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!

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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. 

Coco for Doughnuts!

Yesterday’s travels brought me to Manhattan (are you shocked?) to John Jay School of Criminal Justice to meet with one of my best college friends with a couple of my best. I went to my hopeful future school to see one of my undergraduate professors give a lecture on his career in forensic mental health. It was awesome!

Before that, however, the weather squashed my friends and I’s plan of walking around Central Park, casually food truckin’. Instead, we traveled to the Upper West Side to eat at this little place called Jekyll & Hyde. The entire experience was awesome, starting from the moment we sat down and the waiter telling us that  we had to push on library walls to find the bathroom. The gargoyle was without a doubt my favorite thing. He definitely made fun of everyone in the room, so I beg, if you don’t have a sense of humor, don’t go. The food is a bit pricey and they charge you a $3 entertainment fee and it’s cash only, so be warned. The bar upstairs wasn’t open, but we got a tour from one of the waitstaff. I got scared a few times, my friend, Laura, got exorcised, and Emily got a new set of eyes. I would recommend Jekyll & Hyde for the experience alone.

We had some time to kill before the lecture. Within five minutes we were standing in front of Doughnut Plant. It had been on my foodie list for a while and I’m so glad I got to finally go. They even liked my photo on Instagram… I actually might feel famous.

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My “famous” Photo! (A girl can dream, right?)

My friends got the buttered pretzel chocolate doughnut. I ate half of Emily’s like the true garbage disposal that I am. I chose the Coco Loco, a doughnut filled with sweet pineapple and glazed with coconut milk and topped with baked coconut flakes. I figured it might be just a bit too sweet for my liking…until I bit into it. Perfect. The pineapple filling was just sweet enough. My teeth didn’t hurt after, and while a bit messy, the filling wasn’t runny where it was dripping everywhere.  The doughnut was fluffy and light and had the perfect texture. Probably the best doughnut place I’ve been to. They are what doughnut places should aspire to be. I’ll be honest if I try a better one, but so far, compared to Donut Man in Cali, this one for sure takes the cake… or the dough.

Pro Tip: They seem to run out of flavors very quickly- by the time I ordered and finished my doughnut, about 15 people had come in asking for a PB&J one. If you’re looking for it, go early. I was happy with my choice, but peanut butter is bae, so I can see how everyone and their mother would be looking for that.

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!

chix

 

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!

Shake Shack & The Museum of Sex

This weekend, we celebrated my friend, Laura’s, birthday! It was an epic birthday weekend, and I can only hope mine is just as rad (*hint, hint*).

She had requested we go to the city, suggested going to the Museum of Sex, and left the food up to me. She had never been to Shake Shack before, a true New York Touristy staple. I had never been to the original in Washington Square Park, and decided that it was definitely time.

I chose to go back to my vegetarian roots (I was one for 8 years) and get their ‘Shroomburger. Phenomenal. Never disappointed. It’s a fried portobello mushroom stuffed with Muenster and cheddar cheese, topped with lettuce and tomato.

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Only the most heavenly bite. The cheese was dripping from my chin- Perfection.

I also have to get a concrete, because it is actually on my bucket list to get a concrete at every single Shake Shack (Yes, I do realize this is going to take me my entire life, and I am entirely okay with that). I got the The Concrete Jungle, a mix of vanilla custard, bananas, peanut butter sauce, and fudge sauce. I love bananas and peanut butter, and adding the extra calories is just a simple win.

We ended our night by jumping in a bouncy boob castle at The Museum of Sex and going to a swanky rooftop bar, 230 Fifth! Overall, I had a blast and was so happy my friends did, too! Also, to that bachelorette drunk on the train- if you’re reading this- I hope that you’re okay! You have good friends.

Shake Shack Life Hack: When ordering cheese fries, ALWAYS get the cheese on the side. You will always get more cheese, and who doesn’t love that?