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. 

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!

 

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.

Union Square Market

My Wednesday started out like any other. I commuted with my father into the city, got a coffee, spilled said coffee down my arm on my way over to the office, sat down in a chair, and prepared myself for a long 10 hours of work. Typical, until my supervisor pulled me aside and informed me of a lecture that my boss was giving at Beth Israel. I was amped to go and when 2:30 rolled around, I hopped on the subway, attended the lecture, and took a casual detour to what I would find out to be the Union Square Greenmarket.

For those of you who have never been before, it is the cutest, most environmentally friendly market I’ve ever been to. There are stalks of asparagus in water, small strawberry and blueberry plants, flowers, local honey, vegan treats, people promoting non-profit organizations, and more. It reminded me of my strolls down West 28th street on my break when I want to be surrounded by trees and shrubs in the concrete jungle, only more open and a lot less sketchy (sorry West 28th, I still love you).

I got stopped twice on my first walkthrough. Once to be a sucker and buy a $350 spa treatment and two $25 comedy club tix for $30. Steal. Twice to find out about the nonprofit, OxFam (shout out to my guy, Gray)! I almost got stopped a third time, but I politely told him that my quest for a vegan dessert on my break was much more important. Sorry. I have priorities.

My priorities came in the form of a lavender and pear scone from Body & Soul Bakeshop. It took me about 5 minutes and a few questions about what dessert was better to decide. Boy, am I glad I chose the scone. It was perfect. It had a great texture- flaky, but not so flaky where it fell apart upon every bite, and not too dry. The pears added a fresh burst of flavor and the lavender was a nice touch. They used just enough where it wasn’t too soapy tasting, as lavender can sometimes be. I will make it a priority to buy one thing a week, and that ain’t no lie. Body & Soul, you now have a lifelong customer. You’re welcome, and thank you for being so damn delicious.

 

When I wasn’t talking to Gray and Scott (the two who stopped me), I was admiring the other vendors. Bread Alone makes bread look like an art. Martin’s Pretzels almost tempted me away from my scone, but I’m a sucker for vegan desserts and my sweet tooth clearly won. There was local honey from Andrew’s Local, a lavender stand with fresh lavender and soaps, and farms promoting and selling their share.

If you want to check out the maps of the Union Square Markets, check out this website.

If you dig clean eats, plants, and the environment, you’ll really love this market. Remember to always support your local businesses. It’s important.

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My Lavender Pear Scone. I am in love.

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?