Merlot Marinara and Pizza Sauce

by Shawnda on May 18, 2015

in Condiments,DIY,Pasta, Rice, and Grains,Pizza,Summer Tomatoes,Wine

Merlot Marinara and Pizza Sauce

6 years ago, we made a trip across town and popped into a wine & beer supply store. About 4 months later, we yanked the cork off our first wine, a Riesling. And it was drinkable. Ish.

We had 28 bottles – nearly 5 full gallons – of “drinkable-ish.”

We made a lot of white sangria.

After bottling several varietals (and even dumping a few), we’ve settled in on a good, solid range of house wines: a drinkable riesling, a super smooth, lightly oaked merlot, and a knock-you-on-your-ass ruby Port.

The merlot isn’t just a drinkable rockstar, it’s also a superstar ingredient. During the summer, when the tomato bounty is plentiful, we like to make our “Merlot Marinara” – it can either be served over pasta or cooked longer to serve as a phenomenal pizza sauce. And I do mean phenomenal.

Merlot Marinara and Pizza Sauce

The process for making marinara sauce completely from scratch using fresh tomatoes (no canned stuff!) involves some hands-on work up front to get rid of the skins but the work is totally worth it. Don’t skimp or get sloppy – your tomatoes are going to be reduced drastically so what seems like it might be “just a few” seeds will really be noticeable in the concentrated, cooked down sauce.

Use the freshest tomatoes you can find. This isn’t hard to do in the summer and the sauce scales up easily (I’ve made 4 triple batches for the freezer this summer alone). We grew San Marzano tomatoes in our garden this year. They’re known for being rockstar tomatoes in their own right and make a killer pizza and pasta sauce.

Merlot Marinara and Pizza Sauce

Make the best homemade marinara and pizza sauce with fresh summer tomatoes and your favorite merlot.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs summer plum tomatoes
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup merlot
  • 1/2 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Fill a large bowl half full with ice and water. Set a fine mesh strainer over a third (medium) bowl.
  2. Using a paring knife, cut a shallow X into the bottom of each tomato - just deep enough to get through the skin.
  3. Working in batches if necessary, drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 60-90 seconds and then use a slotted spoon to transfer the tomatoes to the bowl of ice water; allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
  4. Discard the boiling water and return the pan to the cooktop (heat should be off).
  5. Working over the bowl fitted with a fine strainer, peel and discard the skin from 4-6 tomatoes (depending on the size of your bowl). Break the tomato open with your hand, remove and discard the tough core, and give the tomatoes a few squeezes (don't wear white!) to break them apart.
  6. Using a spoon or stiff rubber/silicon spatula, vigoriously work the tomato solids through the strainer - you'll have fresh tomato sauce in the bowl and the tougher pulp and skins in the strainer. Discard the strained material and pour the tomato sauce into the pot. Repeat with remaining tomatoes.
  7. For a chunkier finished product, take 1/4-1/2 of the tomatoes and cut them open over the strainer. Pull out the core and scrape out all of the seeds over the strainer. Break the tomato up into pieces with your hands over the pot of pasta sauce.
  8. Over medium heat, simmer the tomato sauce, garlic, and merlot until reduced to desired consistency - about 45-60 minutes for pasta sauce and 90+ minutes for pizza sauce.
  9. Stir in dried Italian herb mix and season with a pinch salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

Yields: ~2/3 cup pizza sauce or ~1 1/4 cup marinara sauce

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 2 hours 30 minutes

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Garden Fridays: It’s Peach Time!

by Shawnda on May 15, 2015

in Garden

Texas Peaches

I picked 20lbs of those beauties this morning. TWENTY POUNDS. I spent the next hour picking over them, looking for damaged, freezer-bound peaches. I cut away the bad spots, sliced what was left, and froze them for future cobblers and pies.

Then I ate 2 of the perfectly ripes ones for lunch.

Broccoli

We are getting near the end of broccoli season. Even though we’ve seen a relatively mild spring, as far as Texas is concerned, the broccoli crowns have gotten progressively smaller and soon, they’ll bolt straight to flower before they’re fit to pick. But until then: broccoli!

Asparagus Green Beans Asparagus Green Beans

I had really no idea what to expect with the Asparagus Green Beans. But there they are: long, skinny green beans. That taste exactly like regular green beans except they are 12 inches long. I usually grow bush beans but these guys are pole beans – so up the bamboo poles they went! And went. And went. The bamboo poles are 6ft high and the bean vines have already exceeded that.

Butternut Squash

NOT ZUCCHINI. I mixed up my seedlings and I currently have two butternut squash plants. I’ve added a couple of squash seeds to the empty boxes and my zucchini-less garden will be zucchini-full in a month.

Texas Peaches

Red grapes! They are cage-fighting the vining tomatoes for sunlight! It’s a tie so far. I’ve got a vine full of grape clusters AND a ton of cherry and grape tomatoes.

Texas Peaches

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Honey and Ginger Glazed Salmon

It’s the 9 minute recipe you didn’t know you were missing. But now you do because I’ve just told you.

There are infinite ways to prepare salmon but one of my favorites is broil + glaze. Why?

Honey and Ginger Glazed Salmon

1) Um, just look at that ^. And this. And this.

2) Soooo easy. Slap a slab of fish on a foil-lined pan, put it under the broiler for 8 minutes, glazing occasionally.

3) Soooo quick. (See #2.)

4) Clean-up usually involves little more than “crumple up foil, toss in recycling bin.”

5) There’s no need for a 5. We’re all already sold. But feel free to reference items 1-4 as many times as it takes to convince you.

Honey and Ginger Glazed Salmon

We make this Spicy Honey-Glazed Salmon once a week. And with that method in mind, I whisked together some honey, soy, a couple drops of sesame oil, and some fresh grated ginger for an Asian-inspired, sweet + salty glaze.

What’s the word for “comes together faster than it takes to get down the assembly line at Subway and it costs less?” Yeah, THAT.

Honey-Ginger Glazed Salmon

Quick, easy, and healthy broiled salmon with a beautifully caramelized honey-ginger glaze.

Ingredients

  • 1lb salmon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cooking spray or oil (optional)
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp soy or coconut aminos
  • 1 Tbsp-ish fresh grated ginger
  • Sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish
  • Chopped chives or green onions, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat your broiler and line a baking sheet with foil (alternately, spray a naked baking sheet with cooking spray).
  2. Place the salmon on the prepared baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, soy, ginger, and a couple drops of sesame oil. (A few seconds in the microwave can make this easier if your honey is being stubborn.)
  4. Lighly brush some of the glaze over the salmon and place under the broiler for 5 minutes.
  5. Glaze the salmon again and broil for 1 minute. Repeat 2-3 more times, until the glaze is gone and the edges of the salmon are nicely caramelized.
  6. Garnish with sesame seeds and chives/green onion tops.
  7. Slide a spatula between the skin and salmon and serve.

Notes

Yields: 3 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 9 minutes

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