Yesterday I finally had a whole day to myself in the kitchen. What bliss! Life has been insane lately. From hibernating and just getting by all winter to life going crazy, I have been having a hard time keeping up. Then, yesterday came. What was I going to make?
Food Network’s Chef Academy inspired me to try Chef Jean Christophe Novelli’s Grandma Louise’s Tomato Sauce. I have made tomato sauce from scratch before but it is usually disappointingly bland but I figured if I was going to try again, this was the one to try.
The recipe is for restaurant-portions so I had to change it a bit, I was not going to be cooking six pounds of tomatoes. Just these four tomatoes cost me $8! You cut them up and put them in a hot and dry Dutch oven:
Add some salt, pepper and some sugar (no exactly measurements, grrr). Add star anise (which I quickly removed, I hate that flavour) and vanilla. When tomatoes start to cook, mash a little and simmer for one to two hours. Which is exactly what I did. And then I looked at the ingredients and saw that it also called for a bay leaf and fresh thyme. They just were not written into the cooking instructions. Damn it!
It was too late for the bay leaf but I threw in the fresh thyme with the garlic at the end. I also added some basil and olive oil. That’s it! That’s your sauce.
I sauteed some shiitake mushrooms and boiled some tortellini, put them together and topped with some of the sauce.
I seasoned with salt and pepper and topped the pasta with some Parmesan.
The sauce was more like tomato paste than a tomato sauce. It did have lots of flavour but I prefer there to be a little heat in the sauce, as well as a bit of a bite from a little vinegar. I am sure food purists will like this sauce, it is just too simple for my taste. Due to the time involved, the expense of the tomatoes as well as the poorly written instructions, I give this recipe three out of five wooden spoons.
I do love the show Chef Academy and it was very cool to make the recipes Chef Jean Christophe Novelli teaches in class. Even though this was not a huge hit for me, I still had a lot of fun playing chef school in my kitchen. More recipes to come!