Sunday, April 11, 2010

Do Try These At Home!

There are a few kitchen basics that I always need to have around the house. I also discovered that making them at home, from scratch, saves me money while improving the quality of the final recipe they're used in dramatically! I'm talking about chicken stock and pasta sauces. I keep frozen ice cubes of chicken stock in the freezer and pesto and marinara sauce in the fridge at all times.

When I made a Thanksgiving turkey last November, I set up to save the carcass and make a yummy stock out of it. Buying organic poultry is pricey, so I was extra committed to getting as much out of the bird as possible. I used the Barefoot Contessa chicken stock recipe and it makes the whole condo smell absolutely delicious. After the stock is done, I cool it down, ladle it into ice cube trays and freeze. This is the best way to store the broth. It's great when I only want to use a little bit for braising greens or making a light sauce. I love making it on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Same goes for staple pasta sauces.

Back when Kevin and I lived in Santa Clara, we started a small veggie and herb garden on our communal patio. We had an entire planter box of basil and I made pesto in mass quantities. For Basil Pesto...
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano*
Puree all ingredients together in the food processor adding the oil in gradually at the end, then the cheese last. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste. *Note: Do be sure to add the parmesan last, because the heat of the processor blade can tweak the texture of the cheese

I no longer buy pesto from the jar (it's flavorless) and the fresh stuff from the store will cost you a pretty penny! I buy pine nuts in big bags, splurge on the most fabulous extra virgin olive oil and parmesan reggiano. At the moment I am obsessed with LAPAS Extra-Virgin olive oil ($18 for 750ml at Whole Foods). As long as you have an food processor and the aforementioned ingredients you will never go back to the jarred stuff! I also love the versatility and flexibility that homemade pesto offers. No basil? No pinenuts? Make a fabulous arugula and pecan pesto or artichoke and walnut with sundried tomatoes...the options are endless :-)

Same goes for marinara or pomodoro. I just dicovered this utterly comforting Pomodoro a la Tyler Florence.
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, drained and crushed by hand, liquid reserved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully add the tomatoes (nothing splashes like tomatoes) and about 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the sauce is thick, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring for a few minutes with a wooden spoon to further break up the tomatoes. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the fresh basil and season again.

I'd love to hear what home made kitchen basics you always have on hand!

1 comment:

  1. mmm...i love pesto! the funny thing is, my first encounter was at fresh choice and loved it. even funnier is that i tried it at macaroni grill and fresh choice was way better :)