Check Engine Lights and Cheap Tomatoes
With all the neon and glitz the Las Vegas strip has to offer, one might think I would remain unruffled when unfamiliar illumination glares at me. Not so. Holly Golightly said in Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, “There are certain shades of limelight that can wreck a girl’s complexion”. In my experience, there are several dashboard light indicators that can age one just as easily; the big one being the brake light.
I went to one of the brewhouse regulars for help. Ferrari Bob as we affectionately call him, knows cars and how to care for them. “Bob, do you have a good mechanic? I need one that won’t take advantage of a girl.”
“I have a great one,” he promised, “and he won’t take advantage of a girl, his wife won’t let him.”
Gary of Italy Service without a formal appointment changed my brake pads and rotors and charged me less than half of what my dealership quoted. My gratitude left me speechless. Good thing my fingers still retained their knife skills.
A headlight my car needed was on back order and when it came in, I was determined not to return to the shop empty handed. I thought lunch for the boys would be appropriate. But what? The mind reeled.
On my way from the shop I stopped at my local grocery store for milk. I have few necessities in life; milk for coffee in the morning is one of them. I always have a spare half gallon of organic 2%. I have to. I wouldn’t know how to drive myself in the morning to get milk for coffee if I didn’t have my coffee. Anyway,
Near the dairy section was the discounted food section; foods on the verge of going bad that are reduced to mere pennies. The 8lbs of tomatoes marked down to $3.50 spoke to me, and I decided then and there that Gary and the boys would be enjoying Fresco Timpano with homemade sauce.
I had made this beautiful creation once before. I discovered it in the Scotto’s Cookbook called “Italian Comfort Food”. Yes, it was the picture that lured me in. As previously mentioned, I’m a sucker for good food photography. I exhausted the search images section of Google in the hopes of sharing photographer Sacha Frey’s genius to no avail. If you would be so kind to indulge me…
The bottom layer is sauteed eggplant, peas and sausage with tomatoes and ricotta. On top of all of that goodness sits a mound of penne pasta tossed in homemade sauce. Then the whole thing is wrapped in puff pastry and baked. The Scotto’s call it an Italian version of pot pie. It is pot pie, if the words ‘pot pie’ translate to ‘brilliant’ in Italian.
I started the sauce a day ahead to allow all the incorporated flavors to come together. I also wasn’t sure how much longer I had before my thrifty tomato purchase became an unwise one. 8lbs of tomatoes, got blanched, skinned and sauteed with pancetta, onions, garlic, red pepper flakes and half a bottle of a dry red. As they stewed their little hearts away, I sauteed homemade meatballs in another pan. In between batches of fried meatballs, I showed my pans a little tenderness, by wiping them clean of oil and the deglazing them with the remainder of the red. All brown bits, released with ease and joined the simmering tomato extravaganza. The things I do for cheap auto repair.
I had a leftover sheet of puff pastry from Alsatian Tart day and the remaining ingredients from a quick jaunt to the store. I had prepped all ingredients, the sauteed eggplant, sausage, peas, sauce the night before so I could easily combine, bake, and drive to the repair shop before lunch hour.
Did the guys like it? My dealership’s price on the headlight was $185, Gary’s price on the light $138. Another light they researched, found and successfully installed for me: $9. I’m thinking, yes, the guys liked it. Thank you, Scotto family.
To my readers: For all my food stories, I try to include the name of dish, and name and date of magazine, so any interested parties can Google epicurious.com or the appropriate site for the recipe. Fresco Timpano might be a struggle to find. I will do my best to forward the info upon request. Thanks for reading.