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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fun in the Kitchen (Tomato Sauce for Pizza)


I don’t know if anyone knows; but, it’s awfully fun cooking with your spouse. There is just something about it just makes one feel closer to the other. And, it can be downright fun, not to mention sexy. I love it when Dan joins me in the kitchen. Because of him, I’m slowly becoming a confident cook and enjoying the process.

It used to be that if something flops, I would feel awful and a failure. And, I wouldn’t try it again. But, Dan has slowly convinced me that it’s okay to fail – It is how we learn. So now, when something flops, I just toss it all away, review the instructions, and try again. When something finally comes out right, I feel pleased and sometimes, triumphant.

We have been cooking something together every weekend. It could be something old, a standby, like the tomato sauce we made last Sunday for pizza. Or, it could be something new – from a recipe book or from a “foodie” blog.

It was different this time in the kitchen. You see, I have been sending Dan some links to foodie blogs that had what I thought were good recipes. Some of those foodie blogs are downright cool – they (blog authors) would take and post pictures that explain the process of making a recipe.

I think, over time, he decided he wanted to try taking pictures in the kitchen. So, this past Sunday, the kitchen was turned into a studio and he snapped and snapped pictures – about 77 in all. Many of the pictures turned out great! It’s so hard to pick and choose amongst them all. (Using the old fashioned word, “amongst”, gives me such a delicious rush. :-)

I actually had a blast! I think Dan did too.

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The recipe for the tomato sauce comes from an out of print book called “Book of Pizza” by Louise Love and Sassafras Enterprises, Inc. This book originally came with two pizza pans. We started trying the recipe for the sauce and dough. It turned out amazing with a few adjustments.

We then started having annual pizza parties at the house which gradually ended due to the fact that our lives and the lives of family and friends became so busy and hectic (I had gone back to school and the kids were growing up).

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As you can see, this book is well used with the splatters from the tomato sauce. Yes, I’m a messy cook. But, I do try to keep things clean. :-)

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Cast of characters including extras (a spoon and a favorite knife) that didn’t want to stay out of the picture.

Let me tell you that we had the toughest time trying to find canned Italian plum tomatoes here in San Antonio. We finally found some at Whole Food Market. We decided to go with the brand shown; but, I think I will try the “San Marzano” brand next time as I wasn’t quite pleased with this one for some odd reason I can’t place my finger on.

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Chop up the onions…

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Peel and chop up the garlic cloves…

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Measure out the spices (basil, tarragon, and oregano). Isn’t this an amazing picture?!?! He managed to capture spices flying up in the air while I was tapping the spice jar. I told you that I’m a messy cook. :-)

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And, don’t forget the brown sugar… We cut ours in half as we didn’t like the sweetness of the original sauce recipe.

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Add oil to a sauce pan and heat it until hot… Another amazing picture – I didn’t think this was possible…

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Add the onions and garlic and cook until transparent.

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Crush the tomatoes. Let me tell you, this is a fun part – getting your hands “dirty”. Make sure you have a towel nearby. The recipe says to chop the tomatoes with spoon; but, I find doing this by hand is so much more efficient not to mention quicker.

And oh, I forgot to “cover” the first tomato with my hand and squeeze it gently. I had squeezed rather too quickly and the juices of it went flying everywhere. Some even landed on Dan’s jeans (he was about two feet away at the time). Oops! I told you that I’m a messy cook. :-)

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Add the spices, rubbing them between the palms of your hands before letting them drop into the pan.

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Add the salt… And oh, add a few grinds of pepper – I forgot to do that this time around…

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Add the sugar...

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and a can of tomato paste. Stir it all in.

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This is what it looks like. Let it simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. After it’s cooked, take it off the heat and let cool…

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This is what it’ll look like after it’s cool…

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So thick and chunky. Some people like their sauce this way. However I do not…

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So, out comes the boat motor and I attack it with a vengeance. Actually, I was gentle as I didn’t want to scratch the pan. :-)

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The final product…

I usually split it up into three or four baggies and freeze all but one. By doing it this way, I can just grab a baggie out in the morning of pizza night (Tuesdays for us) to thaw out.

Here’s a tip if you are alone and don’t have a partner to help you do this:

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Grab a glass. Grab a corner of the baggie. Shove it into glass. Roll the top of baggie outside of glass. Spoon tomato sauce into the glass...

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Once you have the portion of tomato sauce you want in the baggie, remove baggie from glass, squeeze the air out of it and zip it up! You’re done!

Added May 2010: Fun in the Kitchen II (Pizza Dough)

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