Arsip Tag: sauce

eggs in tomato sauce – smitten kitchen

You know when you see someone cooking something on television and your stomach nearly lurches into a grumble and you know instantaneously what you will have for dinner that night? Isn’t it even better when it’s healthy?

garlic, red pepper, olive oil

That’s what happened when I was getting a lot of work done watching the Martha Show a couple weeks ago and one of her producers came on to show a quick little dinner she’d been making for her family that involved a quick tomato sauce with eggs cooked right in it. It reminded me of the baked egg dish I cannot resist ordering when we go out for brunch at a deliciously Art Deco place in our neighborhood, that I still couldn’t believe I hadn’t tried at home.

tomato puree
sauteed spinach with garlic

Especially when considering how ridiculously simple it is. You make a quick tomato sauce, you cook eggs in it and if you’re us, sautee a little fresh spinach with garlic on the side. Meanwhile, toast or broil some bread. You can rub it with a garlic clove or drizzle it with olive oil, but I didn’t bother because I was lazy. And in about five minutes, your breakfast/lunch/dinner is done.

poaching eggs in tomato sauce

It’s one of these dishes–like the huevos rancheros–that I feel silly giving you a recipe for because its so hodge-podge and easy, but just like those tortilla eggs before it, I have gotten hooked on this, making it for lunch nearly three times this week. So, I either tell you what’s really cooking in the smitten kitchen or we will end up radio silence.

poached eggs in tomato sauce

More eggs and tomato sauce: Nearly two years later, I added another take on eggs in tomato sauce (per suggestion in these comments) with a spicier tomato sauce and crumbled feta cheese, called shakshuka. Check it out.

One year ago: Grandmothers of Sils’ Apple and Yogurt Cake
Two years ago: Giardinera

Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce
Inspired by the Martha Show

1 can (14 ounces) tomato puree
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Big pinch of sugar
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Glug of red wine (optional)
4 large eggs
4 slices toasted country bread, for serving
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add tomato sauce and bring to a boil; season with sugar, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 to 20 minutes minutes. A few minutes before it’s done, I like to add a glug of red wine and let it simmer for a moment.

Gently crack eggs into tomato mixture, cover, and let cook 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, uncover, and let stand 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer each egg to a piece of toast. Spoon over sauce, garnish with cheese, and season with salt and pepper; serve immediately.

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paris + a deep, dark salted butter caramel sauce – smitten kitchen

And so, we went to Paris for eight days, which is never enough. Eight days is long enough to get you entrenched in rhythms (morning café, long walk through old streets, afternoon pastry, nap and late dinner), long enough to convince you you cannot remember the place you were before, but also long enough for it to seem cruel when you finally have to leave.

red curb

afternoon, montmartre

It’s fun to be an observer, and partial participant, in a foreign country. You get to sit in cafes, unhurried by those needling things like work (though, from the sights of the cafés, this luxury is not limited to tourists) and watch someone else’s world from behind your cafe creme. Except, it is all so much more exciting to you. Everything in France tastes louder: the milk, creamier; the coffee, richer; the chicken, so much more “chickeny” kind of like when Julia Child had her first meal in France, sole meunière (“a morsel of perfection”) and was bowled over by the fact that it tasted so much more like itself. And their butter, oh baby… well, we’ll get to that soon.

jacques bonseargant

rue de tournelles

It is never fun to have to come home–I myself was kicking and screaming through Charles DeGaulle Airport, not only because my Suitcase of French Goodies weighed a ton but because American Airlines had unceremoniously canceled our flight. And people think the French are rude!

la tour eiffel

carousel

But do you know what helps? Having a delicious scheduling mishap with your apartment swap partners and having them home when you get there, ready to put out some pate and a French baguette and pour the Sancerre. And while it may be rude to say “even better, after they left…” it is actually true because that was when I finally opened the refrigerator and hot damn. They put Paris in there! Or, at least the Paris that I care about: comté cheese, homemade apricot jam, an apple from one of their parent’s backyard, sausage, coffee and some Poilâne bread and a seeded baguette in the freezer. I thought I had died and gone to a very well-stocked heaven.

Oh, and then I found the pack of Le Beurre Bordier. THUD.

le beurre bordier

***

One of my biggest French obsessions is salted butter caramel. Sure, we have it here now–heck, even Starbucks is in on it!–but they make it differently there. Much differently. The French always seem to cook their caramels longer, to a dark copper color, none of those golden browns we see here. This is, if you ask me, the secret to great caramel. The lighter colored ones just taste sweet and sticky but the dark ones are nutty and complex with a trace of bitterness. It is amazing what an extra couple minutes of cooking will do.

deep, dark salted butter caramel sauce

After have the most incredibly delicious, rich caramel sauce at the Breizh Cafe Tuesday night–Bretons are famous for both their butter and the dark caramels they make with them–I swore that I would eventually show you all how to make it at home, with or without Breton butter. When I saw that Buerre Bordier in the fridge, “eventually” became “right this very moment.”

caramel misesugar starting to meltgetting darkerperfect

And here we are! I’m not going to go into a lecture about how to make great caramel, because my friend David Lebovitz has already done so better than I ever could (see Ten Tips for Making Caramel and How to Make Perfect Caramel). Instead, I will tell you what you could use this batch for, which is, in short, everything: crepes filled with jam or chestnut creme (you know, if yours hasn’t been confiscated by airport security, not that I am bitter or anything), spread between cookies or, you know, this:

deep, dark salted butter caramel sauce over vanilla ice cream

Just a thought.

[Update] Where we ate in Paris: Since a few have inquired about where we ate, I put the list of restaurants we checked out on a separate page. See it here.

Full album of Paris photos: (Not viewable in RSS)

Deep, Dark Salted Butter Caramel Sauce [Sauce au Caramel au Beurre Salé]

Makes about 1 1/3 cups

1 cup sugar
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) salted butter, the better you can get, the better it will taste
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature

Melt the sugar over medium to moderately high heat in a larger pot than you think you’ll need–at least two or three quarts, whisking or stirring the sugar as it melts to ensure it heats evenly. Cook the liquefied sugar to a nice, dark copper color. Add the butter all at once and stir it in, before turning off the stove and pour in the heavy cream (The sauce will foam up quite a bit when you add it; this is why you want the larger pot.), whisking it until you get a smooth sauce.

You use it right away or pour it into a jar and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks. When you take it out, it will likely have thickened a bit but 60 seconds in the microwave brings it right back to pouring consistency.

Serve over everything.

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hot fudge sauce – smitten kitchen

[Psst: There’s a newer and more beloved hot fudge sauce recipe on the site.]

Raise your hand if you’re surprised that my mother used to make us homemade hot fudge sauce for our ice cream? Right, I see you’re not new here! Welcome back. But really, the crazy didn’t start with my generation, despite the fact that I may or may not have crafted a really elaborate chicken dish this week when sick and not remotely interested in cooking or eating it. So I didn’t waste the ingredients. Also totally my mother’s daughter there.

hot fudge sauce, bubbling gurgly, thick and shiny

Is it me, or does something about hot fudge sauce on ice cream seem distinctively retro? I don’t hear much about fudge sauce and their accompanying sundaes these days. Maybe I’ve stepped too far into the Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream in a pool of cognac, drizzled in the world’s most expensive chocolate, covered with shaved white, black and clear truffles, topped with edible 25-karat gold leaf world… Let me fix that right now.

hot fudge sauce

Because really, everyone should have a recipe for hot fudge sauce. There are kids and birthdays and chocoholic family members and, uh, you and spoons and a hunch that it might be good straight from the fridge. You’d be correct. You should totally go for it.

hot fudge sauce

About that ice cream: Earlier in the week, intent upon making this sauce this week, I made a batch of David Lebovitz’s most excellent vanilla bean ice cream. (Which tastes remarkably like frozen creme brulee, evil thing that it is.) But then I got sick and lost my appetite for everything except, well, ice cream and come Friday, we had to go to the store to find something to pour the sauce over. That there is Ciao Bella’s hazelnut gelato, not bad at all. But not the same.

One year ago: Best Chocolate Pudding
Two years ago: Green Tea Cookies and Mom’s Chocolate Chip Meringues

Hot Fudge Sauce
Adapted from Silver Palate Cookbook [Anyone remember this?]

Psst: There’s a newer and more beloved hot fudge sauce recipe on the site.

Yields 2 1/2 cups

This is a deep, dark fudgy bittersweet sauce that firms up on ice cream.

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons corn syrup
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon rum (or other flavoring, such as a flavored liquer or vanilla extract)

Melt the chocolate and butter very slowly in a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring frequently until combined. Meanwhile, heat the water to boiling in the small, heavy saucepan. When the butter and chocolate have melted, stir the mixture into the boiling water. Add the sugar, corn syrup and salt and mix until smooth. Turn the heat up and stir until mixture starts to boil; adjust heat so that sauce is just maintained at the boiling point, stirring occasionally. Allow sauce to boil for nine minutes.

Remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes. Stir in the rum and serve warm over ice cream.

Do ahead: Sauce can be easily and quickly reheated in the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds. Stir and it will be shiny and even again.

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ridiculously easy butterscotch sauce – smitten kitchen

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spied a recipe that promised butterscotch brownies or cookies or cake bliss within that suggested you make your butterscotch confection with … butterscotch sauce. From a jar. Or butterscotch chips. From a bag. Sorta like those sandwich recipes that tell you to get out two slices of bread and some deli meats (um, thanks?), it’s kind of a letdown but I just assumed that butterscotch must be a thermometer-requiring, magic wand-waving difficult thing to make. That would explain it, right?

bubbling butterscotch

Well, I’ve been hoodwinked, bamboozled, misled and so have you because butterscotch — deadly good butterscotch, butterscotch so transcendent it might could bring tears to your eyes — is ridiculously easy to make. Five ingredients (spoiler: one of them is salt) + five minutes on the stove = I just can’t. I’m simply not savvy enough to apply language to how awesome it tastes.

eee, butterscotch

And I was having one of those mornings that I suspect any of you who have ever been a parent of a young tot — even a spectacularly cute one — has had, where you start to feel like you’ll never ever have time again to do a single thing that you once loved, and there on my ancient list of recipes I’ve wanted to make one day was the kind of awesomeness that took minimal ingredients (and ones that, odds are, you already have on hand), barely any time (as in, less time than the shortest nap), damn near blew my mind with its homecooked deliciousness and all of my frustrations temporarily vanished into thin air. Now that there is the wave of some magic wand, I tell you.

enough said

One year ago: Sausage-Stuffed Potatoes + Green Salad
Two years ago: Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Three years ago: Zucchini Latkes

Ridiculously Easy Butterscotch Sauce
Adapted loosely from The Washington Post, who adapted it from The Perfect Cake

Yield: About 2/3 to 3/4 cup sauce

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 2 ounces or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (about 109 grams) packed dark or light brown sugar (I used dark)
1/2 cup (118 ml) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) flaky sea salt (or 1/4 teaspoon regular salt), plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 ml) vanilla extract, plus more to taste

Melt butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, cream and salt and whisk until well blended. [A flat whisk works great here.] Bring to a very gentle boil and cook for about five minutes, whisking occasionally.

Remove from heat and add one teaspoon of the vanilla extract, stirring to combine and this is where, despite the simplicity of the recipe, you get to feel all “chef-y”. Dip a spoon in the sauce and carefully taste the sauce (without burning your tongue!) to see if you want to add additional pinches or salt or splashes of vanilla. Tweak it to your taste, whisking well after each addition. I ended up using a full teaspoon of flaky salt and the listed amount of vanilla to get a butterscotch sauce with a very loud, impressive butterscotch flavor but the strength of your vanilla and intensity of your salt may vary.

Serve cold or warm over vanilla ice cream, roasted pears or pound cake. The sauce will thicken as it cools. It can be refrigerated in an airtight container and reheated in a microwave or small saucepan.

To do ahead: This sauce will keep at least two weeks in an airtight container in the fridge.

To gift this up: I’d go the canning route in small jars. (You’ll want to scale the recipe a bit, as it makes less than a cup.) I am not practiced enough in canning to give advice but you should most definitely check out the awesome Food in Jars blog for tips. Whoops! A few readers have warned that butter-and-cream-type confections are not safe to can. A big thank you for keeping the Smitten Kitchen botulism-free! (You can still put these in small jars, but warn that they are, indeed, perishable and should be kept in the fridge.)

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tomato sauce with onion and butter – smitten kitchen

I could no longer resist this sauce, and frankly, I don’t know why I even tried to: food bloggers obsess over it, and they’re not a bad lot to base a recipe selection upon. Adam of Amateur Gourmet fell for it five years ago. Molly at Orangette raved about it over two years ago, with a bonus approval marking from Luisa at Wednesday Chef. Then Rachel Eats fawned over it too, and Rachel, you see, she lives in Rome right now — I want to be in Rome right now — Rome, where you can get authentic, perfect tomato sauce a zillion places every single day. And yet she stayed in and made this one. That sealed the deal.

tomatoes + onion + butter
telephone cord pasta

So what is it with this sauce that it moves people to essays over it, tossing about exclamations like “brilliant!” and “va-va-voom” and promises that “something almost magical happens”? Is it garlic, a slip of red pepper flakes, a glug of red wine or a base of mulched carrots, onion and celery, as so many of us swear by in our best sauce efforts? Is it a spoonful of tomato paste or a pinch of sugar? Is it the best olive oil money can buy? It is none of these things, not a single one: It is butter. And an halved onion, cooked slowly as the sauce plops and glurps on the stove, then discarded when it is done.

love these tomatoes

onion, halved

Butter and the juice of stewed onion is all it apparently takes to transform a two-pound can of tomatoes to something velvety and lush. It manages to remind you of how fresh and sweet tomatoes are in the summer, but more fitting for the winter when canned tomatoes are the order of the day. And best yet, you can make it with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, with the kind of limited attention span had by those of us who hang out with monkeys all day.

almost done
simple, totally uncompromised sauce

One year ago: Clementine Cake and Mushroom Bourguignon
Two years ago: Chicken Caesar Salad
Three years ago: Cauliflower and Brussels Salad and Leek and Mushroom Quiche

Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions
Adapted from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking

Another thing that blew my mind about this sauce: I, for one, am a grated parmesan junkie. I not only sprinkle it over my bowl of pasta, I like to have additional nearby, to apply a fresh coat to the layers of pasta that follow. So you can imagine my shock to find that I liked this dish even more without the parmesan. The flavor of the sauce is so delicate, fresh and sweet that it needed nothing at all.

Serves 4 as a main course; makes enough sauce to lightly coat most of a pound of spaghetti

28 ounces (800 grams) whole peeled tomatoes from a can (San Marzano, if you can find them)*
5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
Salt to taste

Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan (it fit just right in a 3-quart) over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free of the tomatoes. Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, discard the onion, add salt to taste (you might find, as I did, that your tomatoes came salted and that you didn’t need to add more) and keep warm while you prepare your pasta.

Serve with spaghetti, with or without grated parmesan cheese to pass.

* I liked this enough to make us more the next day, but I only had a can of tomato puree. It also worked well, despite having slightly less texture. You will need a little less simmering time as the tomatoes are already broken down.

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lime yogurt cake with blackberry sauce – smitten kitchen

Seeing as I can’t get enough of those I Don’t Need A Special Occasion To Make Cake Cakes and also those Of Course You Can Stop By At The Last Minute (psst, ’cause I’d already made some cake) Cakes, I am clearly long overdue to make a classic French yogurt cake. I first learned about yogurt cakes nearly five years ago from Clotilde; they’re perfect anytime-of-day cakes (bless the French for understanding the utmost importance of this), not too sweet, fluffy and perfect just from the oven or wrapped in plastic for a day or two, as the corners soften. Most people don’t measure them — the math is based on the volume of your yogurt cups (they use two), to which you add an equal amount of sugar, a double amount of flour, a little less than one of oil, two eggs and some leavener and flavors.

blackberriesblackberries, sugar and lime juiceblackberry pureestraining the blackberry coulistiny limelimes, minelime zestlimes, used up

Those flavors are usually gentle things, like a bit of lemon zest, or vanilla, a splash of rum or maybe a handful of berries. But I — having all but given up on waiting for the market to produce the things I really want to eat, at least for this weekend — spied a bag of golfball-sized grass-colored limes at Whole Foods this week and did not blink an eye before tossing them onto Jacob’s stroller (I dread when he gets big enough to fill it out, and he can no longer be reasonably expected to schlep groceries home for me) and since I’d already gone down that path, decided not to even pretend that I wanted to resist the 2 for $5 blackberries, admired the pretty pretty grass color against the dark magenta-violet berries and knew at once I’d have to put them together.

greek yogurteggs, flour, yogurt, sugar and limesifter, lift offlime yogurt cake

Thus, a lime yogurt cake with blackberry sauce came and went in our kitchen this weekend. I honestly think I believed it would turn out purple and green, like a Mardi Gras headpiece or my favorite color combination in 9th grade (ouch). It is for the best that it didn’t, however, as the pale cake just pops when the fresh blackberry sauce cascades over it. You’ll have more than you’ll need and I encourage you to stir in any unused plain yogurt for an easy breakfast. That ends in cake. As all should.

lime yogurt cake
done

One year ago: Pickled Grapes with Cinnamon and Black Pepper
Two years ago: Peanut Sesame Noodles

Lime Yogurt Cake with Blackberry Sauce
Adapted generously from Clotilde’s yogurt cake a handful of yogurt cake recipes

This is another one of those recipes where I’ve changed, uh, just about everything. What it shares in common with the original is yogurt and the basic proportions. To this I’ve added lime zest and juice and a blackberry sauce that shares a hint of the lime. I also rejiggered the instructions to make this a one bowl cake — you know, the most welcome kind.

Don’t etch this recipe in stone — this could make an equally tasty lemon cake with blueberry, raspberry or strawberry sauce or even a gentle orange yogurt cake, simply dusted with powdered sugar. The sauce is optional, but when you find that you have extra (you will, unless you halve it) it makes as welcome a sauce over ice cream as it does stirred into your leftover plain yogurt.

Cake
1 cup whole milk plain unsweetened yogurt (this is the ideal; however, I had success with 2% Greek yogurt)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (olive oil works as well, for a slightly different flavor profile)
1 cup sugar
zest of one lime
1/4 cup lime juice
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt

Sauce
12 ounces fresh blackberries (frozen should work as well, but you should start with half the water)
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the sides of a 9-inch round cake pan or springform pan with oil (I used a butter and flour spray out of habit, which works as well) and line the bottom with parchment paper if the pan is not springform.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, sugar, lime zest and juice. Add the eggs one by one, whisking well after each addition. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together, right over your yogurt batter. Stir with a spoon until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let stand for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the pan to loosen. If you’re using the springform pan, unclasp the sides. Otherwise, flip the cake onto a plate and flip it back on the rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Make sauce: Combine blackberries, water, sugar and lime juice in blender or food processor. Purée until very smooth, then press through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

Do ahead: This cake keeps very well for up to three days (or so I hear, but have not practiced), wrapped in plastic at room temperature. The sauce can be made up three days in advance, as well. It can also be frozen for future uses.

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vanilla bean pear sauce – smitten kitchen

There’s an old-school rule in blogging: Don’t begin a post with an apology. Nobody cares! They’re just happy you’re there! But guys, I’m sorry, because this post is photo-bereft. I made pears while I was still firmly of the mind that nobody would ever need my boring “cook, then puree” baby food recipes and only snapped a couple shots. I’ll turn in my food blogging credentials now.

Although pears were only the second “dish” I made for the baby, I was already getting impatient to move onto more exciting things. I had been trying to adhere to the “only introduce one new food at a time” rule, which meant that with only apples under his belt (also, his chin, neck rolls and toes, somehow, and do not even try to wipe his face, okay?) I couldn’t jump into the pear-parsnips, pear-peaches and pear-prunes I was chomping at the bit to whiz up. Sure, I could add cinnamon to plain pears, but I really don’t want the baby to think that all cooked fruit tastes like cinnamon, especially when the hope is to introduce new flavors. So I decided to hedge things a little — yes, this is what counts as “walking on the wild side” in these post-salad days — and added a little vanilla bean and a glug of an aged, sweet balsamic vinegar.

downtrodden bosc pears

Unless you’ve macerated strawberries in balsamic before and know how utterly sinful the fruit-balsamic combination can be, you’re likely having the same reaction right now that my husband did, “Vinegar? With pears? Ew.” But it’s just a tiny bit, and it gives the mellow pears more oomph and more depth. I know this sounds a little rich for a 7-month old’s blood — aged balsamic and vanilla beans? Have you gone off the deep end, Deb? — but were talking about tiny, tiny amounts, a tablespoon and an inch or two. The idea is to give the suggestion of a new flavor, something to hold him off until he can taste the wonder that is vanilla roasted pears.

Oh, and the baby LOVED these pears, that is, the spoonfuls he could pry from his mama’s grasp.

Vanilla Bean Pear Sauce

A few notes: The pears look utterly awful because I bought them at the Greenmarket in early April, when cold-storage apples and pears were the only fruit available; apples weather those long months more elegantly. However, once peeled they were indeed delicious Boscs, tastier by far (oh, and a heckofalot cheaper) than I’d get at the grocery store that week.

I used a pretty fancy-schmancy balasamic. I bought it years ago at a fancy-schmancy store in Paris and paid such a fancy-schmancy price for it, I could never bring myself to use it. This is why I don’t buy nice things (anymore), people. Fortunately, any regular balsamic will do. Once it hits the heat, the acidity disappears and you’re left with a syrupy depth that makes a lovely complement to the pears’ mildness.

1 3/4 pounds pears (I used Bosc)
A 2-inch length of vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 cups water

Peel, halve, core and de-stem pears. Chop them in half again if they are particularly large. Place pears in a medium saucepan with the vanilla bean segments and scrapings, or extract, balsamic and water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer; cook with the lid on for 30 minutes, or until the pears are very tender. Let cool in their cooking liquid. Fish out the vanilla bean segment and puree pears in a food processor, blender or food mill.

Check out the Tools page for more on the ABC’s of how I’m approaching the preparation, storage and daily serving of these foods.

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peach sauce with nutmeg – smitten kitchen

Confession: I’m having a confidence crisis with this site. All of the warning signs were there from the beginning: my disbelief that anyone would appreciate my guidance in the “cook, then purée” approach to food and my disinterest in engaging the kind of “you’re doing it wrong!” commentary that accompanies any parenting discussions on the internet. (However, as a testament to your awesomeness, only a few peeps of it have shown up here but even those disproportionally exasperate me.) (P.S. I think you’re doing a great job.)

nutmeg

Take these peaches; they’re from the freezer section. Peaches are not in season yet in New York (and I’m sorry, New York, but kind of average even when they are) and I saw no point in buying flat-tasting peaches that had been shipped from hundreds of miles away when the frozen ones were already peeled, perfectly pitted (who can pull this off at home? Not me!) and frozen at their peak. I simmered them in water and sprinkled them with a little freshly grated nutmeg; this hardly counts as a recipe worth sharing.

cooked peaches

And yet, they were met with a fervor I didn’t know was possible from a 7-month old, though it shouldn’t have surprised me as peaches are the favorite fruit of his father, who we jokingly call the Mega-Me to his Mini-Me. Applesauce was lovely, vanilla pears were delightful and pureed carrots were slurped right down but it was only with peaches that the baby began making a gaspy excited noise between spoonfuls, so loud you can hear it in the next room and know it must be peaches! time! again. And when we added yogurt to these peaches a month later, for Jacob’s “lunch”? He would have licked the bowl clean if we let him. He whimpers when the bowl is empty, the bowl of the most boring recipe for peaches, ever.

I know that things will get more interesting down the road — teething biscuits! mixed spices! maybe even some meat! — but for now, they’re still kind of simple, boring even. So tell me, should I skip over the sleepy purées and tell you only about the unusual ones or are any all recipes, no matter how mundane, welcome here? I’m all ears: talk to me!

mmm, peach cubes

Peach Sauce with Nutmeg

1 10-ounce bag frozen peaches (or 10 ounces of peeled, pitted and sliced fresh peaches)
1/2 cup water
A few grinds or scrapes of fresh nutmeg

Bring ingredients to boil in a medium saucepan, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until soft enough to smash with the back of a fork. Let cool in cooking liquid. Purée in a food processor, blender or food mill and freeze in small portions.

This only makes about 1 1/2 cups of sauce, but it is a good level to audition and see if your baby likes it. If s/he does, this is a cinch to scale up as a freezes perfectly in small portions. Check out the Tools page for how I approach the processing and storage of baby food.

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mango banana sauce – smitten kitchen

We’ve covered applesauce, we’ve covered pears, carrots, peaches and even spinach which means I’m overdue to get to an early fruit sauce, one so good I might be burying the lede to have made you wait this long.

mango porcupines


Because the baby’s eyes rolled back in his head while he was eating it. He was making those gaspy excited noises we’d gotten used to by then from the peaches and all of a sudden the next spoonful landed in his mouth and he blinked twice and nearly fainted from joy. It might be the only moment of his childhood I failed to catch on film, but there were witnesses, it happened. Pinky swear.

bananas

And who can blame him? Mangoes and bananas are that good. I’d first decided on the combination early on — bananas are sweet, and also a little binding so although I knew the baby, being a monkey, would like them straight I wanted to cut them with something else. I always thought mangoes could go over well, and their acidity would be a nice contrast with the sweet, buttery banana while keeping with that tropical theme. Still, it took me a couple tries to get it right. The first time, I cooked the mango a bit but not the banana, rationalizing that since it was soft, it would puree fine uncooked. It didn’t, or at least not in my Vita-Mix-free kitchen. The second time, the mangoes hadn’t ripened enough; they were stringy and sour. The third time was the charm. I did strain this sauce — pressing it through a fine-mesh colander — an always nuisance-y kitchen task but mangoes have string fibers, bananas are surprisingly seedy and if this is a very early on purée for your baby, you might want to do the same. As they get into textures, definitely skip this step.

The end result is a surprisingly sweet sauce so a great thing to mix with cereal or yogurt. Or just let the baby enjoy it as a sweet, gasp-inducing treat, it’s natural, right?

Mango Banana Sauce

3 mangoes, ripe and sweet, about 1 pound each
3 bananas, very ripe
1 cup water
1 teaspoon lime juice, if you’re feeling fancy

Peel and chop your mangoes into 1/2-inch chunks. I like to cut down along each flat side of the pit, slicing the mango into almost-halves. I score each half without cutting through the skin and flip the mango side inside out. From there, it is easy to use a spoon or your fingertips to drop the chunks into your bowl or pot. As for what is left around the pit, you can try to cut it off with a knife or you can peel what is left and snack on it. I bet you can guess the method I choose.

Slice the bananas into 1/2-inch coins. Mix in medium/large saucepan with water and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, until the banana is broken down the bits of mango can easily be flattened with a fork. Cool in cooking juices and add lime juice, if you’re using it. Purée in a food processor, blender or with a stick blender. If this is an early purée, then run the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the mango fibers and the banana seeds.

You can read more over here about how I process and store baby food.

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fresh tomato sauce – smitten kitchen

Around this time every summer, I see the best signs at the markets: “Ugly but tasty!” “Pretty on the inside!” “Don’t judge a tomato by its cover!” Beneath them are usually buckets of craggly misshapen tomato beasts, with coarse seams like they’d been stitched back together after some rough past and distinctly un-heirloom colors. At prices like a dollar a pound, obviously, they were destined for sauce.

matersmake an Xinto boiling watereasy peeling

But how to turn a bucket of awesome into a mindbogglingly delicious tomato sauce? I really thought I had it down. A few weeks ago, I hauled home six pounds for six bucks and me and my assistant proceeded to cook them down, and cook them down and wow, am I still cooking three hours later? Right, I forgot to seed them. And the seeds imparted this almost bitterish tinge. And I realized that I didn’t bring these cheap tomatoes home very often because I wasn’t that confident I could turn them into what I wanted to. Obviously, I was poised for an intervention.

naked tomatoeshalved, but they should be quarteredsqueezing out the seedsroughly chopped

I consulted the Silver Spoon. Lidia, Mario, Anne Burell and every best-rated tomato sauce I could find on web recipe databases and I set out with a plan: How to Turn a Bucket of Cheap Tomatoes into a Killer Pot of Tomato Sauce. I peeled, seeded and roughly chopped. I minced a mirepoix. I cooked and stirred and tweaked and stirred some more and half pureed the sauce and then my husband came home and said, “You made this yourself? It tastes like Prego!” And I wasn’t even offended. Mostly because he spent the next week claiming he was joking, but I knew what he meant: It tasted like a finished product. It was ready for its closeup. And now it’s your turn.

fini
mine

One year ago: Tomato and Corn Pie and Nectarine Galette
Two years ago: Marinated Eggplant with Capers and Mint
Three years ago: Double Chocolate Torte and White Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Four years ago: Penne a la Vodka and Belgian Brownies

Fresh Tomato Sauce
[How to Turn a Bucket of Cheap Tomatoes into a Perfect Pot of Sauce]

I’m offering a flexible recipe here because I’ve realized that there are about as many ways to make tomato sauce as there are people who make it. None of them are wrong (though if you dig around comment sections, no doubt someone will remark that all of them are terribly wrong). All will yield a delicious pot of sauce from fresh tomatoes that is nothing like you can buy in a jar. No fresh tomatoes where you are? Skip the preparation steps and use canned whole tomatoes with some of their juices, add more if needed. Horrified by all of those non-tomato additions? Skip to the end for the most straightforward tomato sauce.

Note: Have a food mill? You can run your tomatoes through them on a fine setting and it will remove both the seeds and the skin. You can then skip the first two sets of instructions. Do I have a food mill? Yes I do! But I like to complicate things, clearly.

Yield: About 4 cups sauce

4 pounds sad, unloved tomatoes (some swear by romas, I’ve had success with all varieties)
1/4 cup olive oil
Small onion
2 to 3 small cloves of garlic
1/2 medium carrot
1/2 stalk of celery
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
Slivers of fresh basil, to finish

Peel your tomatoes: Bring a pot of water to boil. Cut a small X at the bottom of each tomato. Blanche the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10 to 30 seconds, then either rinse under cold water or shock in an ice water bath. Peeling the tomatoes should now be a cinch. If one gives you trouble, toss it back in the boiling water for another 10 seconds until the skin loosens up. Discard the skins (or get crafty with them).

Finish preparing your tomatoes: If using plum tomatoes, halve each lengthwise. If using beefsteak or another round variety, quarter them. Squeeze the seeds out over a strainer over a bowl and reserve the juices. (You can discard the seeds, or get crafty with them.) Either coarsely chop you tomatoes on a cutting board or use a potato masher to do so in your pot, as you cook them in a bit.

Prepare your vegetables: I finely chop my onion, and mince my carrot, celery and garlic, as does Bastianich. Batali grates his carrots. Burell pulses all four on the food processor to form a paste. All of these methods work.

Cook your sauce: Heat your olive oil in a large pot over meduim. Cook your onions, carrots, celery and garlic, if you’re using them, until they just start to take on a little color, about 10 minutes. I really like to concentrate their flavor as much as possible. Add your tomatoes and bring to a simmer, lowering the heat to medium-low to keep it at a gentle simmer. If you haven’t chopped them yet, use a potato masher to break them up as you cook them. Simmer your sauce, stirring occasionally. At 30 minutes, you’ll have a fine pot of tomato sauce, but at 45 minutes, you might just find tomato sauce nirvana: more caramelized flavors, more harmonized texture.

If your sauce seems to be getting thicker than you want it to be, add back the reserved tomato juice as need. If your sauce is too lumpy for your taste, use an immersion blender to break it down to your desired texture. (“Blasphemy!” some will say, but they’re not in the kitchen with you. So there.) Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and more to taste. I like somewhere between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon for 4 pounds of tomatoes. Scatter fresh basil over the pot before serving. Taste once more. Swear you’ll never buy jarred sauce again.

More ways to play around: There are innumerable ways to tweak your tomato sauce. Some like a pinch of red pepper flakes cooked with the carrots/celery/garlic and onion in the beginning. Some add them at the end. Some swear by a glug of red wine added with the tomatoes. Others insist that a tablespoon of tomato paste will give your relatively quick-cooked sauce a longer-cooked flavor. Have fun with it.

To play around as little as possible: Skip the onion, carrot and celery. Just cook your tomatoes for 30 to 45 minutes and at the end, drizzle in some olive oil or melted butter. If you have time, you can infuse that oil or butter with garlic and basil. Season to taste with salt. Wonder why you ever added so many ingredients to something so obviously perfect without them.

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