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Saturday, October 08, 2016

Recipe Round Up: Butter Tomato Sauce & Caramel Apple French Toast Strata

Marcella Hazan's Butter Tomato Sauce

This isn't exactly Marcella Hazan's recipe, but it's close. It is so simple, so easy, and so good. We have used cans of diced tomatoes as well as the whole ones that we chop up in the pot, with complete success. It's one of the few recipes for which I use salted butter. The sauce is better if it is infused with the onion, and you pull out the onion, but the kids have made it with diced onion, and it still tasted good. Normally, though, I pull out the onion, and we salt and pepper it and eat it as a side dish. Generally, I serve this with a salad and maybe garlic bread.

This recipe is double what you probably want to make, unless you also cook for 10 people at a time. However, it holds well, so would make a great second meal. Or you can halve it. Much like her bolognese, this is what all jarred tomato sauces wish they were.

56 - 64 ounces canned/jarred whole tomatoes, chopped with their juices (I do this in the pan with a spoon or spatula)
8 ounces (two sticks, or 16 tablespoons) salted butter
2 medium onions, peeled and halved crosswise
2 pounds pasta of choice, cooked in heavily salted water
freshly grated parmesan as a garnish

Heat a heavy, large saucepan over medium heat. Add tomatoes, butter and onions to pot and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low, maintaining the simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float over the tomatoes. Stir occasionally.

Serve over cooked pasta with freshly grated parmesan.

Caramel Apple French Toast Strata

This recipe was shared on Facebook by a friend of mine who belongs to our church communion. She said how flexible it was, and it truly is. This version of it reflects the changes I made to it. The cream cheese and egg provide protein, so it isn't just a sugar high breakfast, and the almonds add that as well as crunch. If you can't have nuts, leave them out, but if you can, they really add something lovely to the dish. Again, this makes a lot. You can halve it if you wish. I like that this can be made mostly ahead of time, and baked in the morning.

24 - 32 ounce loaf of bread cut into 3/4 inch cubes (we've used French bread, sandwich bread, I imagine croissants would be decadent, anything but bagels or pretzels would be wonderful)
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1/4 - 1/2 inch cubes
2 large apples, sliced thinly (peeled or not, as you wish)
1 cup sliced almonds
8 eggs (you can get away with as few as six easily)
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon cinnamon (we like to use Ceylon cinnamon with this)
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup

Place half of the bread cubes into a buttered 11 X 15 inch baking dish. Cover with cream cheese cubes and apple slices, covering the bread evenly. Top with remaining bread cubes and sprinkle with almond slices.

Beat eggs, milk and cinnamon and pour over bread mixture. Cover with foil or plastic and refrigerate overnight to make ahead.

In the morning, pull out pan, and uncover, to bring closer to room temperature, while preheating the oven to 350 F and making the syrup.

Make syrup by combining the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup in a saucepan and bringing it to a boil. Pour over the top of the mixture. Bake for 35 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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