True loves, and tomato sauce for dummies.
I´ve been on a slightly mad cookbook buying spree lately. The kind that takes place on the web, when you´re bored. Not a good way to buy books, not really. Some stuff is easy to choose, but a cookbook should be thumbed first, I think.
So anyway, I have all these new fellows looking at me from their high stack next to my armchair, and I feel only a slight guilt when I look at them. No love there. They´re one night stand books. My true loves have been knocking around the kitchen for years now, and can show battle scars ; they bristle with post-its, fall apart at certain pages, refuse to open at others where I absent mindedly left a greasy spoon.
This lot are general cookbooks, the sort that have the author´s favourite stuff, culled from many other books and friends, that have Japanese noodles and pizzas and steak sandwiches jostling happily in the index . They never fail me. And their most endearing trait is that no matter how much I think I know them by heart, every time I take them up there´s something I hadn´t noticed before, or had flagged and forgotten to try.
I could cook for many years from Nigella´s How to Eat, Nigel Slater´s Real Fast Food, Lindsey Bareham´s A wolf in the kitchen and Laurie Colwin´s two heartbreakingly short little volumes. All the others, they mean nothing, really, even if they´re fun to read.
The only exception in all the books I bought last year is Relish. I´ve posted about it before, and I mention it again because, even though it might turn out to be a passing affair, I think it´s here to stay. It´s cool and witty and makes you wish you were Joanna Weinberg´s best friend, and the recipes work perfectly.
The ultimate proof of its worth was the tomato sauce test. With every book, I always check out the tomato sauce and the chicken stock. If I don´t approve of the author´s methods and opinions, I don´t even bother with the rest. If I do, I nod in agreement, but them go on making things my way, because tomato sauce and stock are very basic things, and what are you going to change?
Well, Joanna´s tomato sauce has certainly won me over to the winds of change. The method is incredibly simple, and the result is a smooth, dark orange, very savoury and velvety sauce that can play any of the million parts tomato sauce can play, and play them well. If you want chunky, then it´s not the one, but trust me, if you try it you´ll want to make sure you always have some around ever after, because it´s like all ideal tomato sauce from a jar should be, and then some.
I make it with the Thermomix, since it has to be blended at the end, and I´m always nervous of sauce sticking to the bottom of the pan. I´ve adapted the quantities to fit the machine and my taste, but if you´re going the good old fashioned way, then make a bigger batch, and you´ll be glad.
Put 2 kilo tins of whole tomatoes, and their juice, inside the Th. Add one roughly chopped onion, 3 peeled whole cloves of garlic, 4 tbs sugar, salt to taste, maybe a little dried chili, and half a cup of olive oil.
Leave to simmer for 90 minutes, and when it´s cooled slightly, blend.
Th. instructions, make it 60 minutes at 100º speed 1, and then give it half an hour more on Varoma. Don´t blend it too long or it will turn orange, not that that´s a problem, but I´m just warning.