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Thursday, October 21, 2010

roasted tomato sauce

last year i froze about 7 quarts of tomato sauce for our winter consumption. i was making a somewhat fussy sauce, using onions, grated carrots, red wine, garlic, herbs, and who knows what else. this year i wanted to simplify. and, frankly, i wanted a better sauce.

the first couple of quarts i made were basically tomato puree from fresh tomatoes simmered forever with olive oil and salt until reduced, dark red, and delicious. then i discovered this roasted sauce and love it so much i've made it a goal to keep making it until there's simply no more room in the freezer. roasting the tomatoes first brings out their natural sweetness and gorgeous tomato-y flavor, and that little bit of roasting time actually reduces the amount of time that the sauce has to cook down. 

play with the herbs and such, depending on your taste. (there's definitely room for more garlic, for you garlic lovers!)

roasted tomato sauce
adapted from the heirloom tomato by amy goldman

5 pounds plum/paste tomatoes, cored and quartered
5 large cloves of garlic, cut in half
handful of basil leaves
3 oregano sprigs
3 thyme sprigs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper

preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
in casserole dish or roasting pan, combine tomatoes, garlic cloves, herbs, salt and pepper, and toss all with the olive oil.

roast 30 minutes, stirring a time or two. remove from oven and allow to cool a bit. pull out any stemmy thyme and oregano sprigs. 

when cool enough to handle, place a food mill over a heavy-bottomed pot and puree the tomatoes, garlic, and all juices through the mill in batches using the finest disc. skins and seeds will be left behind. 

bring sauce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, over med-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it reduces to the thickness you want. i cooked mine about an hour. taste from time to time and adjust salt. i also added about a teaspoon of sugar, as i like a little sweetness in my tomato sauce.

use immediately, or pack in freezer container, label, and freeze! 5 lbs tomatoes makes 1 quart of sauce.

*note: i have no idea what it would take to be able to can this sauce. tomatoes are tricky because some are more high-acid than others, and so are safe in a hot water canning process. i'd suggest finding a recipe at a trusted source like ball to make sure the sauce you open up in january isn't full of toxic spores!

our garden-- anna russian and polish linguisa tomatoes, herbs 
alvarez farms-- roma tomatoes and garlic

Friday, October 8, 2010

cinnamon basil chicken

jerry traunfeld continues to rock my world. he combines seemingly unlikely flavors with such surprising and delicious results, and it's kind of thrilling to know that when i cook one of his recipes i'll likely encounter flavors i've never experienced before. (peaches and tarragon? of course!) this time, chicken simmers in tomatoes, much like a cacciatore, but is punctuated with cinnamon, basil, and fresh ginger. this dish is, without question, going in the rotation-- i knew it on the first bite.

cinnamon basil chicken
adapted from jerry traunfeld's the herbal kitchen

1 frying chicken, about 4-5 lbs, cut into 8 pieces with backbone removed (save back for making stock!)
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, sliced into long thin strips from root end to top
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
28 ounces diced fresh tomatoes with juice (or 28-oz can diced tomatoes, with half of juice drained)
3 3-inch cinnamon sticks (jerry suggests "true" cinnamon if you can find it, but i just used whole sticks from the grocery)
3 star anise pods (i couldn't find any so left them out)
1 1/2 cups torn fresh sweet basil, or cinnamon basil

season chicken parts with salt and pepper. heat olive oil over medium heat in large skillet with tight-fitting lid. (i actually used a big heavy-bottom soup pot since it was the biggest thing i had to accommodate the chicken.) add chicken to pot, skin-side down, and cook until skin is golden brown, 6-8 minutes. flip chicken and cook another 2-3 minutes. remove from pan and set aside.

add the onion, garlic, and ginger to the pan. (this is when it starts to smell so good!) cook, stirring, for a few minutes until they soften and begin to brown. (at this point, i  deglazed with about a tablespoon or two of sherry-- there were so many browned bits left from the chicken that i wanted to make sure i got every little morsel into the sauce!) add the tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, star anise (if using), and 1 tsp kosher salt. return chicken to pan. bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, and reduce heat to low. cook about 50 minutes, maintaining a low simmer. check chicken for doneness. if chicken is cooked through and sauce is still watery, you can remove the chicken and cook the sauce uncovered over medium-high heat until it thickens. 

scatter with basil, toss, and serve immediately. 

chicken from stokesberry farm
onion and garlic from alvarez farm
tomatoes and basil from our garden

Saturday, October 2, 2010

homemade worcestershire sauce

it takes a lot of ingredients to make worcestershire sauce. a lot. and this particular sauce takes time-- 3 weeks, to be exact. but it is the sauce is dark, thick, and incredibly rich. it's not a high yield recipe, but the flavor is so concentrated that the 2 cups it makes should theoretically last a while. that said, it's so good that i want to put it on everything, not just the bloody marys i originally made it for, so it's probably time to start on the next batch! 

homemade worcestershire sauce
adapted from

2 cups white distilled vinegar
1/2 cup molasses (i used unsulphered blackstrap)
1/2 cup soy sauce (i used low-sodium tamari)
1/4 cup tamarind concentrate (i used tamarind pods, scraping out the gooey pulp. worked fine, but i'll use the concentrate next time.)
3 Tbsp yellow mustard seeds
3 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp whole cloves
1/2 tsp curry powder
5 cardamom pods, smashed
4 chili de arbol, chopped (i used dried)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1" stick cinnamon'
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2" piece ginger, peeled and crushed
1/2 cup sugar
(recipe also calls for 1 chopped anchovy, but i left it out.)

combine all ingredients except sugar in a saucepan. bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

meanwhile, cook sugar in a skillet over medium heat until it breaks down and begins to caramelize, turning dark and syrupy, about 5 minutes. add sugar to other mixture and combine well. simmer another 5 minutes. transfer to jar with tight fitting lid.

refrigerate for 3 weeks. 

strain solids. 

sauce will keep, refrigerated, up to 8 months, but i doubt you'll have it around that long!