Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A TALE OF TWO SAUCES, AND THE BLOGS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE


One thing I always order from The Bountiful Sprout during the warm season is a big basket of assorted tomatoes. Each time I order it, it's completely different. Sometimes it's filled with big beefy slicing tomatoes just oozing with flavor, and the less you mess with them, the better they taste. That's when I turn to my recipe for Jewel's Uncooked Tomato Sauce, grabbed from one of the first blogs I ever got addicted to -- Jewel's blog Eyes of Wonder . This blog was so visually stunning, and about such an unusual family, that I had to go all the way back and start from the beginning, to see what I had missed.

Later in the season, when the basket tends more towards roma tomatoes, which are better for cooking than for eating raw, it's time to pull out my recipe for Cafe Lago's Roasted Tomatoes, which I'm pretty sure I found on a blog called Orangette -- another that was so visually stunning and had such an amazing backstory about how this blog brought two people on opposite sides of the country together and turned them into a magnificently food-obsessed family/food dynasty, that of course I had to go back to the beginning, to see what brought it all about.

Hadn't realized until that day that my very favorite colors were both tomato colors and Bakelite colors!
When my basket is filled mostly with wee little cherry, grape and pear tomatoes, then we make a lot of salads, or I fix those baked cherry tomatoes with goat cheese that I mentioned not long ago. Basically, it's all about making the most of what's at hand -- a common theme running through my new favorite blog, introduced to me by daughter Lex, Assortment. Another one that makes me want to go back to the beginning, to see how it all started!

Thinking about these blogs, the first of which is no longer being written but still available in archives, and the second being barely written now that she's busy writing books and opening restaurants and raising a child, made me stop and think about what drew me to them in the first place. It's not that I had any desire to live their lives. It's just that they all made me examine my own life, and really think about how I wanted to live it, what kind of home I wanted to create, what kind of food I wanted to eat and share with others, how I wanted to spend my time, and what kind of community I wanted to be a part of. Right now I am in a serious dry spell when it come to blog-reading, and could really use some good recommendations, if you have any!

Now, for some recipes...

Jewel's Uncooked Tomato Sauce

Combine in a large bowl 7 large ripe tomatoes, diced; 6 or so garlic cloves, minced; 1/2 cup firmly packed fresh basil, scissor-snipped in a mug. Add about 1/2 cup good extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle over 1/2 - 1 tsp. good sea salt and some freshly ground pepper. Cover bowl with a plate and let sit for several hours. Serve over hot, buttered pasta and top with grated parmesan. Could add olives or sauteed mushrooms, or serve with Italian sausage.

Cafe Lago's Roasted Tomato Pasta

1 cup olive oil, divided
2 lbs. plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise and seeded
1/2 T. dried oregano
3/4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. minced parsley
1 lb. penne pasta
freshly grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 250 F. Pour half of oil in 9x13 glass baking dish. Arrange tomatoes cut side up in dish. Drizzle with remaining oil. Sprinkle with oregano, sugar and salt. Bake one hour. Turn tomatoes with tongs. Bake one hour longer. Turn again. Bake until deep red and very tender, 15 - 45 minutes longer. Transfer to plate. When cooled somewhat, gently peel off skins. Transfer half of tomatoes and some of the oil to a bowl and gently chop with a dull knife. Add garlic and parsley and mix. Cook penne. Drain, reserving some cooking water. Add pasta to tomatoes. Mix in enough cooking water to loosen sauce. Top with grated parmesan and serve. Refrigerate remaining tomatoes in their oil, up to 5 days. Could serve some with toasted baguette and some goat cheese, with a fried egg, or even on a burger!

Speaking of food, and the people you want to share it with, I guess I'd better go get busy. One of The Muses has invited Hubby and I over this afternoon for a couples-float in their creek, followed by a fajita pot luck. Does it get any better?