The Chef Next Door
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I'm the Cook in the Family
 So, there is a family reunion coming up, or a holiday party, and you are always the one called to:
  • Cook the turkey
  • Bring the dessert (“Can you bring your pecan pie? We all just love it!”)
  • Help with the catering or decorating

Everyone knows you can cook, but you haven’t quite mastered how to make a good gravy or a home-made tomato sauce. Both take a little time to put together, but the outcome is so worth the effort.

Jody’s Favorite Home-Made Gravy

Soak Porcini mushrooms as instructed on package, until soft.
Beef broth
1/2 Finely chopped onion
2 finely minced cloves garlic
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp crushed rosemary
1/8 tsp thyme
pinch nutmeg
1 tsp tomato paste
1 Tsp butter and 1 Tsp flour for roux
salt and pepper to taste
sugar to balance flavors
1/2 cup good red Bordeaux wine (you can use what you have open, as long as it isn’t over a day old)
couple drops liquid smoke

Once the mushrooms have softened, remove them and all of the liquid, taking care not to transfer any of the sand at the bottom.
In 1 Tbsp butter, sauté onions for a few minutes, then include the minced garlic. Continue sautéing until the onions are translucent.
Add the 1 Tbsp flour, and cook for two to three minutes, until the flour is slightly golden.
Add the liquid from the mushrooms, the wine, the liquid smoke, and 1 cup of beef broth.
Bring to a boil, and continue adding broth until you achieve the desired consistency of your gravy.
Add the tsp tomato paste and all of the herbs.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Cook for 15 – 20 minutes until the gravy has reduced, and is smooth.
Add a pat of butter to achieve a velvety smoothness.
Serve immediately in a gravy boat.

Home made tomato sauce

This is so easy and versatile, that I’m surprised whenever I hear that anyone still buys jarred tomato sauce. You can freeze the sauce to use on pizza dough or prepare a quick spaghetti dinner.

Jody’s favorite sauce

1 can tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp parsley
1/8 tsp fennel seed
1 Tbsp sugar (to balance the acidity)
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, finely minced (I like garlic, it’s good for the blood, but you can reduce the number of cloves to 3)
2 cups water
1 cup good red wine (again, don’t let that open bottle go to waste, as long as it’s drinkable)

Sauté the onions and garlic until the onion is translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients, and cook with the lid off, for approximately 30 – 60 minutes. The sauce should be almost as thick as pudding so it doesn’t roll off of the pasta.

Add to your favorite cooked pasta.

  • Tip number one: You can freeze the sauce, so all you have to do is defrost it while you’re cooking pasta.
  • Tip number two: Freeze the sauce in small amounts, (1/2 – ¾ cup) to spread over prepared pizza crust.
  • Tip number three: Serve it as a sauce with mozzarella cheese sticks.
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