Red Barn Cafe-

Life is hectic - Savor every Bite!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tomato Puree and Memories of Gram

I am feeling a bit nostalgic today. I just made tomato puree for my Christmas Eve ravioli's. Why nostalgic? Because they remind me of my Gram, Rose Rizzo, who came to this country as a young girl. Married and raised three wonderful children. She learned to speak English by watching soap operas, her "stories", she called them. It made me laugh when I realized that two of the main characters were named Ed and Holly, my brother and me!

Gram was strong, walked up and down steep hills to get a few things at the grocery. She always had a few gardens that yielded tomatoes, herbs, peppers, zucchini, onions and lettuces. One of the many treats she made were fried zucchini "frites" blossoms. I haven't attempted to make them yet. I have a feeling they won'[t be nearly as good as hers. One thing I do make, though, is her homemade ravioli's. They were made for every special occasion. The size of dinner plates! When I was sixteen I watched her make them, measuring every ingredient. I still have that piece of paper, written in my sprawling script with i"s dotted with hearts. In red pen!

So, when I married, I started making the "rav's" for Christmas Eve, since that was the dinner I always hosted for my family. On the one or two occasions I attempted to make a fancy seafood dinner, I was met with incredulous, "But where are the Rav's?" SO, the ravs it will be...

I made the tomato puree with my garden tomatoes today. A few things I have learned over the years of doing this-
1. You need a lot of tomatoes! One large stockpot yields about a quart size bag.
2. Use quart size bags. The gallon size is awkward to fit in your freezer. And also, they tend to get more air, and then freezer burn.
3. Do not add salt. The only thing I add is a few sprigs of fresh basil. After the tomatoes have cooled.

Bring water in large stock pot to a simmer, not boil. Gently drop in tomatoes, maybe 10 at a time. Wait until the skins crack. Then take out and puree (DO NOT overfill) in a food processor. Let cool before adding to quart size freezer bags. Lay flat on a cookie sheet and try to get most of the air out before closing. Freeze on cookie sheet flat, and then you can stack them in your freezer when they are frozen. I always use within 6 months. (You can label the bag with a sharpie if you have a tendency to forget how long they've been there. Been there too...

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