Archive for the ‘Sauce’ Category

I’m not Italian

September 6, 2013

Marinara sauce (gravy, call it what you will) scares me. I have tried so many times to make this staple sauce and failed every time. I had containers of it in the freezer for a while because I would make a big pot, not really enjoy it, then freeze it on the off chance that I had a craving and it tasted better later. No luck.

I tried recipes from Joy of Cooking, the Food Network, made up my own, always starting with onions and garlic, maybe some peppers and carrots, adding a pile of tomatoes and herbs, and simmering for ages. It never tasted like sauce from a jar (thanks mom for setting unrealistic expectations!).

Tinned Tomatoes

surprisingly delicious canned tomatoes make the winter happy and healthy

A while ago, The Kitchn posted some recipes about how to make the perfect pizza. Always a delicious challenge, I enjoyed making pizza every other night for a few weeks. The best part? The sauce! They gave the simplest and yummiest sauce recipe I have ever encountered. Bonus? It doesn’t require any cooking or even fresh ingredients! I can make tomato sauce all Winter long!

Unfortunately I have to end this little saga on a sad note: my stomach still does not approve of tomato-based sauces, even though my tongue is a fan.

Marinara Sauce

from The Kitchn: Fresh Tomato Pizza Sauce

  • 1 can of tomatoes (15oz)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 t balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T basil
  • 1 t oregano
  • dash of salt and pepper
  1. Chop the garlic in a food processor or by hand.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and blend in the food processor.

I’m not kidding, it’s that simple!

Notes and Variations

The main difference between my version and the original is that I always add olive oil. I just like the richness it adds to the sauce. Also, I want to warn you to go easy on the balsamic. Just a bit more balsamic and that’s all you taste. Basically everything except the tomatoes is optional and should be adjusted to taste.

Otherwise, I don’t have much to say in the way of variations. The biggest taste factor between sauces will be – and probably has always been – the herbs and tomatoes. Speaking to an Italian friend about sauces recently, I was inundated with the list of canned tomatoes available at stores in the are and the quality of each one. A fascinating tidbit of knowledge and an informative one in the context of this recipe. I think the main difference lies in fresh versus canned. I have yet to try this recipe with fresh tomatoes because it’s so much cheaper and easier to use canned ones, especially when you’re just spreading a thin layer under a pile of toppings. But have fun experimenting with the quality and variety of ingredients!


Savor the Cream Cheese

December 15, 2009

I just finished classes last week and watched Julie & Julia so I have all the time in the world and am inspired to cook. I have been cooking during the time that I have not bee posting, but taking the time to sit and write about it has escaped me. Tonight I was so astounded by my impromptu sauce that I simply had to share it. I paired it with steamed red cabbage and red wine. It is a carnivorous celebration of fat, so enjoy in small doses!

Savory Cream Cheese Spread

cream cheese blended with onions, fennel fronds, lemon juice, and flavored with bacon fat

Savory Cream Cheese Spread

created on the fly by Sarah Johnson

1/2 c cream cheese
1 T bacon fat
1/4 c red onion (chopped)
1/2 T fennel fronds
1/2 T lemon juice
dash black pepper

  1. Sautee the onions in the bacon fat.
  2. Heat the cream cheese so it just starts to melt.
  3. Mix all ingredients together.

Since this recipe was created on the fly, the measurements are not exact. I had the cream cheese frozen so I defrosted it until it was mostly melted but still solid in the core. It wound up being a smooth but not runny textured cream cheese. I think the brand was important too as it was a very natrual and rich cheese from Hillacres Pride in New Jersey.

I used bacon fat because I tend to have it sitting in a cast iron pan from the weekend. Butter would work just fine so that the onions become carmalized. A mixture of butter and oil would work as well because the oil has a higher burning point and the butter adds flavor.

Fennel fronds have also been sitting around my kitchen since I cooked fennel for Thanksgiving. I saved the fronds and let them dry sitting out on the counter for use as a garnish. I’m sure many other garnish-type herbs such as chives could be used with just as much success.