comes in many forms

Red eye gravy needs a ham steak a-frying and some black coffee to make it, well, red-eye. If there are some long cooked greens and some grits nearby, maybe a biscuit….heaven comes in many forms

which is delightful in it’s own right, just not a tomato sauce to put on macaroni.

This is not Sunday Gravy which always has meat, just basic marinara. Because Italian isn’t as nearly as much one language with dialects as it claims to be, as several languages that have a common Italian accent. The words for sauce/gravy include  sugo/salsa al/di pomodoro or pummarola ...and there are more, and that’s barely getting us out of something with tomatoes that goes over pasta type sauce, and there is a world of others….little wonder they translate into so many variations….not so much”same meat/different gravy”  as “Same gravy/different names”.

Back to the story….

One of the things I discovered when I moved out on my own  that as a single, the pantry and proportions of food I grew up within a large family were completely wrong.

I had to start over and reinvent the wheel.,

Or at least the rotelle…

Rotelle - wheel shaped pasta

Rotelle – wheel shaped pasta

Especially the rotelle – and all the other macaronis. (Back in the day, we called them ‘macaronis’: we were macaroni eaters )

Mangiamaccheroni - we were not allowed to us our hands...

Mangiamaccheroni – we were not allowed to eat macaroni with our hands at the table – EVER.

My mother’s red gravy – or tomato sauce as we say now – was a BIG BATCH affair. Since I’m the oldest of six… and four of them were growing boys – with no dainty appetites – well, let’s just say this didn’t translate well for a single, especially one who decided to be a vegetarian.

But I had been reading about Italian food…..trying to find the dishes and the tastes that my family cooked and talked about.

We talked a lot about food. I thought everyone did. All the time.  I am an not a foodie, thank you very much, I am Italian.

Don’t be fooled by my Irish face – but back to the gravy.

James Beard to the rescue.

Beard on Pasta

Beard on Pasta

Red Gravy (for Winter)

28-oz can whole tomatoes (in puree)

2 small onions, diced*

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon dried basil (or one frozen stalk)**

4   Tablespoons Butter***

  1. Put the diced onion and basil in your saucepan.
  2. Open the can of tomatoes (make sure to wash the top of the can first, and when was the last time you cleaned that can opener?) Says the voice in my head –  maybe it’s just a Big Sister thing…).
  3. With your impeccably clean hands, pick out the tomatoes and crush them directly into the pan. No finger licking until the last tomato is in!
  4. Pour in whatever puree remains in the pan, and cook over medium high heat, stirring often, for about 20 minutes.
  5. Add the butter at the end, letting it melt and enrich the sauce.
  6. If you use the frozen basil stalk, fish it out before serving.
  7.  If you want a super smooth sauce, puree in the food processor or force through a strainer. I never want a smoother sauce more then I don’t want more dishes…
  8. If you’ve started a pot of water for your macaroni at the same time everything should be done together.

James Beard. Beard On Pasta. Alfred A. Knopf. 1983. p.73.

* He says sliced. He doesn’t say garlic, which I add a clove or two, well chopped.

**I freeze basil in the summer – it turns black and scary looking, but leaves a great basil taste. JB suggests that oregano or tarragon could be used.  Oregano is fine – with or without basil; I would go so far as to suggest even a very little rosemary or the merest pinch of a fresh sage leaf. A pinch of cinnamon is very good, too. Tarragon?? It would seem that Mamma Beard was NOT from Italy.

***This was the very first time I had ever seen butter and tomatoes together in a pot. I used olive oil for years, and one day got brave….it IS very good.

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Filed under Influencers, Perception ways, Recipe, The 1980's

One Hot Tomato

Just another meatless Monday…..

If you asked my mother, she’ll tell you I don’t like tomatoes.

Tomato_scanned

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I LOVE tomatoes, and it is out of love of tomatoes that I pick them out salads all winter long.

I love tomatoes fresh from the garden, which here in Plymouth is possibly July, definitely August and into early September.

I buy tomatoes at the Plymouth Farmers Market and sometimes from roadside stands – and there do seem to be fewer of them with each passing year – and I accept them – greedily- fresh from the gardens of my friends and family.

Random passing strangers with bulging bags of fresh produce are never turned away, either.

It wasn’t until I moved out and lived on my own that I realized I didn’t have to eat pink cottony golf balls that are sold under the name of tomato in winter time – nicely packaged in little plastic crates – at all.Bright_red_tomato_and_cross_section02

I also love all sorts of canned tomato products, and dried tomatoes and tomato paste, especially in the little toothpaste like tube.Progresso canned tomatotomato paste tube

I needed one tomato to make Flora’s Lentils and Macaroni, so I did what I always do in the winter in the grocery store – I bee lined it straight for the mark down produce rack.

My winter shopping often starts here.

I started collected cauliflower recipes because it was so often found here, and often for under a dollar.

Good Eats at a Great Price!

And often things are repackaged or trimmed in such a way that for the single or single plus one, a much more reasonable haul.

So I found a package of tomatoes, one of which went into the lentils…what to do with the rest?

And FAST – even at LOW LOW prices I don’t want to pay cash money for compost.

One way to improve and generally pump up the flavor of tomatoes is to heat them up. Think hot summer sun and fresh off the vine……

These tomatoes are a long way from their vine, and the sun is not heating up much here (or if it is, the snowfall is masking it it). That leaves cooking them.

But First – a few words about

Jacques Pepin

Jacques Pepin in 2006

Jacques Pepin in 2006

Years ago,on some cooking show (but it was in color so after 1977)  where Jacques was trimming various vegetables, cutting and chatting and moving the trimmed bits into a scrap bowl….and then he caught sight of these so-called scraps out of the corner of his eye, and paused, speechless. With the knife still in one hand, with the other he pulled (and for the life of me I can NOT remember what) part of the discard OUT of the scrap bowl . He peered below the counter. He put down the knife, pulled out a second bowl, placed the now NOT garbage vegetative bits in second bowl and said either “for soup” or “for something else” and continued with the regular show.

This whole maneuver probably took under 10 seconds.

It also summed what I dislike most about cooking shows and  food magazines –

In the quest for the best,

 We toss aside far too much of the very good and the perfectly fine.

There’s a world of good eating, and often very, very good eating, in the bits that aren’t best. Cooking /seasoning/mixing things up together can make good things better.

And this is why I’m a major Jacques Pepin fan. He saved the good. Even when it wasn’t part of the script. Bravo, Jacques!

And now for

Pappa al pomodoro

(One Hot Tomato Bread Soup)

 

1 large out of season tomato

1 Tbs olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

4 oz day old, slightly stale crusty bread*

1 oz fresh basil or fresh rocket, coarsely chopped **

Salt and pepper, to taste

Olive oil (for sprinkling)

1 Tbl grated Parmesan cheese***

  1. Core and peel the tomato, then roughly chop, saving the drippings.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stirringly cook until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes.

  3. Add tomato and juice and bring to a boil. Simmer for 3-5 minutes or until tomato starts to soften and break down.

  4. Add the bread to the tomato. Continue cooking for 5 minutes or until the bread soaks up the sauce.

  5. Stir in the leafy greens, salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes more. Scrape into a warm bowl and sprinkle with more olive oil and grated cheese.

adapted from Pappa al pomodoroThe Boston Globe, August 20, 2008. Jonathan Levitt.

* I’m using one of Jenny’s Bread Cheese Rolls, hence the weight  specific. Otherwise part of a stale loaf – pull it apart and leave it out for a while to hurry the staling (for the truly impatient a minute or two in the oven will dry it out)

** I almost never have fresh basil in the house in the winter (too cold grow citrus is also too cold to keep basil; I freeze it, which turns it black, which is fine for sauce because you can fish it out before serving, but this needs a little more substance). Rocket is another name for arugula and you need some zingy-zangy greenage to add here.

*** I actually prefer Romano, but PLEASE -nothing fr0m the green shaker can!

Pappa al pomodoro - pappa is indeedy related to pap....and pomodoro is tomato

Pappa al pomodoro – pappa is indeedy related to pap….and pomodoro is tomato

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Filed under Bread, Recipe