Tag Archives: tomatoes

Saving the Last of Summer: Slow Roasted Tomatoes

The tomato crop this year was simply glorious!  It was such a relief because last year the tomatoes were almost nonexistent and it was a mournful summer as a result.  Despite not being able to personally attend the farmer’s markets this summer I was happily able to order from a few nice farms using Good Eggs.  I have indulged myself completely and filled my orders with heirloom tomatoes of every color.

One week Good Eggs was offering Monsanto-free Early Girl tomatoes at a pretty cheap price per pound so I bought 4 pounds, plus 3 pints of cherry tomatoes in various hues. I planned to make a fresh salsa-like tomato sauce but got tired, so I decided to slow roast them.

It feels like everyone on social media and my recipe swap has been slow roasting tomatoes, so despite being very late to the party I began roasting them and was so pleased with how well they came out.

Slow roasted tomatoes, done!

After a quick rinse I quartered the tomatoes and left the cherry tomatoes whole, dumped them into my favorite jelly roll pan, slivered in a clove of garlic and scattered handfuls of basil leaves and a light scattering of oregano. I used a light hand with olive oil, salt and pepper and then at the last minute added a good hunk of butter over everything. The oven was on at 250 F, I set the timer for three hours and promptly took a long nap.

After three hours, voila, the perfectly roasted tomatoes and my nap were complete. It was far beyond dinner time by then, so I slid them into a plastic container, scraping every last bit of juice and butter into the container, and bung it into the fridge.

I pondered a bit on what to do then. One week, I heated up the batch of tomatoes gently and tossed them with pasta and some leftover chicken. Another time I pureed them with my immersion blender and added a slosh of vodka and a dash of leftover cream and warmed this while the pasta cooked. Another time I pureed half of them and left the other half whole and added dollops of ricotta to each bowl of pasta. Another time I made goat cheese stuffed meatballs and seasoned breadcrumbs and poached the meatballs in the pureed sauce. The last time I pureed the whole batch and added more butter. It tasted just like Marcella Hazan’s butter tomato sauce, and no stirring required!   If I made these on the weekend I napped and if it was after work I was done well in time for an early bedtime (being gimpy and healing is very tiring).

Kind of a humble dish, homey. Slow roasted tomatoes, ricotta.
(with ricotta)

Goat cheese stuffed meatballs, in progress
(goat cheese stuffed meatballs)

Goat cheese stuffed meatballs, pappardelle, Crumbs Yo!
(the finished meatballs topped with seasoned breadcrumbs)

Each time I slow roasted a batch of tomatoes I wanted to save some in the freezer for that dreary part of January through March when all of the tomatoes are pasty pink nasty mealy things.  After making a packet of pasta I would use up an entire batch of tomatoes. I kept buying more tomatoes, four pounds, then six, then eight pounds and still had no leftovers for the freezer.

Last night I succumbed to a wild impulse and bought an entire case of San Marzano tomatoes from Good Eggs, I think it will be about 20 pounds. It will take me a while to slow roast them in batches but surely this time I will have some leftover for the freezer.   I will have a bit of summer in my freezer for the rest of the winter, or at least, for the rest of the month.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes (for Sauce)

 

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That’s a lot of tomatoes!!!

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Sunday Cooking

Sundays are a great day to bond with your couch, and often I like to putter a bit in the kitchen in between.

Like any “normal” person, I tackled the pile of dishes in the sink that built up during the week. Somehow every coffee cup ends up in the sink instead of the dishwasher. After KP is completed I pulled out the produce that was waiting in the fridge.

I am cooking for breakfast and lunches during the week. Dinner tonight is already sorted out, minestre from Nonni’s recipe and meatloaf that I made on Friday night.

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It helps me figure out what to cook when I see what I’ve got to work with, so I heaped everything on the stove and decided I would make:

o Melitzanosalata or Greek eggplant salad
o Broiled tomatoes
o Sautéed chard
o Gratined chard stems and leeks
o Rainbow quinoa
o Lemon tarragon vinaigrette

The eggplant gets baked until very soft and a bit smoky from the browned skin, so I pricked it all over with a fork and got it settled in a hot oven on a piece of foil.

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The quinoa was next, it’s extremely easy to make, just boil water! Add a bit of salt and while you’re waiting for the water to boil, measure and rinse your quinoa. I use a cone shaped strainer that gets used for everything from straining stock, sifting flour and draining pasta.

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I set the quinoa to simmer while I prepared the tomatoes.

The tomatoes are an heirloom variety from a local organic market, so they’re especially juicy and flavorful, yet another reason to love California produce in the spring. I cut off a tiny sliver from the bottom and removed the stem end and halved them, and nestled them in a gratin pan. I sprinkled them with a sea salt blended with bell peppers and dried onions, and a grind of pepper and a pinch of harissa spice. Then I sprinkled over a little bit of bread crumbs from one slice of bread chopped in the food processor. A hearty drizzle of local, peppery olive oil and they are ready for the oven.

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The timer for the eggplant sounded so I pulled it out of the oven to cool, and popped in the pan of tomatoes.

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The eggplant is cooked when it’s sort of collapsed looking and is as wrinkled as a surfer after a long set.

I cut it in half while it was hot, and trying not to burn my fingers and with the help of a paring knife, I flipped over the eggplant and peeled off its skin. The skin comes off easily with a tug from the knife.

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The eggplant needs to have all of the liquid removed while it is still warm, so using my trusty strainer I put in the peeled eggplant and used a spatula to squish out all the liquid I could.

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The eggplant cooled off in the strainer for a while to drain a bit more while I removed the quinoa from the stove.

I let the quinoa cool for a few minutes then fluffed it with a fork. The quinoa still had a bit of texture to it, not mushy, but nutty and fluffy, and it absorbed the lightly salted water and was perfectly seasoned.

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The timer went off for the tomatoes and I pulled them from the hot oven. The tomatoes were still holding their shape but soft and bursting with juices under their crispy breadcrumb topping.

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Back to the cooled eggplant, it was a small one so I put it in my mini chop with a small clove of garlic and enough plain yogurt to help the mixture purée smoothly was added, along with the juice of a lemon. Since my lemons were minis, I used three!

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When the eggplant was perfectly smooth, I poured in some olive oil and let it purée a bit more to emulsify. A quick check for seasoning a added more lemon juice and then decided to eat it right away. All of this cooking is making me ravenous.

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Before I had my snack, I cooked the chard quickly. A quarter of a slivered onion went in the pan first with olive oil and was sautéed until soft. The rinsed and chopped chard leaves went in next with a splash of water to cook until they are tender, this takes just a few minutes.

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When the greens were cooked I put them in a bowl to cool with a bit more olive oil and crunchy sea salt. The chard is tangy from the lemon and I think they taste far better than spinach.

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I rinsed out the pan and added the halved leeks and chard stems with a little broth so they could simmer until soft.

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While they simmered, I had my little melitzanosalata and pita bread for lunch and watched the rest of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

The eggplant is light and lemony with a pleasant earthiness from being roasted. It tastes fantastic at room temperature or cold. I also like to put inside sandwiches but I polished off this batch quickly. Next time I will buy a larger eggplant so I can use the melitzanosalata for other purposes.

Since the lemons were so tiny, I abandoned my plans to make a vinaigrette and saved the last one for a cocktail.

The leeks were finished cooking by the time I was done with my lunch. Using a spatula, I lifted them out of the skillet and placed them in a gratin pan, added cream and a heavy grating of Romano cheese and put them in the oven so that the cream thickens and the cheese browns. I saved the 1/2 cup of broth leftover from the braising leeks and added it to my minestre; it had great flavor and would be a shame not to use it.

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The gratin smelled divine, the leeks are sweet and meltingly tender and the chard is toothsome and coated in rich cream and the savory, salty browned cheese on top was the perfect mouthful.

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When the gratin was done I had a glass of wine before tackling the KP duties again. All this lovely food was done and cooling.

Tonight I will have half a tomato with my meatloaf and a cup of soup. For breakfasts I can have the quinoa topped with chard or with a tomato half. For lunches I can have the gratin with a the leftover meatloaf or a tomato half. They all work together in various combinations, and it’s comforting to know I don’t have to worry about going out for a meal at work and accidentally eating eggs. Plus, all of these dishes are nutritious, besides being very tasty.

It’s still early on Sunday, there’s time for a nap or some knitting or some more bonding time with my couch or perhaps all three!

Recipe:    Melitzanosalata – Greek Eggplant Salad/Dip

Gratineed Leeks and Chard Stems

 

Sharknado Pizza Party

Luna sent me a note on Facebook that said, “There’s this crazy movie coming up on the SciFi Channel called Sharknado, we have to do this.”

sharknado-poster

A bit of backstory, we had an absolutely hilarious time watching Snakes On A Plane together, screaming every single time a snake shot out of someplace unexpected, which was about every 3 minutes once the movie got started, so of course I invited Luna over to have a Sharknado party! Then more friends joined in and next thing you know my apartment is full of hungry ladies, sipping on some great wine and ready to be vastly entertained by what could be one of the best-worst scifi movies ever.

There were sharks eating people as they flew by, seemingly unfazed by the lack of water, sharks whapping people across the face and removing most of said face, and sharks eating through cars and bar stools. There was fabulously deadpan acting by Tara Reid and dialogue that was probably written by kindergartners (with apologies to the kids).

And there was pizza. Being flat broke and yet needing to be a good hostess I made up a giant bowl full of pizza dough which rose and rose and rose as we nibbled on treats from the freezer. Yes, we had foie! There was a rather sizeable foie gras mousse from a splurgy purchase in the recent past, and sparkling wine and wonderful red wine from a recent shipment I received that day and Anna brought an amazing assortment of crackers. Everyone brought various treats to top the pizza so we were set.

Making pizza

To have a successful pizza party you need lots of toppings. We had a great assortment but really the toppings can be anything you like on a pizza. You need a sauce or two, many cheeses, vegetables and lots of other savory things:

  • fresh tomato sauce canned by Anna
  • pesto sauce
  • buffalo mozzerella cheese
  • feta cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • ricotta cheese
  • basil
  • arugula
  • slivered asparagus
  • Sweety Drop peppers
  • crispy freeze-dried onion slices
  • assorted olives
  • Bacon Hot Sauce
  • capocollo salami

We would have had sauteed leeks and bacon but the movie was about to start and we felt like we had enough options at this point. The oven was roaring at 500 F, all the windows were open and the wine was flowing freely. I tore off an orange-sized ball of pizza dough from the massive bowl heaped with dough and helped each guest quickly form it into a round which was draped on my makeshift pizza peel – a flat-edged cookie sheet well sprinkled with cornmeal – and then they were free to top it with their choice of sauces, cheeses and tidbits.

Anastasia's pizza

(Anastasia’s pizza – pesto, olives, cappocolo, ricotta, basil, crispy onion)

The prepared pizza was slid carefully onto the super hot pizza stone and baked 10-15 minutes, then we cut it into wedges and everyone got to try a slice. Multiply this by five, we made a lot of pizza that night!

Pizza making hands

(post-pizza making hands)

Each pie was really fantastic, the crust was chewy and blistered black from the stone and crisp on the edges, the cheeses were browned and gooey and buttery and salty and the toppings made it all really interesting and unique.

First pie in the oven

(first pie baking away, despite the crappy apartment rental electric oven they bake up really nicely)

My pizza

(my pizza: tomato sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, asparagus, Sweety Drops)
Luna's pizza

(Luna’s pizza: pesto, cappocolo, mozzerella, Sweety Drops, arugula)

Anjali's pizza

(Anjali’s pizza: feta, pesto, cappocolo, asparagus, tomato sauce, Sweety Drops, crispy onion)

Near the end of the movie as we were mostly sated, a bit tipsy and reeling from laughter, the final pizza of the night was put in to bake, a dessert pizza!

Strawberry balsamic glaze ricotta basil dessert pizza #pizzaparty #Sharkado

Don’t knock a dessert pizza until you try it! Anna’s creation of roasted strawberries, the sweet, creamy ricotta, the tang of the basil and the rich, chocolate jimmies from Copenhagen made this the best pizza of the night.

The movie was over and the apartment was dusted in flour and wine corks. We quickly tidied up the kitchen and inflated the aerobed and those who stayed over fell asleep almost immediately. What a great night and what a tasty dinner! I can’t wait for the next cheesy scifi movie, Koalacane?

P.S. Sharknado II is coming in 2014!

Summer in SF Means Sugo

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It was 55 F last night at 6:00 pm and the fog was blowing hard. My kitchen was steamy and this made me happy. I was making a batch of Naples-style sugo for dinner later in the week and the aromas were spilling out into the hallway, torturing my neighbors. Sugo, for those of you who don’t have Italian relatives, neighbors or lovers, is the Italian word for gravy or shorthand for their hearty, meat-filled pasta sauce.

My late ex used to make his sugo twice a year for parties, which were much beloved by his family and friends. We would make up 3′ tall pots of his sugo and then freeze tubs of it for those nights we didn’t feel like cooking but wanted a bowl of heaven. I haven’t made it since he passed away and, although I thought about this a great deal, I just didn’t have the heart to pull out my notes.  They were notes of dinners we made, recipes we created, his family recipes, my family recipes, and drawings by his daughter.  I have three notebooks full of our food diaries, hiding in my bookcase.  But it has been quite a few years and I had a lot of large cuts of meat in the freezer that needed cooking, and it’s “summer” and I wanted sugo.  Ecola, the time is now.

His recipe contained a lot of ground meat and meatballs but his brother would often make it with large pieces of meet from the game he harvested and other goodies.  I pulled out the 4 pound pork neck I had in the freezer, some sausages and goat chops and also a pound of Roma tomatoes that I made last summer, the most ripe tomatoes bursting with juice, peeled and roasted slowly to concentrate their juices. With my cutting board mounded with ingredients I whipped on an apron and got started.

I browned off the meats in my largest cast iron Dutch oven with some grapeseed oil until they were richly browned, then added some butter before adding the vegetables. This was Marc’s secret to his sugo, lots of butter! I had an enormous onion, several carrots and some cloves of garlic which sauteed until they were soft. Then I added the thawed roasted tomatoes and about half of bottle of this amazing Cabernet Franc from Murrietta’s Well. It was probably too good to cook with but it tasted amazing and I knew the smooth richness of the wine would marry well with the meats. I had another tin of San Marzano tomatoes that I squeezed between my hands to crush and added some herbs – rosemary, sage, crushed chiles and California bay laurel, and a few handfuls of porchini, a gift from Anna. I snuggled the seared meats into the rich sauce and added a bit of chicken broth to fill up the enormous casserole and let it slow cook in my oven for hours.

Every once in a while I stirred up the pot and turned over the pork neck and added a bit more water to keep the liquids up above the meats. It smelled divine and I tried unsuccessfully not to burn my hands when I removed the heavy cast iron lid off my pot. The meats were so tender and falling off the bone but still sweetly juicy. The sauce was thick and dark with caramelized flavor from the long, slow cooking and an intensity from the wonderful wine.

I removed the meats to a separate bowl to cool and ladled out the sauce to a large bowl and set them by the window opened a touch to blow cool fog over them, nature’s air conditioning put to work!

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the chopped meats

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the sugo after a purée

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the finished sauce, ready for dinner

Tonight when I got home I roughly puréed the sauce, added a touch more butter and some vermouth and the chopped meats and cooked up some pasta. I can’t wait to tuck into a steamy bowl with lashings of grated cheese on top, snuggled into the corner of my settee and watch the fog blow by.

Making this sugo is a little bit like reclaiming my past life and forging ahead with new memories. The 7 quarts of sauce will last me quite a while and I will gift some to some friends so that they can have a little sugo love this chilly summer.

Recipe to follow

Bridging the Seasons: Eggplant and Squash Gratin

Summer in San Francisco decided to not show up this year (again) and fall is decidedly here.  I am pretending that the beautiful clear weather outside equates to Indian summer and that the balmy air I feel isn’t coming from the radiator.

Happily for us fog-bound people we still have an abundance of summer vegetables coming in from the farmer’s markets.  It was quite the treat to see a fat, tissue wrapped, perfect eggplant and the last of the  heirloom tomatoes  in my produce box and a few squash – pale green fat and stubby zucchini varieties – and pretty red bell peppers.

Pinnochio lives, or rather did...
(no comment…)

My mind instantly flashed to a new porcelain baking dish my dear friend A___ gave me for my birthday.  I am quite partial to Royal Worcester and the beautiful harvest fruit design is one that makes my heart sing.  It is an inherited passion.   It is also the perfect size for the quantity of vegetables I had on hand and was time for it to be christened with a beautiful eggplant and squash gratin, so I invited A___ over for dinner.

While A___ and I sipped red wine and caught up on the past few months, I sliced the eggplant and squash.  The eggplant was briefly fried in a touch of olive oil in my non-stick skillet and the squash was liberally sprinkled with salt and set out to drain in a colander in the sink.  As the browned eggplant came out of the frying pan I stacked up the floppy slices on a clean cutting mat to rest briefly.  In between flipping the eggplant around in the frying pan and drinking wine I quickly minced up a fat shallot and grated a clove of garlic and tossed them together in a small bowl.  The bell pepper was thinly sliced and set aside in a pile next to the cooked eggplant, and several of the tomatoes were roughly chopped and set out on paper towels to dry out a bit.  The preheating oven warmed the room, as the wine and conversation warmed our hearts.

Finally the eggplant was done frying and the salted squash had exuded some liquid and had drained sufficiently.  I began an assembly process in my new pretty dish.

I laid down a layer of eggplant in slightly overlapping circles, then tomato, a sprinkle of the shallot/garlic mixture and bell pepper.  I topped this with salt and pepper and about half of a 4 ounce log of goat cheese flavored with lemon zest.  Honestly it was all that the grocery store had that day and I am very happy about that now.

I repeated the process until I ran out of vegetables and cheese.  The final coup de grace was fresh mozzarella, sliced thickly and the discs spread over the top of the gratin and finished with a dash of Maldon salt and a few grinds of pepper.

It slid into the oven while we sat around munching on those crazy bright green Spanish olives and some Rainforest crackers.   We talked over all the goings-on over the past few weeks since our last dinner, opened another bottle of wine and relaxed in the perfumed air of the Roost as the gratin bubbled, sizzled and melted under its soft blanket of gooey cheese.

Finally the timer went off and then began the torturous wait for the gratin to cool and firm enough to be scooped out of the pan.   We admired the beauty of the gratin and completely forgot to take pictures!

Sometimes it is just nice to enjoy the company and enjoy the food without having to wait to photograph every step and every spoonful, it is called living in the moment, and we did just that.

Despite our precautions of draining the tomatoes and salting the squash the gratin was still a bit watery, but the leftover gratin the next day had completely absorbed the liquid which makes me think I should have made this dish the day before my pal came over for dinner!

The flavors of the vegetables really shone and the touch of lemon zest in the cheese was wonderful.  The best part, of course, was the richly browned cheesy mozzarella blanket covering the dish and we fought like pumas over bits of the cheese.

Making Evelyn's briami, with @damnfibebacon, because I can
(a version with potato)

Eggplant and Squash Gratin

1 eggplant, sliced thinly
1/2 pound zucchini, sliced thinly lengthwise
1/2 pound tomatoes, sliced thickly
1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
4 oz goat cheese (I used goat cheese with lemon zest, if you cannot find this add 1 tsp of grated lemon zest)
6 oz fresh mozzarella, thickly sliced
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F and oil a baking dish with olive oil.

In a skillet, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil and fry a few slices of eggplant at a time until they are browned.  Set aside.

In a colander, arrange a layer of sliced zucchini and salt them well, and repeat; let the squash exude liquid and drain for 30 minutes or so.  Pat the slices dry with a paper towel and set them aside.

Arrange the tomatoes on a paper towel to drain.  Mix together the bell pepper slices, the shallot and the garlic in a small bowl.

To assemble, lay down a layer of the eggplant, followed by the squash, then tomatoes then a sprinkling of the pepper/shallot/garlic.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cover with slices of goat cheese.  Repeat until you have used up all of the vegetables and cheese, and top the final layer with the mozzarella.  Add salt and pepper to the top of the mozzarella.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until all of the vegetables are very tender and the cheese is browned.   Let sit 15 minutes to allow the gratin to firm up.  Better if made the day before and brought to a bubbling temperature in a 300 F oven for 20 minutes.

Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as a vegetable side.

This is a very forgiving dish, if you don’t have bell peppers or want to substitute an Anaheim chile or add potatoes anything goes!

Moray eel potato
(Moray eel potato)

Feel free to play around!  I have also made this with smoked fontina as the top cheese and mozzarella as the “inside” cheese.

Sustenance

I have been thinking about the word “sustenance”.

In my early training in survival techniques, sustenance means Shelter, Heat, Food, Water, then orientation to find help. When one is poor, the meaning of sustenance is one of basic needs: a place to sleep, food to eat, a place to bathe. When one is wealthy sustenance might mean something on the opposite end of the spectrum: beauty, art, music, all of the things to sustain the soul since the bodily needs are not an issue.

Ideally one doesn’t need to concern one’s self with basic sustenance, but when this is the case one tends to turn to what is on hand for sustenance.  I don’t know about you but to me it can feel quite difficult to be creative  and feel fulfilled while eating down the pantry.  When times are financially flush I tend to overshop and fill my pantry with random things that I like or think I will need “later”.  Then, when times are lean or when I splurged a little too much before the next check comes in, the pantry is not only a source of sustenance but a source of solace as well.

To me though, sustenance concerns a more esoteric definition.  My friends and family offer my sustenance.  Their kind words, thoughtful acts and consideration fill my “life pantry” with the most filling and nutritious things for my soul and heart.  My dearest friends and family have been sending me cards and emails just at the moment when I feel bereft, and this buoys me up like a cork out of a champagne bottle.  When my pantry door was swinging widely showing empty shelves, my phone chirped with an incoming call to say that a friend was “just around the corner” and had leftover homemade pad thai and sticky mango coconut rice for me, just in case I was feeling peckish. Or a call early in the morning saying that she had just made steel cut oatmeal with cream and Demerara sugar on top, would I like some? Or a dear friend who offers a safe haven and refuge, over and over, including dinner and lots of wine and bourbon. Years ago, I would come home from a harrowing day of work and find a packet of Twinkies in my mailbox, an offering from a friend’s son who seemed psychically to know when I needed a dose of sugar and fat and whatever else is in a Twinkie that makes one feel somehow better. To me, this is the definition of sustenance, just knowing that people are out there who really care and seem to know when you feel a little down.  It’s awfully lovely to be on the giving end of this kind of sustenance too, sending a note for no reason in particular, making an extra loaf of bread and hanging it on the door of a friend’s home or bringing along extra cookies for an impromptu visit.

Recently, I have been feeling more in need of sustenance than usual.  It is really disheartening to be looking for a job along with the masses of other talented and slightly (mostly) desperate people. The constant rejection and straining of ones ears hoping the phone will ring wears on the cheeriest of dispositions.  Materially, being a person with a culinary bent it is especially hard not to be able to run down to the good butcher and buy a fat chicken to roast whenever I feel like it, and to contemplate the dwindling supplies in the crisper bin knowing it’s another week plus before I can shop again.

It was my distinct pleasure the other day to be perusing the pantry, which I had fortuitously refilled with some nice things, and to discover a flat of potato gnocci, a can of San Marzano whole tomatoes and a can of artichoke hearts packed in water.  I had a good two inches left on a hunk of Pecorino cheese and half of an onion in the fridge, and a gift bottle of Viogner chilled down as well.

I set to work.  Ringing up my best friend on the phone for an extended chat while I cooked, I chopped the onion and sauteed it a little with a pinch of dried chile flakes.  Naturally, the wine was opened and a glass poured for general purposes, not the least for sipping while I cooked, and a little found its way into the saute pan.  The tomatoes were opened and I broke them into little pieces with my fingers.  There is a great satisfaction in life to smell onions and wine cooking away while squeezing and tearing spurting scarlet tomatoes into shreds with ones fingers, I highly recommend you try this and soon. The artichokes were next, I drained them into a colander and gave them a good rinse of cool water and shook them dry.  Then, into the onions they went along with the juice from the tomatoes, a bay leaf and a good grind of pepper from my Turkish coffee grinder.  The impromptu sauce simmered slowly on the back burner while I preheated my little convection oven.   I put a dab of butter and a slosh of olive oil in a small pottery casserole pan and added the gnocci, and grated a goodly amount of Pecorino cheese on top and tossed them in the oven while I relaxed with the remaining glass of wine and laughed and chatted away while tickling the cat’s fat belly with my toes while he lolled at my feet.

When the oven’s timer dinged, I dislodged the cat from around my ankles, refilled the wineglass, pulled the golden and cheesy melted gnocci out of the oven and poured the fragrant and chunky artichoke sauce over the top.  A little more cheese was grated on top and my supper was ready.  It felt healthy and tasted delicious and not at all like “rations”.  My fun chat with my friend continued while I dined, making “nummy” noises over the phone, and even though she lives far away I felt as if we had just cooked and eaten dinner together.  Sustenance achieved on all fronts.

Quick Artichoke Marinara with Gnocci

1 packet of potato gnocci
1 T butter
2 T olive oil, divided
1/2 c grated Pecorino cheese, divided
1/2 onion, diced
29 oz can San Marzano whole tomatoes
14.5 oz can artichoke hearts in water, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp dried chile flakes
1/2 c dry white wine
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375.

In a medium saute pan over medium heat, saute onions in 1 T olive oil with a sprinkling of salt until softened, ~ 10 minutes.  Add the wine and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and their juice, breaking tomatoes apart with your fingers or scissors, and the artichoke hearts and chile flakes.  Add more salt to taste and a few grinds of pepper.  Cover and simmer 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, butter a small casserole dish and add the gnocci, drizzle 1 T olive oil on top and sprinkle with 1/4 c of cheese.  Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until the gnocci are golden brown but not dry and the cheese is melted.

Remove from oven, top with sauce and the remaining cheese and dish out into pasta plates for serving.

Serves 2.

(Sorry, I didn’t take a picture of this, my hands were full from cooking and from holding the phone!)