accessorize merrily with a splash of tomato sauce

I thought you might be curious about what one wears for an extravagant summer event in the "Hamptons," which is what the collection of once charming small villages on the eastern end of Long Island's South Fork is called by people who didn't grow up here or didn't grow up summering here.

We are in fact preparing for an extravagant event here at Flintstone Manor: I drive up to my favorite farm stand, the one that's sent 3 or 4 generations of its children to college and is still staffed by nice young nieces and cousins, and I purchase a box of 25 pounds of Plum Tomatoes and two very large bunches of basil.

The extravagant part is that I buy the Number One tomatoes, the good ones that don't have to be trimmed before cooking. No wormholes or bird pecks in my kitchen. Also, it speeds things up if I don’t have to barber the tomatoes.

Then I pop into a supermarket for little freezer containers. I've learned the hard way that if I want just a cup or half a cup of sauce for, say, a sausage sandwich or two, having a few quart containers in the freezer is not helpful. And ultimately you will have a tomato-colored iceberg or two in the freezer,  which will have to be thrown out. This is one of those times when "spending to save" works.
 There is no recipe. Crucial first step:  I remind Himself that the great big lobster pot is already booked for the weekend, so he shouldn't show up with lobsters. 

Then I rinse the tomatoes very thoroughly and get going cutting them up. I quarter them and cut them in half again, trim off the remains of any stem parts, and just keep going. About 1/3 of the way through the tomatoes, I put 3 or 4 very very very thinly sliced onions and some sliced garlic and olive oil into the lobster pot, put it over very low heat and cover it and let everything cook without browning until the onions are melted. Meanwhile I finish cutting the tomatoes. Although if the onions look like they're ready, I'll add whatever tomatoes are cut and let them start becoming sauce.
The basil gets a thorough rinsing, and the bunch is held over the pot and hacked up with a kitchen scissors. The rest of the tomatoes and more cut up basil go in. When the whole thing comes to a boil, stir madly for a minute or two, turn the heat down and stir some more. I want the tomatoes to break down and the sauce to reduce by about 1/3.

Sooo - when the pot's ready for a long, traditional simmering, I put it into a slow oven, say about 250' F. That way, the heat is all around the pot and it only needs an occasional stir. If the pot and cover are too tall for the oven, even on the lowest shelf, try turning the cover upside down.

I don't peel the tomatoes, because the peel adds color and flavor. So does the gloop around the seeds.  When it looks to me like all the tomatoes are cooked through - a few hours of cooking, say 4 or 5 - I lift the pot out of the oven to the top of the stove and have at it with a stick blender. Goodbye, peel and seeds. If it looks pale, I plop in a 6-ounce can of tomato paste, imported if available.

Then, back into the oven to reduce - to cook it down so that it gets thicker by itself and isn't watery. If I happen to come across more basil I add it here. I leave it partly covered, overnight, in a very low oven, say 175 or 200.

In the morning, there is sauce. Let it cool while you stoke yourself with coffee, decide if it needs another buzz with the stick blender, and then begin the transfer into the freezer containers.

And then find space for all the containers into the freezer.

Fashion note: This is not a dressy event, but you should see how cute I look with dabs of tomato sauce all over my arms and nose and oldest jeans and tee. Not.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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