Monday, November 26, 2012

Ordinary Monday pasta

Mr Grey was sick and sniffling. I was tired from work and in my hurry to get home, I forgot all about the supermarket stop I was supposed to make..

Edible contents of fridge (excluding chocolate and fruit): half an onion (a bit sad looking), one left over sausage and garlic. There was butter, olive oil and tomato puree. Oh and some cheese – thank goodness there was cheese!

So I threw together whatever we had and it was surprisingly tasty. 

(Recipe is very loosely adapted from this one.)

To cook the sauce:

Slice the onion and garlic. Doesn’t matter what size, just chop it to whatever size you like. I like the onion pieces large enough to eat, so I didn’t chop it too finely.

Melt butter over the stove in a heavy pot. Add some olive oil.

Saute the onion and garlic in the butter/olive oil over medium heat.  Cook, stirring from time to time till the onion is soft and slightly translucent – 10 minutes at least. Do not skip this step. Do not fry onion/garlic over high heat. The idea is to let the onion release its sweetness by cooking it slowly.

Slice the sausage up and add it in, stirring a bit to release the smoky flavour. Add tomato puree and some water then let the sauce simmer. 

If you have it – add a few pinches of Italian herb seasoning or any other dried herbs - dried basil, thyme etc. (If you have fresh herbs, so much better but I'd forgotten to pop by the supermarket, remember?) Add about 1 tsp of sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in a small amount of butter at the end if you want; it makes the sauce more delicious. Finish the pasta by stirring it into the sauce so that the pasta absorbs the sauce then add cheese.

(Mr Grey is always in charge of boiling the pasta; I never get pasta al dente. Leave it to me and you’ll get over cooked pasta and a very unhappy Mr Grey.)

As an addendum:

Months ago, I was chatting with Ms E and she said that she didn't know how to cook the tomato sauce for pasta and always bought the sauces from jars. 

Well, for a basic tomato sauce, all you really need is a can of tomatoes -doesn't matter whether its diced, chopped,whole, puree - it all works. Some olive oil and garlic. Salt and pepper and that's all. 

Brown the garlic in olive oil, dump in the tomatoes - if using a can of whole tomatoes, you can use a fork/spoon to tear/mash it up. Cook over medium low heat - about 15-25 minutes? Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Some tasty additions/variations:

Toasted pine nuts/almonds.
Herbs, fresh or dried.
Meatballs.This is an easy recipe. Cup of Jo has a not as easy but very delicious recipe in the 'best of' section.
Minced meat.
Ham/pancetta/bacon - any kind of smoked meat. 
(If using bacon, go easy on the oil. Bacon does release so much oil!)

Um. If there is leftover tomato paste and one is sufficiently ambitious, one may try Zia Nerina's Ragu alla bolognese

Friday, November 9, 2012

Make Peace

Listening to a gorgeous piece "Make Peace" - a Pat Metheny and Brad Mehldau collaboration.

The US elections are over - was I the only Singaporean who giggled slightly when she heard President Obama say that line about how "the best is yet to come"? - I saw it in a headline and snorted rather ungracefully.

Random things I've been enjoying recently -

One - A Zhang Haochen concert - he played the Rach 2 with such clarity and restraint. I'd never heard it played that way before - with such a cool hand.

Two -Turkish cherry and vanilla jam from Marks and Spencers - on toast with good butter every morning :)

Three - Monsoon thunderstorms while cupping hot tea/milo or while eating a hot meal indoors.

Four - Walks with Mr Grey - we spotted a little grey heron that day!

Five - piano lessons. This week's one went well!

Six - Sungei Buloh with the church mates. Not a single mozzie bite and we saw a monster monitor lizard.

Now reading John Stott's "The Message of Acts" - filled with scholarly explanations and I love how he's drawing out the background to Acts so clearly. Did everyone know that the line in the Mars Hill sermon "in him we live and move and have our being" was drawn from a Greek poem? I didn't - apparently Mr Grey did; he's annoyingly stuffed with trivia like that. Also, goodness me, that sermon at Areopagus has to be the most un-PC sermon ever.

Struggling and walking through problems together with some girls from church and I'm reminded all over again about the importance of being rooted in a faithful congregation of believers.