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Sunday in the Kitchen

We’ve been out of Victor’s pasta sauce for a couple of weeks. Since the garden tomatoes haven’t even been planted, yet, it was time to get the canned tomatoes in gear. We can’t go long without pasta sauce in the house – and I’ll be damned if I’ll buy the stuff.

We have this one down to a science. 14 28-oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes – along with a bottle of wine, tomato paste, and some water – will yield 14 quarts of sauce – with enough left over for dinner.

We have a great system, too. Victor makes the sauce, I jar it. Neither of us has to do much work, this way. I did help with the opening of the cans, though. No electric can opener in this house. It’s manual, baby! I think the only electric can opener we’ve ever had was an under cabinet opener in our house in San Leandro. I don’t recall using it, much, but, we’re not usually opening a lot of cans…

Victor’s sauce is not vegetarian. He always cooks off some pork; ribs, chops, or whatever is around. I picked up a small pork loin for this batch.

It cooks up really nice and is shreddable when it’s done. It’s part of the dinner we have – it doesn’t go into the jars.

After simmering nicely, it’s time to fill the jars.

Sauce is hot, jars are hot, pressure canner is getting hot…

It takes 15 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure to get perfection.

Playing tag-team in the kitchen really does make this effortless. Most of the time is simmering or unattended pressure-cooking. We watched movies, I baked a loaf of bread, played a few games of Scrabble… It’s nothing overwhelming. And the payoff is fantastic.

I cooked up a package of mafaldine since Nonna wasn’t here – she doesn’t like any sort of long pasta – and topped it with lots of freshly-grated piave I picked up at Downtown Cheese at Reading Terminal Market. Piave is a DOP Italian cheese produced in the Dolomites. Good stuff.

And since we were going to have fresh sauce with pasta on our plates from Florence, we needed a loaf of bread. I reworked a recipe from a while ago and made a really good cheese bread.

Crusty on the outside and really light on the inside.

The original recipe called for pecorino, but I used up the last of a few cheeses we had in the ‘fridge.

Pecorino Cheese Bread

  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded pecorino cheese
  • 1 egg mixed with water
  • sesame seeds

Mix yeast with water to proof. In a stand mixer, add half the flour and the sour cream and begin to mix. Slowly add the grated cheese and the rest of the flour, mixing until it all holds together. Continue mixing for about 10 minutes or until a firm, smooth dough is made.

Form into a ball, rub a bowl with oil, coat dough, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rise until doubled.

 

Punch down, turn out to counter, and let rest about 15 minutes. Form into a loaf and place on a baking peel liberally coated with corn meal. Cover, and let rise until doubled.

 

Preheat oven with baking stone to 375ºF (190°C).

When dough has risen, brush with an egg mixed with water. Sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds and make two cuts into the loaf with a sharp knife.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until nicely browned and hollow-sounding when tapped.

Cool on wire rack.

All in all, it was a relaxing day with lots accomplished. Not bad, at all.

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