Basil pesto

August 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Mmm, nothing says ‘summer’ more than piles of fresh basil.  This is so easy to make and tastes so. much. better. than anything that comes in a jar.  Does not compare.  Also – shocker – this version I made last night does not have cheese in it.  I know I know.  Normally my pesto has equal parts nuts and parmesan, but as I went to make this last night I realized with a *gasp* that I was out of parmesan.  How did that happen?  Rather than trek to the grocery store I decided to make it anyway and see what happened – and I must say I think I prefer this cheese-free version!  Look ma, it’s VEGAN! 

Basil pesto without cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 c. fresh basil, washed and dried
  • 1 c nuts.  Pesto is traditionally made with pine nuts, but they’re so expensive I usually use a blend.  This time I used a blend of half pine nuts, half almonds.  Walnuts also work well.
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped (or pressed)
  • Olive oil – I never measure this, I just use enough til it’s a consistency I like.  I would estimate I used 1/3  cup for this batch (I like my pesto thick; if you like it more runny, add more oil).
  • couple grinds of black pepper

Instructions

  • Chuck everything in the food processor, blitz, the end!

(Normally I put the basil, nuts, and garlic in together first and process about 15 seconds.   Then I add the olive oil and pepper and process again until as smooth as I want it, adding more oil if necessary.)

(If you want to make a version with cheese, add in 3/4 cup grated parmesan and 1/4 cup grated romano, and double the amount of olive oil.)

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“Buttermilk” biscuits (vegan)

July 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

So these were made out of necessity: my cupboards were bare, I’m not eating dairy, I was starving for breakfast, and I didn’t want to venture outside before 9:00 on a Saturday.  So there was much scrounging around in the pantry.  Whenever you think you’re completely out of food, you’re not: baking supplies to the rescue!

These biscuits were really yummy, despite all the non-dairy substitutions (no, Misters Simone-Finstrom, it’s not that my standards have dropped).  Here is the recipe I used, heavily adapted from several sources.  It makes 6 large biscuits.  The fact that there are only 4 in my photo has nothing to do with what I had for breakfast.

Ingredients (makes 6)

(make the ‘buttermilk’ first, when you turn the oven on, so it has time to curdle)

  • 1 c.  all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 T sugar
  • 1.5 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 c. cold butter substitute, cut up into small pieces
  • 3/4 c. soy milk + 1/2 T. lemon juice and let sit for at least 5 minutes (to curdle it and make ‘buttermilk’ – you need the acid from the lemon to activate the baking soda, I think)
Directions
1.  Heat the oven to 425 F.
2. Mix the dry stuff (flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar).
3. Dump in the cut up vegetable spread (butter imitation) and mix together with your fingers until it is distributed evenly and in small pieces (hard to describe, fortunately we all know what I’m talking about).
4.  Dump in the soy milk/lemon juice and stir the batter gently a few times until combined.  It’s really wet.  Like, “did I do something wrong, it’s so wet?” kind of wet.  Don’t fret.
5.  Plop the batter onto a paper-lined baking sheet.  It makes 6 good-sized biscuits.
6.  Bake for 12-15 minutes (my guess is you’ll need closer to 15) until edges are golden brown.
ENJOY warm with ‘butter’ and honey!  Yum!

 

tarte tatin

April 11, 2011 § 3 Comments

from the kitchen of my uncle mark and aunt kathleen.

this has become something of a thanksgiving and christmas staple with my family.  but, not wanting to be boxed in, i make it a bit more frequently.  *ahem.*

need:
large pie pan with high sides, buttered and sugared
5 apples and 5 pears (don’t use the asian/bosc pears- they’re too squishy)

crust:
3c flour sifted and unbleached
1 raw egg (speaking of, have you seen this?:  http://www.cooksillustrated.com/video/default.asp?newVideo=y&docid=23354 )

2 sticks of butter, softened
1 tsp sugar
mix all crust ingredients together by hand. the dough should be dry but somewhat roll-able. roll into a large, circular shape just bigger than the mouth of the pan.

peel and cut the apples the long way (long vertical strips. cut off the tops and the bottoms, so the strips stand up in the dish, but don’t come up over the top of the pan).

if you’d like you can layer the bottom of the pan with long vertical chunks (i do not). in the end, the pieces should be flat and tight. reserve pieces that are oddly-shaped for later use to tighten up the fruit.  honest, you’re either going to think that this part is super fun (aine), or it’ll make you completely homicidal (everyone else).  fair warning.

sauce:
2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
brown to dark over med/high heat- be very, very careful not to burn and stir constantly. it will seem to take a long time to reach golden brown. when it starts growing, you’re getting close.  i always aim for something around kraft caramel color.

pour sauce mixture over the apples and pears in the pan. assemble the crust on top. poke holes to vent.

bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours. PUT A COOKIE SHEET LINED WITH FOIL UNDER THE PAN TO CATCH THE DRIPPINGS OR YOU WILL HAVE BURNT CARAMEL IN YOUR OVEN UNTIL THE END OF TIME.

remove from oven and allow to cool. the cooler the better. when it’s cool, put a plate on top of the pan and quickly flip it over.

serve with vanilla ice cream and/or creme fraiche.

sorry, no pictures of the finished product (I flipped at someone else’s house), though I assure you it’s awful pretty.

It looks vaguely like this (Note: this is NOT my picture.  This photo appears to belong to the cooking channel).

Cannellini beans and mushrooms with rosemary, on toast

April 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

There’s just something about white beans and rosemary that is intoxicating.  Wine helps too.

British people really like their (baked) beans on toast (it’s standard breakfast fare over here), but I wanted a more refined dinner version.  So I invented this last night (you can tell from my super precise directions)!  Note: I served it on toasted rosemary bread, because I had just made some, but it would be fine on the pedestrian bread I’m sure you’re all eating at home.  I kid.  🙂

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Cannellini beans, whole can
  • Fresh rosemary, however much you think is appropriate
  • Mushrooms, a cup or so (but it would be fine without them altogether, mushroom haters)
  • Garlic,  a clove or two minced
  • Olive oil
  • White whine, or sherry, or balsamic vinegar (something to make it acidic)
  • Chevre or Boursin

Directions

  1. Fry the mushrooms in some olive oil.  Drain beans, rinse them, add the beans to the pan just to warm them up.  Toss in the rosemary.
  2. When it looks done (mushrooms have shrunk), add the garlic and let it go for a minute or so.  I don’t like burnt garlic so I add it last.
  3. Toast your bread.  If you’re feeling decadent, butter it.
  4. Dump the bean/mushroom mix on top of the toast.  Drizzle with olive oil and crumble some chevre on top.  Eat while hot!

Pancakes!

March 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Nothing like pancakes on Sunday morning!  This is a go-to recipe that never fails.  I’ve successfully made it with milk, butter milk, almond milk (with a little lemon juice added)…  easy peasy.

Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

– A note on portions: as written this makes 12-14 pancakes about 4 inches in diameter (I always make 2 at a time in my 10 inch pan).  This is enough for 2-4 people depending on how hungry/unashamed you are.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar (“optional” but I always include it)
2 eggs
11/2 to 2 cups milk
2 optional tablespoons melted and cooled butter, plus unmelted butter for cooking, or use a neutral oil like grapeseed or corn

My directions:

Mix the dry stuff.  Mix the wet stuff.  Add them together.  Make pancakes.

Bittman’s directions:

1. Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-low heat while you make the batter.

2. Mix together the dry ingredients. Beat the eggs into 11/2 cups of the milk, then stir in the 2 tablespoons cooled melted butter if you’re using it. Gently stir this mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing only enough to moisten the flour; don’t worry about a few lumps. If the batter seems thick, add a little more milk.

3. Use a little butter or oil each time you add batter, unless your skillet is truly nonstick. When the butter foam subsides or the oil shimmers, ladle batter onto the griddle or skillet, making any size pancakes you like. Adjust the heat as necessary; usually, the first batch will require higher heat than subsequent batches. The idea is to brown the bottom in 2 to 4 minutes, without burning it. Flip when bubbles appear in the center of the pancakes and the bottoms are cooked; they won’t hold together well until they’re ready.

4. Cook until the second side is lightly browned, a couple more minutes, and serve or hold on an ovenproof plate in a 200°F oven for up to 15 minutes.


Beef Tenderloin, Gorgonzola Cream Sauce, Bernaise

May 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

BEEF TENDERLOIN

Buy yourself a beef tenderloin. Unless you are crazy-pants, you should do this in Milwaukee, where beef tenderloin does not cost $20 per pound. See also, possibly, the Dakotas.

Cook by the 15-15-15 method (aka the MSG method).
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. After the oven has reached 500, wait 15 minutes. After waiting patiently, put the tenderloin, which you have seasoned as you see fit (salt and pepper will do quite nicely), into the oven and let it bake for 15 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN. When the buzzer dings, turn the oven off, but leave the tenderloin inside for another 15 minutes. SERIOUSLY. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN. When you hear the third ding, you can open the oven.  Remove and slice immediately, making sure that the slices are not touching one another (or they will continue to cook, ruining the beautiful cut of meat that you smuggled across the border).

GORGONZOLA CREAM SAUCE
(from Ina Garten’s “Parties”)

4c. heavy cream
3-4 oz crumbly gorgonzola (not creamy or dolce)
3T freshly grated parm
3/4t kosher salt
3/4t freshly ground black pepper
3T minced fresh parsley

Bring the heavy cream to a full boil in a medium saucepan over med-high heat. continue to boil rapidly for 45-50mins until thickened like a white sauce, stirring occasionally. remove the pan from the heat and add the gorgonzola, parm, salt, pepper and parsley. whisk rapidly until cheese melted and then serve.  It’s the sauce pictured below on the right.*

BERNAISE

Seriously. go to the supermarket, buy a packet of Knorr’s bernaise sauce mix (usually next to the soup) and follow the directions. Add in some fresh parsley at the end if you’re trying to make people think you did this one from scratch. This is not a joke. I promise it’s delicious. And I promise that no one need be the wiser about the shortcut.  It’s the sauce pictured above on the left.

*Important: When you realize that you made waaaay too much cream sauce, take heart. Save it in a covered bowl in the fridge. The next day, it will have turned into the most amazing cream-cheese like spread you ever did see. This makes for wicked awesome beef tenderloin sandwiches, and is also delicious on EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD.

Look how happy this meal makes everyone:

Basic Fruit Crisp

February 12, 2010 § 1 Comment

This a recipe based on a BA recipe from 95. I use their recipe for general proportions and then do whatever I feel like from there. I usually put it with cinnamon ice cream or whip up some cream with cinnamon and a little sugar. I often just use the apples that I have plus a pear or two. You can throw in cherries instead of cranberries (which I think is really tasty). Pineapple is also a good addition with the cherries if you’re in to that. Basically throw in whatever you want add some flour and sugar (a little less if the fruit’s really sweet).  And I throw extra cinnamon in the topping and vanilla with the fruit or whatever else I feel like at the moment. It’s not like baking, so it doesn’t have to be exact which is ideal for me.

Apple Cranberry Crisp

Topping
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature

Fruit
5 large Jonathan apples (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, sliced
4 Granny Smith apples (about 2 pounds), peeled, sliced
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

To prepare the topping:

Mix first 3 ingredients in bowl. Add butter; rub with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal.

To prepare the fruit:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Mix apples, cranberries, sugar, flour and cinnamon in large bowl. Add 6 tablespoons butter and toss. Transfer to dish.

Crumble topping over fruit. Bake until apples are tender, about 1 1/4 hours. Cool slightly.

Couldn’t be easier!

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