Thursday, July 26, 2012

Home-style Tomato Sauce and Eggplant Parmesan


Every summer I get an influx of fresh produce from a local farming commune. The produce gets distributed to our community group homes. The only problem is that many of the staff in the houses don't know how to use interesting things like eggplant and fresh tomatoes to make a meal. 

I've typed up these simple recipes to help the houses turn 200 pounds of fresh farm produce into dinner.

Tomato Sauce
                ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
    2 onions, rough chopped
                3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
                5 pounds ripe red tomatoes, stemmed and chopped
                ¼ cup tomato paste
                3 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1.       Warm the olive oil in a pot large enough to hold the tomatoes.
2.       Add the onion and crushed garlic; cook on medium heat until tender and slightly browned.
3.       Add tomato paste and stir to coat the onions; cook until tomato paste is slightly browned.
4.       Add chopped fresh tomatoes with juice and turn heat to LOW. Stir.
5.       Add seasonings (fresh oregano, sage, basil and thyme, if they are available).
6.       Continue to stir the sauce, allowing it to cook until it has thickened (the longer you let it cook, the thicker and more flavorful it will be).

For smooth tomato sauce, puree the thickened sauce in a blender in small batches (careful, it will be hot).

Eggplant Parmesan
3 eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
6 cups Tomato Sauce, divided
1 (16 ounce) package mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.       Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side.
3.       In a 9x13 inch baking dish spread tomato sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses. Sprinkle basil on top.
4.       Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Autism Awareness

Hi, everyone,

Sorry for the long absence. Events in my life recently have diverted my attention from writing this blog, the most damaging being the death of one of my students.

As some of you are aware, I no longer cook in restaurants. A decade of professional kitchen work has provided me with a wealth of knowledge and experience in catering, kitchen management, food science, health and nutrition, utilization of fresh produce, international cuisines, bread making, baking, pastries, and confections.

It also wore me out and led me to take a hard look at what I wanted out of my life and my career.

A little over a year ago, I was offered the opportunity to take my career in a new direction. I now find great pride in taking the knowledge and skill that I have garnered from a life in the kitchen and using it to teach the clients and staff of Community Support Services, a non-profit organization providing community based support to people with autism and developmental disabilities.

Recently, George Kenton, an individual with whom I had worked very closely, passed away suddenly. The cause was unknown.

I would like to dedicate this post to George, and encourage everyone reading to learn more about the organizations in your area that do work in the autism community. Donations are always helpful, but the best way to support the community is to volunteer. Sometimes the most important thing you can give a person in need is a helping hand, or a patient ear.

Thank you,


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fourth of July BB-Q

Commensurate tidings of the season! 

It's time for BB-Q:

Adam’s Barbeque Sauce
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 (10oz.) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 4 oz chili peppers (your choice: chipotle or something spicier)
  • 1 cup ketchup or sweet chili sauce
  • 1 cup Apple cider vinegar         
  • Salt and Black pepper to taste

1.Sweat the onions and garlic in a large pot. 
2.Add tomato paste and brown sugar; allow the paste to brown slightly while stirring.
3.Stir in bay leaves, diced tomatoes and juice, peppers and ketchup. Simmer until sauce thickens and begins to bubble. 

For a smooth sauce, allow to cool and puree by small batches in blender (DON'T FORGET TO REMOVE