Archive for the ‘Basics’ Category

How To Boil Water


2 cups tap water
1 teaspoon salt (optional)


Pour the water into a medium-sized saucepan. Add the salt. Place the pan onto the stove and turn the burner to “high”.

Wait approximately 10 minutes. When lots of bubbles are coming up from the bottom of the pot, it is boiling.

Yield: approximately 2 cups boiling water.


  • Unsalted boiling water is preferable for tea, coffee, and hot chocolate.
  • Salted boiling water is best if you plan to cook pasta, rice, vegetables, or potatoes.
  • In areas where tap water quality is dubious, using bottled water may be safer.
  • Boiling water is very hot. Do not pour it on yourself or you will get burned.
  • Do not stand next to the stove waiting for the water to boil; this will only increase cooking time. After all, a watched pot never boils.
  • Happy April Fool’s Day!

“He-Man” Homemade BBQ Sauce

In honor of Superbowl Sunday and countless BBQs everywhere, here’s Scott’s own recipe for our house BBQ sauce. It works well on both beef and chicken.

Hopefully Scott will still talk to me after I share this recipe with the world!


1 cup red wine (we usually use an inexpensive Chianti)
1 cup dark beer (Guinness)
1 shot bourbon (Jack Daniels)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup mustard (Dijon or spicy brown)
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (more if you like more heat)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 large shallots
6 large cloves garlic


Mince the shallots and garlic. Heat the red wine in a saucepan over medium flame until simmering, add shallots & garlic to the pan. Reduce to 1/2 cup wine, add the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT for the beer and the bourbon. Continue simmering, stirring regularly, until mixture has reduced enough to coat a spoon.

Remove the pan from the stove, pour the sauce in a blender. Puree the sauce, then return to the pan and continue simmering. Add the beer and the bourbon. Continue simmering until the sauce had reduced enough to thickly coat the back of a spoon without dripping. Remove from heat, cool, and use.


  • We don’t have an immersion blender, but if you did, using one would be easier than having to put the sauce into a blender and then back into the pan.
  • This sauce will keep in a covered container in the fridge for a couple of weeks, easily, but I wouldn’t keep it longer than a month without freezing.

Building Blocks: Roasted Tomato Sauce

There’s a category of recipes that I call “Basics”. They’re not in themselves complete recipes; instead, they are building blocks that help you assemble other recipes. The most obvious is stock (about which more later) but one less obvious one is tomato sauce.

As any even semi-serious cook knows, the quality of your ingredients is key to the quality of your finished dish (or put another way, ‘Garbage in, Garbage out’). Getting your hands on really good fruits and vegetables can be a real issue, especially in the colder months.

There’s always options, of course. When it comes to tomatoes, high-quality canned ones (especially Italian ones) can work really nicely. However, we’ve found that if you really want an intense, fresh tomato flavor in your dish, you can’t beat roasting. It makes good tomatoes better and makes passable tomatoes usable.

So here’s what we do:

Take a couple pounds of fresh, ripe tomatoes. Heirlooms if you can get them, but any tomato will work. Cut them into quarters and de-seed:

Tomatoes Before Roasting

Drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast in the oven at 350 degrees F for 60 minutes. Remove the trays from the oven and allow the tomatoes to cool, then toss into a blender and puree.

The result is an intensely flavored sauce that’s a good base for a lot of different preparations. I divide each batch of sauce into 2-cup portions and freeze them in separate freezer-safe baggies, then thaw and use as needed.

NOTE: Roasting canned tomatoes doesn’t cut it (we’ve tried).