Back to the big city from the small city. I haven't been able to write this blog for a few days now as the in-laws only have dial-up internet. If I wrote the blog at their place, I would use up all of their allotted time. I chose to cook and do research instead.
We loaded up the car with a few different items this time. We don't normally take canned foods there, we usually bring that back. Isn't that what is supposed to happen, you bring back food from your parents place rather than take it there? One of the things we wanted to do was make tomato sauce. So, in the back of the Audi we had 3 big tins of San Marzano tomatoes.
This recipe is fairly simple as I use it as a mother sauce for anything using a tomato-based sauce. This is why I'm using San Marzanos, the quality. If I am going to have a simple tomato sauce, I want the best tomatoes I can find. This way the flavour of the sauce is never an issue. I can also use the sauce for whatever I want even without adding anything to it. When cooking with San Marzano's, you will never go wrong keeping it simple as to not add to many other ingredients which will mask the flavour of what is arguably the worlds best tomato. They are considered to be because they have more meat than other types. And if some of you think canned tomatoes are not cool, think again. They are picked, blanched and canned at their peak of ripeness. One of the best ways to eat tomatoes is from a can, so don't knock it.
3 1.84 L or 62 fl. oz tins San Marzano Tomatoes
2 Large Onions, red or yellow
4 Large garlic cloves
2 Cans tomato paste
10 Large leaves basil (the San Marzanos had basil in the can already, so no need to add this if it exists already)
Sea salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper
2 Bay leaves
1-2 Tbls cumin (if desired)
Dice onions and mince the garlic. Set aside. Open the tins of tomatoes. You have two choices here: You can either take an immersion blender and puree the tomatoes in the can or just put them in a blender. Or, you can cook them down whole. I do both, but when I don't have a lot of time like this weekend, I use the boat motor (immersion blender). If you choose to cook them down, this should take about 2-3 hours, all the while smushing the tomatoes gently with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Add the EVOO to a pot over medium heat. Add the onions when the oil is hot enough. If you choose to use the cumin, add it here. The eat will add a slight smokey aroma and flavour to it. Stir, add a teaspoon or more of pepper. Add some sea salt, about a teaspoon as well to make the juices come out. This way the onions won't burn and will add a little extra flavour to the sauce. When the onions are translucent or almost clear, add the garlic. Stir and let simmer for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes. Be careful, watch out for back splash. Tomato sauce and oil are sometimes extremely hard to get out of your clothes and hard on the skin as you may get burned. Stir and add the tomato paste. The paste will eventually break down in the sauce as you stir it. Bring to a boil and turn to low and let simmer for at least one hour. The consistency of the sauce should be thick enough to sit nicely on a spoon without oozing off.
When I finished simmering the sauce (I let it go for 2 hours), it was time to eat. I ladled out enough sauce for 5 people, which was about 1 jar. It was served over a mix of penne and cavitapi. Drizzle a little good EVOO over top before serving.
The Mother-in-law and I then jarred the sauce. She says you have to do it while it is still hot. We ended up with 10 jars. I'm happy with the result as I can now add herbs, spices and even hamburger to the sauce to make endless possibilities for pastas or whatever. But as I said before, the sauce should be so true you could have it alone without adding anything.
Try searing off a chicken breast on both sides, add a little sauce over top of the breast, then throw it into the oven for 15-20 minutes at 400F. With about 5 minutes to go, add some fresh mozza over top. Cook until cheese is slightly browned. The dish is called Chicken Malibu. It's tasty and healthy. We have this dish all of the time.
Little O's Menu
While we were away, O had the pleasure of dining on pears and apples, which we poached, pureed and jarred for her. She really loves these two fruits which is why we keep serving them to her. We mix them up with yogurt and cinnamon. Both were organic, which were bought at the farmers market. While we were there, the vendor gave us a few Asian pears for buying so much from him. This was the first time I had eaten one of these and was impressed. O liked them as well as she had a couple of small chunks. We will definitely eat more of these as they are easy to eat and are supposed to be quite good for you (http://www.ehow.com/about_5421236_asian-pear-nutrition.html).
The pears we bought were Bosc. They were nice and sweet even though we jarred them with very little sugar and they also made very nice puree. O gobbled these down with no issues. We jarred more than we purred as we want to eat them as well. The in-laws kept quite a few jars and were impressed with them too. Good flavour and beats the heck out of the canned ones you buy in the store.
She was also treated to her first perogie and cabbage roll. This went over well as Ukrainian is in her blood on her mothers side. A little home cookin' never hurt anybody.
It was a good trip and as always it was good to see everyone. I learned how to can, which was a good thing because I will always do this with tomatoes every year now. We can have "fresh" tomatoes all year round.
"Food is an important part of a balanced diet."
Until next time, good eating everyone.