Monday, September 5, 2011

Leaving? So Soon?

It’s the end of the summer, and something is about to happen - summer tomatoes are about to pack up and leave. Where do they go? Florida? Like the Snow Birds in their Cadallacs down I95?

No,  I think they go to Sicily. In fact, I’m sure of it, because if I was a Summer Tomato, that’s where I would go spend the winter. But some people, those people who garden, they are imprisoning the slow tomatoes, the ones that can’t get to the airport, in mason jars, to be let out sometime in January, on a snowy day, which, if you like that sort of thing, a Summer Tomato in a dusty mason jar on some spaghetti, well, then okay, and well, perhaps, I’m jealous of those who can grow their own tomatoes and then take the time to jail them for release on the darkest winter nights.

But since I don’t grow my own tomatoes, I used to, and was quite successful at it until the Cut Worms found my address, I like to be more zen about the whole impending migration of the Summer Tomatoes to a foreign land, you know? I want to party with them now in the most excellent way I can, bid them farewell until next year, and ask them to send me a postcard from Sicily, if they can find time in their busy social calendar over there, cause you know they are way busier in Sicily than they are here, and with much more interesting people, people who make their own wine and work on caper farms, those kinds of people.

So, want to party with the Summer Tomatoes before they set sail? Here’s one of the most sublime ways to wish them Arrivederci!


from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

This is good basic tomato sauce is served just as it is, or may be flavored with herbs or combined with other sauces whenever you wish a tomato flavoring. It is at its best with fresh tomatoes, but canned tomatoes  or canned tomato puree will also produce a good sauce. You will notice, during it’s simmering, that it really should cook for about an hour and a half to develop its full flavor.

For about 2 1/2 cups

A heavy-bottomed , 2 1/2-quart saucepan

1/4 cup each: finely diced carrots, onions, and celery

2 Tb minced boiled ham; OR 2 Tb minced lean bacon,
simmered for about 10 minutes in water, rinsed, and

3 Tb butter
1 Tb oil

Cook the vegetables and the ham or bacon slowly in the butter and oil for 10 minutes without letting them brown


1 1/2 Tb flour


Blend the flour into the ham (or bacon) and vegetables, and cook slowly for 3 minutes, stirring.


1 1/2 cups boiling stock


Off heat, beat in the stock.


2 lbs. (4 cups) chopped, ripe, red tomatoes which
need not be peeled; OR 3 cups canned tomatoes; OR
1 1/2 cups canned tomato puree and 1 1/2 cups water

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp sugar

2 unpeeled cloves garlic

4 parsley sprigs

1/2 bay leaf

1/4 tsp thyme


Stir in the tomatoes, salt, and sugar. Add the garlic and herbs. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, skimming occasionally, and adding water if sauce reduces and thickens too much. You should end up with about
2 1/2 cups of rich, fairly thick sauce.


1 to 2 Tb tomato paste if necessary


Strain, pressing juice out of ingredients. Correct seasoning. Stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of tomato paste if you feel the sauce lacks color, and simmer again for 5 minutes.
If not used immediately, film surface with stock or a few drops of oil. May be refrigerated or frozen.

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