Tuesday, July 26, 2016


{These French recipes are from a French cookbook called La Cuisine:  Guide Practique de la Ménagère by Chef R. Blondeau.  This book was passed down to me from my great-grandmother, who was from Alsace, a North-eastern region on the Rhine river plain in France.  It was published in 1930 as a guide for cooks hired to cook for a family.

 I am translating the recipes from French, testing them out with home-grown or raised food, and re-writing them in a modern format, with notes about what worked for me in the kitchen} 

*     *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

That's tomato sauce, in case you couldn't tell....as I have mentioned before, I only had a few large tomato plants this year - mostly we have gotten by with Matt's Wild Cherry tomatoes (15 of them).  They are much more work to pick (and you have to pluck off the green tops, too), but they have so much flavor, and are so much less work as far as keeping the caterpillars away.  Usually every evening after I milk, I am in the garden picking army worms off of the tomatoes.  They are a numerous foe, and generally I win the wars but lose the battle (I would still rather hang out in the tomato jungle and find lots of caterpillars to feed the happy chickens than use sprays, even "organic" ones like Bt).

We get a few of the horn worms that everyone always complains about, and I would much rather have them.  They do very obvious damage on the plant, and get very large and easy to see, and turn into a lovely moth that I have always admired.  I usually relocate them to the wild nightshades when I find them.  Army worms are sneaky - they are small for a long time, and hide in the foliage.  If you disturb them, they drop off and hide in the mulch.  They target the fruit, and make ugly rotting holes in perfectly good tomatoes.  They also ate up my cabbage, collards, potatoes and calendula this year.  It was very annoying.

Somehow the Matt's Wild Cherry is resistant to them.  Either they have stronger biochemistry, or the army worms can't keep up with the loofa-vine like growth habit they have, but we have been slammed by cherry tomatoes this summer.  We have to spend about an hour picking every other day to keep the vines picked, and even then there are some that are missed and spoil.  This yields a shocking amount of tomato, and you can only eat so many tomato salads, even if they are creatively put together!  So naturally we have been making sauce.

SAUCE TOMATE (direct translation)
Wash six large tomatoes, cut them in pieces, put them into a pot with a bay leaf, a sprig of thyme, a head of garlic, and an onion cut into rounds.

Cook over a low fire, without water.

Watch over the pot, and stir the tomatoes minute by minute, so that they don't stick to the bottom of the pan.

When they have given up all their juice, pass your sauce through a strainer with a pestle, to remove the seeds and skins.

Put back over the fire : add salt, pepper, a pat of butter, and leave to simmer for twenty minutes.

It was not difficult to change the recipe to also accommodate cherry tomatoes.  I tried for Estimated Tomato Volume (I eye-balled it).

The sauce was very good, and, not totally surprising, reminded me of the little pizzas we had bought at the market in Nice when we were there (when I stayed there when I was a child, my aunt always cooked and we hardly ate things like that).  It was the herbs, I think.

Also, a Foley Food Mill, which is what I imagine the "strainer and pestle" refers to, is invaluable not only for this recipe, but also for anything that requires straining/puréeing.

Tomato Sauce

6 large tomatoes, washed and chopped into pieces
A bay leaf

A sprig of thyme

1 head of garlic, peeled

1 onion, sliced into rounds

salt and pepper

1 teaspoon butter

1.  Put the tomato pieces, bay leaf, thyme, garlic and onion rounds into a pot, and cook over a low fire.

2.  Stir often, to keep the tomatoes from sticking.  Cook until the juice has been released from the tomato pieces, and they are soft.

3.  Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprig.  Put tomatoes through a food mill (see above), or you could try using a wooden spoon and a fine-mesh strainer to remove the seeds and peels.

4.  Put the resulting sauce back into the pot over a low fire.  Season with salt and pepper, and add the butter.  Cook slowly for twenty minutes more.

No comments:

Post a Comment