Our Kitchen

Perfectly Chunky Tomato Sauce with Goat Cheese Crumble

This recipe came about because of an early childhood aversion to overly runny marinara sauce (an aversion that has continued well onto adulthood. I still cringe at anything that resembles overly-puréed tomato sauce). Anytime there was an over-abundance of liquid tomato on the edges of my pasta bowl, I would run to the stove and pour it back into the pot, along with an escaped noodle or two. As a result, my ever-ingenious mother perfected this sauce over the years, and it has served me very well in my college days away from home, due to its simplicity and accessible ingredients. 

The recipe calls for whole tomatoes, which are then crushed by hand to preserve the integrity of the tomato, and makes a perfectly chunky consistency.

Perfectly Chunky Tomato Sauce with Goat Cheese Crumble

1 can of tomatoes (whole)
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
Chili pepper flakes
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Goat cheese (optional)

1.Peel and finely chop one onion and one clove of garlic. Set aside.
2.Using a large bowl, take each tomato from the can individually and hold it over the bowl. Gently crush the tomato in your hand; using your fingers to pull the pieces apart. (*Hint: the technique to prevent the tomato from exploding is to hold it gently in your fist and slowly insert your thumb on the long end of the tomato and then crush it).
3.Continue until all tomatoes are crushed in bowl. Reserve the juice in the can for later.
4. In a medium saucepan, heat one tablespoon of butter and the olive oil to coat the pan. Swirl the mixture around a bit and drop in the chopped onion. Cook until translucent.
5.Add the garlic, oregano, and chili flakes. Stir to incorporate.
6.Pour in the crushed tomato. Stir. Add a bit of the reserved tomato juice from the can to make it less thick.
7.Add pinch of salt to taste.
8.Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently. 
9.Use with your pasta of choice.
10.For a touch of tasty decadence, crumble a bit of goat cheese on the sauce while it’s still hot.

Note: you could chop the tomatoes on a cutting board instead of crushing them by hand, as an alternative. However, a lot of the juice gets lost this way. 


Vanilla Buttercream Cupcakes 

It’s always a good idea to have a go-to dessert that you know will be a guaranteed crowd pleaser. It has to be simple enough to make, but not without that significant wow-factor. Quite frankly, it’s that staple dish that makes you look like a gastronomic genius when you may be, in fact, quite far from it.

This is why I absolutely love this cupcake recipe, which I adapted from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook. There’s something in these that seems to excite the inner child in everyone, even at a formal dinner party. They can be elegant or whimsy and are highly adaptable for any occasion.

Vanilla Buttercream Cupcakes 

 1 cup unsalted room-temperature butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs (room-temperature)
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsalted room-temperature butter
3-5 cups icing sugar
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line a muffin tin (large) with cupcake papers
3.In a large bowl, cream butter on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar gradually until fully incorporated and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat until mixture has increased in volume.
4.In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Sift together.
5.Prepare a measuring cup with milk and mix in the vanilla.
6.Add the milk and flour mixtures to the butter mixture in three parts, alternating. Beat on medium speed only until ingredients are fully incorporated.
7.Spoon mixture into cupcake liners about ¾ full.
8.Bake for 20 minutes. To test, press the top of the cupcake and it should spring back.
9.Let cupcakes cool in tin for 5 minutes then remove and let cool completely on wire rack.
10.Prepare icing.

Vanilla Buttercream Icing
1.In a medium bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth.
2.Add milk and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
3.Add a cup of sugar and beat until smooth and creamy. Add a cup of sugar at a time (beat about 2 minutes after each addition) until it develops a good spreading consistency. You may not need all the sugar.
4. Separate icing into different bowls (as many colors as you want to make) and add a couple of drops of food coloring of your choice.
5.Spread icing on cooled cupcake with rubber spatula. Use decorations of your choice.



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