Homemade Tomato Sauce

Gravy? Tomato Sauce? Red Sauce? Whichever way you slice it, it all equals tomatoes that you simmer for a few hours with various spices, sometimes with meat, sometimes for fish, and sometimes for simply pasta. In my house, we use them all interchangeably. A good red sauce is just that. A good red sauce. I tried to do my grandma proud today by spending my Monday off making sauce from scratch. I’ve been making sauce since I was in diapers (maybe a little older), but only from the can. (Tuttorosso is my favorite, my grandma preferred Red Pack- we all have our preferences). Today I decided to challenge myself. Here’s the recipe! My house smelled delicious all day.

-Because it was my first time making tomato sauce, I used a very little amount of tomatoes and came out with a very little amount of sauce. My parents would suggest using at least 20 tomatoes- I’ll give you the recipe for 10 (which is what I used)-

Ingredients

-10 Whole Tomatoes (I used five Plum and five Tomatoes on the Vine. Heirloom would probably taste amazing)
-1/2 Large Yellow Onion
-5 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
-Basil
-Parsley
-Olive Oil

What You Do
Prepare your Workstation!
-Fill a large sauce pan with water to boil and fill a large  bowl with ice and water and set next to the stove. You’ll have to blanche the tomatoes.

(Blanching is when you remove a vegetable from boiling water and shock it in an ice bath- this helps maintain the color of the vegetable you are using)

-Place a cutting board right next to the Ice Bath, use your sharpest knife (be careful not to cut yourself like I did)



-Core the tomatoes and cut an “X” into the bottom- this will help the peeling process.

-Prepare the onion and garlic- Cut the onion at the top and the bottom, remove the skin. Then dice the onion. You can either roughly chop the garlic or dice it. I prefer to roughly chop it because I love whole garlic. Put them aside in separate bowls.

-Boil the tomatoes a few at a time, when they look a little shriveled up and deep lines appear in the skin, remove them with a slotted spoon and put into the ice bath for at least 5 minutes. Continue this process until the tomatoes are all blanched.


-Remove the tomatoes from the ice bath and peel on the cutting board. Discard the skin.


-Cut the tomatoes in half and put them to the side. Set up a strainer on top of a bowl. Next step is seeding!

-To seed, take half of your tomato and grip gently. Hold it over the strainer and bowl apparatus that you’ve made and scoop the seeds out gently one side at a time. Continue until all of the tomatoes are seedless!

-Dice your tomato halves, scoop half of the diced tomatoes into a blender and lightly  blend. Set the other half aside.

-On the stove using the same sauce pot, ditch the water and add Olive Oil to just coat the bottom of the pan. Bring to a medium heat.

-Add the onions and simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until you smell that sweet onion scent. Add the basil and parsley, then add the garlic.

(We always add garlic second because it burns much easier than onions)

-Add the juice from the strained tomato seeds, the puree, and the diced tomatoes to the sauce and stir. Bring to a boil, then set to simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste!


– You’ll notice that the sauce is very watery. Loose sauce for fish is preferred, but if you’re looking for that thick sauce, you can simmer it for 1-2 hours on low, or, if you’re in a rush, add flour (like a roux) slowly stirring. You should see it thicken right up!

A good Italian never rushes their sauces. I started this at 10 am. It is now 1:30 and I am sitting here writing this post, waiting for my sauce to simmer. I’m going to add shrimp and some vegetables to it! I bought some whole wheat pasta because I am much too lazy to go the whole nine today and make homemade pasta- although I can write a blog post on that in the future!

Making sauce is fairly easy, yet a little bit time consuming. You can always make it your own and add pepper or meat for a bolognese. If you’re looking for that hearty “Sunday Sauce” with braciole and meatballs, I recommend simmering the meatballs and braciole before you add the sauce in the same pot- you’ll get that amazing fatty flavor.

Hope you learned a few things and hope your sauce comes out as good as mine did!

Ciao!

Hennings Local, Cochecton New York

One day my parents were coming back from buying a new boat (literally so boujee) when they came across a tiny gem called Hennings Local. They walked in five minutes after it opened for the evening, were seated by a fireplace, wore their coats throughout the meal, and came home to brag about the food they had eaten. For real, I had heard about Hennings Local for a good year before they geared up one night and took my brother and I. I fell in love. 

This was about five years ago. Since then, Henning, the chef, picked up shop and moved from Ellensville to Cochecton, New York. The ambiance is quite hipster, the waiters and waitresses look like throwbacks to a simpler time. There are fresh mint leaves lining the wall outside on the staircase, they get local deliveries every morning of fish, chicken, steak, and in season vegetables. This place is the freshest of the fresh, the realist of the real, and I love it. 

Last night, we arrived to Hennings about an hour early for our reservations after visiting Bethel Woods, where the original Woodstock festival in ’69 took place. We walked around the field and I felt like the casual hippie that I was born to be. The vibe continued into the restaurant where my family, my best friend, and I sat down at a bar lined with homemade syrup for soda and a wide array of liquor. We received the cocktail menu which featured homemade “Oslo Mules” with their own ginger syrup and vodka, along with an assortment of different types of mules. (A mule is a drink traditionally with ginger beer, vodka, and mint- one of my faves). Straying away from my norm, I had a feeling they made a mean Mojito because of the mint… and I was right. We ordered this beautifully presented  frozen Mojito. Bella, Bella! 


My family and I are HUGE eaters. We sat down, got served Popovers (basically eggy, fluffy delicious English rolls), Gravlocks (fresh fatty salmon with horseradish pepper sauce), a Cobb salad with a huge wedge of iceberg and homemade blue cheese and bacon, annnd a Cesar salad with croutons served in the shape of a pyramid (or a campfire)- my dads absolute favorite! That was just the beginning. 


^look at that presentation. Also, the butter was, shockingly, homemade beet butter! 

For dinner, my mother got sesame crusted trout, I had trout ala norwegienne (with sour cream and chives), dad had the lamb (with puréed Brussels sprouts), and Laura had chateau briand and mashed potatoes. Other features include the Big Ass Ribe Eye, Crispy Pork Belly, a hamburger for the not so adventurous, sausage, Mac and cheese, and so many other delicious items. I invite you to check out their menu from the link above. 

Chef Henning brings some of the absolute best flavors to the Catskills from the moment you get a drink, to the moment you get a dessert. We had a chocolate tart with coconut for dessert, it literally melted. Not to mention Hennings Local is incredibly environmentally friendly with paper straws and cardboard to go boxes, which is what every restaurant should strive to do to cut down on waste. I could go on forever, but just know this place is worth the trip. And if you happen to go to Bethel Woods for a concert, it’s only a hop skip and a jump away, so really, there is no excuse not to go. Reservations recommended, this is not a place to be missed. 

Tapas in Spain

Live from Spain, this is Saturday Night!… just kidding, it’s only me, which is only slightly less exciting. My family and I arrived in Barcelona yesterday, and of course, I was so ready to eat everything and anything I could get my hands on. This resulted in 3 huge meals and gelato in the span of 48 hours. I feel like all I’ve been doing is eating, and I am absolutely okay with. 

We started at 1902 Cafe Modernista, a treasure right next to the Administration Pavilion, or the Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau, which sounds so much nicer. After looking at the menu, five hungry Americans decided on just a few items to stem our appetite (pictured below). My favorites were the anhovy in olive oil (it was so fleshy, not too salty like the canned back home, freshhhh), the potatoes (which had a chipotle spice kick at the very end), and the roasted garlic that came with herring and stewed tomatoes. It was served in the shell and you squeezed it out. phenomenal.  It was a great meal to be welcomed into Spain by. 


About four hours and some beach walking later, we found ourselves in Agua in La Barceloneta. It had beautiful views of the beach and you could even sit outside with reservations. I had the best damn mojito of my life and my brother had this melt in your mouth octopus. That was the best octopus of his life; he’s a chef who works in Astoria with a background of working in NYC… you know it’s legit. I also ate duck fois gras and beef carpaccio with EVOO on toast. I’m drooling. 

Today we continued our food journey at this place called Mil Grito’s Taberna. It’s on Las Ramblas near Catalunya and the square. It’s a small hole in the wall joint with bright walls and plants everywhere. They also made an amazing mojito- they used sugar instead of simple syrup. They give you a complimentary appetizer of sausages. I had a scallop burger tapa and beef and an iberian pork carpaccio. I am clearly in love with raw food. The carpaccio had a lot of mustard seed- a little overwhelming but it added to the texture quite nicely. The scallop burger was fresh, lightly fried, with seaweed chips to accent. It was the highlight. Pictured below is also my dad’s octopus and abuergine. Spanish chefs do not play around with presentation- it is the most beautifully presented food I’ve seen in my life. Get on Spains level, NYC. Please.  


Spain has shown me complex flavors, beautiful presentations, and probably my new favorite food. I would travel to Spain just to eat. Check out my instagram- WishYouWereFood– for more pics from my adventure! 

Next on the list is France so stay tuned folks! Thanks for reading!! 

EGP Oceanside

AKA the place that houses one of my favorite burgers (in very close competition to Druther’s in Saratoga and Hodad’s in San Diego- we can talk about these places at a later date).  

I took my boyfriend to Eats for his 25th birthday- yeah, his “quarter life crisis” as he calls it. What better way to ring in 25 than with beer and some bangin’ food? Can you think of anything better?… Me neither. 

Eats Gastropub (EGP) is located in Oceanside, New York. I always walk through the back, and I have to be honest when I say I’ve never seen the front bar. However, there are two bars in the back, one in a cute little sunroom with tables, and one outside for summer festivities. I made a mental note this time around to go back in the summer. We sat in the sunroom this time and sipped on some sour drafts in the sunlight. It was niiiice. 

The menu has some delicious and unique items. We got the Philly cheesesteak egg rolls and the Black Pearls to start. Black Pearls are their mussel specials that they change daily. This time around they were simmered with bacon, green and red peppers, and sundried tomatoes, served with some pita in a savory broth. The egg rolls were crispy and so cheesy. You can’t go wrong. 

The menu has a whole section dedicated to “Phat Bastards” which are essentially triple+ decker sandwiches and burgers. They have meat stuffed between TWO grilled cheese sandwiches… 

“Get in my belly.” Thanks fat bastard for the very non-ironic and fitting quote. 

My boyfriend (let’s call him Ricky) got the Surf n’ Turf. It’s a double burger (meat ground on the premise) with BBQ shrimp with cheese fondue and a brioche bun. I don’t know why, but I didn’t expect his burger to be SO big. I’ll show you what I mean. 


Now, if that’s not enough beautiful eye candy, lemme tell y’all about one of my favorite burgers. It’s called the Eat Burger and it is amazing. It has tomato jam, bacon jam, white cheddar, cheese fondue, and crispy onions all served up on a beautiful pretzel roll. Are you drooling yet? I am. The cheese makes it incredibly savory to taste, with the jam creating a salty and acidic balance. The onions add some texture and the meat was perfectly as close to rare as they could make it without killing me. I tend to live life on the edge. 


So check out EGP and tell me what you think! I’m open for challenges on my favorite burger, but ya definitely have to try this one. 

Kiku Sushi Family

Now when I say that this place is my absolute favorite sushi joint, I really do mean it. It’s a small, unassuming restaurant on the corner of Broadway in Massapequa, New York. You walk in, get greeted by the two sushi chefs behind the sushi counter with a smile, and get seated relatively quickly. I’ve been going to this restaurant for about 7 years. It is my families go to, and the name isn’t wrong. I always feel like family… but maybe it’s because they know who I am. I’m not obsessed or anything like that.

When you sit down, they hand you a menu. They give you plenty of time to browse through the 93 (give or take a few) speciality rolls. I have had most of them and am quickly working my way to eating them all. They have rolls literally served on fire (Blaze Rolls) and Mountain Rolls and Towered rolls and everything in between. Below are some of my favorites!

Roll Kiku– The OG. My first love. It is a banana, crab tempura, cucumber roll with spicy tuna, spicy salmon, spicy yellowtail, and masago on top.
Maple Roll- Spicy tuna cucumber, jalapeno roll with mango, avocado crunch, scallion, crab, and masago on top.
Ocean Roll- eel, crab, cucumber roll with salmon, yellowtail on top
Boston Party- This is my go to roll when I just want to eat something with lots of fat. Deep fried shrimp, crab, avocado, cream chose roll with crab salad on top
Blaze #3- spicy tuna, avocado roll with mango, tuna, and eel… ON FIRE. What. (video’s below!)



Along with the most amazing rolls I’ve eaten in my life, the menu has tons of Japanese specialties, including Negimaki (beef wrapped scallions), tartare (*my boyfriend’s fave!), tempura, Nabiyaki Udon, and Naruto rolls (for the ones who don’t want rice- it is wrapped in cucumber).

Kiku also gives you a free appetizer when you sit down to eat. Think about it. Free appetizer, the world’s best sushi… I think it’s well worth the trip, don’t you?

My First Attempt at Scones

Today, I learned how to cut butter. No, I am not a professional baker. In fact, I have just discovered that I enjoy baking about a year and a half ago. It was much too precise for me when I was a young one. I, however, have come to enjoy the feel of the resistance of cake batter when I hand mix it and how much it reminds me that I don’t have muscles when my arm begins to feel like it is about to fall off. Oh the joys of baking! How I love thee!

But really, sarcasm aside, I decided to experiment today with my newer found love to make a fall take on a scone. Here, I present to you the ingredients for a cranberry orange dark chocolate scone! I cannot take full credit for this recipe, but I did add a few tweaks.

What You Need:

2 cups flour
7 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold butter
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup half n half
1/4 cup orange juice
1 large egg
1/3 dark chocolate bar

For The Top
1 tablespoon orange juice
3 teaspoons sugar (optional, because the OJ has enough sugar)

Directions:

Combine flour, sugar, orange peel, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
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Cut in butter until small clumps form. (I literally thought it would be clumpy like a cookie dough is before you actually mix it well. I was wrong. It is okay for all of the flour to not be absorbed by the butter. I also did not cut with a knife as suggested. I used a whisk. What can I say, I’m a rebel.)

In a smaller bowl (I used a measuring cup), mix the cranberries, dark chocolate, orange juice, half n half, and egg together.

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Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until a dough forms. Then, using your hands, knead dough about 10 times until thoroughly mixed.

From bowl, press scones into long shapes- I called mine scone turds- and place evenly on a greased cookie sheet.

Brush with the extra orange juice, and sprinkle sugar on if you want. I did not, as I feel the orange juice has enough sugar in it.

Bake at 400 degrees for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown on top. Transfer to a metal rack, or in my case, a innovative rack made with wooden skewers and an aluminum pan.
They should turn out to look something like this—-

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I hope you have as much luck as I did on your first (or maybe thousandth) attempt at making scones! The only question that remains is- are they for breakfast or are they for dessert? If anyone knows, please do tell. Curious minds do wonder.

 

Original Recipe from Taste of Home! Thanks, dude, for being my inspiration!

 

Friday Night Eats

Let me just start off by saying that I saw Alton Brown Live last night. Yes, the Alton Brown- creator of the Astropop and cocktail slushies (with gin, sweet vermouth, and cough syrup), singer, songwriter, guitar player, converse wearing’ comedian, and host of Cutthroat Kitchen and Good Eats. Check out his show, Eat Your Science! You’ll leave with a basket full of knowledge and probably a few stitches in your side from laughing. You’ll also start saying “food for thought” a lot the next day… Or maybe that’s just me. Moving on…

My inspiration for tonight’s dinner came from Alton Brown and this little burger joint called Smashburger. Alton Brown, proclaimed Food God (Vote for him in November), spoke a whole lot about chicken thighs.

“Who doesn’t like chicken thighs?!”- Alton Brown and everyone else in the world.

At Smashburger, I got a chicken, spinach and goat cheese sandwich, and their smashfries. Smash fries have rosemary, olive oil, and garlic on them. Why I never thought to put rosemary and garlic on my fries in an Italian household in beyond me. Kudos to Smashburger.

 

As we were coming home, I bored my friend with the ideas running through my head for what would be tonight’s dinner. I call this one Chicken, Spin-Smash, & Potatoes. Not the best name, but can’t fault me for trying, right?
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Chicken, Spin-Smash, & Potatoes

What You Need

-6 Chicken Thighs (Skin On)
– Fresh Rosemary
– Granulated Garlic Powder
– Sea Salt & Pepper
– Dried Basil
– Spinach Leaves (I used one bundle for two people)
– 1 tablespoon flour
– 1/3 cup lemon juice
– 1 cup vegetable stock
– 5 Potatoes (for two people, with leftovers!)
– Crumbled Blue Cheese
– 1/2 a stick of butter
– 1/2 cup of the milk of your choice

What You Do

Preheat oven to 375°

Take chicken thighs from the packaging and wash them. Then place them in an aluminum baking pan skin side up, bone side down. Chop 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary and sprinkle over chicken. Sprinkle garlic powder (to taste), sea salt, pepper, and basil on the top.
Place in the oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Then flip and bake for 20 more minutes. How easy!

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Place a pot of water up to boil. Prepare your potatoes. Wash them, and then peel. Dice them evenly and place into boiling water. Give a quick stir, and sprinkle in some salt.

While your potatoes are boiling, start the spinach. Clean in a colander and shred. Put the vegetable broth in a pan, heat for 2 minutes, then add spinach and stir to coat. In about 5 minutes, add lemon juice and 4 sprigs of rosemary (I used more because I love lemon, it’s really up to you). When the spinach is wilted, gradually add the flour and stir. You will be left with a creamy spinach, lemony delight.

 

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You’ll know the potatoes are done when you can successfully put a fork through them without any resistance. You can then strain them, and add them back into the pot. Add the butter and, using a masher, mash and stir until butter is melted. Add your milk and stir until incorporated. Then, add 1/2-1 cup of the crumbled blue cheese. Taste, add more if needed.

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Once your chicken skins are crispy, take them out of the oven. You now have a smashing meal on your hands (think Nigel Thornberry, and maybe Smashburger, too).

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The Finished Product!

Life Hack: Peel the potatoes over a garbage can- it makes for less of a mess!