Friday, November 21, 2014

Whore Sauce

I'm told that "Putanesca" means "whore sauce." Reputedly in Italy if one was engaging a sex worker for a session, a meal afterwards was part of the deal and that meal would be something you could throw into a pot, go off and
"do your business" and 20 minutes later the chow would be ready to serve, be eaten and clear the deck for the next engagement.

A gay opera singer in Washington DC made this for me by chopping up an onion, throwing it into a very hot pot with mebbe 2-3 TBS olive oil until it started to carmelize, then throw in a full large can of tomato juice and let it reduce for 20 minutes. We had a lovely, lively conversation in that space of time. Ahem!

Over the years I've noted restaurants having a variety of much more elaborate versions of this. Typically called "Spaghetti Putanesca" but Osteria LaVechia in Newtown PA calls it "feminina" -- this eatery having many paintings and photos of Padre Pio adorning its walls. So I can dig where they're coming from with this more genteel name for the selfsame dish.

The version I'ma run down recognizes the fact that a lot of folks in the midAtlantic states have had to bring in the last of the tomato crops in their home gardens - many more than they can eat before they go funky. And YES, you could can 'em, make sauce out of 'em and put that up. When I retire I may do that in myself. But for folks who still work full time, here's a quick and easy way of utilizing tomatoes and making a delicious and somewhat offbeat dish - that you may not want to explain if you've got youngsters in yr household. Or dowdy relatives/friends.

MUSIC: Afterhours "I milanesi ammazzano il sabato" (the Milanese kill Saturday - meaning, party it on down!) Ingredients *1 cup of halved cherry tomatoes, or diced regular tomatoes *1/2 cup sliced or diced onions *1/4 cup diced olives (dealing with the pits if they gots pits) *1 TBS capers *1/2 head garlic *3 TBS olive oil *spaghetti *1 TBS oregano *1 tsp basil

Preparation *start heating water for spaghetti *add olive oil to cast iron pan, pot, whatever you got and head over medium high heat *chop and add tomatoes (the time it takes to prep tomatoes is enough for oil to heat up nicely) *chop and add onions (again, the timing works out nice coz you want tomatoes to cook the longest); give the whole mess a good stirring *put half head of garlic in microwave for 1 minute, then you can normally squeeze each clove right into pan with other ingredients; stir thoroughly into the other ingredients *chop and add olives; stir thoroughly into other ingredients *add capers stir thoroughly into other ingredients *if you're cooking spaghetti up fresh, add spaghetti to (by now) boiling water; if you're using leftover spaghetti just heap it on top of the sauteing vegetables, turn heat down to medium; spaghetti with heat via steaming *let cook for another 5 minutes *use tongs to serve spaghetti, then spoon sauteed vegetables over it. FIN!

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Cheesey, Cheese-less trick

This is a quickie -- since Summer I've been eating a lot of rice cakes for snack food (dealing with a bit of a gut). And being a cheap bastard I buy the store brand of cheddar cheese flavored rice cakes. 44 calories each! And of course you chase one of these with a big glass of water, very filling!

But I have tried the Quaker Oats version and, naturally they ARE tastier, mainly cheesier and more expensive.

So I've been making due. But one day, as an experiment, I decided to sprinkle on a tiny bit of Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning - to give it a little heat. And it did that AND somehow ratcheted up the quotient of cheese flavor! I'm not sure how; perhaps it's the salt and the garlic powder buttressing related components of the basic cheese taste medley. BUT IT DOES WORK.