Tag Archives: garlic

“Sunday Gravy”

5 Mar


A bowl of Sunday Gravy

A bowl of Sunday Gravy

Occasionally in life you meet someone who truly changes your life. This happened to me in 1998 when I decided the time was right to buy a house. On the advice of a friend, I met with a realtor, Phyllis Harb, who took me on as a client. Two and a half dizzying weeks later I found myself in escrow on a beat up but amazing old fixer-upper that is probably the house in which I will die.

Finding the house and fixing it up is a story for another day.  And if that were my only interaction with Phyllis, I would be blessed because not only has the house changed my life, she is an amazing person who guides you through a very stressful time.  Thankfully that was not my only interaction with her.  Over the years she has become a dear and trusted friend.  Phyllis is one of the more thoughtful and generous persons I’ve ever met.

Phyllis herself has a wonderful home and once a year or so she will have a few ‘former clients’ over for cocktails and dinner.  Last year about ten of us showed up for her version of what East Coast Italians call ‘Sunday Gravy’, a meat laden tomato sauce Esquire described as “A sacred meal for a sacred day born in the kitchen of an Italian-American family.”

Phyllis's kitchen during the process

Phyllis’ kitchen during the process

As any follower of this blog knows, I love tomatoes and love me a great tomato sauce. I’ve already done posts on tomato sauce here and here and here. When Phyllis served us this deep rich sauce over pasta, however,  I knew I was going to do another post because when I took my first bite, I thought I was going to die. It was so @#%#$ good!! Once again, Phyllis changed my life. I told her that night she had to teach me how to make it and she readily agreed.

Just a few of the ingredients

Just a few of the ingredients


Two pots toward the end of the process.

This is an amazing sauce. It’s incredibly thick, marvelously so. Packed with meat, it has a rich, divine flavor. I served a batch on Oscar night and everyone at my house declared it the best red sauce they had ever eaten. It truly is that good.

For more great pictures and the incredible recipe, click here: Continue reading

“Never, Ever, Ever….” Vol II

8 Mar

When I posted Never, Ever, Ever Vol I, my dear friend Jan emailed to say I made her feel guilty. Given my Catholic upbringing, my response was… success! So, here to heap yet more guilt upon you, I give you Vol. II.

Never, ever, ever buy broth. Ever. Seriously. Don’t do it.

You talkin’ to me?

This means you. Never do it.

Most important fact first: homemade broth is hands down the easiest thing you can do in the kitchen. I’m not asking you to engage in some wild Martha Stewart craziness like wallpaper your office with leftover magazine covers you first have to dye or, horrors, make a gingerbread house. Making broth at home is easy. Even easier than vinaigrette, subject of the previous guilt inducing post. As with vinaigrette, broth made at home is infinitely better, in every way, than even the best store bought broth. It saves you money and it’s better for your body and it’s better for the environment AND it tastes much better, both the broth and anything you make with it. That’s a lot of ‘ands’, all worth making your own.

Did I mention how good it tastes? I doubt anyone would open a can of Swanson’s and drink it. Yet that’s what I do every time I make homemade broth. I drink some of it from a cup by itself, it’s that good.

Even with my crappy iPhone camera you can see a big difference between the clear, pure homemade broth on the left and an expensive store bought, pasteurized version on the right:

Compare 2

Homemade broth vs. store bought

Did I mention it was easy? While I’ve included some longer instructions below, this is all you need to know:

Throw a bunch of stuff in a pot, bring it to a boil, turn it down, let it simmer, strain it… broth! That’s it. 


A pot of broth simmering on the stove

It’s also, dare I say it? Fun. There are few things I have come to enjoy more in the kitchen than making broth. Chicken broth, beef broth, vegetable broth, mushroom broth… it’s effortless yet very satisfying. I first discovered the brilliance of homemade broth when learning to make risotto. I love me some risotto, all kinds. People like to create a bunch of drama about risotto but it isn’t that difficult. One evening I made risotto with my own broth rather than from the store. The difference was amazing. So I dove into making broth.

Continue reading

Best. Guacamole. Ever.

15 Feb

While I genuinely feel very sorry for the avocado haters, given the incredible wonderfulness they miss on a daily basis, ultimately, who cares. I mean, seriously: more for me. And while I am all over simply cutting an avocado in half, sprinkling on a little salt, a dash of Tapatio, and inhaling said avocado, few things in this world bring me such joy as a good batch of Guacamole.

Guac 5

I guess this is part of my Texas/Tex-Mex roots. I’ve been a fanatic for guacamole since, well, ever. Over the years I have played around with various ways of making it until finally, a couple of years ago, I landed on the perfect combination. You need a few important staples in your cabinet and one very important ‘piece of machinery’ but if you, like me, go crazy for guacamole, do yourself a favor: get what is needed, follow the steps below and you will end up with the Best. Guacamole. Ever.

Click here to continue and find out how!

“Never, Ever, Ever….” Vol I

7 Apr

According to The Internet, which is never wrong, salad dressing probably kinda/sorta came into being about 2000 years ago when the lovely people of Babylonia began to use oil and vinegar to dress lettuce. I’m glad someone started the trend. See, I’m a rabbit: I not only love salad, I love just lettuce. All kinds of lettuce, every kind. I even love iceberg lettuce, such great texture, what a wonderful crunch. While I love eating all kinds of lettuce naked, I also love a good salad dressing. This leads to the first in a series subtly entitled “Never, ever, ever!”

Never, ever, ever buy salad dressing in a bottle. Ever.  

There’s only one reason to think you should buy salad dressing in a bottle, which is ease. Come on Tom, seriously. I don’t have all kinds of time. It’s so easy. I pick it up at the store, I crack open the bottle, I pour it on some lettuce, instant salad. 

Um, No.

With a little initial prep, almost the same amount of ease gives you a dressing that is much healthier than anything you can get in a bottle. So making it at home makes much more sense. Plus, it tastes infinitely better. Trust me, do this once and you won’t go back. You have to go to the store to buy the bottled dressing. Instead, while at the store, buy a few of products to have on hand for prep and you are ready, anytime, to make your own dressing. Eventually, you won’t even be able to use a bottled dressing as you’ll begin to taste the chemicals and processing. Making your own salad dressing, along with broth, an upcoming post, and tomato sauce, an upcoming post, are the easiest first steps to transforming your cooking, kitchen and eating habits. Plus, I’ll say it again, homemade dressing tastes so much better. You don’t have to love cooking or being in the kitchen to ease your way into your own dressing. And my homemade vinaigrette is, well, incredible. And versatile… it’s great on it’s own but you can also use it as the basis for a number of other dressings. It’s so easy. Here we go:

Click here for the how to!


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