Tag Archives: garlic

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

A Tale of Two Recipes

Recipe the First:

The Recipe not followed…….

‘It was the best of times, it was – not exactly the worst of times, but definitely a sub-prime, not all cylinders sparking, Dickens of time.

Travel back in time to earlier in January. This January.

Weather forecast says clear; next day it snows. Weather forecast says snow. Next day is sunny and warm. The weather is not going to be average, although the stats are going to ultimately read that. Even this week the temperature range is from -11 to +48. In One Week. Which will average out to average which is why: nothing is average and average is lie.

Also – when I shop, I go to the back of the Produce section and check out the markdown rack, and fill my cart out after that. In the last few years (decades) I’ve been able to score cauliflower galore for very very little money. Once upon a time there was a soup recipe that called for roasted cauliflower, before the world had discovered roasted veg….maybe Gourmet or Bon Apeptit. We were living on Pleasant Street. I had my discount cauliflower, broke it apart, tossed it with oil, a little S&P, popped it into a hot oven, let the heat do it’s magic. It came out to be added to the rest of the soup fixin’s but as it was cooling…..I re-wrote the recipe to start by roasting 2 cauliflower, one to snack on and one for the soup.

Cauliflower

And NOW since everyone is roasting veg ALL THE TIME AND there’s a drought in California, cauliflower is now puny and rather sad looking and as expensive as beef…..

I don’t eat as much cauliflower as I have been the last few years/decades.

Which brings me back to broccoli. Broccoli was the standard green veg on our table growing up. Green Beans had their place, but broccoli was the Jolly Green Giant of the supper tale. Boiled and served with lemon and butter. The lemon is what made the difference. We all ate it all the time.

Which meant it was sometimes leftover. Cold, with a little more lemon, great on a lunch salad. When my son was little, leftover broccoli was chopped and added to the next night’s mac and cheese, or sometimes the chopped broccoli and olive oil was the macaroni sauce.

So, when the January 13th, 2016 NYT had a Recipes for Health column headlined:

Broccoli’s Saucy Side

I said YES, I remember that, I used to do that!!!!. I could do it again!

Sidebar – This is the way I generally feel Martha Rose Shulman’s column, and I have several of her books and always get distracted when I dip in. I do so wish that the column weren’t called Recipes for Health which sounds like more heavy lifting and less fun then it is. Why not call it Recipes for a Life Well Lived?

Back- … so I got some nicer looking, more my price range broccoli.

Saucy Broccoli, here I come!

The first part of cooking from a recipe is reading the recipe from start to finish.

Then – gather your ingredients and batterie de cuisine

Do not, in other words, put the water on to cook the broccoli BEFORE you’ve read the recipe the whole way through.

And thus begins the ‘not followed’ portion of the program.

It called for broccoli and I had broccoli – so far, so good. Although I hadn’t weighed it and it was….markdown broccoli. Trimmed and ready to go.

 

It called for fusilli and I had pipettes. In the pasta world, they’re same family, similar enough form and therefore function.

 

fusili

fuselli

pipettes

pipettes

It called for garlic, I got out the garlic.

It called for anchovy fillets and I ….

I often have anchovy in the house, and if I did, where would they be? Or are anchovies one of those staples that I current don’t have? And why didn’t I look at this before I went to the store earlier?

BUT

WAIT

I was just this afternoon reading something something and it called for anchovies and it said, “To make this vegan, substitute chopped capers for the chopped anchovy”

YES. Capers, olives, vinegar and hot peppers are all part of my

Fridge Door Pantry Collection.

Open the Fridge – mustards, rooster sauce, leaf lard, fresh ginger, Parmesan cheese….what, no pickled condiments??????Not even giardiniera? Quel dommage!

giardianero jar

Not even an empty jar…..

Now the pot of water is boiling, so I throw the broccoli in. Two minutes to come up with a B plan…..

Open the fridge, open the freezer, open the ONE cupboard that had foodstuffs in it…….

Hot pepper flakes? Yes. Mise those in place.

Olive oil? Also yes, ready to go next to the hot pepper.

Garlic?

garlic

Garlic? Garlic? Bueller??? Where did I put the garlic?

Fine garlic, play hide and seek….wait, beside the olive oil is the fancy flavored olive oil ….Orange Olive Oil….with some raisins in the cupboard and hot pepper and some almonds…..that’s impromptu sorta Sicilian style. Works for me.

So – put the Orange Olive Oil in a pan, toss in the chopped broccoli, add the chopped almonds, toss in a handful of raisins, sprinkle with the hot pepper flakes towards the end. Save some of the pasta water before I drain the pipettes…..pulling a little pasta water is my new fun thing to do with macaroni. I really helps to keep it loose and doesn’t just water down the flavor. It’s a secret magic ingredient, especially if you can remember to do it before you pour it all down the drain.

Mix the macaroni with the hot veg, toss like crazy. Add a little of the pasta water if you need it. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

And this is how I didn’t make Broccoli’s Saucy Side.

As for the garlic….it was in the other room with the car keys near the door…somethings are best not questioned too closely.

to be continued…..

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Filed under Recipe, winter

National Potato Day!

Who knew?

Who decides these things?

Does it matter?

This works out for a Meatless Monday……

 Spuds and Squash.

Pumpkin and Potatoes.

The Smashing Pumpkins  - A rock band, not to be confused with a side dish

The Smashing Pumpkins – A rock band, not to be confused with a side dish

 

Mr potato head

Mr Potato Head LOVES that it’s National Potato Day…and is maybe a little afraid…He won’t be doing The Mashed Potato anytime soon.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND POTATOES WITH ROSEMARY

1 ½ pounds potatoes (about 4 cups)

1 ½ pounds butternut (or acorn or Hubbard or other firm winter squash – I’ll be using my leftover jack o lantern next week…)

6 garlic cloves (if they’re small, I’ve used more)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup water

1 2” piece fresh rosemary

 

  1. Peel and cut the potatoes into ½” wedges (they need to be a little smaller than the squash pieces). Put in the slow cooker.
  2. Peel and cut the squash into 1” cubes (squash cooks faster than potatoes). Put in the slow cooker.
  3. Add the garlic to the squash and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Drizzle on the olive oil and mix well.
  5. Add the water and tuck in the rosemary sprig.
  6. Cover and cook on high about 3 hours. The potatoes and squash should be tender when pierced with a knife.
  7. Serve hot.

Makes 6 servings.

From Michele Scicolone. The Italian Slow Cooker. p. 187.

Italian slow cooker book

Top with parsley and you have the flag of Ireland…just saying.

Leftover can be reheated and topped with a little cheese, whatever little cheese you happen to have on hand. Or mixed with some beaten eggs and maybe a slice of bacon to make a world class frittata.

Better on a Thanksgiving table then the usual smushed and smashed – it really is 2 great tastes that taste great together! And with the slow cooker, how easy and no worries about how to fit it into the oven.

If you cook the squash alone, with the oil and the rosemary, which would be an almost ready sauce for pasta, especially if you use wine instead of the water….

Michele Scicolone (click on her name to get to her website) has written several slow cooker books, but I haven’t finished this one yet, in part because I keep cooking from it over and over, going back to an old favorite, and then finding a potential new favorite.

When words are not enough.....

When words are not enough…..

 

 

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24 Carrot Gold

Exactly how  many carrots are to a pound depend on the size of the carrots, but if you have 24 lovely little carrots, or about 3 pounds (2 1/2 pounds for cooking and a 1/2 pound for snacking) you can make some carrot salad for the days that remind you that although the Dog Days are over, summer isn’t really over quite yet, and some carrot soup for the days can get chilly and tell you Fall is coming soon, just not as soon as all the pumpkin flavored everything that is available would seem to indicate.

More then enough carrots here to make both soup and salad

More then enough carrots here to make both soup and salad, and have a little carrot nosh in the interim

CARROT SALAD

¾ cup dried chick peas or white beans

1 or 2 garlic cloves

1 ½ pounds carrots

1/3 cup olive oil

¼ cup vinegar –wine or cider

¼ – ½ cup chopped parsley

1 or 2 cloves garlic, crushed

Scallions OR fresh cut chives or garlic chives (you might want to omit the garlic cloves if you go this route)

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground cumin or ground coriander

Optional –

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

And/or 1/3 cup minced fresh dill

  1. Cook the chickpeas or the beans with the garlic. Drain well.
  2. Peel the carrots, or merely scrub them well if they’re very fresh and thin skinned. Cut them into thin, flat matchstick pieces, 1½ inches long by ¼ inch wide. Steam them for 5 – 10 minutes – just tender.
  3. Rinse under cold running water and drain well.
  4. Combine olive oil, vinegar, herbs and spices in a large bowl.
  5. Add cooked beans and mix well.
  6. Add cooked carrots and toss gently.
  7. Cover tightly and refrigerate.

4-6 servings

Adapted from Mollie Katzan. Still Life with Menu Cookbook. Ten Speed Press. 1988. pp. 157-8.Still life with Menu

Carrots come in many colors and can be used interchangeably

Carrots come in many colors and can be used interchangeably

CREAMY CARROT SOUP

2 cup chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into rounds

4 cups broth

1 cup white wine

½ cup ricotta cheese

½ teaspoon celery seed or dill seed

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cook onions and garlic in butter over medium heat until translucent.
  2. Add carrots and cook. Covered, another 5-10 minutes, until the carrots start to sweat (the juices start to come out of them).
  3. Add broth and wine, raise heat.
  4. Bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer until the carrots are soft.
  5. Puree mixture in a blender or a food processor.
  6. Put the puréed back in the pan over low heat and add ricotta, celery seed and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Heat thoroughly and serve.

Makes about 2 quarts.

From A Musical Treat: Good Food is Music for the Palate. Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra Volunteer League. 1995. p.49.This is a recipe I contributed. It’s an amalgam of several different recipes that finally became mine.

carrot blossom-Daucus_carota_May_2008-1_edit

Carrot in flower – Queen Anne’s Lace is really wild carrot. It used to be known as Bird’s Nest. Those little flower ends keep curling up as they form seeds

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Filed under Books, Recipe, Summer

Feast!

A Mediterranean Feast
Clifford A. Wright. William Morrow and Co, Inc. 1999.

 

Travel, travel back in time to February  2001.

med-feast
Price: $35

A price generally out of my range (under $10) for books I wanted for no good reason they …booklust.

BUT –  Waldenbooks sent me a birthday gift coupon.waldenbooks

Thank you Waldenbooks, even though my patronage couldn’t keep you in the black…

Walden books also sent me a  5 buck certificate because of my Christmas spending – books being an Aunties best gift.

Soo – I went birthday shopping for me to Waldenbook.  I took a really long time trying to figure out the best bang for my meager buck. The woman working that night knew me – my son and I were regulars. When I finally decided I would spend the money and buy the book I really, really for no logical reason wanted , I heighed me ho to the counter.

Put down the book.

Put down the 5 buck certificate.

Put down the Birthday coupon.

Put down my credit card.

She looked at the stack. Asked me when my birthday was…then she said she was going to give me a frequent customer discount…… total cost :

$1.50.

Happy Birthday to me!

It was a Thursday night…..and I had Fridays off, so after the boy was tucked into bed I started reading.

Introduction
XVIII
“ As you read the book, I hope that you will let it inform your culinary thinking, your sense of history, but I hope you will also cook from it. This is the whole point of the book: to cook the food. ….. If you are not a cook or are not a confident cook, taste an olive, read a little, and you will start to tackle the simpler recipes and perhaps gain what the Arabs call al-nafas , the culinary equivalent of the gardener’s green thumb.”

Oh, yes this was such a good choice….Oh, Clifford Wright! Clifford_Headshot 2012REZ

Part 1: The Algebra of Mediterranean Gastronomy
Chapter 1 “The Historical Foundation of Mediterranean Gastronomy”

On page 3 there is a  cabbage soup recipe…but it called for 2 cabbages – red and green, as well as pancetta and prosciutto, but also beans and potatoes, a real kitchen sink sort of soup. I have made this since then, but not the first night I read the book.
Page 15   this recipe…

L’ollanda (Roussillon)

This is essentially old fashioned endless stew (from the Old French aeuller, to replenish. Among the ingredients is ¾ of a pound of Savoy cabbage. I thought “I have a half of cabbage in the fridge”….so I got up and made sure.
Bean, leek, thyme – I put them on the table. One pound of potatoes – weighed out and also on the table. Cabbage – still in the fridge and fit to go. I picked through my small white beans and put ¼ pound of them on to soak.
In the morning, it being my day off, after I drank my coffee, I put the beans in my soup pot with 6 quarts of water, some dried thyme and a 2 bay leaves (they were small) and brought it to a boil.
I was lugging the book, all 800 plus pages of it around the kitchen, checking the recipe, which was simplicity itself, while also reading ahead.
While the beans simmered, I took the last large leek, a good sized chunk of salt pork (it calls for 6 ounces and this piece was close enough for horseshoes) cut them all to a dice and added to the beans at the one hour mark. I usually brown leeks and salt pork, but once begun….The directions warn you not to wander away because you need to stir occasionally, and I thought of how thoughtful Mr. Wright was….and took out some olives to snack on…..
I sliced the cabbage and peeled and diced the potatoes so that they were ready to add ½ hour after the leek went in. Tasted for seasoning, add lots of pepper and some salt, then the cabbage and potatoes.
10 or 15 minutes later all was tender and good. This is the part to add some goose of duck fat, which is not an uncommon grease to find in my fridge….some people collect Hummels, I collect grease. What, I should pour it down the drain? Anyhow, if it wasn’t fowl fat, it was some olive oil that I floated on top. Cabbage, like it’s turnip cousin, really needs to served well lubricated.
And thus, lunch was served.
With leftovers for lunch throughout the week.

Vincenco Campi Cucina

Vincenco Campi , Cucina, p. 359

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Kale

Kale is one of those vegetables that is never out of season, or it least so it seems. It is often the the workhorse green, and only recently has gotten trendy.

Kale - this is the curly kind

Kale – this is the curly kind

Tuscan or black kale

Tuscan or black kale

It seems that the words ‘kale’ and ‘chips’ are now partnered, like ‘potato’ and ‘chips’  or ‘fish’ and ‘chips’ or even ‘wood’ and ‘chips’……

Kale Chips from Wiki How

Kale Chips from WikiHow

Since you might very well have kale on hand right this minute…here are some suggestions from what I’m reading right this minute.

Good with

  • Garlic – lots of garlic
  • Something sharp – lemon juice, vinegars
  • Something mellow – olive oil
  • Red pepper flakes, hot pepper sauce
  • Bacon – just a little – or other strong sausages – linguica and chorizo are very good
  • Smoked paprika and smoked salt
Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison

Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison

from Deborah Madison. Vegetable Literacy.Ten Speed Press: 2013. p. 134.

 

But when I think of kale, I think of potatoes…like Colcannon or Caldo Verde. Not the trendy kales, the traditional ones.

So here’s a soup that right anytime of the year, and is all but guaranteed to make any day better.

BACK TO BASIC KALE AND POTATO SOUP

3 TBL olive oil

8-10 garlic cloves, minced (or just use the whole head)

¼ – ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 Quarts vegetable stock (or water)

4 cups peeled and finely diced potatoes (about 4 medium – she calls for waxy potatoes, which will hold their shape, but I also like it when the potatoes give up their shape…)

1 # kale, washed and stripped of the nasty rib (DM says, “It’s as tough as rope and will never get tender, ever.”) and chopped or cut into ribbons

1 teaspoon salt (used a smoked salt to change it up or if you’d like less garlic)

 

  1. Heat the oil in a pot large enough to hold everything by the end over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook 1 minutes. Do not let the garlic get as all brown. It should smell good (it should smell GREAT) – you’re infusing the oil to help those flavor compounds carry.
  2. Pour in the stock (or water), raise the heat to high and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the potatoes, lower the heat and keep at a lively simmer. Cook the potatoes for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the kale and the salt and cook 15 more minutes.

Serves 4-6 as a main course.

Adapted from Jeanne Lemlin. Simple Vegetarian Pleasures. HarperCollins, 1998. p. 119.

Simple Veg Pleasures

There are 2 covers for this book...of course I can't remember which one is mine, even though I looked at it 3 hours ago and I've owned it pretty much throughout this entire century

There are 2 covers for this book…of course I can’t remember which one is mine, even though I looked at it 3 hours ago and I’ve owned it pretty much throughout this entire century

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Filed under Books, Recipe

Fresh Garlic Soup

This is the sort of thing that could be meatless or not, it all depends on the broth you use. In most Italian soup, you actually use water, because the flavor comes from all the things you put into the pot.

This isn’t  a strictly  Italian soup, but comes from the cookbook Food To Die For which is more or less a companion cookbook for the  Kay Scarpetta mystery series by Patrica Cornwell and Kay Scarpetta cooks Italian.

Patrica Cornwell

Patrica Cornwell

Now, there’s nothing I like better then a good mystery, especially for a Friday night. Give me a problem, some fast paced sleuthing and then: TA DA DAA: Problem Solved.  A nice break from work, a little vacation to someone else’ s world and then back to reality, all the loose ends neatly tied up. The best mysteries involve some personality, and Kay Scarpetta turns to the kitchen when things get rough, which makes her my kind of person.

Food To Die For

Food To Die For

This is a cookbook that my son gave me more then 10 years ago, and I actually cook from it quite a bit.

Cornwell  has a really nice pizza – and one should have a repertoire of pizza recipes, because one is never enough, and there’s even a grilled pizza recipe that I haven’t tried yet…maybe this summer is the grilled pizza summer…  There is also a chili that was one of the go-tos for Wednesday Chili Nights. Wait till Wednesday.

Last month, at the Rhode Island Flower Show, when I wasn’t chatting up the Fabulous Beekman Boys or Roger Swain from the Victory Garden.

Roger Swain, formerly of The Victory Garden with fanboys Brent and Josh

Roger Swain, formerly of The Victory Garden with fanboys Brent and Josh

I purchased a bag of heirloom garlics from the Landreth Seed Company booth .

Landreth Catalogue 2013_lg

There keeping their prices at 2013 levels – same catalog good for this year too!

After the woman behind the booth told me it was culinary garlic, maybe 3 0r 4 times….I assured her I had every intention of eating it and not planting, but it wasn’t until I said,”Who plants garlic in the Spring?” she knew my intentions and rang up my purchase. Then I realized if you don’t grow garlic round here, maybe you would try to plant it in the spring. I just need to eat it.

garlic line drawing

William Woodville, Medical Botany, 1793.

Fresh Garlic Soup

10 or so cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

Olive oil

Carrots – one or 2 depending on their size – grated

2 cups stock*(potato peel broth, chicken stock, beef stock – or even water – whatever is in your pantry)

Chopped fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1 egg (she uses 3 egg yolks and makes twice as much as this)

Splash of wine/sherry/beer/vinegar +sugar +water

¼ cup freshly grated Parmigianino- Reggiano cheese

Chopped fresh Italian parsley

Salt and fresh ground pepper

2 slices good bread (by good bread I mean something not so WONDERful that has nothing to add to the bowl)

  1. Two circles of olive oil around your pan, over medium heat add carrots and garlic. Stand there stirring for the 3-4 minutes for it to be tender but not brown.
  2. Add stock, thyme and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat and then lower heat to a simmer.
  3. Simmer COVERED for about half an hour.
  4. Turn off the heat. Discard the bay leaf. Moosh things around. (She tosses it into a food processor…you know where I stand on that. If I need garlic soup, I’m in no good place to face a sink full of dishes.)
  5. If you’ve got an alcoholic flavor component, splash it in now
  6. In a small bowl which together 1 Tablespoon olive oil and the egg. Add the grated cheese and mix together a little more.
  7. Gradually add ¼ cup of the hot soup to the egg/cheese/oil mixture and then add it back to the pot.
  8. Heat soup medium high, again stirring, stirring, stirring until it thickens, 8 – 10 minutes (I think). Don’t let it boil or it will curdle.
  9. Stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  10. Toast the bread and put a slice in each bowl. Pour the soup over. (If it curdles, you can still eat the soup. Toast and butter the bread and put it on top of the soup….let it sop up for a minute or two while inhaling and saying grace and you’ve got a peasant dish fit for royalty.)

Adapted from Patricia Cornwall and Marlene Brown. Food To Die For. G. P. Putnam’s Sons. 2001. pp.78-9.

The COMPLETE Book of Garlic - on my list...

The COMPLETE Book of Garlic – on my list…

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Aglio e Olio

Aglio and Olio is Garlic and Oil and that’s another Meatless Monday Dish.

garlic lots

The Garlic and Oil are the sauce for spaghetti.

Spaghetti with Garlic and Oil

10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced(most other recipes call for less – but then it’s merely garlic-ish and not garlic. Garlic keeps you healthy and the parsley helps your breath)

6 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley ( plus more for sprinkling on top)

1 pound spaghetti

Grating cheese

  1. Start a pot of water for the spaghetti
  2. Put olive oil and slice garlic in another pan over medium heat. PAY CLOSE ATTENTION HERE. Do not get distracted for the next 3-4 minutes. Stir this occasionally until the garlic just starts to begin to brown – 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the red pepper flakes and the chopped parsley. Stir it around and remove from the heat.
  4. When the water comes to a boil, add salt and the spaghetti.  Cook until al dente. Save a ½ cup of the pasta water and then drain.
  5. Put the spaghetti back in the cooking pot, add the garlic and oil mixture and ¼ cup of the pasta water. Toss over medium heat until all the spaghetti is well coated, adding more water if necessary.
  6. Serve with grated cheese.

From Mario Batali. Molto Gusto. p. 140.

Molto Mario

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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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