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Archive for June 18, 2012

COOKING VIDEO: Easy Homemade Pasta Sauce


Frankly, we’re surprised by the number of people we meet who cook at home, yet have never made pasta sauce from scratch.

A basic pasta sauce couldn’t be easier. All you need is a lidded sauce pan and a wooden or silicone spoon. The ingredients are found in the kitchen of every person who cooks: a box of strained tomatoes (like Pomi; we spend extra for the superior flavor of San Marzano tomatoes), olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.

Most recipes recommend strained tomatoes (purée); but you can use chopped tomatoes for a chunky sauce, or purée them in your food processor.

The only thing you may need to pick up is fresh basil and optional fresh parsley; but you can always fall back on oregano from your spice shelf.

You can get more elaborate with subsequent batches, adding browned, chopped sausage or chopped meat; sautéed onions, mushrooms and/or bell peppers; chopped artichokes or sundried tomatoes.

And then, let your creative sauces flow, adding whatever appeals to you to the basic pasta sauce. Anchovy paste? Blue cheese? Chipotles or jalapeños? Cream? Currants and slivered almonds with cardamom or curry? Lemon or orange zest? Pistachio nuts? Truffle oil (added at the end, not as cooking oil)? Vodka or tequila (stir in at the end)?

The sky’s the limit. And as an extra piece of heaven, your homemade sauce won’t contain preservatives, added sugar or high fructose corn syrup—the sweeteners added to compensate for inferior tomatoes. Premium ripe tomatoes have plenty of natural sugars and require no added refined sugar.

Use your homemade sauce on pasta, pizza, chicken or eggplant parmesan, grilled fish or seafood, meatball sandwiches, omelets, polenta and steamed veggies.

Make a triple batch and freeze it in portion-sized containers so you can microwave-defrost it in minutes or bring it as a last-minute gift.

But the goal is to make that first batch. Once you do, you’ll never go back to relying on supermarket pasta sauce.



Love pasta? Check out the recipes and tips in our Pasta Section.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Tomatoes With Flavored Sea Salt

Here’s an easy hors d’oeuvre or snack that’s delicious and different: cherry tomatoes with a choice of flavored sea salts.

Simply set out toothpicks and let family and guests enjoy a succulent cherry or grape tomato with a dip of flavorful salt.

Choose salts with contrasting colors, flavors and textures (crunchier coarse salt versus fine grain). Here we’ve used:

  • Alaea, a red volcanic salt from Hawaii.
  • A homemade mixture of coarse sea salt and dried rosemary (3:2 proportion).
  • Saffron-accented sea salt—one of our favorite products, and a great hostess gift.
    There are many other wonderful choices, from pink Himalayan sea salt to crunchy smoked Maldon sea salt from England, which has unique, pyramid-shaped crystals.


    A martini of cherry tomatoes with three flavored salts. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE


    Check out the large variety of gourmet salts in our Salt Glossary.


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    PRODUCT: Grillcomb, The New BBQ Skewer

    Skewer with ease with the Grillcomb. Photo courtesy Fusionbrands.


    Grill mavens can now skewer with style with the Grillcomb from Fusionbrands.

    You need dexterity to thread foods dead-center onto conventional wood or metal skewers. But the Grillcomb, with its row of individual 18/8 stainless steel teeth, lets you easily slide on chunks of beef, chicken, shrimp and vegetables.

    When it comes time to flip, even the most delicate items turn easily without spinning. If you’ve ever watched cherry tomatoes spin and end up on the wrong side, you’ll appreciate this feature.

    The grilled food easily slides off the Grillcomb onto the plate; no more burst tomatoes or smashed scallops. Plus:

  • No more soaking or splinters.
  • The handle makes marinating easy.
  • It’s safer to load than conventional skewers (so delegate to the kids).
  • And off course, it’s dishwasher safe.
    Get a set of two for intimate meals, or load up on Grillcombs for larger parties. Pick up extras for house gifts when you’re invited to a cookout.

    A set of two single serving skewers, 12 inches long, is $11.00 at


    These specialty items can make grilling a breeze:

    CORN: If you have trouble flipping corn on the grill, try a corn grilling basket.

    FISH: To keep fragile fish from breaking while flipping, use a grilling basket.

    POPPERS: How about some jalapeño poppers, easy to make with a chile grilling rack?

    SLIDERS: It’s easy to make sliders, mini-burgers, with a slider grilling set.



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