Herby Endings

parsley, rosemary, bay, thai chiliesWell, folks, POD 2009’s days are nearing the end.

That is, we’re approaching the shortest day of the year and the bits salvaged from the little blue deck are precious and few. So, let’s hear it for David Leite’s Eggs Simmered in Tomato Sauce. What a great excuse to snip what’s left of the parsley, Thai chilies, bay, and rosemary. Okay, so the bay and rosemary live a pampered indoor life these days, but still.

Eggs Simmered in Tomato Sauce, tomatada com ovos — adapted ever so slightly (POD’s minimal revisions in parentheses) from The New Portuguese Table, by David Leite.

1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
2 large eggs
Fine seas salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 slices rustic bread, toasted (it helps immeasurably if you have a heavenly husband who bakes)
1 garlic clove, cut in half
Olive Oil

1) Warm the tomato sauce is a small nonstick skillet, covered, over medium-high heat, until it’s bubbly and (very) hot, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, stir, and then make two wells in the sauce with the back of a spoon. Crack an egg into each well and simmer, covered, until the eggs are cooked, 5 to 8 minutes.
2) To serve, lightly rub the toast with the garlic, drizzle with a thin thread of oil, and place on plates. Scoop an egg and some tomato sauce on top of each slice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. (Stick the remaining sauce in the freezer for a lazy day.)

David Leite's eggs simmered in tomato sauceLeite’s Eggs Simmered in Tomato Sauce

Leite’s Tomatada (Tomato Sauce) — POD’s minimal revisions in parentheses

3 tbs olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into thin half-moons
2 sprigs (or more) fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Turkish bay leaf (or three)
3 sprigs rosemary (totally optional and probably entirely wrong, but who cares)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs very ripe tomatoes seeded and chopped, or one 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, chopped, juices reserved (it’s December, go for the San Marzano’s, please)
2 to 3 tbs double-concentrate tomato paste, to taste (2 tbs)
1 small fresh medium-hot red chili pepper, such as serrano, stemmed, seeded, and chopped — (or, 4 Thai chilies, chopped)
(honey, to taste — we found the sauce to be rather acidic and opted to do about two teaspoons worth of neutralizing)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1) Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onions, parsley, and bay leaf and cook until nicely golden, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

2) Turn the heat to medium-low, stir in the tomatoes and their juices, the tomato paste, and chili pepper, if using, and bring to a simmer. Cook, lid ajar, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, about 30 minutes.

3) Toss out the parsley and bay leaf(ves and rosemary), and season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper (and honey). If you wish, you can scrape the sauce into a food processor and buzz until smooth (peshaw).  Store the sauce in the fridge in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid for up to 1 week; it can also be frozen for up to 2 months.

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Beach to Deck

Just because you’re growing vegetables, doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun. Or, for that matter, import a little bit of beach beauty into a city garden.

michigan rocks

Here, basil is accented with lake-evoking glass tiles from last summer’s miserable (but successful) bathroom renovation; bathroom tilelong walks on the beach are commemorated by pots bearing herbs and seashells; shattered pottery finds new life with still more basil; iron- and copper-infused rocks, petoskey stones, and granite from the shores of Lake Michigan keep the bachelor buttons company; actual beach glass lends some contrast to the slow-growing bay; and Kalamazoo’s and Battle Creek’s finest brews — the delightful Bell’s and Arcadia —  shellsare honored alongside some beautiful eggplants.

beer capsbroken potterybeach glass