Monday, September 19, 2011

There will be blood ...

I have a few posts coming up for you dear readers. It has been a crazy couple of weeks. In between, I had to sneak this in. This is a first for me dear readers. A food event that I am on the non consuming end of. I've never been on the non consuming (of course, I am going to consume but that will not be my number one priority... as it usually is) side of a food event before. This will be my first. And it's a competition. For charity. I want to win. For charity! I'm nervous and excited. I'm curious and somewhat (seriously) on edge. Six hundred and fifty people in one space does that to me...that is the number of people that will be there. Breathe in...breathe out... neuroses on display ...

Very public display of innermost neuroses aside, what food event you say? This one. Some really cool people from some really cool restaurants in Montreal, are cooking, yep, some really cool burgers in a competition to help an amazing organization help some amazing street kids get back on their feet. Today I met my Chef, owner and partner in crime. He's cool, charity close to his heart, he's cooked with the poor and in monasteries for orphans. I can't wait to tell you more about him. Let the burgers be made and the games begin.  I assure you, there will be blood ...but in a good way! Come on!

Amazing organization and team GDS ...

Now, since my stories are human ones and will come to you after said event takes place (and I've consumed everything and talked to everyone and shot countless pics and procured secret recipes and for sure have gotten myself into some predicament or other) I leave you with a pesto recipe. A very different one. You'll love it. Ready?

Time to dish.

Sage and Garlic Stem Pesto

Here is what you need ...

  • One bunch of garlic stems
  • One cup of peppery extra virgin olive oil
  • Two big handful of walnuts
  • Two big handful of pecans
  • Half of a bunch of sage leaves
  • Sea salt
  • Parmesan or Romano (optional, I did not add any cheese to this one and it was awesome)

Here is what to do ...

  1. Ready, this is a doozy ... place all your ingredients in a blender, or mortar and pestle if you have a big enough one and blend! or mash!
Enjoy on toast for breakfast, with or without a juicy tomato, over fresh pasta, as a marinade for lamb or any other animal you enjoy, over fried or cocotte eggs and then crack the yolk in there, in crepes with asparagus and some super sharp cheddar...and so on...and so forth ...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gathering ...

Today is a day for gathering dear readers. It's a little chilly outside but the sun is out, shining that special light that only graces us as summer is coming to an end. Artists of pen (or stick, stone and feather point, depending on the century, of course) and brush have said it that is the most beautiful light known to man. I tend to agree. Fall is one of my favorite times of year for so many reasons (with the exception of a slight issue I have with what follows Fall, of course). It is my favorite time to cook, eat, be at the market, paint, write, sit still and look, walk, breathe and just be. The sky is huge and the light and everything it illuminates, enchanting. I have always thought of Fall as natures way of giving us a magical feast for all the senses before the sensorial desert arrives.

Well, since it is a day for gathering, I must be off to...well...gather. But, before I go out to collect the herbs in my garden for drying, I have a tomato sauce recipe to share with you dear readers. It is a special one that I look forward to making every year. For those of you who have been requesting it all these years, here it is. For the rest of you dear readers, it's my favorite, and I hope it will be yours too.

Here we go ...

Hang in there ...

One left ...
Ahhhh ....shake it out ...

Time to dish.

Oana's Annual Tomato Sauce

Parenthesis: Yes, I felt a little weird about third personing myself but what the heck, let's be crazy (I may change it tomorrow if the weirdness turns into shame)...And, don't freak out about the cooking time. Just go to sleep or if you do it during the day, pick a lazy Sunday and prepare your favorite series. I just finished with Entourage. I am a little late to the table, as usual, and played catch up so I can appreciate season eight. But that's another story. Here we go.

Here is what you need...

  • A big, huge box of plum tomatoes (aka half a bushel), very ripe. If yours are not so ripe, just leave them on the counter, covered with a cloth for three or four days and they'll come around.
  • Olive oil, one cup
  • Apple cider vinegar, half a cup
  • Sea salt, three tablespoons
  • Sugar, three tablespoons
  • Soy sauce, three tablespoons
  • Balsamic vinegar, half a cup
  • A big huge sauce pot
  • Turkish oily chili flakes, as spicy as you like it baby
  • Butter (optional, some years I use it, some not. It depends on what my palate and thighs are saying to me that year), a quarter of a stick.
  • Garlic, four cloves, smashed
  • A potato masher, yep, that's what I use

Here is what to do...

  1. Wash the tomatoes. Still with me? Okay good. Score the tomatoes, a little X on one side of their little round bodies. It does not matter which one. Once scored, place the tomatoes (in batches because unless you have industrial pots, they will not all fit) into boiling water (must be boiling otherwise you will cook the tomatoes too much) for about three to four minutes. This loosens the skin so that you can peel them.
  2. Peel the tomatoes, and discard the skins (I have not yet been able to figure out another use for them).
  3. In your giant sauce pan, heat your olive oil and add the smashed garlic. Cook until fragrant. Then add your tomatoes and on high heat, bring to a boil. At this point reduce the heat to a low simmer and prepare for ten hours of cooking. What I do is this. Two hours in, I add all the other ingredients, stir and mash the tomatoes with the masher. Then I stir again, leave it for another two hours, stir, mash, check seasonings and then to bed. When I wake up, I stir, mash, check the seasonings and voila, all done. You may add more salt or sugar or acid or spice, depending on your own personal palate but if you do, add it during the last hour of cooking when you have a pretty good idea of what the final sauce is. I say this because flavors concentrate with long cooking times and you may think you need something at the beginning or half way through but it may not be necessary towards the end.
I use this sauce for all kinds of things. Pasta, all kinds, of course. In scallopinis, lasagna and over eggs. Anything Parmesan'ed. Chili. Add some fresh tomatoes, onions, avocado, lime and coriander and you have an amazing salsa. 

Happy Thursday dear readers. Enjoy.