Caution! Slow Food at Play

Caution! Slow Food at Play

I was sitting under my dining room table the other night, leafing through Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Cookbook.


…yes, under the dining room table – you pull out the chairs,  drop a couple of quilts over the whole thing, and load it up with pillows and a flashlight, … And, Belshazzar! you have your very own Dome of Pleasure….um…  Fortress of Solitude. Now, Where I understand the whole concept of Slow Food – Sustainable crops… locally and regionally grown food stuffs… Home prepared dinner as opposed to those glowing arches in the dark. (which are the Devil’s spawn – just so you know).

When it really gets down to it…. it’s just cooking – and getting people that don’t usually prepare something to eat to try and make something from scratch. I find it a sad state of affairs that we have to “Trick” you with Buzz Words and Conceptual Culinary Ideas into pulling out the pots and pans and whipping up something tasty to eat.

If you haven’t spent a lot of time in the kitchen, don’t fret. The recipes I share with you are all easy peasy – lemon squeezey to make..

IF.. you have a rudimentary set of kitchen utensils. You can buy one Here if you don’t.
IF.. you have a basic understanding of weights & measures. You learned it in 8th grade – but if you can’t pull it out of the memory bag, then go Here.
IF .. you have basic Hand  – Eye coordination. Sorry, if you don’t…I really can’t help you.

The key to preparing anything from a recipe is: RGRF – Read, Gather, Read Again, Follow Steps – Trust me

We’ll try a simple recipe today, Vodka Sauce – as I normally prepare it, and then I’ll give it to you again as Slow Food, and lastly, we’ll do it again in a dairy-free version.

Why vodka sauce?
Because it is a versatile use anytime kind of pasta sauce. Simmer pallards of chicken in it, toss it with your favorite ravioli, add it to a cut of beef and make a delicious and impressive Italian Pot Roast.
Because – we can stop the process 1/2 way through, cool it down – then pop it into the freezer and hold it until you have a need for a great hot meal – but really don’t have the time to invest in it.
Because the crap in the jars just really isn’t very good.

My Vodka Sauce

Serves 8 to 10
3-22 Ounce Cans of Petite Diced Tomatoes (or if you shop at Sam’s, 1 #10 can)
3 – Medium White Onions – Peeled and chopped
3 Stalks Celery – Chopped
3 – Cloves of Garlic -Peeled and whole
1 Bunch Fresh Thyme / divided in 2 – or 2 Tablespoons Dried Thyme
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Quart Heavy Cream
3 Cups Vodka (Buy the cheap stuff)
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 Dutch Oven
1 Immersion Blender – or regular food processor

  • Preheat oven to 325
  • Place the Dutch Oven on medium heat with the oil, onions and celery
  • Cook the vegetables until just transparent
  • Drain the tomatoes
  • Add the tomatoes to the pot and stir to combine
  • Add the 3 whole cloves of garlic
  • Add 1/2 of the thyme, just drop in the whole sprigs – or 1 Tablespoon dried
  • Add the vodka and cover
  • Place the covered pot in the oven for 2 hours at 325
  • When the time is up – puree the cooked tomatoes onions and celery with the immersion blender. If you have one – GREAT – it keeps you from having to transfer everything to the food processor, puree, then back to the pot.

Now – here is where you can stop the process until you are ready for fresh Vodka Sauce.
If you want to hold the sauce and freeze.

  • Cool the sauce in the pot until room temperature
  • Portion the sauce base into freezer bags or containers in 2 Cup portions
  • Be sure to write what’s in the bag and the date with a Sharpie on the bag

When you’re ready for fresh sauce:

  • Thaw the bag
  • Add the contents back to a medium sauce pan on medium heat
  • Bring to a bubbling stage then reduce heat to low
  • Add the other 1/2 of the thyme – Chopped fine
  • Add the heavy cream – you will use 1 Cup of cream for every 2 cups of sauce
  • Stir and continue to heat until the sauce begins to thicken
  • The sauce will come together pretty quickly, so don’t walk off and do something else
  • When its done, the sauce will be thick and creamy.
  • Bowl up the sauce and serve it with fresh penne or rigatoni.
 Now, the Slow Food Version…
Slow Food Vodka Sauce

Serves 8 to 10
3-Quarts of Fresh, Locally Grown Tomatoes – Diced and Leave the peelings on
3 – Medium White Organic Onions – Peeled and chopped
3 Stalks Organic Celery – Chopped

5 – Medium Shallots -Peeled and whole

1 Bunch Fresh Home Grown Thyme / divided in 2
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Quart Heavy Cream from a Local Dairy or certified organic
3 Cups Vodka (Still, buy the cheap stuff)
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

1 Dutch Oven
1 Blender – There’s no need to go out and buy something you don’t already have

The preparation is the same – What I’m getting at is there really isn’t much difference. It isn’t going to taste any better for you to traipse all over town hunting organically grown, locally produced, chemical-free ingredients. The important thing is to make the effort, cook something good, invite some people over to share in your adventure.

Dairy Free Vodka Sauce

Substitute 2 – 8 Ounce tub of Tofutti (c) Tofu Cream Cheese (you can find it locally at Kroger or Publix or if you aren’t close to one, you can buy it HERE

The preparation is the same except:

  • Bring to a bubbling stage then reduce heat to low
  • Add the other 1/2 of the thyme – Chopped fine
  • Add the Tofutti(c) Cream Cheese
  • Remove from the heat and stir to combine thoroughly – you are already dealing with a thick ingredient, it will not need to be cooked any longer
  • Bowl up the sauce and serve it with fresh penne or rigatoni.
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