Friday, May 9, 2014

ZioBaffa - Simple Pasta Sauce

My nona passed along her great skills in the kitchen to my father and through the years i've tried to watch, learn and embrace his favorite dishes.  On my recent trip to Italy- I really tried to pay attention to simple techniques the locals were using.

Whenever we can, my wife and i host close friends for some good wine and home-made Italian food.  Often, my friends ask me for recipes, so here is the basic of all basics, a simple tomato sauce that has evolved through my travels.

I love this "as is" with garden grown basil (if ya have it) and some freshly grated parmesan cheese or it can be built on by adding other ingredients.  I call these dishes comfort food, whether i've been on the road for a while or perhaps indulged a bit too heavily the night before, these are dishes that take me back to why I love cooking and sharing food with friends.  Savory, satisfying,  they feel like a warm embrace to the senses.  For wine, I suggest a Toscana Red, perhaps a Chianti or other Sangiovese blend.  My good friend Piergiorgio Castellani sells his "Grifone" Chianti at Trader Joe's for Under $7- a wonderful table wine for the price.

As the rule goes in Italy - good, fresh ingredients go a long way for giving a quality experience - at any price.

note: you can adjust this with vine ripened roma tomatoes mid summer for a wonderful light sauce.  Sometimes I use white wine with the fresh tomatoes.

¼ cup extra virgin OLIVE OIL
1 brown ONION, chopped in ¼ inch dice
4 garlic CLOVES, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh BASIL leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
2 28-ounce cans PEELED WHOLE TOMATOES, crushed by hand and juices reserved
SALT to taste (i use a dash every time i introduce a new ingredient)

½ medium CARROT, finely shredded  (i discovered this in Tuscany and love the touch of sweetness it introduces - but one can easily remove)

1/2 cup Wine (i use red for heavier dishes / white for lighter)

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the Basil and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Add Wine.  Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve.  (mix in a little butter before plating for extra savory).

This sauce can hold one week in the fridge or up to six months in the freezer.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 5, 2014

South Bay Mag Cover

A big thanks to South Bay Mag for sitting down with me and talking life, travel, family and making independent films... and cheers to the photoshop artists who fluffed enough pixels to make my mug cover-worthy.  On newsstands now.