I made sauce last night because I wanted to cook it for a looooooooooooong time. The secret to a good marinara is carrots. I cook them down with garlic and the onions just to add some sweetness. Then I add: tomato puree, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (Italian style), and tomato paste to thicken. I also wash out the cans with some water and add that to the pot.
Another thing that makes a good sauce: cook it as long as possible. After it simmered on the stove for a few hours, I transferred it to the Crock Pot and went to bed. And then I let it cook all day while I was at work. So almost 24 hours later, all the flavors and seasoning (salt, pepper, basil, oregano) married together beautifully.
The other rule to live by...
When you're cooking Italian, keep it simple. That's true Italian -- cheese, tomatoes, carbs of some sort. There's always garlic, and there's often basil or oregano - but there is not much need to add several spices to your sauce. Simplicity is perfection.
Moment of truth (drum roll please):
The ravioli were....ok. Really doughy. I know it takes a lot of practice, but I'm also blaming this on Colorado. The dryness at this altitude sucks. I think it turned my dough into cardboard. They were not inedible - but they weren't Ethel's. Jon says by the time I'm a grandma I'll have it down to a science. I hope I don't have to wait that long!
We opened presents, too. I'm spoiled. It's ridiculous. Jon got me SO MANY cooking gifts, I think I'll just have to make a career out of this. A spring form pan, Bon Appetit's cookbook, Bon Appetit's DESSERT cookbook, a cookbook called "Bon Appetit Y'all" - a gourmet take on Southern food, a ceramic baking dish (PERFECT for lasagna), individual ceramic soup pots (great for French onion soup and individual pot pies!), and a cookbook stand. (note: this does not include the perfume, the Bath and Body Works Ensemble, and the amazing bath robe set --- I told you. I'm spoiled.)
The children did not go unnoticed.
Santa stopped by and left some coal in Jack's stocking. Much deserved.
Zeus got several toys, but this is just my favorite picture. He's technically not supposed to be on the couch. You try to resist him and get back to me.
So then, it was time for dessert. Last night I made a peppermint pie, a recipe that was ALMOST guilt free and stolen from Hungry Girl. Click here so you can steal it too.
I served it up with some REALLY rich hot cocoa. The recipe for the pie includes sweetened condensed milk and I had some left over. So I thinned it out with some skim milk, added some milk chocolate, whisked it together with some cinnamon and vanilla and topped it all off with whipped cream and crushed candy canes.
So that's all for Megan and Jon's Christmas Celebration 2010. Stay tuned for a Brocato family Christmas post including my dad's famous bruciuluni (braciole, to all your main stream Italians - bruciuluni is the Sicililan pronunciation).
I'm off to Chicago tomorrow - hopefully Jon has enough to eat!
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!