Anyway, she devotes two of the chapters/columns to the theme of "Repertoire" - having a collection of recipes/dishes that we have made over and over again, perfecting them and relying upon them when we need to make dinner every night, or cook in unfamiliar locations. She didn't have one because, as a food writer/restaurant critic/whatever, she felt compelled to constantly innovate, constantly make new dishes, not to repeat old ones. And now she felt the need.
And she's right. Because with a few basic recipes/dishes, and the confidence knowing them thoroughly brings, someone who needs to cook or likes to cook will have life that much easier.
Tomato sauce. I use it for spaghetti and lasagna and chili. It helps me use up leftovers and makes a great leftover itself. It's even the basis for soups and casseroles. I could use a good pareve jarred sauce - there are a lot out there. I just like making my own.
1 spanish onion (or white onion, or two yellow onions), chopped.
1 red pepper (or green pepper or yellow pepper or no pepper), chopped.
One 12 oz can tomato paste
Heat a heavy saute pan or wok or sauce pan, cover the bottom with olive oil, and toss in the vegetables. Reduce the heat. Cook until onions are translucent. Add the tomato paste and an equal amount of water, plus the bay leaves. Simmer until the sauce is liquid.
I never make just this, but I could. And then freeze it or, if I were a canner, can it. And then I'd doctor it up.
What I do do, though, is brown and drain ground beef, and add chopped garlic and sliced mushrooms to the vegetables, and then a shot of wine or balsamic vinegar at the end, plus a lot of dried oregano and other Italian herbs (or Italian herb mix.) And maybe hot pepper, and certainly black pepper.
Or I skip the ground beef, toss in a handful of spinach and layer it with noodles, mozzarella and ricotta cheese,and it's lasagna.
Or maybe I'll add leftover shredded chicken or turkey. And then I'll take the leftover sauced pasta and mix it with beaten eggs and bake it as a fritatta.
Or I'll skip the Italian seasonings, and spice it up with chili powder and hot peppers and add beans for completely inauthentic chili. I might even skip the meat and make it vegetarian so I can serve it with cheese and sour cream. Or poach chicken breasts in the plain sauce.
Last night, I skipped the peppers in the basic recipe, added Israeli curry powder and skinless bone-in chicken thighs and frozen peas, and served it over rice.
It's one of the most basic parts of my repertoire.