Sunday Dinner (from scratch)

The original plan today was to go down to the beach, but schedules didn’t quite sync, and by the time we would have been ready, there would have been a line of cars waiting to get in. Besides, we had some errands to run (namely, return a shower head and buy the supplies to make a dress form).

With a whole day ahead of us and myself being woefully short the supplies to build a TARDIS, I decided to focus on dinner. I love to eat; I love to cook, and I love pushing myself to rely as little as possible on store-bought items. Part of that stems from a desire to avoid the long list of additives, and the other, larger part, is all about the bragging rights. I mean, obviously, I blog about this stuff all the time, right?

Sundays always make me think of early pasta dinners. And donuts. But I didn’t have donuts.

What I did have were 2 lbs of Roma tomatoes, garlic, spices, broccoli, some chicken sausages, flour, eggs, and salt. In other words, I had everything I needed for a scrumptious Sunday dinner…made from scratch. For bragging rights.

The sauce is easy; I’ve done it before. The first time, I used my cousin Vinny’s recipe and technique, which yielded delicious results, as expected. Eric liked it, too. Today, however, I had a whole lot of tomatoes, and I wanted to make something a little bit thicker that I could freeze and use like canned sauce later. So I kept the seeds, blended everything, and I added a little bit of cornstarch to thicken it up. It came out great. There is nothing quite like fresh sauce.

The sauce: Cut slits in the tomatoes (the shape of an X) and stew in near-boiling water for about 4 or 5 minutes. Check one to make sure the skin comes off easily. If it does, place them in cold water, so you don’t burn yourself! Peel the tomatoes, chop them up, and throw them in the blender. Add a teaspoon of garlic, some onion powder, some Italian spices, a couple of squirts of balsamic vinegar, and if you want, a pinch of cornstarch. Blend it. Done!

The new part, though, was finally using the pasta maker that Eric got me for my birthday this year. It’s just been sitting in its box in the kitchen, looking at me forlornly every time I walked by. Not today! I pulled that sucker out today and made my first-ever batch of fresh pasta, too.

Flour, eggs, a pinch of salt, and some olive oil – that was it. The pasta maker was great; it’s not electric. It’s a Marcato Atlas 150, crank powered, but still easier than rolling out the dough and cutting it by hand.

The pasta: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour and salt go in a bowl – mix these together. Lightly beat three eggs and pour them into the middle of the flour. Mix this as much as you can; if it doesn’t mix well, add some water or olive oil. I still had some wheat flour that was stubborn and didn’t mix. That’s okay. There was still plenty. Follow the directions on your pasta maker, dry pasta for about an hour, then cook desired amount for 2 minutes. Voila.

Then I sauteed some broccoli and those sausages, let the sauce simmer, and after about an hour of drying, I cooked up half of the pasta I made today. It was amazingly fresh. The pasta absorbed the sauce better than anything I’ve cooked from the store; it was salty and chewy, and the sauce was very fresh. All in all, I think it was one of the better Sunday dinners I’ve made.

It was a great way to end the weekend and get ready for the week. Especially one where I have to start my days at 4am.

Now…what for dessert? Oh, I know…some cookies!

PICTURES!