Tag Archives: tomato paste

Go for the BURN

It’s a summer for burn

There’s this Bern….

              

BernieSS -DNCDAY1-0726-16

Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during the 2016 Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Penn., on Monday, July 25, 2016. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)

 

         And the ever-present Sun-burn

Sunburnt_woman

Not me – a total stranger via Wikipedia

The good on the Grill burn  – more like a char, really

               grillingMeat_fillets

charburn2014-markby-sally

Charcoal Burn – it hasn’t happened yet, but it’s sneaking up there

And then there’s

Joanne’s Spaghetti Sauce.

I learned about this famous sauce from her son, Rick.

Back in the day, Rick was a pilgrim…..

Rick M WSJ Sally Rothemich

Rick McKee as a Pilgrim – as seen in the Wall Street Journal Nov. 29, 2012 – photo credit Sally Rothemich

We had some sort of pot-luck at work…I think it was charcoal burn….if not the first time, then later times. I witnessed this sauce on multiple occasions

Rick had a bag of groceries. He needed a pan for the sauce, and chopped onions and garlic and got them going, and open cans of tomatoes and sauce and threw them in.

He then wanted a frying pan. A HEAVY one. For the paste. To burn it.

Excuse me?????

A heavy pan to burn the paste in.

Yep, that’s what he said. That’s the secret.

Well, it’s no secret if the firetrucks come……make sure that the window is opened, turn on the overhead vent fans, and shut the door to keep the smoke detectors quiet. Fire extinguisher? Check and ready to go.

There’s a beautifully season cast iron skillet in the kitchen. If anything happens to it, all who touch it are doomed. Does he understand?

DOOMED! 

Rick puts the 10” cast iron skillet on the burner, turns the heat UP, opens the cans of paste and dumps them in. Wooden spoon in hand, he starts stirring, talking the whole while.

The darker you can get the paste, the better the sauce is.

Stir, stir, stirring.

It concentrates the tomato flavor. It releases the tomato flavor. It brings depth to the tomato flavor.

Stirring fairly vigorously.

Paste is already concentrated – frying it on high concentrates it even more.

Stirring, stirring, stirring.

The color changes.

This was in the long ago olden days before Alton Brown could explain about caramelization of the sugars in the paste, and who knows what else that high heat can bring out.

Finally, he says it’s done. He scrapes it into the pot of sauce, uses some water to deglaze the pan and adds that to the sauce, and turns the sauce down to a simmer.

After the deglazing, the skillet cleans up like a water glass.

He adds seasonings to the sauce and the kitchen smells DIVINE.

Like Sunday gravy. A visit to Italian side of the family.

It was good. Every time he made it, it was good.

Rick learned to make the sauce from his mother.

Joanne’s Favorite Spaghetti Sauce

Cover the bottom of large pan with oil. Chop one large onion and 2 cloves of garlic (cut garlic very fine). Add more garlic if so desired.

Cook in the oil over very low heat for a few minutes. (watch the garlic – it burns easily).

Add one large can of tomatoes and 2 cans tomato sauce. Add salt and let simmer.

Meatballs: 1 lb hamburger (or more if you want a lot of meatballs)

2 cloves garlic very fine, salt, pepper, add flavored breadcrumbs to own taste.

Add 3-4 eggs mix well. Roll in flour, fry til browned, let cool.

Fry 2 cans tomato paste.

Use high heat – in fact burn the paste. THIS is the secret.

Add to sauce.

Add water (2 cans or to own taste).

You can use the water to deglaze the meatball frying pan and add remnant paste to sauce.

Add Italian seasoning and sweet basil. Add meatballs. Let simmer 5-6 hours.

It always tastes better the next day.

 

* italics added by Rick

I got a copy of the recipe in 2009. Her family had it printed up to go with the Mass cards at her wake.

A recipe is one impressive memorial. You get to remember while cooking and again while eating.

And so in August, there will be one night that’s not quite so very hot, and I’ll see if I have tomato paste and bring out the cast iron skillet and go for the burn.

In loving memory of Joanne “Nana” McKee

August 8

1939-2009

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Filed under Recipe, Summer

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