Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fresh tomato sauce

This is a dish to be made in the summer with super fresh sun ripened tomatoes bursting with flavor. The fresher the better so get picking or get to a farmers market. I went to Gilcrease Orchard to pick my tomatoes, most people in Las Vegas don't even know about it which is a shame but hey more tomatoes for me.

 These are about half of their tomato plants.

You need 3 - 3 1/2 pounds of tomatoes, people usually use romas but I used these and they were great.

I got my onion and garlic from there too:

Fill a large pot with water, I used a 4 quart size, then put it on the stove set to high and bring it to a boil. Cut an X in to the bottoms of all of the tomatoes ( I somehow always manage to forget one so double check ) while the water is still waiting to boil get an ice bath for the tomatoes together.

 Shoo Beans, shoo.

 After the water is at a rolling boil you can start putting your tomatoes in. I did mine in two parts for 30 seconds each.  Once they've been in the ice bath they should be very easy to peel, peel all of your tomatoes.

Get a bowl with a strainer over it. Cut your tomatoes in half for romas or quarters for round tomatoes and and seed them over the bowl so the bowl catches all the juice but the strainer keeps the seeds out. 

Cut a medium onion in half and then dice one half, dump the tomato water and cook the onions in that pot on medium/high with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Cook until translucent, it's against my religion to have a tomato sauce with no onions. Add the tomatoes, put in 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

As soon as they get a bit bubbly around the edges mush them with a potato masher. I like my sauce pretty smooth so I mashed away. Once it has started boiling turn it down to low and simmer for 45 minutes. If the tomatoes still aren't at your desired texture for the sauce feel free to keep on mashing.

About 25 minutes in to the 45 minute simmer period for the sauce get a small pot, 1/4 cup of olive oil, a thinly sliced clove of garlic, a small handful of basil leaves and a pinch of red pepper flakes combine and put on stove on very, very low. We want this to cook very slowly so the flavors seep in to the olive oil. Once it comes to a simmer take it off the heat.

You want to start your pasta water about now unless you have one of those amazing instant boil things on your stove, I feel like I wait around half my life waiting for pasta water to boil. We're going to want to reserve the pasta water for the sauce. How much pasta you want to cook is up to you, do you like your pasta swimming in sauce or do you like it to be just coated?

When the timer for the sauce goes off strain the olive oil mixture and put the olive oil in to the sauce, stir until it's completely combined. Taste your sauce, to me it needed a little something so I added in a few twists of a black pepper grinder on fine.

You should cook your pasta to almost al dente.  Get a large skillet out and ladle how much sauce you want in to the pan, a small ladle full of the reserved pasta water  and finally your spaghetti. Use tongs to stir and and cook it on medium until the pasta water and sauce have combined, the pasta water will help the sauce stick to your pasta better. Add in your tablespoon of SALTED, yes salted butter now. Cook until the butter has melted completely.

                                                 Now you can plate and garnish with fresh basil.

I was worried that adding that much olive oil that late in the game would make it oily, but no it made it glossy and velvety to the tongue. I tasted it and my immediate thought was "this is special" It's so complex but so very simple at the same time. It tastes fresh but there are layers of flavor there that are mind blowing in their simplicity.

                                     Fresh, simple, perfect. Now for some glamor shots.

                                        Happy cooking, hope you all are having a great summer!

Inspired by Scott Conant ( aka the cute Italian guy from Chopped ) Scarpetta's Tomato and Basil

Monday, June 9, 2014

Winner winner chicken dinner!

Okay, I apologize for the title, I couldn't resist. I love roasted chickens, it doesn't matter the time of year, or how wildly inappropriately hot it is outside ( 106F today ) or the crazy looks I get from people.

They bring with them the sense of family gathered around a big table, with gravy being poured over buttery mashed potatoes, steaming fluffy rolls in their basket. They give you so much beyond one dinner as well. Left overs for tacos,  chicken salad and delicious flavorful stock. Or giving your kitty a special treat.

I used a 3.8 pound chicken, remember to check the temperature after cooking, if your bird is bigger you'll want to extend cooking times. White meat should be 160F and the dark meat should be 180F. Preheat your oven to 425, make sure your racks in your oven are in the right place, you want one in the middle and enough room above for the chicken.

Rinse and pat your chicken dry, check for feathers and trim any extra fat.

Gather your flavor helpers! Here we have some rosemary, thyme, 2 tablespoons of salted butter, half a medium yellow onion, a clove of garlic and two bay leaves.

Ooooh naughty!

Get 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and grind 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Salt and pepper the inside of the bird and stuff the herbs, onion, garlic clove, and bay leaves in to the bird. Tie the legs and then melt the two tablespoons of butter and cover the chicken. Also don't get salt everywhere like I did.

Get a little bowl ( I used a teacup ) and put 1 and a half teaspoons of kosher salt, half a teaspoon of paprika and then grind 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Mix it all up and then rub your chicken down with it.

Place chicken in ( 425F ) preheated oven  and set the timer for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes drop the temperature down to 350F and set the timer for an hour.

My little kitchen buddy kept me company while the chicken was cooking.

Bast your bird every 20 minutes and if you find that the skin is getting too dark make an aluminum foil tent to put over it. 

After the hour and a half is up check the temperature of the bird, if the numbers are right pull it out and cover with aluminum foil for 20 minutes. An easy way to tell if it's done is if the leg comes away from the bird easily. When the 20 minutes are up it's time to carve the bird.

The rosemary and thyme penetrate the meat enduing it with a rustic but full flavor. The onions and garlic give it an earthy taste, the salt and pepper bring out and compliment the natural flavors of the chicken perfectly. Don't forget about the oysters! In my opinion they're the best part and they never make it to the table. In France they're called "sot-l'y-laisse" which means "the fool leaves it there." They're located on the birds lower back near the thighs.

The dish I used to roast the chicken in is a Heinz promotional dish made in 1953, it was the first promotional Pyrex ever did. 

Don't worry, I'll post some weather appropriate recipes next week, let me just have this moment of insanity before it gets above 110. Happy cooking!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Contest winner


Please comment on this post so I can contact you and get your information so I can mail off your new casserole. :)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Contest time.

I'm giving away a Pyrex 043 Blue Doily!

It is in fantastic shape and is waiting to take its place at your families' table.

To enter you must comment on this post telling me which Pyrex piece is your absolute favorite. To an additional entry follow my blog. If you make an entry on your blog about this contest and link back to it it gets you an extra entry. For every 25 re-pins you also get an extra entry so get pinning. :)

This contest is only for those in the U.S.A. and ends on Monday June second at 6pm PST. I will be announcing the winner on Tuesday June third. The lucky winner will be chosen at random, if you're the winner you will have 48 hours to respond to my message.

Good luck!

Italian cream soda

             It gets really hot here, like 120F hot. I love finding different cold beverages to drink during    the summer. This one is so pretty it makes me feel like twirling a parasol. 

     Italian cream sodas didn't originate in Italy, they're actually an American thing. I think they're called "Italian" cream sodas because most of the time people use Italian syrups to make them. I made my own syrup. I picked blueberry because I love them and purple is my favorite color.

 To make the syrup you need one part filtered water, one part sugar and two parts fruit. You can use any fruit, if it's a high water fruit though I'd use a bit less water. I used one cup, one cup, two cups for my blueberry syrup.

 Bring the water to boil, then pour in the sugar. Stir until it's dissolved and then add the fruit. Boil for about 10 minutes, stir every once in a while. Put the heat on medium and  cook for another 5 minutes.

I've never been accused of being good at pouring, let alone doing it while taking a picture of it.
Strain them and press on the fruit with the back of a spoon a little to make sure you get all the syrupy goodness out.

Put the syrup in the fridge until it's nice and cold, I put mine in the freezer for a bit because I'm impatient.

Get your tall glass and syrup.

Put in one or two tablespoons of the syrup, I opted for two but I live life on the wild side.

 Add the club soda, about an inch from the top.

 Oh so fizzy!

 Add your tablespoon of cream, or half and half. If you wanted to make this vegan you could use full fat coconut milk instead.

 Beans got a little excited when it was time for the cream.

 I added some home made whipped cream to mine. Garnish with a bit of the fruit you used to make the syrup then stir a little bit.

 I added a bit more syrup on the top.

Put the left over syrup in a jar and store it in the fridge for future use.

Happy slurping! I mean, uh, being lady like and taking delicate sips, twirl those parasols girls.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Thrifting, the lost lid, DIY coasters and some exciting news.

I normally go thrifting every Thursday as I've previously mentioned, it's discount day. Last Thursday I found some cute things and a something that meant a whole lot to my Grandmother.

 These are a pair of boots I got for $6, I love them and they fit like a dream. They're all leather and I think the most comfortable things that have ever been on my feet.

 I love these cute glass plates to hold tea things, a lid for a Pyrex 475 casserole and a glass insulator.

 My mini insulator collection.

 Jeffrey acted like I was nuts when I grabbed the bag of jar lids and rubbers, uh they are a DOLLAR. He asked if that was a good deal, heck yes it is silly man. There was also a bag of cookie cutters I need to have.

 There were some interesting ones in there for sure!

The lid. While we were at my Nana and Papa's for Mother's day I noticed that my Nana didn't have the lid to her kettle...and then I thought back and realized she never had it for as long as I can remember. I asked her what happened to it and she said it vanished a long time ago. I told her that if I ever find one in a thrift store I'll get it to her, we both knew it was a long shot and I've never seen on before but hey, you never know. Last Thursday I spotted this and yelped, I called her while I was still in the store, she was so excited! 

Today was a lazy Tuesday, I decided I wanted to do a little project.

 Scrabble tile coasters! All you need are the things pictured above.

Go through your tiles and decide what message you want to send to the world through your coaster.

 Geronimo was sitting to my left and every time a tile would drop he'd pounce on it.

 I'm aware of the fact that I'm slightly predictable. Cut the cork to size and then glue the tiles on to it.

 And you're done! You can seal the tiles if you want to as well, you can just use some Krylon clear varnish.

Last but not least I became an Aunt again over the weekend!

His name is Colin Michael and he is the sweetest little thing. I'm going to be doing a newborn shoot for him in the next couple of weeks.

Happy thrift hunting, DIYing and cat cuddling. :)