Sunday 23 August 2020

Weekend Cooking

 I haven't done masses of baking in lockdown. I did a bit to begin with, until I realised I was the only one going to be eating it and that this would just require a lot of exercise and dieting at the end of lockdown.

However, I have tried to do a bit more cooking, now and again. Early on in lockdown, I discovered IoW Tomatoes, who will ship boxes of delicious tomatoes (and assorted other vegetables, including asparagus when it was in season) direct to your door. We have had many boxes of tomatoes pass through the front door since. I forced myself to lay off it for a while but, when I went back this week, I found that there were many different varieties available, presumably having recently come into season, and I ended up placing my biggest order yet. 

In order to sneak these in past Mr Z, I earmarked this 3kg box to making marinara sauce.

Look how shiny! I hadn't made a marinara sauce before and most of those available are for tinned tomatoes, so I made a bit of an experiment and it turned out great. 

3kg tomatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
2 small red onions (or one large, I guess - I only had small), chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 tbsp salt
1.5 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Half tsp crushed fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs each of fresh rosemary, sage and thyme
A good scrunch of black pepper

If I'd had basil and oregano I would have added these too, but I didn't. 

Skin the tomatoes and deseed. The way I do this is with a big pot of hot water on the stove and a big bowl of cold water: immerse the tomatoes in the boiling water for 1-2 minutes, in batches, then plunge into the cold water - slip off the skins and give them a really good squeeze under the water to get all the seeds out. I was taught this method on an Italian cooking course run by a nonna in southern Italy and I can highly recommend.

Put the tomatoes in a pot with all the other ingredients - I tied the fresh herbs and bay leaves together into a bundle and put them in whole. Put over the heat and simmer gently for 2 hours or so. You'll probably have an idea about the desired thickness; I went until there was no liquid fill of a spoon draw, after stirring - if you make chutney you will hopefully know what that means. Take it off the heat, remove the herb bundle and blend with a stick blender until it's your desired thickness. This made about 5 and a half cups of sauce and I've frozen it in one-cup bags. 

It is really, really tasty. Dealing with the tomatoes was definitely the most time-consuming bit but I think there is a huge pay-off for using fresh over tinned.

I'm constantly trying to get better at using TikTok (I don't know why, don't ask me) so I filmed myself making this sauce, for practice. I am not very good at pausing before talking so I get cut off a bit at the start. I also don't know how to film more than a minute's worth of clips and then chop it down. But it is always fun to give it a go. 

No comments: