Musings While Making Sauce

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My son’s Facebook status: “there is nothing in the world like waking up to the smell of sauce already cooking. I love being Italian“.

It’s many hours and many hand washings later and I can still smell what I cooked all over my hands. And, that’s not a bad thing!

I am using the last of the San Marzano tomatoes I canned last fall. I guess I will need to do more this year!

The herb garden is one of the stars of the show. I love seeing the green of the parsley in my meatballs.

20120722-162406.jpgI’m very loyal. I think Contadina makes a great, consistent product. When I don’t have my own tomatoes I always use Contadina.

20120722-162517.jpgI remember as a girl watching my mother make meatballs. She would shiver with how cold the meat was. Sometimes she would ask me to roll up her sleeves (I learned about food safely as a young foodie!).

20120722-162652.jpgThis bowl of olive oil and 1/4 cup measure are my secret weapons while making meatballs. With the eggs, cheese, breadcrumbs and spices I get ten 1/4 cup meatballs per pound of ground meat. It is exceedingly predictable so planning is easy and they cook evenly when they are the same size.

20120722-162940.jpgHere are those little soldiers, all lined up in a row. The secret here is the pork fat and juice on the bottom of the foil lined pan. Before I even chop an onion or pepper I fire up my broiler, line my heavy 13″ x 9″ baking pan and cook my pork. I used pork shoulder and ribs today. They were big so I cut each into three pieces.

20120722-163256.jpgYup, that’s nutmeg. It adds a subtle flavor that no one can recognize.

20120722-211022.jpgThere are six more just like it in the freezer. These two are going to friends.

Have a yummy day!


Second chance at Pub was world-class


I had a great dinner this past Sunday at the Lewiston Village Pub (linked here).
This came as a considerable surprise to me because the one and only time I was there previously ordering off the menu was completely and totally forgettable.

As owner Ken Scibetta told me, our last visit was before he took the kitchen over.

When they first bought the Pub in January 2008 they sublet the kitchen out.

It was just Ken and his partner back then. Now they have a staff of 25. Back then it was 80 percent bar business and 20 percent food.

Now it’s 65 percent food and 35 percent bar which is a testament to how good the food is. When they started out the bulk of their profit came from the bar business.

They have this Mug Club where you get a personalized mug for $8 which is waiting for you when you return. The beer offerings are very extensive and he would like to expand the wine menu sometime in the future.

Ken has slowly and surely created a menu that has regular customers come back often. He likes to change up the specials frequently using as many local ingredients as possible.

He gets a great deal of his produce from Tom Tower and other Niagara County growers. He is quick to explain he is a self taught chef.

His previous experience was in “the front of the house” serving at higher end WNY establishments such as the Buffalo Chop House and Left Bank.
He told me he learned about food from the daily specials he had shared with diners. If he did not know an ingredient or cooking style he had to learn about it before the customers asked about it.

To start we ordered calamari served with the house tomato sauce.

20120611-082433.jpg I liked the sauce very much, not to salty and almost sweet. The rings were described as “jumbo” and they certainly were.

We had a Rex-Goliath Merlot, a great value at $20 a bottle. We took advantage of the Sunday special, steak for two. I got a salad with cucumber wasabi dressing which had heat without pain. It was delicious.

20120611-082426.jpgThe steak was cooked exactly to order and it was served over buttery mashed potatoes. There is always room for dessert and we ordered a slice of cheesecake.

When I see the website and the pictures of the food I’m very impressed he taught himself to cook. He tries to create his menu so that when a diner reads it they cannot decide what to have. I can say that worked for me.

I look forward to going back and having the crab legs or maybe the Kona crusted sirloin … I cannot decide!

Have a yummy week!

Recipes are more than words, they’re history

I got a text last week from my son letting me know he and one of his housemates were going to make sauce. He remembered that I use four cans of tomato puree and a can of paste because he used to open the cans and pour it in when he was little. It’s amazing what they remember …

I couldn’t wait to teach him remotely how to make sauce. He does a lot of cooking so I knew he had the skill and motivation to do it. What I did not know was whether he had a pot big enough to handle the puree.

Two texts later I told him to go to the Bed Bath & Beyond across from the Stop and Shop grocery chain and pick up a 16-quart stock/sauce pot.

20120612-154510.jpgGood mother!

Next was the e-mail to his Smartphone with the shopping list followed by the additions once I actually wrote down the steps to making sauce. He called me on Saturday to tell me his sauce came out great; he fed 11 of his friends and still had some to freeze for later. Good son!

It made me think about the summer of 1980 when college graduation was just behind me and wedding bells just ahead when I sat in our kitchen watching my mother make sauce, writing down all of the steps. I still have the sauce stained notebook paper. Here is my collection of recipes.
In our family, we always make our birthday cakes. The bakery does a fine job on any given Sunday but a birthday cake is homemade. Period.

20120612-154830.jpgThe frosting recipe shown here makes the most wonderful, smooth spreadable frosting and brings me back to the days when my mother made all of our cakes from scratch, too.

One of my favorite desserts growing up was sheet pie. It was a great big pie made in a half-sheet cake pan and cut into squares. This is how my mother and aunts used to feed the hungry family every summer weekend when we swam in the pool. The recipe shown in the middle is from my Gramma Russo called lemon cake pie. This is like lemon squares and lemon cake combined.

Ridiculous. I intend to make it this weekend.

When I was finally able to have a Thanksgiving at my house after we were married I learned to make stuffing from my mother. Once again, I watched her to it and wrote it all down.

One of the things I remember all these many years later is that you don’t scrimp on flavor doing anything low-fat for a holiday.

There are 360 days of the year to go low-fat and low-sodium but holidays are special.

20120612-154926.jpgMy mother-in-law makes a delicious stuffing recipe, very different from my mother’s in flavor and simplicity. I now alternate their recipes.

No matter what the holiday, special occasion or Thursday night dinner on the fly, when you make something with love and history it always tastes better. As I have my copy of my mother’s sauce recipe I hope someday my son happens upon the printed e-mail and remembers his first sauce making experience with happy memories of me and his stock pot.