The Holiday Thread

jennlt

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I could never do low carb...I'm the kind of person who will have half a cup of soup mopped up with half a baguette. In fact, years ago I had some weird inflammatory disease and one of my doctors suggested we try a low carb diet to see if it helped. I was limping around with massive pain, worrisome bloodwork and high fevers and my answer was "I'm miserable enough as is, I'm not giving up carbs if you don't even know if it will do anything." I don't drink and barely eat meat, leave my grains alone :lol:

Tomato Base

5 middle sized onions
1 bulb of garlic
1 1/2 kg (3 1/2 lbs) of fresh tomatoes OR 3 tins of peeled tomatoes 400 g each (I think 14 oz?)
olive oil
1 tin of tomato paste (3 oz, but if you are working from a big jar, just a very heaping Tblsp is fine. It's just to deepen the flavour especially when using fresh tomatoes)
bouquet garni of fresh oregano, basil, rosmary OR 1 Tblsp of dried Italian herbs (I dumbed that down and use 1 Tblsp dried oregano because I always have that one. I do add fresh basil to my finished dish often)
3/4 Tblsp salt
3/4 Tblsp sugar
optional: 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or a splash of hot sauce

Peel and roughly chop the onions. Peel and halve the garlic cloves.

If using fresh tomatoes, carve a cross into their bottoms with a knife, put them all into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for a few minutes - you will see when the skin starts to losen -, drain them, douse with cold water (the proper way is to make an ice bath, but the lazy cook that I am just pours the whole thing into the sink and runs cold water over them so I can touch them. Stopping the cooking process immediately like with other blanched vegetables doesn't matter as they'll be cooked to mush anyway).

Add enough olive oil to cover the base of your pot (I never measure, I just pour, but if I should guess I'd say 1/2 cup maybe?) and fry onions and garlic on middle heat until translucent, fragrant and just starting to go a little golden around the edges, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomato paste and fry gently for a minute or two while stirring.

Add the tomatoes (if using tinned with the juices), add the bouqet garni or dried herbs, cover the pot and bring the tomato mix to a boil. Once it boils, turn down the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for about an hour - stir regularly as the sauce tends to stick to the bottom and may burn in places if left completely unattended. At this point, you will have a chunky sauce and the oil will float on top.

Take out the herb bundle if using, add salt, sugar and red pepper flakes or hot sauce if using and blend the sauce until smooth (I prefer to transfer to a blender because I feel it makes the mix extra smooth, but a stick blender will totally work). Depending on the tomatoes and personal taste you might have to add another 1/4 tsp of salt and sugar - I always use a full soup spoon and I think it holds slightly less than an actual measuring spoon, so I'd rather you go in with the smaller amount first instead of finding the results too salty.

I usually used tinned tomatoes, but last year we had tons of homegrown ones. So I froze anything we didn't eat in a timely manner because I hate soft tomatoes, but for sauce it really doesn't matter. When thawed the skin will slide right off. I usually get about 4 meals for 4 people out of this - I freeze 2 cups per portion and often have a little extra. For soup, try a 2 cups sauce to 1 cup tomato juice ratio.

Oh, and if the bottom does burn a little, don't panic. Just don't disturb the burned bits while transferring to a blender or if using the stick blender transfer to a clean pot before blending and the taste should be perfectly fine - and I say that as someone who is super sensitive to burned food.

Thanks for taking the time to write this out; it sounds mouthwateringly delicious! I'll definitely start out conservatively with the salt so I have the option to add a little more if necessary. Our grocery stores always seem to have mushy fresh tomatoes so I will probably use canned. I've been using San Marzano canned tomatoes but I'd love to know if you have a favorite?
 
Oct 7, 2019
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Thanks for taking the time to write this out; it sounds mouthwateringly delicious! I'll definitely start out conservatively with the salt so I have the option to add a little more if necessary. Our grocery stores always seem to have mushy fresh tomatoes so I will probably use canned. I've been using San Marzano canned tomatoes but I'd love to know if you have a favorite?
Yeah, I forgot in the tomato step to add that you actually need to peel and roughly chop them if going from fresh :lol: I was still suffering from the aftermath of a mean migraine yesterday.

I love San Marzano as well (my favourite for pizza sauce as I do a simple uncooked sauce that just blends tomatoes and salt), but I feel with this one, the flavour ends up being so rich and concentrated that any cheapo tomato tin will do. Go luxury or budget, really doesn't matter. I did however notice my homegrown tomatoes needed more seasoning and the resulting sauce was slightly thinner.
 

jennlt

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Yeah, I forgot in the tomato step to add that you actually need to peel and roughly chop them if going from fresh :lol: I was still suffering from the aftermath of a mean migraine yesterday.

I love San Marzano as well (my favourite for pizza sauce as I do a simple uncooked sauce that just blends tomatoes and salt), but I feel with this one, the flavour ends up being so rich and concentrated that any cheapo tomato tin will do. Go luxury or budget, really doesn't matter. I did however notice my homegrown tomatoes needed more seasoning and the resulting sauce was slightly thinner.

I figured when you said to wait for the skin to loosen after covering the tomatoes in boiling water that I should peel them, but I appreciate the clarification :smile: I need as much information as I can get when I'm trying a new recipe.

Low carb is a really tough for me and I can't follow it for months on end. I certainly couldn't do it as a lifestyle. Just the mention of pizza when you were talking about San Marzano tomatoes was enough to make me drool because I am determined to go a month with no pizza and it's a struggle :lol:

I hope you're feeling better; migraines are so awful.
 
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I'm going over Easter dessert options right now...I am craving strawberries but refuse to buy imported, and the local ones aren't ready just yet. Also, it's Sunday and Monday. Maybe a cake one day and a classic dessert (I know in the US cakes and cookies are dessert as well, but in Germany, dessert is stuff like icecream, mousse, fruit salad, custard...possibly because cake accompanied by a cup of coffee is it's own meal and not generally part of a lunch or dinner menu) the other.
 

jennlt

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Sep 17, 2009
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I'm going over Easter dessert options right now...I am craving strawberries but refuse to buy imported, and the local ones aren't ready just yet. Also, it's Sunday and Monday. Maybe a cake one day and a classic dessert (I know in the US cakes and cookies are dessert as well, but in Germany, dessert is stuff like icecream, mousse, fruit salad, custard...possibly because cake accompanied by a cup of coffee is it's own meal and not generally part of a lunch or dinner menu) the other.

In our house, cake and cookies are a meal, too. A very delicious, decadent one. That I'm not going to think about:crybaby: I usually make iced sugar cookies but I'm skipping that this year and we will probably have a cup of blueberries.

I still haven't decided what to have for Easter dinner because it will be just me and DH this year so I won't be making a big meal. It's going to be cold and rainy so I may make soup. For breakfast I will probably make this spinach and sundried tomato frittata that I love with a dollop of salsa. It's not very Easter-y except that it's made with eggs.
Frittata.jpg
 
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jennlt

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Eggs and green is very Easter to me. I don't think my family would appreciate frittata, they just want their coloured eggs on Easter :lol:

Luckily, I have a very enthusiastic group to cook for who are not particular in the least. DH and the dogs happily eat anything I cook, even the epic fails.

If I make the Easter bread, I will be the only one who appreciates how pretty it is. The rest of my motley crew will be too busy gobbling it up :lol:

I can't wait to see pictures of your Easter desserts and birthday cake(s); they will be a feast for the eyes!
 
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So as everything's fluid, plans changed again: the early birthday person moved their celebratory dinner to Easter Sunday, so our dinner is cancelled. However, for years I've wanted to do brunch which never fit in with the other food plans, so maybe we'll do that this year. I completely lack inspiration for anything, though.

I will do the cake, thinking of chocolate overload as said family member gave up not only meat, but also sweets for lent.
 

jennlt

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Sep 17, 2009
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So as everything's fluid, plans changed again: the early birthday person moved their celebratory dinner to Easter Sunday, so our dinner is cancelled. However, for years I've wanted to do brunch which never fit in with the other food plans, so maybe we'll do that this year. I completely lack inspiration for anything, though.

I will do the cake, thinking of chocolate overload as said family member gave up not only meat, but also sweets for lent.

Lord, cake sounds so good. Chocolate is my favorite kind of cake and considering how many calories are in a slice of cake, it's the only flavor I eat unless I'm a guest somewhere and feel obligated.

Do you have a favorite cocoa powder that you use? I'm looking for something that will make my cakes and frosting richer tasting. I've been using Scharffen Berger cocoa and it tastes good to me but I'm always looking for new ideas.

I went low carb for Lent but I started a week late so I have one more week to go. Happily, I've lost some weight but I'm going to have to be very careful to not gain it back. I'm going to continue with the intermittent fasting, though, because it seems to be working for me. I'll even go back to low carb if I have to because I am determined to lose this weight once and for all.

Brunch sounds like a wonderful idea for the Easter celebration! The variety means there's something for everyone so I'm sure it will be a crowd pleaser.
 
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