Wednesday, October 9, 2013


The prodigal chef returns. 
Obviously, I have not made this blog a priority.  There are several reasons, some of them petty, some of them dreamy, and some of them practical.  The main reason that I do not write about food anymore is that I have shown very little creativity with it the past year.  I've been boring to a large extent, but another truth is that once a man has 50 original and excellent recipes, he does not need many more.  On those rare days I am not laid up with food poisoning yet again or out in the mountains (now as a group leader and organizer often), I just whip up something I have been craving for months, already documented here in the old posts.  

There was an exception recently though, when a dented can of beets (29 cents!) reminded me that I used to slave over the stove some rare nights to make "maroonara" sauce; a beet-tomato blend that goes amazing over eggplant and pasta.  Well, I was struck by a sudden epiphany and realized I wanted that sauce, and that canned beets would be easier.  They sure were.  The result was better than ever thanks to Herbs de Provence.  Here is the easy recipe:

Maroonara Sauce

Simmer over stove on low-medium heat for 30 min or so: 

1 can tomato sauce (unseasoned)
1/2 can beets (take a potato masher to them, or use a fork to chop them up)
 3-4 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tspn balsalmic vinegar
Herbs de Provence
Garlic powder
Onion powder
White pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes

That's it.  I had delicious pasta for a week.  As a matter of fact, I am making another small pot of this lovely little sauce right now.  Try it with a few shavings of your favorite mid-price cheese.  I am using fontinella right now, but want to try feta as well.  I also suggest a few pistachios, which as I've said before, is a luxury on pasta.  You can't beat 5 gourmet meals in a week for under $3 total!

But here is where this article gets truly interesting- are you ready?  I was out of tomato paste one night while making a pizza, which sounded delicious beyond the bounds of depression (which does come on when mountain season ends, a man has dealt with lingering foot problems all summer, he's constantly getting sick, a check for 4 figures has disappeared in the mail, and his car has been in the shop for a week while waiting for $10 worth of teeny bolts to be shipped to his mechanic for a not-that-serious repair).  (Long sentences and bad punctuation: how did you do all these months without them?!)  Well, rather than walk to the grocery for a second time that day I decided to try my maroonara sauce on the pizza.  I hesitated because that would burn up half my reserves, but live a little, you know?  Its easy to make more.

That pizza was another in my recent line of successes.  I have had several of the best pizzas of my life this year, all in a row.  My "Beetza" was by far the best though.  Tangy, and a little exotic, I wolfed it down in a single sitting.  I am going to make another Beetza soon.  Here is the recipe below.  It too is easy.

Make your favorite dough and get it laid out flat.  I am doing just a plain wheat dough right now because it rises better than other rarer flours I like to play with.  I use 50-50 split of whole wheat and white flour.  

Spread maroonara sauce liberally, and then choose your toppings and cheeses.  For my exact picks, read the next paragraph.

then sprinkle over freshly washed sprouts (my mix is alfalfa, cabbage, Chinese red cabbage, radish, and clover and I grow them myself).  Then sprinkle your Herbs de Provence- not too heavily because it is in the sauce too.  Then toppings: 1/3 of a zucchini, julienned, 1/4 of a red bell pepper, diced, a handful of diced black olives, 12 slices pepperoni, a few pinches of pineapple, and 3 oz mozzarella cheese.

My other pizza glories were using white sauce.  You can buy a Soup Starter at the store that is a basil alfredo base.  As a soup, I think its paltry, or as a sauce over noodles.  But on a pizza with plenty of fresh tomatoes, zuchini, peppers, olives, and spinach leaves, with a bold cheese mix such as cheddar and parmesan, it is really excellent. 

Well, this was fun- and shockingly short for me.  There may be hope for me yet.  I hope the 3 or 4 people who still remember Camila and I ever existed as Internet muses, or sprites, of spirits, or whatever, and who come across this post will enjoy these easy ways to sneak beets into the diet.  The only thing better is the Beet Beer from the Beers of the Apocalypse Series, but that is off the market now, I believe.  Stay tuned, because I will surely write another article within the next twelve months.

Probably a tribute to pumpkin in the next thirty days I think.  After my first pumpkin ravioli from scratch.