Today I went shopping for a dinner party, doing my usual route. First, seafood, since it's closest to me- I go to Santa Monica Seafood, the freshest fish in town, and then get the remainder of my groceries at Whole Foods. Often Whole Foods (I probably go to the yuppiest in the nation), leaves me hanging.
Sugar? Just normal, white granulated sugar? Nope, they only have organic evaporated cane sugar. Great! But that won't work because it's more granular and not white, thus screws up my measurements and tints recipes that don't need beige-ing.
Next: sprinkles. Rainbow confetti in particular. I needed them for Momofuku Milk Bar's Confetti Cookies, but noooooo......I'm thinkin' they're too lowbrow. Not. Cool.
So when these sorts of things happen, I'm forced to make a third trip to a "normal" grocery store that stocks such ingredients.
That normal grocery store, which I shall not name, is an "upscale" market that, most notably, hasn't been updated since the 80's. It has a great meat department, a nice specialty condiment selection, but bothers me in every other way. The aisles are narrow and they host these awkward carts that won't allow two to pass side-by-side. The people who shop there seem to be extra annoying as well.
As I asked the seemingly lonely wine clerk for a 187 ml. bottle of cheap dry white wine for risotto, he proceeded to ask me every possible question that one could to extend the conversation.
"What kind of risotto are you making?"
"A sweet corn risotto," I said already trying to speed up the process of him telling me I should use a dry wine to contrast the sweetness of the "sweet corn".
"How much does the recipe call for?" he bounced back with. I immediately pointed at the bottles below me, the least amount you can get, 187 ml.
"I know exactly what you need but I'll have to go upstairs to get it. That will be two shakes of a lamb's tail."
YES! Yes it is and yes I'll wait.
I'll post that corn risotto recipe at a latter date, longer than two shakes, but until then, this tomato sauce recipe is magic, the way I've been making it for years.
It's a 'Californified' version of the deep, rich tomato sauces Italian grandmothers would make. It's light, bright and takes 15 shakes of a lamb's tail, whatever that means!
INGREDIENTS: (makes 5 cups)
- 5½ # tomatoes (about 20)
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp. olive oil
- about 30 basil leaves (can remain on stem)
- 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon chili flakes
- 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
- zest/juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the basil-garlic oil: (makes ¾ cup)
-In a small saucepan over low heat, heat 1 cup of the olive oil, basil, garlic cloves and chili flakes. Let simmer for 30 minutes, allowing flavors to infuse the oil.
For the tomatoes:
-Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Have ready an ice water bath.
-Cut out the stem and score an X on the top of each tomato.
-In batches, place the scored tomatoes into the water, for about 20 seconds (you should see the skin start to peel back/ripe tomatoes take less time). Immediately shock in the ice water bath.
-Peel off the tomato skins and cut each tomato in half horizontally.
-Remove all seeds.
-In a large pot over low heat (you can re-use the same pot), add the remaining 2 tbsp. of olive oil.
-Add the tomatoes and immediately break down with a tomato masher, creating smaller pieces.
-Add the salt, anchovy paste and lemon zest.
-Let simmer over medium heat for 50 minutes, stirring ever so often. There should still be some liquid at the bottom of the pot.
-Add the lemon juice and the basil-garlic oil. Adjust seasoning to taste.