Fresh tomatoes all year round: a 3-minute cooking class

An earlier blog post included Adelina’s recipe for a tomato sauce made with canned San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes, shallots, and a little sugar (click here for recipe). The process here is something different that simply takes fresh tomatoes from your local farm, boils them, extracts the skin and most of the seeds, adds some salt, preserves them in jars, and affords you fresh tomato taste all year round.

This sauce then becomes a tomato base for many other recipes. It could be for the pollo alla pizzaiola from this post (click here) or for the tomato sauce with shallots. It can also be added to some sautéed sausages and other spices for a nice pasta sauce. Bottom line. . . you will have access to fresh tomato sauce base through the winter and beyond (they can last about a year preserved this way).

Watch the 3-minute cooking class below to see how we did it!

Here is the written version:

Ingredients:

  • 40 pounds of farm fresh ripe plum tomatoes
  • baking soda for cleaning the tomatoes
  • fine sea salt to taste

Process:

  1. wash the tomatoes with water and baking soda
  2. add an inch of water to the bottom of large pots, cut the tomatoes in half, squeezing the seeds out if necessary, add to the pots and boil till tender, about 1 hour. As the tomatoes cook they will considerably reduce in the pot. Continue to add fresh tomatoes to the same pot if you need.
  3. once cooled down, pass the tomatoes through a tomato sauce machine (see video). It is important to pass the peels and seeds through the machine at least twice to get as much sauce as possible out of the tomatoes.
  4. pour the tomato sauce into jars, sprinkle a few grains of coarse sea salt at the top and place a clean lid, closing firmly.
  5. place jars in a large pot, cover with water (one inch over the lids) and bring to boil, boiling for 30 minutes
  6. let the jars cool in the water, then take from the water and store using as desired!

Buon Appetito!

Quick penne with a twist!

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In an earlier blog post, I shared a recipe for penne with shrimp and brandy cream sauce. It is a quick and easy pasta dish that tastes great (click here for recipe)! Today I’m showing you the same recipe, but with the addition of the tomatoes. This serves as a simple reminder that it is fun to play with your ingredients and invent your own favorite recipes. Mix and match flavors that you enjoy and one’s that compliment each other.

Here, the acidity and sweetness of the tomatoes blends nicely with the brandy cream sauce, ending with a nice gentle kick from the red pepper flakes. Experiment with the ingredients to find the flavors that you and your family will enjoy. I can’t promise it will always be a success. . . but you will learn from the mistakes as well. (We had a bad experience with artichokes!)

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Buon appetito!

Grilled whole sea bass

I’m not a very adventurous eater but I’ve had my horizons broadened some since meeting Marco. I’ve eaten horse (I think I was told afterwards), rabbit, and I’ve witnessed the eating of a basket full of fried frogs but couldn’t bring myself to eat the little critters. So, I wasn’t necessarily a fan of cooking a whole fish. We did it once when Matteo was little because he wanted to taste the eyeballs (he didn’t like them) and we’ve had it lately at one of our favorite restaurants in Salem, Firenze Trattoria.

If your feeling a little adventerous, However, I highly recommend trying a whole fish on the grill before the season ends. The one pictured here is a Sea Bass from Greece. We bought it at Whole Foods and asked them to gut and clean it for us. Leave the bone in. Once cooked, the meat is tender, delicate, and flavorful!

 

We simply stuffed the inside with sliced lemons, rosemary, and thyme. On the outside we drizzled olive oil then sprinkled some salt, pepper and Provençal spices (you can use whatever spices or herbs that you like). Then, we grilled outside for about 8 minutes on each side (1 inch thick should be 10 minutes total, so adjust accordingly depending on the thickness).

Buon Appetito!