Homemade Pizza Sauce

DonQui is pleased that he has just about mastered the art of making a good pizza base but what about the toppings? DonQui’s current favourites are tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, basil, olives, capers and anchovies.

While he will vary these from time to time, the key is the tomato sauce.

 

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DonQui Oaty admires his handiwork

This is how he makes it:

Ingredients for 2 individual pizzas

1 400 g tin of San Marzano tomatoes

a pinch of salt

1 crushed garlic clove (optional)

a bunch of herbs — basil or oregano (optional)

San Marzano tomatoes are a unique southern Italian variety grown on the slopes of Mt Vesuvius near Naples. They are meatier than most other varieties with less seeds and less acidity. They, therefore, make perfect pasta and pizza sauces. Even though tinned, the taste is so sweet and fresh that DonQui prefers not to pre-cook it before putting it on his pizza.

DonQui orders his from Amazon and although more expensive than normal plum tomatoes they are not a hugely extravagant purchase.

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DOP San  Marzano tomatoes

The variety is protected in the EU by the denominazione di origine controllata (DOC). This protection does not extend to some non-EU countries.  In the USA many of the canned tomatoes sold as ‘San Marzano’ (often at very high prices) are nothing like the real thing.

Method

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Gently fry the crushed garlic

If using garlic (he does not always add it), DonQui likes to gently fry it in olive oil until it becomes fragrant but before it colours. This takes down the pungent rawness that can be a bit overpowering in a sauce.

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Drained tomatoes, salt, herbs and garlic in the blender

Drain the tomatoes and put them in a food processor/blender along with the salt and any herbs. If using basil you can use stalks as well as leaves. Add the garlic along with the oil it was cooked in.

 

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The blended mixture

Whizz it all up until it is blended. It does not have to be completely smooth.

If you do not have, or do not want to use, a food processor you can crush the ingredients together with a mortar and pestle.

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Drain the mixture to make it thicker

Tip the mixture into a strainer to drain a little more.   If the sauce is too watery then it may make a thin dough crust a bit soggy.  You could thicken it up with a bit of concentrated tomato purée (tomato paste) but this will alter the taste as the highly processed concentrate can take away from the fresh taste of the San Marzano tomatoes.

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Spread the tomato sauce over the pizza base with the back of a wooden spoon.

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Add your favourite toppings and put in the pre-heated oven at maximum temperature (250º+), ideally on a pizza stone (which radiates the heat). Then bake for  6 minutes or until the cheese is nicely melted and bubbling but before it burns.

Then enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooking like a Sicilian

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Getting ready to cook

DonQui has the opportunity to try his hand at Sicilian cooking under the watchful eyes of the chefs from Duca di Castelmonte, near Trapani.

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Duca di Castelmonte

Duca di Castlemonte is an old farm estate now converted into an excellent country restaurant and guest house. 

DonQui Oaty’s first lesson is in making a traditional Sicilian spiral pasta (busiate).

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Roll out a thin finger of dough

This is done by rolling out a thin finger of dough then gently rolling it around a wooden stick to produce an elegant spiral. The stick is first dipped in flour to stop the dough from sticking to it.

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Make the spiral by rolling it around a kebab stick

DonQui takes his time with the first one, learning that it is best to make them quite thin and not too long.

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DonQui begins to get the hang of it

Once he gets the hang of it he is able to produce them with confidence but it is a time consuming process which would be best done with several willing helpers. DonQui is fortunate that the dough (hard flour and water — no eggs) is pre-made for him.

The sauce is a Trapanese tomato pesto. The ingredients (for two) are:

2 pealed garlic cloves
approximately 2 tablespoons of blanched, lightly roasted almonds.
a small bunch of fresh basil (torn up)
a pinch of salt and pepper
a generous glug of olive oil
pulp of 4 red, ripe tomatoes; peeled, seeded and roughly chopped

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Peel the tomatoes by first immersing them in boiling water

To peel and seed the tomatoes: score the skin in quarters, cover with boiling water for about 5 minutes then let cool. The skins will peel off easily. To de-seed, squeeze the tomato over a bowl and the seeds and excess liquid will come out leaving just the pulp.

Method:

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Use a mortar and pestle to make the pesto

Prepare the pesto by first mashing up the dry ingredients and garlic, with a mortar and pestle, until it forms a sort of paste. Add the torn basil and pound together a bit more until well blended.

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After adding the tomatoes and olive oil

Add the tomato pulp and olive oil then mash it all together until well mixed. Set to one side.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water (You don’t necessarily need to use home-made pasta). Drain and tip out into a bowl and mix in the pesto.

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The completed dish

Serve with a good sprinkling of chopped roasted almonds on top then enjoy.

It is one of the most divine pasta dishes DonQui has had the opportunity to taste. In his view it does not benefit from the addition of cheese.

Spicy Beans and Tomatoes

One of the first things DonQui did when he got home was to check on the state of his allotment.

Now one of the problems of going away on holiday when you grow your own vegetables is that when you come back you find everything choked with weeds.

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This time, however, things seemed in pretty good shape. The beans were still going strong, there were tomatoes nicely ripening along with kale, chard, carrots and onions. And the weeds had not taken over entirely. There were even a second crop of strawberries coming on. Perhaps they thought it was spring again!

So DonQui decided to treat himself to a little homecoming meal of spicy beans and tomatoes from his own produce.

beans and tomatoes

Here is the recipe. You will note that DonQui is not great on measurement as he tends to do things by feel and approximation.

Ingredients
Green beans topped, tailed and cut into small segments. Fine french beans are best but as DonQui had lots of runner beans he used them instead in this case.
Cherry tomatoes cut in half
A couple of spring onions finely sliced.
A handful of super fine soup noodles (optional)
Coconut oil (or you can use other cooking oil)
1 teaspoon cumin seed
Approximately 1 cm of ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/8-1/2 teaspoon hot chilli powder (depending on your heat tolerance, DonQui likes things fairly hot)
1 teaspoon garam marsala
1 small tin coconut cream (160ml)

Method
Step 1. Boil the beans, 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Step 2. Gently fry the onion in the coconut oil until it begins to colour then add cumin seeds, and stir fry for about a minute until the cumin seeds begin to pop. Add the ginger and remaining spices, stir fry for a a few seconds until the spices begin to release their aroma.
Step 3. Add the drained beans, stir fry for a couple of minutes then add the tomato halves and continue to stir fry for a minute or so until they begin to soften but not so long that they fall apart.

Up to this point you can prepare in advance and leave to finish off later.

Step 4. Add the coconut cream, bring to the boil and stir until well mixed. If you are using the noodles then add them to the pan. Then let simmer gently for a couple of minutes with a lid on the pan so that the liquid does not all evaporate. When everything is warmed up then serve. If you do not use the noodles then serve with rice.