Time sure does fly– here I am into week eight of tech, with two of the eight major cooking assessments completed. I passed both – disappointingly, there is only pass and fail this year so not sure if they were at distinction level or not. My inner geek wishes there was a grade put next to each assessment so you can aim to better it next time around. One thing I’ve learnt in the assessment process is why cooking show contestants get so flustered – it’s nerve wracking when the result really does matter. At one point last week, I found my hands shaking – completely irrational as I had oodles of time to repeat anything I wasn’t happy with (a luxury not afforded on Master Chef). We’d made each of the test dishes twice before, so it wasn’t like they weren’t familiar. I’ve cooked for massive dinner parties and presented to conferences abroad with less anxiety. Thankfully test day two saw fewer nerves, so I’m hoping they subside almost completely as we get further into the course. Someone asked me last week what I’ve learnt so far. Some days are full of basics (boning a chicken), tips (deep frying herbs such as basil for garnishes) and tricks (add a few drops of cold water to curdled mayo) that make the day interesting and increase my skills. I am already thinking differently about food prep and my repertoire is growing. Other days I learn very little that is new, but, that’s OK as it’s solidifying my knowledge and reassuring that I’ve been teaching and cooking the right way. So, I’m feeling confident that the gamble to take a year out and go to school has been a good one. Today’s recipe is certainly basic – but not one from school, one from that little know chef extraordinaire, my Dad. As I’ve mentioned before, he has a handful of recipes up his sleeve. None are written down and you’re taking your life into your hands if you try to walk into the kitchen while he is executing them. Not because he doesn’t want to share the recipe, he likes his space (I’ll leave it at that). For the first time in years, my tomato patch is laden. I’m giving them away to anyone who wants them and more appear the next day. The sun Gods are still shining here in Wellington so the little red beauties are continuing to ripen nicely. This is such a basic tomato sauce that I’m almost embarrassed to post it. However, whenever I make it, people rave. So, here you go.
What you’ll need
Olive oil (optional)
Fresh tomatoes – whatever you have at hand
Freshly ground pepper
How to make it Remove the eyes from the tomatoes and chop tomatoes in halves or quarters (roughly). If you want to be flash, you can remove the skins (*see below for how to do this – I rarely do when they are from my garden). Heat a small splash of olive oil in a saucepan – although this step is not necessary. You can just put the tomatoes straight into the pan. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time. The tomatoes will reduce down – this make take 30ish (or more) minutes if you have a large amount of tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with almost whatever you are eating. One of my all time favourite breakfasts is this sauce on a slice or two of Vogels. I used this base as a quick poaching liquid for the husband’s lunch yesterday. He’s doing the 5/2 eating plan*, so we’re always looking for filling but low-cal food options. I simply put the reduced tomatoes into a fry pan, chopped 100g of fish in two, popped them on top of the liquid, covered with a lid and poached for four-five minutes. I’m assured it tasted divine despite the few ingredients and no added fat (I went for the oil free option). The sauce be made in winter with tinned tomatoes – they taste great as well, but not quite as good at organic tomatoes from your own (or neighbour’s) garden. *If you want to remove the skins from the tomatoes, simply score the tops and pop into water that has boiled and is simmering, for about 20 seconds. They skins will easily peel off. * *I, too tried the 5/2. Was training for a half marathon at the time and had just stared at Chef School. It was always going to be tough. Am not ashamed to say that I gave up. Let’s just say it was a good decision for everyone’s sake!