FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF
Domenica Marchetti’s childhood memories of Italian summers, where nearly every day began with a trip to the farmers’ market, are the inspiration for The Glorious Vegetables of Italy (Chronicle Books, September, 2013, $30.00/hardback). Italian home cooks prepare these vegetables with careful thought, mixing them into frittatas and savory tarts, letting them shine atop pizza and giving them equal time with meat and seafood at the center of the meal. These treasured recipes comprise a mix of tradition and innovation, some handed down from previous generations, others collected during the author’s travels throughout Italy and more created in her home kitchen. She hopes they will inspire you to bring vegetables into the heart of your own kitchen as well. Marchetti preserves batches of tomato sauce to use during the winter including Simple Tomato Sauce made with 2 28-ounce cans of diced tomatoes with their juice.
SIMPLE TOMATO SAUCE
• 2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, with their juice
• Fine sea salt
• 5 large basil leaves, shredded or torn
Warm garlic in the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to press down on the garlic to release its flavor. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the garlic begins to sizzle. Don’t let it brown. Carefully pour in the tomatoes and their juice (oil will spatter) and stir to coat with the oil. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and raise heat to medium-high. Bring sauce to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and the oil is pooling on the surface. Remove from heat and stir in the basil. Taste and add more salt if you like. If not using immediately, transfer the sauce to a container with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Recipe makes about 5 cups sauce.
GADGET GURU’S CHRISTMAS GIFTS TO HERSELF
With gift cards I had accumulated for over two years, I invested in a new Cuisinart food processor with three different size bowls, the largest holding 16 cups. It replaced one that I have had since the early 80s that was broken in 2 places and to replace the old bowl at this point would have been penny wise and dollar foolish. The new one was also 20% off for one day only the Sunday before Christmas at Williams Sonoma. With that purchase I earned 4 $10.00 coupons to buy something after Christmas so with those, I invested in an OXO Food Mill to replace the one I started married life with over 60 years ago. I love mashed potatoes and nothing makes creamier mashed potatoes than a food mill and leftovers also stay creamy. I did get one gadget that daughter Mary Ann gave to all of the cooks in our family, a Sur La Table Slice and Dice Garlic Press. I can’t tell you how many garlic choppers of all descriptions that I have had but this has to be the ultimate one!
HOW FIT ARE YOU?
More than half of Americans including increasing numbers of young people don’t exercise regularly and one-quarter partake in no leisure-time physical activity. One way to find out is to take the Adult Fitness Test from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, at www.adultfitnesstest.org. It involves three components of fitness: Aerobic or cardiovascular fitness, Muscular strength endurance, and Flexibility. Precaution: The test is for healthy adults. If you don’t exercise regularly or have any medical conditions, consult your health care provider first. Stop if you experience any unusual symptoms such as chest discomfort, excessive shortness of breath or pain.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, January 2014.
JANUARY IS NATIONAL SOUP MONTH
Take a can of this and that and you have Southwest Cheese Soup. It might be a tad spicy for some tastes but not for mine.
SOUTHWEST CHEESE SOUP
• 1-lb. pasteurized prepared cheese loaf, cut in cubes
• 1 (15.25 oz) can corn, drained
• 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained (I prefer Bush)
• 1 (10 oz) can Rotel brand diced tomatoes
• 1 cup milk
• Fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish (or dried flakes)
In Dutch oven, mix all ingredients except cilantro. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted and soup is hot. Garnish with cilantro. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Betty Crocker recipe.