There comes a time in every cook’s life, no matter how competent she thinks she is, when the holes in one’s repertoire start to show.
So it was with me and tomato sauce.
For many years, I’d got by with frying onions, adding garlic, tomatoes and herbs, and cooking it for a bit.
But none of these attempts resulted in the thick, savoury, hyper-tomato flavour that one gets from a simple plate of spaghetti al pomodoro in any half-decent Italian family joint. To be honest, it was all a bit … studenty.
So a couple of years ago, I embarked on a mission to fix this. But it proved much more difficult, with far more experimentation, than expected.
- I tried Diane Seed’s, the ones from her otherwise completely ace book, “The top 100 pasta sauces”. (Surprisingly uninspiring.)
- I tried Delia’s. (Too fussy.)
- I tried Marcella Hazan’s, via Smitten Kitchen. (Delicious, but it’s got so much butter in it that there’s no way it can claim to be an everyday staple.)
- I tried both the recipes from the Silver Spoon. (They were … fine?)
- I tried Felicity Cloake’s allegedly perfect amalgamation of all the greats’ recipes. (It was not.)
- I even tried the Mothership’s, but for some reason, mine never turned out reliably like hers.
Thus, a dead end had been reached.
And so it was that I found myself in Mark and Niki’s kitchen, telling my sorry tale over a cup of chamomile tea.