Monday, August 24, 2015

Italian cuisine in the raw

OK - so this recipe is NOT comprised of leftovers per se, but for some folks - especially if you live in non-bourg suburbs or rural areas and do a little vegetable gardening, or have friends that do - you're likely to find yourself inundated with the late Summer tomato crop. And there's tons of obvious things you can do with fresh tomoatoes, but one that I'd not considered before is making fresh spaghetti sauce with it.

We were out for drinks and small plates with some friends over the weekend, and our friend Joan berated me for chimping with another friend, Jim Testa, about hot spaghetti sauce option. She was advocating basically a raw sauce. I replied that what she was describing was like a cold putanesca, or putting salsa on spaghetti. Either way, an interesting idea.

So here's a simple way of putting this together on the fly, and assuming that you're doing one serving at a time. And if you wanna serve more -- just multiply!

Louis Prima Capitol Collector Series - a nicely perverse mix of New Orleans jazzamatazz and ethnic Italian bonhomie.

1 ripe tomato, coarse chopped (and I'd leave the skin on, or you can peel 'em if you'd like)
1 TBSP onion, FINELY chopped (and you can use regular yellow onion if that's what you have around or you could get something fancier like sweet Vidalia if you'd like)
2 cloves garlic - peeled and put in microwave for 30 seconds - to soften and sweeten
2 leaves of basil, coarsely chopped
1 TBSP grated Romano cheese (you could use Parmesan least around here, that always turns out to be incredibly bland)
one serving of freshly cooked pasta (whatever that means for you)

Mix the first 5 ingredients together
toss with hot pasta
top with a shake of red pepper flakes or a couple grindings of black pepper

then go pour yourself a glass of wine, set the table - let it sit for a minute so the hot pasta cooks the other ingredients a little bit, and they get a chance to flavor the pasta. Bon appetito!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Tomayto Tomahto (Du Plenti!)

Jim Testa of just sent me the following query:

"Do you ever make tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes? I got a bushel for $3 of bruised tomatoes from a farmers market.
It's simmering now but I'm not sure if I should leave it chunky and rustic or give it a whir with the immersion blender and smooth it out."

Lotsa interesting questions in this.
Folks would recommend that you peel and seed tomatoes before making them into sauce. And while that's valid
1) seeds have important nutrients
2) usually I do this with cherry tomatoes and peeling is impractical - so I don't and I've never had bad results.

As per smoothing out or leaving chunky - literally tomayto, tomahto. Why not split the load between two pots and smooth out one. Or just wait till your done - scoop half into one container and smooth out what's left.

If you've got tomatoes left you can always make a putaneso which is, um like hot salsa. You just chop up the ingredients, throw 'em into a hot pan with a little olive oil and cook a couple minutes and voila! reputedly prostitutes would greet a customer, set a pan cooking and when "business" was done, so was the sauce!

here's an article on the possible health benefits of eating tomoatoes -- tho no mention of which part of tomato provides which benefit:

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Guest Recipe from Jim Testa - slow cooked, expired, blade steaks

Jim Testa - longtime (35 years and counting!) editor of the NJ/NY undie music bible is my oldest living friend. We went to Rutgers College together when Springsteen was playing the Commuter Student Center for 50 cents. He's my son's godfather, has been to all my weddings (was best man at the first!) etc. He's been a supporter of this blog all along, has hit me with various challenges I've posted and now here's a recipe of his:

"I went to the supermarket and they had packages of blade steak on sale, plus a few were about to expire so they were an additional $2 off. So I got a couple pounds of steak (not really a staple on my current budget) for about two bucks.

I go home and google it, and read that blade steak is super tough and really only good if slow braised. But I didn't want to go back to the store, and I was out of celery and carrots.
I had a half bulb of fennel, an onion that was about to go south, and some leftover sundried tomatoes.
So I whizzed that into a paste in the food processor.
Browned the meat well with Salt & Pepper, then took the meat out and browned the paste. Added a little tomato paste
put the meat back in, added a couple of bay leaves, and let the thing cook low and slow for 3 hours.

The result was a delicious pot roast that was soft as butter. The sun drieds added a piquant umami flavor to the sauce. Not bad! And great served with horseradish mashed potatoes.