Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sue Carpenter Banovetz: Mayme, Can I get your recipe or basic instructions for your tomato sauce? Nick said it's molto bene. Ciao, ma amica.

Mayme Donsker: Certo!

Nick Banovetz: ay caramba

Dear Sue,

I have no measured recipe, but I will tell you a few simple rules about making authentic Italian tomato sauce. But first! here is some background about my understanding of Italian cooking:

I gathered these clues by peeking over my Nona's shoulder in Umbria, I couldn't speak Italian yet but I could smell, taste and see. At the time I had such little background in cooking but I knew that I was tasting the best tomato sauce in my I put intimidation aside as I watched her like a hawk, and for the first time I attempted to memorize my pallet. This has been the best and the most useful instrument I have developed as a cook!

When you go to Italy and you see a sign that reads "Trattoria" in front of a restaurant, it means that these are recipes passed on through the family for generations. This is why Italian cooking has so much soul! When I moved to Rome I learned a few simple rules when I took some cooking classes, this gave me some structure.

Mayme's authentic salsa di pomodoro:

American Italian sauce: Soupy, thick and heavy.
Our favorite herb: Bay leaf

Authentic Italian sauce: Infused olive oil that lightly dresses the noodles. Their favorite herbs: Fresh Rosemary, Fresh basil.


~ Olive oil
~ Must be tasty Tomatoes:

Sometime I use a box of cherry tomatoes, they are always so sweet and yummy! I cut them into halves. Italians use Roma Tomatoes..I cut them into quarters and I leave the skin on.

~ Three cloves crushed garlic
~ two sprigs fresh rosemary
~ a couple fresh sage leaves
~ Brown sugar, or plain sugar
~ salt and pepper
~ Red pepper or chile pepper or paprika (whatever you like) can be a little more generous with paprika.

Okay Sue, this is simple but you need to taste as you go.

~ Start with a generous amount of olive oil in your warm sauce pan, enough to dress your noodles. The olive oil is the bulk of your sauce. will be reducing the water from the tomatoes in your oil, so don't depend on the tomatoes too much... we want to cook the water down.

~ Throw in a couple cloves of crushed garlic, swirl around until the oil smells amazing (when it just starts to smell good, it's done it's magic), remove the garlic from the oil before the cloves brown! (it will make your oil bitter if it burns).

~ Throw the used garlic into your boiling noodle water, Italians always flavor their noodle water with garlic, oil, maybe some chile powder or some fresh but arid herbs (Rosemary, thyme, sage....).

~ Add a couple stems of fresh Rosemary or sage to your garlic infused oil. These herbs don't get bitter as they burn, you can keep them in the oil, plus they make the house smell sooooo good.

~ Add a couple dashes of brown sugar to the oil

~ Add a dash of chile or paprika

~ Salt and pepper to taste, bringing out the flavors as it lightly sizzles.

~ Taste your oil, the infused oil is the base of your sauce, if it's too bitter you can start again before you use your tomatoes. It should taste aromatic, sweet, garlicky and salty.

~ When your oil is ready, throw in your tomatoes. Cook down until the tomato water is reduced.

~ Taste, and add more salt, pepper, or sugar if it needs it.

~ When the tomatoes and the tomato water have cooked down, remove from heat. At this point you can leave it chunky and rustic looking or you can blend it in the food processor.

~ Add full basil leaves when your sauce has cooled so they do not wilt before serving, this looks beautiful and it tastes fresh.

~ Grate real parmigiano reggiano! Less is more with the good stuff! The better the cheese the better the sauce!

~ Dress your noodles, drink chianti classico and buon appititio!



Wednesday, October 21, 2009



1 box of Betty Crocker Carrot Cake mix
1 small can of pumpkin canned
2 eggs
1/2 cup of oil
1/2 cup of milk


follow direction from box



1/3 of water
1 cup sugar
1 orange


Put water in saucepan.
Sugar in saucepan over a medium high heat until sugar water cooks bubbles.
You want to swirl the pan over heat; don't stir as it will turn brittle. Do not leave stove when cooking because the liquid could quickly overcook.
Keep swirling until it stops bubbling so much as it becomes a brown caramel color -- you want it dark not light.
Turn off heat.
Squeeze one orange until all the juice comes out.
Pour it into the caramel while still swirling, otherwise it will not be mixed properly.
Put on medium heat.
Add a generous dash Grand Marnier or vanilla extract.

Pair with apple cider.

* The dressing would make an excellent and inexpensive to substitute to syrup!!

Thanks Sinta for the recipe!

-- posted by Michelle

Monday, October 19, 2009

So this past week everyone in the house has come down with a cold. There's sickness everywhere. The sole person in our house, Jon, who exercises regularly pretty much bypassed it -- i think he got a cough, for like, a half hour -- and apparently the rest of us were not as fit as much as we hoped, thus our poorly performing immune system. Sinta, our health-guru-in-residence kindly and generously let us use her Metagenic's Ultra Potent-C Powder, which is pure vitamin C. She advised us to take a teaspoon with a small mug of warm water every fifteen minutes until it basically all blasts out of you. It takes a day or two to really work, but it does help, and the symptoms were lessened. Food-wise, we've been downing steaming cups of citrus tasting water and chicken noodle soup. Unfortunately, this specific brand is only available at health clinics, but there are other versions available at the local pharmacy.

If this isn't something you're up for, or if you're too low on cash, the other suggestion I have would be to do a exercise regime of one hundred jumping jacks, yoga, fly girl dancing and a twelve mile long bike ride ( boots with heels gives you a plus for audacity and a minus for possible pain later on). All you need is plenty of water, some WD40, music and a badass state of mind. Also, be mindful. And don't fall prey to alcohol or cigarettes. That's just dumb.

-- posted by Michelle

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Eddie Murphy Raw.

Skit about his father working at a toy factory and being so poor he couldn't feed his twelve children so they had to eat toys.

"We ate the toys and we never complained.
Cause my mother can cook her ass off.
My mother got some hot sauce and salt 'n pepper and make a Tonka Truck taste so delicious, the wheels would melt in your mouth, Eddie."

This stuff will always be hilarious.

--posted by Michelle

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hello all...

Thanks for the support and comments.
All the feedback has been really helpful. The most common request about the blog is to make a useful tool for most everyone. Specifically, writing about how to choose and prepare food that is fairly easy to make, nutritious and, of course, cost effective. I understand this because the only reason why I'm taking part in making these meals is because I live with great cooks. Slowly I'm learning the basics, but I always have a teacher by my side. What I'm saying is, I probably wouldn't make any of these recipes either, the exception being a meal for a special occasion. It's beneficial to learn how to be resourceful cooking every day meals. My friend Sean suggested documenting a trip to the grocery store and listing staples everyone should have in their kitchen, which is something we want to do. Sinta -- our roommate is the other amazing chef besides Mayme, is trained to help people food budget based on their means, helps create 'meal plans' based on nutrition, and in the end help clients create delicious, healthy meals -- suggested making recipes based on five ingredients that are in season, therefore more inexpensive. Or designing meals based off staples in the fridge. Good stuff. We'll focus on incorporating these ideas.

Today, Mayme, Jon and I had a 'food huddle' regarding some of these concerns and the direction of the blog; we agreed the last thing we want is the recipes we post to come off intimidating or unclear. To address the latter, we would like to work on a format that would be visually easy to digest. That may mean displaying the ingredients, cook time and process at the beginning of each post, in case you just want to make the food without reading the whole background story. The great thing about blogging is that it's not precious; you can try different things that make it work better.

Also, I feel I must inform you as to what we've been cooking the past week or so. We've been very busy and ambitious lately: Jon made a french dish with shrimp (apologies that the name is escaping me), Mayme made her grandma's chicken dish with rice and homemade banana ice cream with fudge and Sinta spearheaded Thanksgiving Dinner in honor of her friend visiting from Chile -- we all pitched in on the food which included turkey doused with ginger ale, pears, oranges and stuffing, sweet indonesian style gravy, cranberry sauce with pomegranate, carrots simmered in honey and orange juice, mashed potatoes, fried green tomatoes and pumpkin bars with liquor icing. We'll be sharing these recipes very soon. Although, not all of them -- especially the Thanksgiving Dinner -- were necessarily recession friendly, they were delicious and we did cut a few corners to save cost; ginger ale substituted champagne for the turkey, a very smart decision on Sinta's part. Sometimes, as Mayme likes to say, choosing certain quality ingredients go a long way, whereas the rest could be very inexpensive. Figuring out what gets substituted verses what gets invested in is something Mayme wants to address, as she possesses a naturally astute palette, in addition to years spent making meals from scratch -- particularly Midwestern family recipes, and dishes she learned in France and Italy. As novice cooks, Jon and I would like to share our experiences learning how to make meals, diving in and enjoying it, while being pragmatic. We're not going to preach the Trader Joe's cookbook; we're artists who happen to be intuitive, creative, sensory oriented, passionate, experimental and naturally inclined to communicate our visualizations -- as pretentious as it sounds it's sadly, true. And, we're also STARVING ARTISTS, for real. So, our goal for the blog is to share our varied perspectives, be informative and most importantly, inspire you to learn how to smell, taste and experience food in new ways -- with only five bucks to spare.

Please keep the comments coming. They keep the blog alive!

--posted by Michelle

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On the eve of Yom Kippur, Mayme made butterscotch pudding from scratch. She was a bad Jew. It was worth it though because it was goooood!

Butterscotch Pudding Recipe

yield: Makes 4 servings

active time: 15 min

total time: 1 3/4 hr


  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Accompaniment: lightly sweetened whipped cream


Whisk together brown sugar, cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a heavy medium saucepan, then whisk in milk and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently, then boil, whisking, 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. Pour into a bowl, then cover surface with buttered wax paper and chill until cold, at least 1 1/2 hours.

Combine cream, milk and brown sugar in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Set aside. Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in heavy large saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until mixture turns deep amber color, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Slowly pour cream mixture into caramel (mixture will bubble vigorously). Bring to boil, whisking frequently to dissolve any caramel bits. Remove from heat.

Beat yolks in large bowl. Whisk in caramel mixture. Stir in vanilla and salt. Strain custard. Skim any air bubbles from surface. Refrigerate custard until cold, about 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Divide custard among six 3/4-cup custard cups. Place cups in roasting pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of cups. Bake pudding until set in center, about 45 minutes. Remove cups from pan. Cool at room temperature 2 hours. Cover; chill overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.)

Mayme suggests making this dessert on a cool fall day. Jon recommends viewing Miss Marple, the British television series. Dim the lights and accessorize your table with a candelabra ( we used birthday candles in ours -- disclaimer: they will stay lit for only five minutes).

-posted by Michelle

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

sorry folks for lack of updates.
we here at 6th street have been trying our darnest to get jobs, and get out and do other things outside the blogosphere.
we have been continuing to eat food (you were probably wondering) and make amazing dishes that will remain undocumented. BUT. we will have something fun posted real soon. it may even involve buying food with FOOD STAMPS.
i know you can't wait.

signing off on behalf of the entire house,