The other day I found myself caught between being hungry and lazy. (You know how to know when you’ve become an adult? When you no longer have foodstuffs that don’t require thirty minutes of cooking and other ingredients to make them edible. That’s how.) We had almost nothing to eat in our house but I just couldn’t get myself to put on pants that were respectable enough to go to the grocery store. And then (!), accompanied by rays of sunlight and angelic music, I found a jar of homemade tomato sauce in the back of my freezer. Suddenly (or with ten-ish minutes of effort) I’d gone from So Hungry to eating delicious tomato sauce on polenta (always stock corn grits for times like this) topped with an egg. I ate this again for lunch since new food hadn’t magically appeared in my fridge. Having this tomato sauce in my freezer made me feel like a genius. Or at least somebody who is occasionally able to feed myself with dignity.
This sauce I refer to is Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce with onion and butter. Its an amazingly simple and delicious recipe so if you’re already familiar with it then high five, and if you’re not already familiar with it then you’re in for a treat. This is how it goes:
– a 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes, with the juice
– one onion peeled and cut in half
– 5 tablespoons of butter
– a pinch of salt if needed
Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Done.
Ok, there is a little more than that. You let the whole thing simmer slowly for about 45 minutes and near the end crush the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Discard the onion before serving. Done and done.
For a more detailed version of this see Orangette, or Amateur Gourmet, or Smitten Kitchen.
For this recipe I make a double batch. Doubled it fits in a 4-quart dutch oven nicely and I freeze the leftovers in portions for later. I’ve been using small canning jars (note: affiliate links) with the very handy plastic screw caps lately for freezing foods, it’s easy to take of the lid and thaw the whole thing in a microwave. Or at least I find the jars less fuss than I anticipated them to be. I bought a bunch of jars a few years back expecting they’d eventually be cycled out of my house when giving food gifts to friends and I’ve honestly been surprised at how much I enjoy using them for dry food storage and freezer storage. The caps, though, make all the difference. They are easier to remove and clean and keep track of and won’t rust.
This is a little tip I learned somewhere that I cannot recall. (I think Cook’s Illustrated?) If you want to break up whole canned tomatoes with as little mess as possible use kitchen scissors to cut them up while they are still in the can. This recipe doesn’t require you break up the tomatoes first but I do it anyway because I can get a little obsessive over smashing the tomatoes later on and I like to give myself a head start. I’ve read that when deciding whether to buy whole or diced or crushed canned tomatoes it’s better to buy whole because there is less processing time before the tomatoes hit the can so they are fresher. I’m not sure if this is true but it’s good to keep in mind. Maybe a taste test is in order?
While I’m here let me just say that I’m totally in love with my no-sharp-edges can opener. I know there are not exactly breaking news but every time I open a can I find myself being gushingly appreciative of not being able to cut my fingers on anything sharp. (Because I did, every time.) I own the Zyliss and have no complaints. Sweethome recommends the OXO Good Grips version. In conclusion: not having the culinary equivalent of a throwing star weapon in your trash is good.
Ok, go, make the easy sauce and feel like a genius.
This post is part of an occasional series that I consider my Freezer Pantry. Here is the link to the category: Freezer Pantry, and here is a list of all the previous posts:
· comments  · 01-12-2015 · categories:food · freezerpantry ·
· comments  · 12-15-2014 · categories:food · links ·
· comments  · 11-26-2014 · categories:food · links ·
I’m so utterly thrilled to announce this collaboration with Brit+Co to create a DIY kit for my tiny gingerbread houses that sit on the edge of a mug!
The kit includes two cookie cutters that are 3D printed (!!!) and each kit comes with a mug, a pen for decorating or personalizing the mug and recipes for gingerbread and royal icing. May I suggest that the kit would make a wonderful holiday gift? Even if just for yourself?
They’ve created a complete DIY tutorial for baking and assembling the house.
I couldn’t be more pleased, go have a look!
· comments  · 11-17-2014 · categories:christmas · food · holidays ·
· comments  · 11-13-2014 · categories:food · links ·
· comments  · 10-7-2014 · categories:food · links ·
The Best Sweet Use for Your Smoker? Smoked Ice Cream | Serious Eats.
What We Really Taste When We Drink Wine : The New Yorker. “Do we actually want to eliminate expectation and create an experience of tasting that approximates blindness? Galloni doesn’t think so. Having spent a big part of his career as a critic in blind tastings, he now fully embraces context as one of the major parts of his enjoyment of and appreciation for wine.”
ciao samin: All I Want to Eat. Cold dressings for cold foods.
Where to Eat Outdoors in Seattle, 2014 Edition | Serious Eats.
The best beer in baseball – Washington Post. “Seattle sells beers from 20 breweries based in the state of Washington, the highest number of in-state offerings in Major League Baseball.” Via Metafilter.
Cheesy Stuffed Poblanos | How Sweet It Is.
The Complete Guide to Burger Blends | FirstWeFeast.com. Via Kottke.
Muhammara Recipe – 101 Cookbooks. “It’s a traditional red pepper spread originating from Syria made with a beguiling blend of red peppers, walnuts, olive oil, pomegranate molasses”. Yum.
How to Make Pocky at Home at Food 52. Via Craftzine.
· comments  · 08-28-2014 · categories:food · links ·
Padrón peppers are delicious and they are also like a little game of surprise – most of these are mild but ever fifth one is hot. This can be especially amusing if somebody at your dinner is likely to break out into hiccups when they bite into a spicy pepper. (Ahem, Scott!)
Traditionally these are fried in a skillet but we find them just as delicious when tossed with a little olive oil and grilled. Add some good salt to finish and that’s all you need. They practically melt in your mouth, yum. If you have not encountered these yet, I somehow got to adulthood without being introduced, I recommend you seek some out soon.
A shout out to Maggi who introduced me to these a few years back! Also Shishito peppers are similar, every tenth one is hot.
· comments  · 07-8-2014 · categories:food ·
Happy almost Independence Day! A few of the links below are Fourth of July themed, the rest are yummy:
What to Drink on July 4th | Serious Eats. Mostly I’m eyeing the Campari-laced version of the Starfruit Sangria here, the slice of starfruit is such a simple decoration for the Fourth.
The Scientific Way to Cut a Cake – YouTube. By Numberphile. A very clever way to slice a round cake so that you can keep it as fresh as possible day after day, and the suggestion is from 1906! Via The Morning News.
Sprinkle Bakes: Crème Brûlée Filled Strawberries. So tiny and so fancy.
Southwestern Coleslaw Recipe | Simply Recipes. We’ve been making this a lot lately, it’s tasty and very simple to make if you have a food processor with the shredding attachments. Also, this is a very simple vinegar and olive oil dressing for those of you who like a more simple cole slaw.
Smoky and Spicy Yogurt-Marinated Chicken Kebabs | Serious Eats. If you can remember to make them early enough to allow for the time to marinate them these are easy and really delicious.
See also: Marinades for Chicken | Ask MetaFilter. Lots of great suggestions and regional options I’d never heard of.
· comments  · 07-3-2014 · categories:food · links ·
Pitcher Drinks: Sparkling Grapefruit Sangria With Lillet Rosé | Serious Eats. Yum.
Sprinkle Bakes: Fresh Watermelon Cake. What a clever idea!
A Beer Beginner’s Guide to Hops of the World | Serious Eats.
Star Wars Macarons Prove the Force is Delicious at i09. Ok, those are cute.
The Rise of the $8 Ice Cube at Priceonomics.
“Miracle Fruit,” America’s Oldest New Food Trend at Gawker. I was really hoping this story was going to reveal that the Victorians threw scandalous miracle fruit parties, but no. Gawker means this goes all the way back to 2007. I would like to point out that I was one year off on my Mircale Fruit party invitation, I said 2008. Oops.
How to Make a Good Salad Without Dumb Leaves – The Awl. “So let us forgo leaves. Let us not require our salads to rely on our least-favorite ingredient. Let us shape our own salad destiny.”
· comments  · 06-5-2014 · categories:food · links ·
Recently King Arthur Flour gathered a group of PNW bloggers and we all made dinner for a shelter here in Seattle. It was part of their Bake for Good initiative to encourage and help people reach out to their communities in various ways. In addition to getting food to those in need, baking for community events and bake sales to raise money they also have a Bake for Good Kids traveling tour that helps kids learn to bake and work with their communities. In addition to all this King Arthur Flour is an employee owned company where each employee donates time each year to volunteering and helping the community. You know what? There’s been a lot of gloomy stuff going on in the news lately and being a part of the Bake for Good tour reminded me that there is plenty of goodness out there and sometimes you have to create it.
(The image above is from the King Arthur Flour website. The pictures below are all from my aging iPhone, the days were so packed with flour and butter and dishwashing that I didn’t pull out my camera.)
(My bread was a little lopsided but bascially worked. The one here looked so pretty I took a picture of it instead.)
We spent some time in commercial kitchens which was a thrill for me. On the first day we made braided white loaves, dinner rolls and apple pies.
We braided white bread dough, you start from the center and braid down, then flip it over and braid down again. Not as easy as it sounds, at least the first time.
It rose! And got brown and pretty!
I’ve never been able to get a handle on pie dough. I’d seen plenty of demonstrations on cooking shows, I’d done the vodka thing, the food processor thing but I never had any success and basically gave up on it. Turns out some hands on learning with a cheerfully helpful teacher is what I needed.
What I learned? Half of the butter bits need to be way larger than I suspected. And one of these large plastic scrapers is oh so handy. Seriously, I won’t ever make pie dough without one of these again. It’s particularly great if you don’t have cold hands because it can mix and fold with minimal contact from your hands. It’s also great for scooping up chopped vegetables, even easier to use than a metal bench scraper. There you, my new favorite kitchen multitasker.
In my notes I have VB, which stands for Visible Butter, something you want during the last stages of putting your pie dough together. When you are gathering it to chill before rolling out you want the dough to be both shaggy and crumbly, not too dry but just wet enough to hold together. Right, I’m not going to do any good telling you about it, go find a pie person and practice!
The next day we made salad, macaroni and cheese, chicken and a few other vegetable side options. I appreciated the oversized tools.
We had a tour of the shelter and it was pretty sobering. Everybody there was a good soul caught in a difficult situation. It made me feel very grateful for what I have and like I could be doing a lot more to help out in my community. I’ll be seeking out as many opportunities to volunteer as I can.
If you like to cook I do have a suggestion for helping out in your area, look up your local VA hospital and see if they are seeking volunteers to cook dinner for the caretakers of patients who are living there are on a short or long term basis. Here in Seattle the Fisher House is one of those spots, this is something my friend Fresh Picked Seattle organizes from time to time so all credit goes to her. In addition to cooking they have room for people to come and hold craft nights, garden, organize outings or teach a class.
Alright, let’s go out and do some good.
· comments  · 05-30-2014 · categories:food · misc ·
The Food Lab: How to Make Grilled Stuffed Flank Steak Pinwheels | Serious Eats.
Stainless Steel Branch Skewers | UncommonGoods. Instead of one long skewer these have nine branches. It might just solve some of those times when the skewered food just rotates around when you try to flip it.
What Are You Drinking? – NYTimes.com. A simple interactive page where you plug in your requirements (like, a fruity drink made with tequila for a hot afternoon) and like magic a brief video plays showing you how to make something. All of the recipes can be seen here.
BuzzFeed’s Clean Eating Challenge. I’ve seen a lot of negative takes on this two week diet (clean eating and detoxing are things to be questioned) and while I’m unlikely to follow along I do admire how clearly they’ve laid out the shopping/prepping/cooking for a few weeks of healthy meals. I’ve turned to this for inspiration for a few light dinners and the pear and almond butter snack is a new favorite around here.
Joy the Baker – Fresh Juice and Sweet Tea Shot Bites. These are adorable.
The Best Places to Drink Outdoors in Seattle, 2014 Edition | Serious Eats. Thumbs up to all of these.
Feeding Hannibal. Janice Poon is the food stylist for the tv show Hannibal and here she goes behind the scenes with the inspiration, struggles and tricks on getting the food juuuust about as creepy as it can possibly be. Even if you don’t watch the show this is a lot of fun to read. See: How she solved the problem of making fake and actually edible Ortolans.
Project index / Bompas & Parr. I’m losing my mind over the fabulousness of the projects they’ve created. I’ve been to the Guiness tasting room and it was a very fun experience. See: Glow-in-the-dark Cornetto. Via Janice Poon.
· comments  · 05-21-2014 · categories:food · links ·
This is a sponsored post brought to you by the upcoming Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return 3D animated film.
I remember reading about China Country for the first time in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book and I was utterly charmed by the description of a land and people entirely made of porcelain. Rereading it just now I find that a startled china cow has it’s leg broken off! Happily the cow could be mended but, still, eeek. In the book Dorothy and her companions pass through the land of China Country and then there isn’t any more mention, but for some reason I’ve always remembered it. Happily we will see a lot more of China Country (called China County in the film) and the China Princess in the upcoming Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return film, which opens this weekend. (Quick note: sound plays when you load that website. It’s lovely music but, just in case, I wanted you to know.)
To celebrate the film I decided to make tea cakes themed around places in Oz including China County and Candy County. The icing I used here doesn’t require any heat or electric mixers to make, it’s stirred together by hand, so young children can be responsible for icing and decorating these cakes.
I wanted to keep things fairly simple and shopped for candies that could represent the various places in Oz. I found rainbow sour ribbon candy, green rock candy for the Emerald City, orange nonpareils for the field of poppies, yellow cake sprinkles for the Yellow Brick Road, chocolate cones and mushrooms that would work as forest trees, sugar roses and gold dragees for China County and gingersnaps and peppermint candies to represent Candy County.
I wanted to create small cakes but instead of buying a baking pan specifically for them (they are out there if you’d like) I used jumbo sized cupcake pans and put a smaller amount of batter in each cup making for small and charmingly domed cakes. Since my cakes are little landscapes I used chocolate cake to represent earth but any flavor of cake, or even a brownie, would work out great here. This is a good time for your favorite one-bowl chocolate cake recipe.
Spray a jumbo muffin tin with a baking spray such as Baker’s Joy. Put 3 tablespoons of cake batter in each section and bake at 300 degrees until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool, remove from the tin and place on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
The icing is simply confectioners sugar and milk mixed together by hand. I made white icing for the porcelain of China Country and the snow of Candy Country, and the rest of the icing is colored green to represent grass. I used clear vanilla flavoring so the white icing would stay as white as could be. The great things about this icing are that it’s as simple to make and it sets up into a beautiful shiny finish, like porcelain. The downside is that it doesn’t keep overnight very well so it’s best to make these the same day. (Or keep in a sealed container in the fridge overnight.)
The trick for the icing is to make sure it’s as thick as can be while still being a little bit flowy. Add the ingredients listed below and if it’s thick like a paste add 1/4th of a teaspoon of milk at a time until the icing feels thick when you stir it but it relaxes and becomes shiny about 10 seconds after you stop stirring. 1/4th of a teaspoon seems like a tiny little amount but you’ll be surprised at how quickly that amount will change the texture of the icing.
- 9 ounces confectioners sugar (or two cups of of confectioners sugar that you’ve fluffed up by running a whisk through it before scooping)
- 2 tablespoons milk (plus more)
- 1 teaspoon clear vanilla flavoring
- green food coloring
Mix the ingredients above together in a bowl. If the icing is thick like a paste or not all the sugar will dissolve in the milk add 1/4th of a teaspoon of milk at a time just until the mixture is still matte when you stir but relaxes and becomes shiny a few seconds after you stop mixing. Either separate it and make 1/2 of the mixture green or make a second batch. One batch will cover twelve cakes.
Drop a heaping soup spoon of icing on top of each cake.
Be a little patient and let it settle and spread. Now quick! Before the top dries it’s time to decorate!
A little bit of sour rainbow ribbon candy works for our rainbow. I used a butter knife to poke into the cake and hold the rainbow in place
Simple sugar roses and gold dragées echo China County.
Green rock candy represents our Emerald City and tiny orange nonpareils for our field of poppies.
Candy County is full of gingerbread house delights, here I used half of a ginger snap and some peppermint candy.
Small chocolate cookies from a Japanese import store work as trees in the forest. These are supposed to be cones and mushrooms but clustered together I think they look like a foreboding forest.
You might think I’m looking forward to this movie because of the actors behind the voices (Kelsey Grammer! Bernadette Peters! Oliver Platt! Hugh Dancy! Patrick Stewart! Lea Michele!) but I think I’m most excited to see what the animators have done with Candy County. It’s like a gingerbread house but instead it’s an entire land, be still my gingerbread loving heart!
Have a look at the movie trailer for more peeks at the new lands:
As a kid did you read the further stories of Dorothy or the land of Oz?
· comments  · 05-7-2014 · categories:food ·
· comments  · 05-1-2014 · categories:food · links ·
I’m sure you’ve seen the stories about artisinal toast in San Francisco and lately news has been talking about the toast trend hitting Seattle, but I remember fancy toast being here years ago. There was a cafe called Nervous Nellie’s (now closed) that offered coffee and interesting toast. There was cheese, and jam, and jam and cheese, and cheese and a red pepper relish. I tried the relish because I’d never heard of it and, quite shockingly honestly, I really liked it. A whole lot. It was savory and tangy and a nice change from the usual sweet breakfast offerings.
Nervous Nellies is closed now but I tracked down the ingredients to make the same style of toast. A bit of snooping around archived web pages and my old notes leave me believing that the ingredients I remember are Lappi cheese (a very mild cheese, havariti will work just as well), and Ajvar, a red pepper spread.
Add butter and a sprinkling of good salt to the toast, then slices of cheese and spread the Ajvar on top. The toppings are cold and creamy and a little spicy and tangy. I don’t think everybody will like Ajvar but I highly recommend giving it a try should you come across it.
Nervous Nellie’s listed their red pepper relish as “Lutenica” on the menu but after doing a tasting of a few relishes I’m convinced that they were using something closer to Ajvar. At an imports store I found both hot and mild Ajvar as well as Pepptizer and Lutenica. They all looked similar with the exception of a few different ingredients. Clearly there had to be a taste test.
Mild Ajvar: This is what I remember, it’s got a very mild heat. Mostly tangy and a little sweet, very fresh tasting. (Top left.)
Hot Ajvar: There is a extra zing of spiciness but no acid (no tomatoes). It’s a still a relatively gentle heat. (Top right.)
Lutenica: This one is more blended and looks more like a sauce than a relish. This is definitely not what I remember from the Nervous Nellie’s toast. It’s got more garlic and the taste of cooked tomatoes, and it doesn’t taste fresh. (Bottom left.)
Peppetizer: Too much onion and something tastes off, like stewed vegetables. Not what I’d want on toast. (Bottom right.)
If you’re in Seattle and interested in sources: I tracked down Ajvar at Big John’s Pacific Foods Imports in SODO and the Lappi cheese at Scandinavian Specialties in Ballard. This winter Trader Joe’s had a red pepper relish that I suspect is the Zergut brand with a TJs label and last time I was in the store they still had a number of jars available. (I had the opportunity to ask a TJs employee and he said it was almost certainly one of those seasonal items that they won’t be stocking again after the run is sold out.) Update: mims mentioned in the comments below that the red pepper spread carried by Trader Joe’s is actually a year round product, and sure enough it’s been there on the shelves every time I’ve checked for it. It’s stocked down near the floor and easy to overlook, look for it and give it a try!
· comments  · 04-9-2014 · categories:food ·