Neapolitan Pizza Sauce

May 14, 2015

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I’m just back from Sorrento, which is pizza country, pizza centrale, where the thin, crispy, wood oven-baked pizza that we all love, Neapolitan-style, comes from.

If there’s one thing in the world that I love as much as tacos, it’s pizza.

I thought I knew all there was to know about pizza. I’ve been making homemade pizza since the Denton Piggly Wiggly started stocking Chef Boyardee in the bright yellow box. I remember thinking back then that my Friday night pizzas were the best thing ever.

Then I had pizza in college at a place in Columbia, Missouri where they tossed the dough in the air, with artful grace and a bit of a swirl. Already this seemed like a more sophisticated pizza pie than the ones I’d known.

Years later, I fell madly in love with an Italian, then the entire country of Italy, and after a few years of flying back and forth to Florence and Rome and eating more pizzas Margherita than I could count, my pizza-making really improved. I made my own dough and sauce and threw pizza parties for my Dallas friends.

So when I asked the chef at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento about how much garlic he put in the sauce — and with some arrogance, mind you, because I knew pizza, right? — he abruptly stopped his dough-kneading demonstration.

“Aglio?!” he said, stunned, stopped in his pizza-making tracks. “No! Never.”

His sauce, he explained, was simply tomatoes — canned San Marzano — and basil. No garlic. No oregano.

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Humbled once more — the more I know, or the more I think I know, the more I realize I don’t know anydamnthing at all  —  I decided to give it a try back home in Paris. I puréed a large can of whole tomatoes, fresh basil, and a pinch of sea salt in my blender, then poured it into a saucepan to let it reduce a little bit.

It tasted nothing like any other sauce I’d made before, and very much like the one I’d just had in Sorrento. O. Happy. Day.

 

Coming up next: the dough.

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Mon Petit Jardin

May 4, 2015

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Last week, my friend Cat brought me some herbs from Normandy, and I thought, “Excellent! I can put these right outside of my kitchen window in a sweet little window box and that’ll be so handy!” Then I realized the dryer won’t let my large vertical window open more than a few inches, so I decided to put my herbs in my living room, which turned out to be a great idea.

I’m hoping that since I have them next to the window, which is open most of the time, anyway, they’ll think they’re outside and be just fine. Right now I’ve got basil, thyme, mint, chives and rosemary, and I’d like to find some oregano, but so far I’ve not seen any.

I scored this vintage galvanized wash bucket at the Porte de Vanves flea market last weekend while I was taking a couple from Richardson on my Brocantes, Bistros and Baguettes tour. I didn’t want to buy new terra cotta pots at the hardware store and was looking for something old that would work as a planter, but I wasn’t sure what. This bucket turned out to be just the right size. It’s much smaller than what you find in the U.S, and it’s well-used. I turned it over and looked at the bottom and you can see where it was put on an open flame and used to boil water for washing clothes.

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I hope my herbs will be happy now that they can stretch out their legs. I was a little worried about their feet staying too wet, but I bought these little clay balls at the Bricolex and poured them into the bottom of the bucket. Hopefully this will provide the drainage the herbs will need as they grow.

Pesto, pesto, pesto.

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Rose

April 27, 2015

Rose has become a Frisbee dog. When she was first learning to catch the it’s-not-a-ball (!) but flying disc at the little park down the street from where we were living in Santa Fe, she’d quickly get tired and declare the Frisbee fetch over. Now we play every afternoon at the Bois de Boulogne and […]

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Roasted Potatoes with Ramp Pesto

April 7, 2015

“Hello, Texas!” shouted the vendor at my new favorite vegetable stand when he saw me walk past with my dog Rose in tow. I waved back.  “Bonjour! Ca va?” I said, and took my place at the back of the line. Then I saw these gorgeous green leaves popping out of the corner of the box of deep […]

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Lazy Bones Salad

April 3, 2015

About a half-bag of roquette. Parmesan curls. A small handful of pine nuts, lightly toasted. Some balsamic vinegar and good olive oil. The add-ons: leftover olive fougasse, warmed in the oven till crisp, and the end of the baguette from the day before that, with fresh chèvre and oven-roasted cherry tomatoes. Perfect for those nights when […]

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Almost Salade Nicoise

March 20, 2015

Of course, if this were an authentic salade Nicoise, there would be potatoes. There would also be anchovies.  Haricots verts. Maybe some tomatoes. And the olives would not be Kalamata, which these are; rather, the smaller Nicoise. So I know this is something else, but it is very close, and more than that, it’s really good, […]

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Broccoli Spinach Soup with Lime

February 27, 2015

Because I can be a little obsessive, and because I love broccoli and spinach, this soup has both. Maybe I just forgot about all the rain and gray, but I don’t remember such a wet patch like the one we’ve been having and are still in the midst of. It’s been messy. And mostly cold, but […]

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Washing Machine Cinnamon Biscuits

February 5, 2015

It has been gray and cold in Paris, with crazy days of rain and snow mixed together, and I have been thinking about what I could bake — toxic oven fumes be damned! — to warm up my insides. Naturally, biscuits came to mind. (Biscuits, I love you more than ice cream. No, that’s not […]

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French Toast

January 31, 2015

I’ve been putting off writing a post until I felt better. About everything. It has not been an easy reentry to life in Paris. I still don’t know how to write about the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the other horrific acts of terrorism that followed. Am I okay? People still ask this a lot. No. I’m […]

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Ho Ho Ho.

December 24, 2014

In case you’ve wondered where I’ve been, that’s a long story. Let’s just say that I’m glad this year is almost over. 2014, get outta here. Scram, you. It wasn’t all terrible, though. I wrapped up the year with a fabulous weekend at Lake Austin Spa Resort, which, no matter what, always seems to put […]

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