Weekend dispatches from the kitchen

World Cup fever is burning high in the house and our life has plunged deep down the four-matches-a-day group-stage viewing tunnel. Lunches are grabbed haphazardly at half-time, we must just remember to feed the toddler. Pedestrian activities such as sitting around a table for a meal will have to wait until July.

Unprepared, though I should have been. Distracted, by the sudden abundance ushered in by the season. There is a glut of fruit and vegetables withering in the kitchen.

So let the mind wander between games, drifting casually between the kitchen and the tv, and perchance an idea will materialize. The opportunity to finally make Marcella Hazan’s famous genius tomato sauce for the first time (!) because I have a weird relationship to tomatoes. An outsized deference. I rarely buy them before mid-July, and then usually the heirloom kind, whose only true calling is to be eaten in a salad. But things have changed, thanks to decent early summer tomatoes from the Isle of Wight. And I am overindulging. I have that aforementioned kilo and a half withering in my kitchen. It is the right moment, in my life and before Croatia / Nigeria.

Most will already know this technique, but for anyone who’d like a reminder:

Marcella Hazan’s genius tomato sauce recipe
1 kilo fresh tomatoes (or canned)
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
5 Tbsps butter
Salt

‘Blanch’ tomatoes for one minute in boiling water to help with peeling. Once cool enough to handle, peel and chop the tomatoes.

In a saucepan, toss the chopped tomatoes with the onion halves, the butter, and a generous sprinkling of salt. Cook at a low but steady simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until ‘the fat floats free from the tomato.’ Basta. Genius.

Strawberries, the other near victims of a disrupted weekend. But here my gluttonous lack of restraint paid off, because I had gooseberries on hand for my favorite early summer pairing. The recipe is already here.

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