Ooh! My name in “print”!

Welcome to all the Houston Press blog readers who found this on Eating Our Words. A big thanks to Katharine for reaching out to me, and for taking the time to edit the near-stream-of-consciousness that she got back in return.

There’s plenty of things I have backed up to write about here, but life really has gotten in the way lately. I’ve begun working my way through the French Culinary Institutes Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine, which will get written up along the way here. I’m doing more spur-of-the-moment weeknight cooking, all part of the weight loss plan, which means good food and also getting out of the habit of writing down recipes and notes after the fact. (Oops.) Fortunately, I photograph most of what I cook, so I can reconstruct what I did from the pictures.

I also got challenged when friends of ours were married (at the beginning of May – has it been that long? – ouch) to bring back more of the recipes. I can do that.

To start off, since this is a short post, let’s talk about tomato sauce. This is dead simple, comes together quickly, and really for me beats the stuff in a jar. Plus, it’s infinitely variable – cook it longer to reduce and thicken for pizza, play around with herbs and spices to flavor, and so on.
You’ll need:
* Four to six ripe still-on-the-vine tomatoes. (I get mine at Wal-Mart.)
* An onion
* Olive oil, don’t be shy
* A clove or two of garlic

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and add the onion and sweat (cover the pot and cook until translucent). Add minced garlic and cook another couple of minutes to take off some of the raw garlic edge.
Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes – if you like it chunky, chop coarsely, if you like it with less pieces, then cut it finer. Add the tomatoes to the pot and cook covered to soften, then uncover to reduce until desired consistency. Maybe 15-20 minutes of cooking in total.

Toss it with pasta, spread on pizza dough, dip something in it, puree it to make soup – sky’s the limit.

To put a little more effort in and raise it up, try seeding the tomatoes. Cut in half along the equator and gently squeeze to remove the water and seeds, leaving only the tomato pulp or flesh. And for bonus points, peel the tomato – cut out the core, cut an x in the base, and a quick blanch in boiling water (30 seconds quick) should loosen the skin enough to peel. The sauce is that much lighter for it.