Apples of Love
If the Spanish conquistadors had known what they were onto when they brought tomatoes to the old world in the sixteenth century, they wouldn't have spent the rest of their careers searching for gold, because they had already found it. If any of them had any prescience at all, they would have simply opened a canning facility somewhere in the vicinity of Mount Vesuvius, and begun mining the gold that became known as pomod˛ri 'golden apples'.
By the time southern Italians began manufacturing pasta asciuta 'semolina pasta' in the late eighteenth century, inovative chefs had already invented dozens of preparations for tomatoes (also referred to pˇmi d'amore 'apples of love'). So when tomato sauce was introduced to pasta, it was indeed love at first sight. Pasta alla marinara was love at first sight for me, anyway.
But due to restrictions imposed by Mother Nature, we here in America can enjoy fresh, vine-ripened plum tomatoes for only about three months of the year. The rest of the time, we depend on the canned variety.
Of those tomatoes that find their way into cans, foodies and gourmets acknowledge those that come from the region of San Marzano to be the finest. There's a lot of talk about the volcanic soil of Calabria; the intensity of the sun in the region; even the name God works its way into the conversation from time to time. Nevertheless, the Italian government has taken the region seriously enough to give the local growers a D.O.C. (Denominazione d'Originata Controllata, or Government Certification).
But there's a knock-off artist lurking around every Cypress tree, and it wasn't too long before canned tomatoes labeled tipo di San Marzano, 'San Marzano-style' began appearing at Italian delis. The latest craze in the tomato game, is taking the seeds from San Marzano tomatoes, and growing them elsewhere in the world. I'm aware of a California grower who's doing well by marketing his tomatoes as having been grown from "San Marzano tomato seeds."
It is encouraging, though, that for the past several years, American growers have begun competing favorably against their Calabrian bretheren. Muir Glen, in Petaluma, CA., for example, grows wonderful organic tomatoes that are readily available at your local grocery super-store.
But there's a problem that crops up with canned tomatoes, especially if they come in unlined cans: they taste "canned." Tomatoes, being acid as they are, often interact with the metal, and absorb some of the metallic taste.
My Sicilian grandmother (and I'm sure her peers as well) solved this problem by adding grated carrot to her marinara sauce. I've seen some validation of this technique in recipes from Mario Batali, and recently, from Pino Luongo in his cookbook, "Simply Tuscan." In fact, Mr. Luongo goes so far as to include a stalk of celery too.
Here in Connecticut, we're probably two and a half months away from picking the first plum tomato. But wouldn't it be great to go to a farmer's market, and see that someone there is selling plum tomatoes grown from San Marzano seeds.
And here is the most requested recipe from the archives of my first Web site, www.northend.com; my grandmother's tomato sauce. (reprinted from my first cookbook, La Cucina dei Poveri). Buon appetito.
Salsa di Pomodoro
Heat a large sautÚ pan over medium heat, then add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic, and sautÚ, shaking the pan for about one minute, until the garlic begins to give up its aroma.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the tomatoes. Return the pan to the heat and begin to break the tomatoes with either the back of a fork, or a wooden spoon. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer the tomatoes to evaporate some of the liquid, then add the carrot, the red pepper flakes and the oregano.
Simmer gently for about twenty minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and the clear liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper.
Makes approximately 1 1/2 Quarts
Skip Lombardi is the author of two cookbooks: "La Cucina dei Poveri: Recipes from my Sicilian Grandparents," and "Almost Italian: Recipes from America's Little Italys." He has been a Broadway musician, high-school math teacher, software engineer, and a fledgeling blogger. But he has never let any of those pursuits interfere with his passion for cooking and eating. Visit his Web site to learn more about his cookbooks. http://www.skiplombardi.com or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Easy Spaghetti Recipes
Spaghetti has always been a favorite family meal. My teenage daughter will eat leftover spaghetti for breakfast, lunch, and as a mid-afternoon snack. Not everyone loves spaghetti so much that they will go to that extreme, however, and the same meals can getting boring after awhile. Here are some ways to jazz up this old favorite:
A Pease Journey
Remnants of dried peas were found in Egyptian tombs. Hot pea soup was sold by Athenian vendors to passersby. The Romans served them with poultry or meat and vegetables added to them. In the middle ages, peas were a main staple food that kept the peasants well-fed during the harsh winter months. The Chinese grew pea pods and ate them fresh. The old Anglo-Saxon word pease was later changed to pea in modern English.The French court of Louis XIV were fond of petit pois,or baby peas that were too expensive for the common Frenchman.
Recipe: Chocolate Modeling Clay
Sweet & Sour Pork (Gu Lao Rou)
Sweet & Sour Pork is the most well known Chinese food abroad. According to a Cantonese chef, the primitive or the authentic cooking method of the dish is to add Cantonese pickled vegetables. When cooking, simply sautÚ the pickled vegetables along with the deep fried pork. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to find Cantonese pickled vegetables, so here I'll be pleased to introduce everyone a Sweet & Sour Pork recipe without the pickled vegetables but still tastes as delicious.
New York Style Cheesecake Recipe
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Sot Suppe (Norwegian Sweet Soup)
My mother was the daughter of Norwegian immigrants who homesteaded our small Wisconsin dairy farm in the late 1800s. When my mother was a child, sweet soup was a traditional part of Christmas Eve, served cold with julekake, lefse, Christmas bread, or open-faced sandwiches. Sweet Soup is made with dried fruit and tapioca.
Crockpot Cooking - Advantages and Disadvantages
In my 'un-biased' opinion, the crockpot / slow cookeris one of the most convenient and easy to use appliancesin my kitchen. The time savings features of theslow cooker and the delicious dinners that haveresulted more than offset any minor drawbacks.
Toasted Spiced Walnuts
You can trust me that I make sure to take care to have as EnergyRich? a vacation as possible (why come back from vacation feeling bloated, a few pounds heavier, experiencing heartburn etc, right?) and wanted to share one of my favorite recipes to help make that happen!
Looking for a Great Italian Meatball Recipe?
Looking for a great Italian meatball recipe? Wrap your lips around this one.
Sauted Family Bean Curd
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Weight Loss Recipe: Crustless Quiche
All-Wheat Superb Rolls
Note: The stone ground whole-wheat flour adds only 1.3 Teasps of flour to each roll (our of a total of 18 rolls). You only gain 6.2 grams of carb for the batch; each whole-wheat roll, based on a count of 18, has 3.1 grams of carb.
Green vegetables are the food most missing in modern diets. Nutritionally, greens are very high in calcium (120 -190 mg per cup!) They're also high in magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and they are a power house for Vitamin A, C, E and K. Believe it or not, they are also crammed high with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micro-nutrients and phyto-chemicals ? you just can't get any better than this. Take a look at the following two recipes to help move you into a sensational summer!
Ingredients 5-6 lbs. Whole Rockfish1 Onion1 Lemon1 LimeCilantroCorn HusksOlive OilSalt and PepperPreheat over to 375F.Make sure the fish is clean of all entrails. Slice the onion, salt and pepper it and place it in the cavity. Chop the cilantro and slice the lemon and lime and place it on top of the fish. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top of the fish then salt and pepper the top. Cover the fish entirely in corn husks and then wrap the fish in tin foil. Place fish in a baking pan and place in the over. Bake for 30 minutes and then flip it over carefully and bake for another half hour. If the meat flakes, its ready. Serve with salsa, rice pilaf, black beans and fried plantains.
A Victory Garden
In the early nineteen forties,women shopped with ration stampsthat limited the amount of groceries they bought in order tosupport the war effort. To supplement the their meager rations,they grew vegetable gardens in spare plots of land and also intheir own back yards. Neat rows of lettuce, tomatoes, yellow waxbeans, green onions, cabbage and yellow squash were plantedeverywhere. Since the ingredients for the meals depended uponwhat was available in the cupboard and the garden, the homecooks really had to stretch their imaginations.
Mrs. Butters? Secret Key Lime Pie Recipe
"Frozen Key Lime Pie recipe?" Fern Butters asked. "Child, I'll take that secret with me to the grave."
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Long term weight loss isn't about hunger, misery and crash dieting. It's a whole new way of learning to prepare nutritious food that your body needs and enjoys. "Chicken Tikka" is one of a range of hunger fighting, low fat recipes to assist you keep your weight under control. This irresistible, no-hassle meal will help you reach your weight-loss goals - while making mealtime a real treat.
Staight Talk from a Comfort Foodie: World Peace Through Vegetarianism
I became a vegetarian in the early 80's. The Czech refugee I had lived with forbade any meat products from entering the little hovel we called home. I didn't own a car then, and only traveled as far as my Raleigh three-speed English racer could take me. On Fridays that was to the home of a well-respected psychotherapist whose house I cleaned. When my chores were finished I'd welcome myself to her stocked pantry, and indulge on a simply prepared can of Star-Kist. I had to time that lunch well enough in advance of my homecoming as not to carry any lingering fish on my breath, otherwise I might not hear the end of a long speech about how Krishna may have incarnated into that same tuna that I had so ravenously devoured.
How to Make a Tantalizing White Lightening Chili
Chili cooks always want to discover that award-winning chili recipe that will be tantalizing for their family and friends and maybe even impress a few chili contest judges. Wouldn't it be exciting to UNLEASH your chili and rock your family and friends' worlds, save money and have a great time preparing it?
In Grandmas Kitchen (Part I)
One of my fondest childhood memories is being in the kitchen with my Hungarian grandmother. I loved watching her chopping vegetables, kneading dough, and leaning over bubbling pots in a kitchen that was always filled with wonderful aromas. I'd always help her after school-shelling peas or beans, scrubbing and peeling vegetables, and when I got older, helping to prepare dinner. My favorite was Friday dinner-we would always have some kind of savory soup followed by a noodle or sweet dish. I was always a sweet tooth and looked forward to egg noodles with eggs or jam, palacsinta (Hungarian crepes eaten with jam, cocoa, nuts or sweet cheese fillings), and, in the late summer, silvas gomboc (plum dumplings) topped with cinnamon sugar breadcrumbs.
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