Guest Post: Author Erica Bauermeister offers a Recipe and a Giveaway!

51be1lrnnnl_sl500_aa240_Erica Bauermeister is the author of The School of Essential Ingredients, one of my favorite books so far this year! In my review I stated that my only complaint about this delectable book was the lack of recipes. Erica, taking me seriously, wrote a guest post for me and included a recipe for Tom’s Pasta Sauce. Thank you, Erica, for the guest post and the wonderful recipe.. I can’t wait to try it!! Maybe I’ll make it for the hub on Valentine’s Day.. hmmmm.

The idea for The School of Essential Ingredients came from a cooking class I took in Seattle, but the approach that Lillian, the chef/teacher in the novel, has toward food came from my experience of living in Italy for two years. While I was there I learned to see food as a conversation between ingredients rather than a lock-step set of rules I needed to follow. At first, that dialogue between ingredients felt as if it, too, was in a foreign language along with the Italian, but over time I learned to relax, to immerse myself in the flavors and textures of the ingredients, to worry less about using recipes. In short, I learned to play with my food.

droppedimageAnd what I learned is that cooking is a very forgiving activity. Switching out one ingredient for another is a creative act, not a destructive one. Coming out from behind the protective wall of a recipe allows us to come into closer contact with the food itself. Thinking of a recipe as an ice-breaker, a conversation starter, opens up endless possibilities.

So here’s a recipe to get you started, because in her review Lisa asked for one so very nicely. A bit of background: Tom is a bit of a mystery to the other characters in The School of Essential Ingredients, who know only that he carries with him a deep and personal sorrow. It is Lillian, the cooking teacher, who instinctively knows that participating in the creation of a pasta sauce from scratch will be one way to help him heal.

I offer this recipe with the hope that you will feel invited/directed/inspired to experiment. What would happen, for example, if you grated some orange peel into your sauce? Or used chicken sausage, or ground lamb with a bit of fresh rosemary? How might those bursts of creativity affect the life of someone you love?

Tom’s Pasta Sauce

Note: For best results, use Knorr’s extra-large soft chicken bouillon cubes.
Crush the whole tomatoes in a food processor, or chop them finely by hand.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 extra-large soft chicken bouillon cube (see note)
1 cup onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground Italian sausage
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup red wine
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and crushed (see note)
1 cup tomato sauce (more if you want)
Salt and pepper
1 pound penne pasta
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

1. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil on medium-low heat until bubbles form. Crush the half bouillon cube into the oil and mix thoroughly. Add onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until translucent.

2. Add ground sausage, increase heat to medium, and cook until meat is no longer pink. Add milk and simmer until absorbed. (Don’t worry if it looks strange at first; the milk will mellow the wine and make for a wonderful, lush sauce.) Add wine, reduce heat to low, and simmer until wine is absorbed. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat.

3. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1-3 hours, covered if you want a rich, but slightly thinner sauce, uncovered if you want a thicker sauce and the smell to roam through your house.

4. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook penne pasta according to package directions, until al dente. Drain pasta and place in a large serving bowl. Ladle sauce over pasta; top with grated parmesan cheese if desired, and serve immediately.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Do you play with your food? Erica would like to hear about it! She has generously offered three copies of The School of Essential Ingredients to help me celebrate my big 100K hit milestone! If you’d like a chance to win a copy of this wonderful book, all you need to do is send an email by Wednesday, Feb. 18th, to Erica at telling her about your favorite dish. She will choose 3 winners from those entries. Please be sure to state in your email that you came from Books on the Brain. Good Luck!

<—–Oh! And please check out my left sidebar for other great 100K Celebration Giveaways!

15 Responses

  1. Great post and wonderful book! I, too, wanted recipes from the book! Thanks to both of you!

  2. This book sounds (and tastes!) wonderful! Thanks for the review.

  3. I love this post! I do play with my food! I would add grated vegetables to Tom’s Pasta Sauce – maybe some carrots or zucchini. I love The School of Essential Ingredients.

  4. The recipe sounds great! In the southwest, we also throw chipotle or ancho chile pepper into everything we can (even ice cream!).

    Thanks for the contest!

  5. And always remember: Wine for cooking should be good enough to drink! So buy more than one bottle, is what I always say.

    Great post. 🙂

  6. I’m definitely going to try the sauce recipe! Where did the idea of using the bouillion cube come from? I was fascinated by that part in the book, when it was crumbled into the oil…

  7. This is definitely up my alley and near my kitchen! And that sauce is terrific…it’s truly very close to my own recipe 🙂 Yepper, enter me!

  8. Congrats on your big 100K! Wow!

    I just sent an email to Erika.

  9. Please, please, please throw my name in the hat for this one!! Thanks!!

  10. I’ve posted this on Win A Book.

  11. I posted the giveaway in my sidebar. Thanks so much for the recipe. I’d love to make this.

  12. Usually I just bake, since I am a control freak and I love exact measurements and specific directions. I would love to relax and experiment and cook on whims instead of having everything planned to the letter.

  13. What a great guest post! I sent my email!

  14. Great post, although I’d definitely need to adapt that recipe since I’m a vegetarian. I wonder if it would work as well with a veggie cube instead? Anyway, thanks for the giveaway, I sent an email to Erica!

  15. […] had to buy. But as luck would have it, I won an autographed copy after entering a contest over on Lisa’s blog. The inscription in my copy reads, “For Lesley, who loves books and food… Erica […]

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