Muir Glen Cooking School Part 6
This week we've got tips for pizza, an unconventional uncooked tomato sauce, some fancy tomato-topped pate, and an enticing concoction called tomato honey. And don't forget to share your own tomato tips using #muirglencookingschool!
Earlier lessons from the Muir Glen Cooking School:
Introducing The Muir Glen Cooking School: Part 1
The Muir Glen Cooking School: Part 2
Salsa, Italian Tricks, and More: The Muir Glen Cooking School, Part 3
Bisque, Marinara, and Debunking Grandma: The Muir Glen Cooking School, Part 4
Confit Tomatoes and Eggs in Purgatory: The Muir Glen Cooking School, Part 5
I like to make what I call "uncooked tomato sauce," which is great to make ahead and serve over pasta. Take a can of whole tomatoes, drain and discard the juice (or save it for another use), and puree with a blender and place into a mixing bowl. Sautee a medium onion in olive oil. When it's golden brown, add it to the pureed tomatoes. Stir in half a cup of chopped fresh basil. Cover with plastic wrap and leave out overnight. Absolutely do not refrigerate. In order to keep the dish hot, before serving over your favorite pasta, heat in a saucepan on the stovetop for a couple of minutes. After plating, sprinkle some romano cheese on top.
-Paulie Gee, Chef and Owner, Paulie Gee's, Brooklyn
I love using fire-roasted tomatoes, because of the smokiness that they add to a recipe. Also, those aren't as acidic, so they are better in quick cooking recipes. Off season or in a hurry, roast whole canned tomatoes (drained, cut in half, take seeds out) with olive oil, fresh herbs and smashed garlic. Roast in 375 degree oven for just under an hour or until the tomatoes are shriveled with a little color.
What do you do with the leftover juice from a can of tomatoes? We make what we call tomato honey. We take the tomato juice and we add whatever fresh herbs we like: it could be thyme, bay leaf, rosemary, whatever you like and have around, and then bring it to a simmer in a non-reactive pan. Then cook it down, stirring frequently, until it starts to thicken. It should coat the back of a spoon when it's done. What you end up with it looks like a shiny, dark honey. Then strain it, cool it, and then use it like honey: drizzle it on cheese, mushroom pizza, foie gras, salami or proscuitto!
Here's a great way to eat a smooth liver mousse, inspired by Georges Blanc. Make or buy your favorite liver pate or mousse recipe. Pack it into several 4oz canning jars. Add a thin layer of an aioli-based, finely chopped egg salad (make it about 1/2 egg and 1/2 aioli). Then add a layer of thick tomato sauce. To make the sauce, sweat a generous amount of diced shallots with a bit of salt in olive oil until they are tender. Add pureed or finely chopped canned Muir Glen tomatoes (including their liquid) to the shallots. To serve 4, use 2 large shallots, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 cup of tomatoes. Stew until the flavor melds into a pleasant tomato sauce and the tomatoes have reduced by about 1/2 (about 15 minutes). Serve with grilled bread.
-Paul Berglund, The Bachelor Farmer, Minneapolis
We tend to use canned tomatoes for our basic tomato sauce. We sautee garlic, carrots, and celery, and we take that as a base. It's the Italian sofrito, we'll take that and cook baby fennel in it until it's really soft and tender, and we sometimes add chili flakes. You can fancy up the recipe really easily if you add some toasted brown fennel and/or white wine. You can do a quick style ragu using that basic recipe, as long as you're using good canned tomatoes: take ground sausage or spicy sausage out of the casing, brown it, and add some of that basic tomato sauce, some rigatoni or orichiette, penne, or any short, thick noodle, and add a little pasta water. You end up with a simmered ragu that tastes like it took a really long time to make. Also, if you have some black mussels and add that basic tomato sauce and white wine, oregano, basil, and chili flakes, you can just cover it and simmer it until the mussels open up, add a little water to make it a cioppino-like sauce to make it not too thick, and serve it with crusty or toasted bread.Drizzle some olive oil on top of the whole thing and you're living large!
-Matt Molina, Executive Chef, The Mozza Group, Los Angeles, Singapore
I use canned tomatoes to make a simple tomato pudding. Pour a 28 oz. can of tomatoes into a medium size mixing bowl and break them up with a large spoon. You don't have to crush them but break them open. Put 3/4 cup sugar on top of the tomatoes, then add the bread (at the restaurant we use brioche and a slice of day-old cornbread). Now pour in a 1/4 cup melted butter, salt and black pepper, and pour into a buttered casserole dish.Make sure you pay close attention to the order you combine the ingredients: the butter goes on the bread before everything is folded together. This helps you get that golden brown toasty flavor out of the dish. Bake it at 375 until bubbly and golden brown. Beware of tarting up the dish with fresh herbs or tomatoes. It is what it is: simple and delicious!
-Robert Stehling, Chef, Hominy Grill, Charleston, SC
Here's a tip for pizza: just mill the canned tomatoes, adding a little grated garlic, chopped oregano and salt and slather that mixture onto the pie. This way, the tomatoes cook into the dough, and maintain their acidity.
-Justin Smillie, Executive Chef, Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria, New York