Tag Archives: tomato sauce

Postmortem

patrica cornwell Postmortem

is the name of a book by Patrica Cornwell and there was a copy in the coffee shop last week, so I took it home for a weekend read.

kisskadee interior

The coach is now in another nook, but around that corner is a bookcase for take one or leave one library. And, yes, MOM, I’ve left plenty.Like I’ll leave this little murder mystery. Eventually.

I’ve read it before, but a good mystery can be read more then once. Patrica Cornwell also has Dr. Kay Scarpetta  (the focus character) be a good enough that she is mentioned on the cover of  a cookbook….

Food to Die For

I’ve mentioned this cookbook before – in

Wednesdays Were Chili Nights and

Fresh Garlic Soup

A little quote from Postmortem:

When all else fails, I cook.

Some people go out after a god-awful day and slam a tennis ball around or jog their joints to pieces on a fitness course. I had a friend in Coral Gables who would escape to the beach with her folding chair and burn off her stress with sun and a slightly pornographic romance she wouldn’t have been caught dead reading in her professional world—she was a district court judge. Many of the cops I know wash away their miseries with beer at the FOP lounge.

I’ve never been particularly athletic, and there wasn’t a decent beach within reasonable driving distance. Getting drunk never solved anything. Cooking was an indulgence I didn’t have time for most days, and though Italian cuisine isn’t my only love, it has always been what I do best.

– Cornwell, Patricia. Postmortem. Impress. 1990. p. 128

This is the other reason I keep going back to Kat Scarpetta. I, too, don’t play tennis or swim or get drunk and I don’t have time for cooking – really cooking , not just throwing something together   –  most days. But if I can knead dough or roll out a pastry or chop some onions and add tomatoes……order returns to the world.

Anyhow, Kay goes on to make a pizza with more topping then I would put on a pie, but that’s just me.I’ve got a few mushrooms, and of course, onions and garlic, and there’s a sausage or two lurking in the freezer….I may have to go to the corner store for mozzarella, in which case it will probably be the pre-shredded stuff…..easy-easy

 

Pizza

Dough:
3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cup  bread flour (Of course, I do not make a trip to the store just for this. I’ve used white, wheat and a combination of all three. Bread flour with the higher gluten takes more abuse and makes a very nice crust)
1 packet yeast (I buy in bulk and I have a special yeast measuring spoon, so I have to look up how much that is every-time I write a recipe out. It’s 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup very warm water
1 tablespoon honey (this actually helps with the browning and moisture content of the finished crust – if you don’t have honey, just leave it out. Sugar will make it a weensy bit sweeter but won’t work like honey.But the little dab of honey is really a secret ingredient and makes this dough different then other doughs)
2 tablespoon olive oil (+ more for the pan)

1) In a medium bowl, combine 3 cups of flour, yeast and salt. Stir in warm water, honey and oil, stirring until mixture begins to leave the sides of the bowl.

2) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a ball. Knead for about 10 minutes or until it is soft, smooth and elastic, adding enough of the remaining flour to keep the dough from sticking.

3) Place the dough in a large greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel  Let the dough rise for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled.

5) Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface knead to release the air bubbles. Cut the dough in half and shape each into a ball. Cover and let rest while preparing your toppings.

Toppings:

3/4 pound whole milk fresh mozzarella or 3 cups pre-shredded (if you’re not gonna get the fresh stuff – which is just about everywhere these days, unlike in 1990…just get the pre-shredded stuff. If you have fresh, cut it up and place on paper towels to drain. If you use your salad spinner as a colander, you can even give it a spin or two to shake off the excess moisture)

Any or all of the following:

2 Tbls olive oil

4 cloves (or more) of garlic, sliced or diced

2 sausages, whichever you like

2 bell peppers, any color or combination of colors, cut into strips

2 slice onions ( I’ve used red, yellow, white, Vidalia – no bad choices here) slice thin (or chopped if you’d prefer)

1 large Portabello mushroom or other ‘shrooms to equal 1 1/2 cups cut up

a little more olive oil

basil, oregano

salt and black pepper

2 cups red gravy

1/2 cup grated (freshly – use the fine side of the grater!) Parmigiano-Reggiano

  1. Is the mozzarella draining? Start draining.
  2.  Put the olive oil in a pan (big enough to hold your topping) Put in the slice sausage, then onion, then peppers, then mushrooms, then garlic…stir it all around. You want to shake all the raw out, and start the carmelization.
  3. Drain on a paper towel
  4. Preheat oven to 450°.
  5. You can make 2 -12 inch pizzas, or one big pan pizza (10 x 15) or make one pizza and freeze the other half of the dough for later.
  6. Oil you pan, roll, stretch or pat your dough into place
  7. spread dough with sauce (1 cup for each 12 inch pizza – adjust accordingly)
  8. Add toppings
  9. Put mozzarella on top and sprinkle lightly with Parmigiano-Reggiano
  10. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is beginning to brown.
  11. Cut into pieces and mangia tutti!

 

 

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Filed under Books, Italian, Pizza

Two Many Tomatoes

Two is more than one. Quite actually, many, many, many more than one. One tomato is easy to handle. tomatoEat it. Maybe even out of hand. One perfect tomato sandwich to eat over the sink. Add it to just about anything.
More than one tomato, find other ways, many other ways, to eat them…..

one, two, three, four, FIVE. Five tomatoes

one, two, three, four, FIVE. Five tomatoes

So I learned to can. Cherry tomatoes.In a class. With Rosa Galano. But Friendship sauce is a post on it’s own.

This photo was on edible South Shore and South Coasts Facebook page, Michael Hart, photographer. I'm the big knife and part of a hand in front on the right side.

This photo was on edible South Shore and South Coasts Facebook page, Michael Hart, photographer. I’m the big knife and part of a hand in front on the right side.

and that was Wednesday night, and I had too many tomatoes on Monday afternoon. Not just cherry tomatoes. Big tomatoes. Big Ripe tomatoes. Big Ripe Juicy tomatoes. Lots of them. A BAG FULL. That needed eating NOW. Or at least very close to now. Thank you, Mindy.

Mindy was my Pilgrim sister. Here's she with Cindy.

Mindy was my Pilgrim sister. Here’s she with Cindy.

Stop drooling, start slicing.

A One, Two Tomato Punch.

These are guidelines more than recipes, which are what recipes really ought to be seen as.

Tomato salad.

1. Tomatoes, chopped/sliced/diced – whatever the tomato tells you it should be.
2. Fresh basil, eating fast because cold nights are coming and that marks the end of it, unless you’re clever and have already potted it up and brought it indoors and put it in a sunny window that you aren’t likely to leave open at night or you could have save yourself the trouble and just left it OUT in the cold….
3. Good oil.
4. Vinegar. Change out the vinegars – red wine, white wine, balsamic, raspberry (I have fruit vinegars for beets, but they’re good on tomatoes, too). Mint or tarragon vinegar when I’m not using basil. Just this is the basic salad.
5. Salad Improved: Add cheese – fresh mozzarella, or blue or feta or a few shavings of Romano.
6. And add a piece of bread to mop up the juices, and now it’s a meal.

The Happy Meal of My People!

And then…..

Tomato salad because Saucy

Tomato Sass

1. Cook a pound of spaghetti, or other member of the skinny-strandy branch of the Pasta Family.
2. In another pan, fry up a well chopped onion with a clove or 2 of garlic in oil. A pinch or two of hot pepper (or a spoonful of the chopped red hot peppers is nor amiss, either) if you like. Cook it up nice. If you have more fresh basil, add a little chopped now, too. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Drain spaghetti.
4. Add the onions and the oil, toss.
5. Add Tomato Salad, without improvements. 2, 3, even 4 cups worth. Toss again
6. Serve with cheese on top.

This is based/influenced on Victory Garden Cookbook

Victory Garden Cookbook - Marian Morash

Victory Garden Cookbook – Marian Morash

Cold Tomato Sauce with Hot Pasta. p. 320.

Very Loosely. Seeing the name alone set me on my way. Marian Morash has a slightly (very) different version that is also very good, or so say the splashes on the page.

Leftovers of this, mixed with eggs and fried , topped with more tomatoes and cheese, makes great fritatta.

There’s also a tomato jam somewhere…not in this cookbook, but in one nearby, one that I already trust. if/when there are more tomatoes. It’s still September, there are still more tomatoes.

Green_Tomatoes
And Green tomatoes. Emeril Lagasse has a green tomato pie with molasses ice cream, a combination that make me want to drool just reading the words, but I don’t have an ice cream maker (or I would make – and eat – one or two batches of ice cream every month/week/day/meal) so maybe I should be looking for some green tomatoes. But where in the Emeril world IS this recipe?????

Emeril Lagasse, 2009. BAM

Emeril Lagasse, 2009. BAM

 To be continued…..

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Filed under Eating, Recipe, 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