Terri’s Sauce

Terri's Sauce

Anyone with even a remote association to Italian ancestry more than likely has a mother with a tomato sauce recipe. And all of them will tell you that their mom’s is the best. Lucky for me (and for you), my mom’s is actually the best. Since the family has been steering away from carbohydrates (lord knows pasta is the last thing any of us need), it’s been literally years since I last had Terri’s sauce. I mean, what does one have with tomato sauce other than pasta….or ravioli…? So when asked what I wanted when I was home for this trip, you can bet I said sauce.

Terri has two secrets. The first: Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes. The flavor is incomparable. Why? I have no idea. Give it a shot and tell me what you think. The second: in lieu of sugar, baking soda. Tomatoes are incredibly acidic and many people add sugar to counteract all that acid. In fact, many of the name brand jarred sauces like Ragu and Prego add so much sugar it’s the same as eating an Oreo cookie – no joke. The jury is still out for me as to whether adding sugar (a small amount) is a good practice, but my family is certainly adamantly against it. Terri adds just a teaspoon of baking soda to her sauce, sometimes two, and it works wonderfully.

For this batch we did a cliche: spaghetti and meatballs (and sausage). If I haven’t had sauce in years, I haven’t had meatballs in longer. Some are in the school of putting their meat into the sauce raw and letting them cook completely in the sauce, which has its merits. Terri and I are in the school of searing them off first and then letting them finish in the sauce. For me, the flavor one gets from browning is always desirable, so I think searing is the way to go. Terri actually bakes her meatballs, which I think is easier than trying to fry them in a pan, particularly when you’re making them in large quantities. And it still gets that brown color! We also seared sausages and some riblets. Topped with pepato Romano (that’s Romano cheese with black pepper), I’m brought back to our kitchen table in Pembroke where I grew up. So simple, and yet nothing quite compares.

What foods take you back?

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Impromptu Comfort Food

Alright, I caved in. I haven’t been feeling well and I decided it was high time I medicated myself with some comfort food. If I had it my way I would have gone all out with shrimp scampi served over linguini or a baked macaroni and cheese with bacon and mushrooms… however, paychecks have been few and far between for the past few weeks, so I had to make my comfort food the same way I make all my food: improvise. I started, as always, by poking around my kitchen. In the fridge I came across the half-empty jar of marinara sauce I had used earlier in the week to make the post I Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat Sauce. Since I rarely have any occasion to use jarred marinara sauce, I decided that I should find a way to get rid of it. I also found half a red onion. As I moved to the cabinets I found an item I had completely forgotten about: whole wheat egg noodles left over from god knows when. Looks like my comfort food was going to be pasta and tomato sauce. But, I was not about to settle for jarred marinara sauce and noodles… no, this caused for something more substantial…. sausage…. yes! I immediately went to the grocery store and picked up a package of sweet italian sausage, a can of diced tomatoes, 2 fresh tomatoes, and a package of fresh basil. All of it cost less than $10. I returned home and assembled my dinner. I used the ingredients I bought combined with items I always have in my kitchen: fresh garlic, tomato paste, capers, italian seasoning, and a few others. I can’t remember the last time I had Italian sausage in tomato sauce. It was so fantastic, particularly when topped with the grated Romano cheese I found in my fridge. Exactly what I wanted. Take THAT over the counter medication!

Soon I will get some paying work in and I’ll share a Payday Recipe – something indulgent that you don’t have to spend your entire paycheck on. I’ll show you where your money is best spent and how to make it sparkle. Until then, more frugal creativity will be coming your way. Later today my company arrives -we’ll see what culinary mischief I get into with them over the next two days.

Impromptu Sausage and Tomatoes (Recipe PDF)

What sorts of culinary mischief are you getting into these days? :-)