Fennel and Leeks

Fennel and Leeks

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tomato-Based Pasta Sauce

There is nothing glamorous about today's post but let's face it, sometimes glamour in the kitchen is overrated. I find it all too easy to ignore recipes that serve as foundations for more complex dishes so I decided to share my recipe for Tomato-Based Pasta Sauce. This recipe is versatile because it can be used with spaghetti, stuffed pasta, eggplant or chicken parmesan, pizza, or with lasagna, which is my favorite application for the sauce. If you are not a fan of fennel, go ahead and leave it out. The sauce is delicious either way.

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup white or yellow onion, chopped
1 28-ounce can San Marzano crushed or diced tomatoes (I prefer this brand but other brands will work)
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1/8 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp parsley flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp fresh oregano or 1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 tsp kosher salt plus one pinch

Heat olive oil in dutch oven on medium heat. Add chopped onion and pinch of kosher salt. Cook until onion is soft and lightly browned. Turn heat to low or medium-low and add crushed tomatoes (undrained), tomato sauce, fennel seed, onion powder, parsley flakes, minced garlic and one tablespoon olive oil (also add oregano if using dried). Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add brown sugar, oregano (if using fresh), basil and one teaspoon kosher salt. Cover and simmer for additional 15 minutes to one hour.

The sauce really only needs to simmer for 30 minutes total in order for flavors to meld but I find that the longer it can simmer, the tastier it becomes. When I have time, I simmer my sauce on low heat for 2 to 3 hours. If you are short on time, it is okay to brown onions and then add all other ingredients at once. If the sauce is thinner than preferred, feel free to add tomato paste. The instructions above are simply my ideal way to prepare the sauce. Enjoy!

Recipe Source:
Kiersten Lovejoy :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mama's Fish House "Papa's Three Fish Sashimi"

Photos Courtesy of Brad Lovejoy

Greetings from sunny Seattle! No, I have not fallen off the face of the earth; I was simply on a different part of the earth for the past three weeks. We were fortunate enough to turn our annual 2-week Maui vacation into a 3-week vacation this year so I have been on hiatus. Maui was as beautiful as ever and the weather was divine. Imagine our excitement when we returned to Seattle to find blue skies and temperatures in the 70s! The skies are clear to match our newly cleared minds.

While on Maui, we had more amazing food than I can begin to mention. There was one particular dining experience that stood out so I decided to share photos and details. Although we stayed put in Kaanapali for most of our vacation, we did make it to one of our favorite Maui towns, Paia. This town is special because of the quaint restaurants and boutiques and because of its internationally known wind surfing beaches. Before taking in the Paia sights, we decided to stop at Mama's Fish House for a pu pu (Hawaiian appetizer) and an award winning Mai Tai cocktail.

We ended up choosing "Papa's Three Fish Sashimi" as our appetizer and it did not disappoint. This was not only one of the most beautiful plates of foods I have ever been served, it was hands down the best sashimi I could imagine. Each type of fish was melt-in-your mouth delicate which was due to the freshness of the fish and the slicing skills of the sushi chefs. The masterful part however, was the balance of flavors the chefs achieved with each preparation. Sashimi is so often overpowered by its accompanying ingredients but this dish was absolute perfection. Each fish was partnered with a different  Hawaiian sea salt; which had their own unique flavors and textures. This added another layer of pleasure to our experience because we were able to sample even more ingredients that were new to us. And yes, the Mai Tai was fabulous. :)

"Papa's Three Fish Sashimi":
Opakapaka with coconut-chili and Molokai sea salt. Ahi with star anise-daikon and Kukui nut salt. Kampachi with pineapple-pomegranate and Hawaii Island black sea salt (listed in order of photos above).