You Say Tomato I Say Tomahto!!

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Tomatoes, who has tomatoes…I DO!!!!!!!!
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My Dad’s garden is producing a plenty, his plants are 8 feet tall and going wild!!!

I have a few pictures here from the beginning stages, they are about 5 to almost 6 foot at this point,
my Dad here is growing, leaf lettuce, kale, peppers, cucumbers, onions, green beans, eggplants and of course Tomatoes!!!
There maybe be more he grows but I can remember, I do know he has another patch that asparagus is in and the green house that things grow too…

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but I just decided to write this blog about tomatoes last night, so I don’t have recent pictures of it 🙂 these picture were about the 2nd week of June

So I have been eating a lot of tomatoes lately, but they have really only been from my Dad’s, I don’t buy them usually, but I do love when I get them from him and his garden.

As anyone knows they just taste better than you can get in the store and it’s really the only eat time I do eat them.
My Mom and Dad will freeze them, stew them, roast them, sauce them, slice them for BLT (which I think they east daily during the summer) and chop them for salads.  Plus whatever else they do with them 🙂

I on the other hand I tend to eat them a little differently 🙂

First I blanch them and remove the skins, I have issues with the skins, that’s all I will say 🙂

Here are a few pictures of ways that I have enjoyed using my Dad’s fresh tomatoes from his garden.

I hope you will enjoy too!!!

Making sauce, in my Vitamix are tomatoes, roasted garlic, some Italian herbs, red pepper flakes and salt.
The Vitamix will also cook it too you let it run about 5-7 minutes and you have hot soup or sauce 🙂

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Mixing it all up

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Freezing some for winter 🙂

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Cooking some down too

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This is the cherry tomatoes, sauteed with garlic, onions and spinach
tossed with the pasta, then fold in some fresh mozzarella pearls
then a drizzle of some balsamic glaze…Delish!!!!

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My all time favorite thing in the world is
Polenta with fresh tomatoes and a poached egg!!!
This is heaven for me!!!

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another day again…YUMMY!!!

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This is my FBT…Fake bacon and tomato 😛

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Ran out of the cornmeal to make polenta
So I made couscous instead…Delish too!!!

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This was last night’s dinner
tomatoes, roasted garlic tossed with pasta and some fresh mozzarella cubes
I was talking about making this a work…so ladies this is what I made…simple and quick 🙂

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Oh and here is the kale and I made some kale chips…very good with a
sprinkle of kosher salt and garlic powder 🙂

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Here are couple of links of 2 more of my blogs that I used tomatoes in the past
First up is my Tomato Cobbler – this turned out really really good so if you
want something a little different try this recipe.

 Second is Orzo Salad with Basil, Tomato & Feta – I made this at one
of my outdoor cooking classes last year.

Enjoy the rest of the summer everyone!!!

What’s next here hopefully sooner than later
my trip to Bourbon Country 🙂
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Italian Roasted Shrimp!!

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This dish is so easy and quick and its great over polenta, pasta or would be great just served as an appetizer with crostini’s.

We have this great “Red Argentine Shrimp” and it is simply delicious, I have cooked with it several times and its always a big hit 🙂

Ingredients

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in skillet add a little oil and shallots

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then add garlic & oregano

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then tomatoes (sorry the picture is blurry)

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top with the shrimp

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Mix panko, cheese and parsley together

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add oil

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mix again

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sprinkle over top shrimp and bake

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you can serve over polenta

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or over pasta

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Italian Roasted Shrimp

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Red Argentine Shrimp (about 4-5 per person)

1 large can diced tomatoes with garlic & onion (about 4 cups)
1 large shallot, chopped
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. agave or honey

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped
3 tbsp. olive oil

In a large skillet add a little oil and shallots over medium heat, cook for 5 minutes, add garlic & oregano, stir to combine and add tomatoes, continue to cook for 2 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees

Mix in a small bowl panko, cheese and parsley, add oil and thoroughly mix, add salt and pepper to taste.  Place shrimp on top of the tomato mixture and sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over top, and bake for about 10 minutes or until shrimp is done and breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Meanwhile make your pasta or polenta and serve shrimp right over top.

Which ever way you serve it Enjoy!!!

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Orzo Salad with Basil and Tomatoes

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Great Summer Salad!!

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Last I had a cooking class at one of our stores, using Fresh Herbs was one the points for the class.
Picture of the class, a few more came after I got started, it was a great turn out 🙂

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This was one of the recipes I did, I love using this really as a base with so many options at your finger tips.

You can certainly serve as is, or add fresh grilled veggies chopped, add cubes of fresh mozzarella instead of feta, or shredded fresh Parmesan cheese, or slice pepperoni, salami, cube ham or turkey.  And what about Grilled Shrimp, thin slices of grilled flat iron steak even chunks of grilled salmon there are endless possibilities!!

Along with other fresh herbs you could add as well!!

Everyone at my class love it as is and a friend of my mine made it last week for his work’s cook out and it was hit with them as well.  Enjoy if you make it!!

Orzo Salad with Basil and Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1-2 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

2 cups orzo, cooked

3 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

1/3 cup basil, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

½ cup Feta cheese, ¼ in cubes or crumbled

Salt to taste
Gently toss all ingredients together, serve at room temp.  And of course you can add other veggies, cheeses or fresh herbs as you like 🙂

“CHEF” El Jefe!!

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“the Chief” or “the Boss”

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When I first heard about this movie and saw the trailer I thought this looks like a really cute funny movie.

Here is the wiki if you want to read about it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chef_(film)

As I sat in the movie theater as the credits rolled, my mind was reeling, I was like what did I just see!!

The trailer

 

Feeling of inspiration  was so overwhelming, I just wanted to leave the theater and go and COOK!!!

There was so much about this movie that I could relate too, the passion in cooking  and sharing it with other people!!

Whether you are a Chef or Foodie you will love and understand this Movie, you will walk away with the same feeling of joy and inspiration that I did…if you are not…you will walk away and say oh that was a cute and funny movie.

There were so many scenes that I just loved…I think the big one (well all food scenes really) was the making “Grilled Cheese” scene, really the part when he starts to eat it 😛

The crunch…the CRUNCH!! was out of control, the sound of that Crunchy bread and the gooey cheese hanging from the bread, it was like I was there eating it myself.  I could smell it, I could feel the crunch and I could taste it!!!

Here is that scene

 

The food scenes have been described as ‘Food Porn”  and have all been “designed” just like the set is designed, the food cooking scenes were designed by Chef Roy Choi, he worked as an technical adviser.  Chef Roy Choi is a Genius in my mind!!

He also sent actor Jon Favreau who directed, co-produced, written and starred in, to French culinary school and then had him train in several of Choi’s kitchens.
Here is a behind the scenes clip with Chef Choi and Jon Favreau

 

I just loved every minute of this film and have already gone back and to see it again with my best foodie friend Danny, he got the movie just like I did 🙂

I have made my takes on some of the food that was made in the movie here are couple, of course the “Grilled Cheese” and the “Pasta” scene.

For the “The Cuban” sandwich, I search the Cincinnati area for the best, some good some not so good, but I found a place “Paula’s Cafe” downtown.  I heard that the owner Paula was from Miami and the sandwich was pretty authentic, so I finally got down there and had it…it was the best i had yet.  Pork could have been a little more and spread out on the bun, but everything else was perfect!!!   If you are in the area I recommend the Cafe, it is only open M-F 10:30 am to 2:30 pm and its crowded!!!  Its small so getting it to go is popular if there are no seats, I went at 1:15 pm and it was starting to clear out, by 1:30 pm only a few people.  But the “To Go” line was really non-stop, soup of the day (cream of chicken with wild rice) and the Tuna Salad seemed to be the most popular for the “To Go” customers.  Also the friendliest  waitresses around town!!!!!  I will be going back for sure!!

Enjoy my pictures and it the Movie “Chef” is playing still near you go see it!!

Grilled Cheese

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Pasta 🙂

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The Cuban from Paula’s Cafe

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So if have a passion for food, then please go see this movie, you will not be disappointed, I can’t wait till I can get it on DVD 🙂

Summertime Pasta!

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Summertime, don’t you love it 🙂

I love it when its not “humid” 😦  if you have a breeze then its not that bad, but here in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area it seems to be humid a lot…or maybe its just that I only remember when I’m hot and humid instead of when its just hot without the humidity 😛

I recently bought some nice mini heirloom tomatoes and some oyster and shiitake mushrooms, not really sure what I was going to make when I got home but I knew I’d come up with something.

Once I got home I had some fresh spinach (from my Dad’s garden), I thought salad but then I was like I know pasta!!

I also had some fresh mozzarella, lets talk fresh mozzarella for a minute…I LOVE IT!!!

Give it to me any way and I love and for the summer once your tomatoes come up in your gardens 🙂
You can make Insalata Caprese with tomato slices, sliced fresh mozz, fresh basil, a touch of salt a drizzle of oil olive and you have it

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Now I like balsamic vinegar on mine and most of the time I only use the vinegar and no olive oil, and as I’ve said in several posts we sell a fantastic balsamic vinegar, this is so important to spend a little more money and get a good aged balsamic vinegar.  The difference will change you life…okay maybe not your life but your taste buds will be very happy 🙂 

So back to Fresh Mozzarella, it comes in many forms as you can see

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For this dish I had the Ciliegine already in my fridge so that is what I used

and here is what else I put in my Summertime Pasta!!

Ingredients

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I started in skillet with a little olive oil and crushed red pepper, which you can leave out if you don’t like a little heat 🙂

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then I added my shallots and mushrooms, cooked them until a nice brown in color

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Then I added the tomatoes, some red wine & balsamic 

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I scrapped the bottom of the pan to get up all those good brown bits
Added a lid and turned it on medium low till all my tomatoes in all
their juiciness burst 🙂

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I added my cooked pasta and fresh spinach

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just tossed that through and added my fresh Mozz (ciliegine)

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and then served it right on up 🙂

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Recipe

1 pkg. spaghetti, cooked as directed
1 – 2 pounds mini heirloom tomatoes (cherry or grape tomatoes will do)
1-2 large shallots, sliced
8 oz – 12 oz mushrooms (I used oyster and shiitake)
2 tsp. fresh garlic, I wanted more garlic  so I used 9 cloves 🙂
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 – 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 – 1 cup sweet red wine***
1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
2-3 cups packed fresh spinach
1 container of fresh ciliegine mozzarella
salt and pepper to taste

***Red Wine note – I used 100% concord grape wine, red moscato would work too, but can use red or a nice white as well, this is up to you and what you like…don’t want to add wine, add a little more balsamic and some of the pasta water to make it more saucy.

Cook pastas as directed

In a large skillet over medium heat add oil and crushed red pepper flakes if using, once oil is hot add mushrooms and shallots, cook until nicely caramelized.  
Then add tomatoes, red wine, balsamic and grated or minced garlic, stir, scrapping the brown bits off the bottom of the skillet, cover and turn on medium low.  

Once tomatoes start to soften and burst, taste for seasonings add salt or pepper if desired, drain pasta, add pasta to skillet along with spinach, toss through just as spinach starts to wilt, then fold in the mozzarella and serve!!

servings 4 to 6, cut in half for 1-3 servings.

Just look at that mozzarella melt…Love it…I hope you make this and enjoy!!!

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Chef Jon Molnar Genuine Italian Pasta and Pizza Sauce

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As we go through the summer, I will be doing more product reviews, as we all know the summer time becomes very busy for all of us.  Well as least for me, I’d like to spend a little more time out and about with my family and friends.  So I have been given some products to taste test and I will be letting you all know how they taste and what you can do with them.
I’m sure I’ll come up with some recipes too, but I am looking forward to these products that are from all over the world.

This is one that I have today is Fantastic, I really must say…I have a great connection with the Gia Russa people which are right here in Ohio.

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Chef Jon Molnar’s love and enthusiasm for cooking can be traced back to the roots of his family. At an early age, Jon’s grandmother, Helen, demonstrated that cooking is a labor of love. With his grandmother’s guidance, Jon Molnar pursued his passion and perfected his craft at the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts. Since his graduation in 1994, Chef Jon Molnar has been a professional in the commercial and private sectors of the culinary world, holding prominent positions in various parts of the United States. With tireless years of experience, Chef Jon Molnar’s cuisine crusade has led him to develop Chef Jon Molnar Culinary Creations, in an effort to produce products that are of the highest quality and standards, from his kitchen to yours.

Finally, you can get genuine Italian sauces right here in the U.S.A. They taste so much better than American sauces, you may never go back. Chef Jon Molnar and the chefs of the top Tuscany restaurants in Italy now provideGenuine Italian Pasta and Pizza Saucesright here in America.

Genuine Italian Pasta and Pizza Saucesare made with the exact recipes and actual tomatoes from the Tuscany Province of Italy. Tuscany is famous for having the best tasting pizza and pasta sauces in the world. This is due to their superior recipes and superior tomatoes.

Tuscany tomatoes are the best tasting tomatoes in the world because of Tuscany’s ideal soil, ideal climate and ideal sun exposure. The recipes for the sauces are also different and superior to American pizza and pasta sauces. Chef Jon Molnar’s Genuine Tuscany Italian Sauces are all-natural, gluten-free, contain no preservatives, and are produced in a green facility. Once you taste Genuine Italian Pasta and Pizza Sauces, you will immediately notice the superior taste.

I loved this sauce so much, it was rich with a pure tomato flavor and so balanced, it was great on the pizza and with the pasta!!

This totally gets “Two Thumbs Up” from me…if you see in your local grocery store make sure you pick it up!!! 🙂

Pizza Ingredients – Crust, ricotta, provolone, spinach and Chef Jon’s Sauce

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spread some ricotta, then sauce, then spinach the top with cheese

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It was very very good!!

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Pasta easy and simple Ingredients

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cook pasta then add some ricotta, sauce top with Parmesan

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Enjoy!!!

Ragù alla bolognese…My way!!!

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Oh how I love thee!!! 🙂

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Ragù alla bolognese is a complex sauce which involves a variety of cooking techniques, including sweating, sautéing and braising. As such, it lends itself well to interpretation and adaptation by professional chefs and home cooks alike.

And I’m sure most of you have a recipe that has been pasted down the family tree 🙂

Common sources of differences include which meats to use (beef, pork or veal) and their relative quantities, the possible inclusion of either cured meats or offal, which fats are used in the sauté phases (rendered pork fat, butter, olive or vegetable oil).

I used ground chicken 🙂

What form of tomato is employed (fresh, canned or paste).

I use paste, I like using this the best.

The makeup of the cooking liquids (wine, milk, tomato juices, or broth) and their specific sequence of addition.

One day I hope that I could travel to Bolgana, Italy 🙂

But until then this is Ragù alla bolognese…My Way!!!

Ingredients –

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I freeze my bacon so it would be easier to slice and dice

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diced bacon

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Cut celery into thin strips                    then dice

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Diced onion                                                           add bacon, celery and onions to skillet

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Then add carrots

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stirring not to burn

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add ground meat

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breaking up meat with wooden spoon

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add red wine

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chicken broth

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add tomato paste

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stirring in tomato paste

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then stir in 2 tsp. beef base paste

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turn to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours

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warm up half n half/ milk                             stir in

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continue to cook for another 45 – 55 minutes, stirring occasionally

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its now ready for pasta

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LOVE Gia Russa products you must try them………….boil water

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add pasta                                             remove a cup of pasta water, set aside, in case  you need to thin out sauce

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Grate your Parmesan cheese

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remove your pasta                                                          toss with sauce

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turn out on to platter

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top with cheese and serve

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Delicious!!!!!!!!!  

Recipe

3 (3 oz.) strips bacon or pancetta, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled, grated
1 med-large onion, finely chopped
1.25 lbs ground meat (i used ground chicken breast)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup red wine
2 1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tsp. beef base paste
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup half n half or milk

First off have everything ready to go, chop everything, measure out everything its just easier or at least this is what I like to do.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat add oil and bacon/pancetta, celery and onions, cook for 5 – 7 minutes, stirring not to burn.
Add grated carrots continue to cook for 5 more minutes, add ground meat, cooking and breaking up meat with a wooden spoon continue to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring constantly so not to burn, turn heat down just a little if needed.

Add red wine cooking for 2 minutes and scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add broth and then tomato paste, stirring to combine, then add beef base reduced heat to low and gently simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours.  Stirring occasionally. 

Bring milk to a simmer in a small saucepan; gradually add to sauce.

Cover sauce with lid slightly ajar and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until milk is absorbed, about 45 – 55 minutes, season with salt to taste. Stirring occasionally.

Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil, once boiling add a good handful of salt, stir and then add pasta, when pasta is just al dente, remove 1 cup of pasta water and set aside, I like doing this just in case I want to thin out the sauce. (i did not use any pasta water with this recipe, but you should always get in the habit of taking out pasta water just in case)

Drain pasta and add pasta to the sauce, tossing to completely coat the pasta, turn pasta out onto a serving plate or large bowl and top with fresh Parmesan cheese and then serve it right on up!! 

Enjoy this one and tell me about your recipe or maybe you have one that has been pasted down the family tree, I’d love to try any that you may have in your recipe box!!!