Homemade Pizza Sauce

To make a really epic pizza, you really only have three key ingredients, dough, sauce and cheese. 

All other toppings are a matter of personal choice, but if either of these three ingredients are not spot on, it’s never going to be a brilliant pizza. 

In a previous post, I’ve shared my recipe for pizza dough. I can’t emphasize enough how much of a difference the cold proof makes. The cold proof creates a vastly superior and tasty dough. http://www.thepasadenachef.com/2016/01/homemake-pizza-dough-real-way.html

Now, I want to share my pizza sauce recipe. It’s not difficult to make, but use the best ingredients you can find and let it simmer very slowly. It smells wonderful.


1- 14.5oz can Diced Organic Tomatoes, Muir Glen are particularly good.
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Sugar
1 clove of Garlic peeled and lightly crushed with the side of your chef\’s knife.

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring up to a simmer and simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours. Stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and allow to cool. Hot pizza sauce makes for a mushy crust, I like it to be room temperature, when I spoon it onto the dough.

This recipe makes enough sauce for two 14 inch pizzas.

Note: If you eschew cheese, then you can always use a non dairy substitute like Daiya. I find it works best to add the Daiya close to the end of the cooking time. It needs a maximum of three minutes to melt. 

Vegan Apple Tart

There are so many desserts that have dairy products, and for people who don’t eat dairy, dessert’s can sometimes be challenging.

I’ve always loved Ina Garten’s Apple Tart, but sadly it has a lot of butter and is assembled over puff pastry. I thought that I might be able to make my own puff pastry, but imagine my surprise when I found that Pepperidge Farm Pastry Sheets are 100% vegan.

So, here is my very easy recipe to make a vegan apple tart, inspired by the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten.


1 package of Pepperidge Farms Pastry Sheets, defrosted
1/2 stick Earth Balance Spread, you can use the Earth Balance in the tub if need be.
4 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced to 1/4 inch wedges.
1/2 cup Sugar
3/4  cup of Apricot Jam
3 Tbsp of Applejack or other apple brandy, Calvados is fine.

Take a half sheet baking pan and line with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 400F. Take the puff pastry and lightly flour it and roll it out until it reaches the size of your sheet pan. Do not make it too thin. Hint: If you want to make individual tarts, you can divide the puff pastry into quarters. 

Arrange the apple slices in three rows touching each other until the apples are covering the puff pastry from end to end. Sprinkle on the sugar. Cut the Earth Balance into small squares and dot over the apples.

Put into the oven for 35-40 minutes, turning once during cooking. If you find the puff pastry is bubbling up in spots, just skewer the bubble with a knife and it will deflate. 

While the tart is cooking, heat your apricot jam and then add your apple brandy and cook gently until it’s slightly thickened. Remove form the heat, and set aside.

When the tart is done, remove from the oven and spoon the apricot jam mixture over the warm tart and allow to slightly cool. Cut into squares and serve warm. 

Note: Ina suggests you loosen the warm tart with a spatula to keep it from sticking to the parchment paper. 

Sichuan Tofu with Cashews

I absolutely love this dish. I’d say it’s second only to my Kung Pao Tofu or my MoPo Tofu. It gives you everything you want from quality Sichuan food, salty, sour, sweet and spicy.

Prepare everything before you begin to cook as the cooking time is 5-6 minutes max. The prep time is 10-15 min. 


Marinade for tofu
1 packet of Extra Firm Tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes. 
1 Tbsp Hot Bean Paste
1 tsp Shaoxing Rice Wine
1 tsp Chinkiang Black Vinegar

2 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Chinkiang Vinegar
1 Tbsp Shaoxing Rice Wine
2 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Sesame Oil
3 Tbsp Oil
3 Green Onions, cut into 1 inch pieces.
1 Red Pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 cloves of Garlic, minced
6 Tien Tsin chilis
2 inch piece of Ginger Root, peeled and minced
2 tsp Cornstarch, mixed with 2 Tbsp water.

Mix your cubed tofu and marinade ingredients and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350F and roast the cashews on a foil lined baking sheet for 6-7 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Heat your oil to a high temperature, and then add your garlic ginger, stir fry for 30 seconds, then add your green onions and red pepper. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes until just tender.

Add your sauce and cook until it just begins to thicken slightly. Approx 1 minute. Add your tofu and then cook for 1 minute.

Add your cornstarch mixture and cook until thickened. Maybe 15-30 seconds. Serve over hot Chinese or Jasmine rice.

A Well Stocked Chinese Pantry – The Must Haves

As I often feature Asian/Chinese dishes on my blog, I find that many people who love Chinese food and would like to prepare it at home, do not have the proper ingredients on hand.  A well stocked pantry is essential to preparing authentic Chinese cuisine. 
So after being asked multiple times, I’ve decided to post an essential shopping list, so you can properly stock up your pantry. 
When you feel the urge to make some stunning and healthy Chinese food, you should be able to go into the kitchen and pull something together relatively quickly. 
As these ingredients will last quite a long time, an initial stock up will produce many fine meals. You will find that most benefit from being stored in the refrigerator. Additionally, buy the best brand you can find. I find that Lee Kum Kee brand is always good.
This list is 100% vegan. 

Must Haves
Light Soy Sauce
Dark Soy Sauce
Chinkiang Vinegar
Shaoxing Rice Wine
Hot Bean Paste
Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp
Lao Gan Ma Chili Oil with Black Bean
Chili Paste
Hoisin Sauce
Mirin or Dry Sherry
Distilled Vinegar
Toasted Sesame Oil
Fermented Black Beans
Szechuan Peppercorns
Tien Tsin Chilies, dried. 
Black or Shiitake Mushrooms, dried. 
Chow Mein Noodles
Vegetable Broth
Peanut, Canola or Sunflower Oil
With these basic pantry ingredients, you can make many stunning Chinese dishes, including recipes from the spicy Sichuan and Hunan regions. Sauces for dumplings and many wonderful noodle dishes.
For the fresh pantry items, I always have the following on hand. 
Fresh Ginger Root
White Onions
Green Onions/Scallions
Red Peppers, not the spicy ones.

Homemade Sichuan Style Chili Oil – UPDATED

There are so many variations for chili oil. From my research, I think it’s likely that Fuchsia Dunlop’s version is quite authentic. I modified her recipe slightly and was happy with the results.

After seeing my friend Kenneth’s post on Chinese New Year, I was craving potstickers and wanted a spicy oil. This version is a bit hotter than a traditional Sichuan chili oil, so you use less. 

I serve it drizzled over the dumplings with some chopped green onion sprinkled on top. It is packed with flavor and has just the right amount of heat.


1 1/2 cups of Vegetable Oil
2 Tbsp Sichuan Peppercorns 
1 Stick Cinnamon 
1 tsp Black Peppercorns 
1/8 tsp Cloves
5 Star Anise, whole
2 Garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
1 2 inch piece Ginger Root, peeled, cut in half and mashed. 
2 Bay Leaf
1/2 cup Chili Flakes
Heat oil until 285F in saucepan, add garlic, ginger root and all whole spices , turn off heat and seep for 1 hour. 
Strain the oil and reheat to 285F. Pour over the chili flakes and allow to cool. Transfer to jar and let rest for a day before using.