Hometown Cookin’

July 31, 2010 at 7:44 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , )

If there’s one ingredient that needs to be in every recipe, in every dish, in every meal, it’s love.  You can ALWAYS tell, in anything, if love was not put into the effort.  This is absolutely, 100% true when it comes to cooking food.  I firmly believe that one of the reasons my dad’s food is so damn good is because he loves it.  That’s why some of the best cooking doesn’t have recipes.

While I was cooking my Albanian dish today and watching Top Chef and Food Network marathons, I had a couple other things going on just… well… because.  One thing my father did almost every Sunday was make tomato sauce.  Being my father’s daughter, I’ve always wanted to know how to make it.  The trick is…there is no right or wrong way to make it.  There’s no recipe for my dad’s tomato sauce, he just puts a ton of stuff in it until it tastes good!  Honestly!  So today, I made a meatless tomato sauce.  Because I’m trying to learn and hope you are too, I am willing to share what I put in the pot to make my delicious tomato sauce.  Don’t expect measurements though…making tomato sauce is all about taste.

In order to get there, here is what I did to make my own Fritalian Gravy.

Ingredients:

one onion

– mushrooms

– 2 cans tomato sauce

– 3/4 can tomato paste

– 3/4 can diced tomatoes

– red wine

– garlic

– garlic salt

– olive oil

– water

– LOTS of Italian spices

– love

Directions:

1. dice onions and mushrooms

2. Put about three counts of olive oil in the bottom of the pot and sweat the diced onions and mushrooms

3.  add the cans of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and about half a can of water

4. spice with italian seasoning, basil, oregano, garlic, etc to taste

5. bring to a boil then turn heat down and let simmer for a couple of hours, stirring occassionally

Letting the sauce stew for a couple hours really allows the spices to meld with the rest of the ingredients.

That’s really the  closest thing I can give you to a recipe for tomato sauce.  This is one of those things you really just have to feel and taste.  It sounds crazy, but I suggest you give it a try… there’s a little Italian in everybody 😉

**Tidbit for storage!!!  Freezing tomato sauce always works, but again, since I cook for one, one EXTREMELY helpful hint I learned was this:

Freezing sauce or pesto in ice cube trays is so helpful for single servings since you won’t have to thaw an entire jar or bag of tomato sauce just to refreeze it.

Now onto the other homemade dish I made today… homemade chicken salad.

This sounds a lot easier than it actually is to make.  When it comes to chicken salad, I prefer a pulled chicken rather than a diced.  So that’s exactly what I did!  Here’s a nice twist on a typical chicken salad recipe:

Ingredients:

one chicken breast

– mayo

– lemon juice

– Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce

– celery

– celery seed

– red onion

– almonds

Directions:

1. salt and pepper each side of the chicken, cook thoroughly, then let sit to cool

2.  while chicken is cooking, dice celery and red onion

3. pull the chicken (use a fork to hold the chicken, then use the back side of a spoon or a knife to pull along the grain of chicken to make it look shredded)

4. combine diced celery, red onion, shredded chicken, dash of celery seed

5. add a splash of lemon juice, this will enhance the colors and taste of everything in this chicken salad

6. add a dollop of sweet baby ray’s BBQ sauce

7. add mayo to taste and to bind everything together

8. fold a couple pinches of almonds into the chicken salad mix

9. store and let set and cool in fridge until ready to eat or the next day

This is another dish I understand there aren’t a lot of measurements, but it’s a dish made with love and one you have to make how you like it, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Tomorrow I plan to roast some gutted red peppers and using that as the serving utensil for the chicken salad.  Sounds amazing right?!  I can’t wait to try it.  I’ll be sure to add a picture when it’s all complete.

Thanks for reading and as usual, until next time, sicuro viaggi and bon appetit!

**Peas, Love and Ole Fashion Homecookin’**

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