Posts tagged ‘cashew’

September 9, 2011

Pesto

Break out the food processor; it’s attack of the basil plant!

It all started with two small, innocent looking basil plants I picked up at Lowe’s.  I went with two plants, thinking they’d both be dead within a week based on my record.  The leaves would start to wilt on the way home knowing they were about to be subjected to over watering and lack of sunlight in my small apartment.  I’ll admit I do not have the necessary gardening skills to keep even a cactus alive.  So you can imagine my surprise when I found 3-foot plants with more basil than I knew what to do with?  I guess my luck changed in Houston… sadly not due to anything I did, but thanks to the hot, humid weather.

Basil’s pervading, clove-like aroma is intoxicating; it’s extremely aromatic with a scent of pepper, anise, and mint.  The minute the smell hits me I’m transported to an Italian café where I wait for a fresh margarita pizza.  The taste is sweet, but savory, and just like the smell it’s peppery with a hint of spicy mint.

In an effort to control my garden, I went on a pesto fest, and started making jars of herby goodness to share with family and friends.  Below please find 3 of my pesto recipes.  All you need to do it combine all ingredients in a food processor and process on high-speed till evenly chopped and mixed.

Basil Pesto

  • 3 cups loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Walnut Pesto: Substitute pine nuts for 1/2 cup walnuts; it has a slightly nuttier flavor and can also help you stretch your dollar since pine nuts can be quite pricey!

Mint Pesto: Substitute 1 1/2 cup basil for 1 1/2 cup mint leaves


While basil is abundant at the moment, I also suggest that you experiment with other herbs.  Pesto does not need to be basil based; I’ve tried mint, cilantro, rosemary and arugula.  Each one has a unique flavor, and can be added to bread, fish, meat, or enjoyed straight from the jar with some cheese.  With a basic formula you can come up with a myriad of variations by replacing the basil and pine nuts. Try these combos:

  • Arugula & toasted walnuts
  • Mint & toasted almonds
  • Cilantro & cashews
  • Basil, Rosemary & toasted walnuts
  • Cilantro & toasted pumpkin seeds

The other great thing about basil is it can be frozen and stored successfully for a few weeks.  The best method I’ve found is to place a small bunch in a clean Ziploc bag, blow some air in to inflate it, and place in the freezer where it won’t get squashed. You’ll find it quite convenient to then snip off a few leaves any time of year to add to pasta sauce, salads, or dressings.

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September 6, 2011

The Pappas-Mitchell Grilled Cheese

Cashew butter.  Fig Jam.  Sourdough bread.  Brie.  It’s like one of those mystery baskets on chopped.  Ok don’t walk away yet… I know you’re intrigued.  I had my doubts too, but trust me – this is one adult grilled delicacy you have to try.  Stephanie Pappas and Chris Mitchell, a couple very close to me who decided to leave me for the cooler mountains of Colorado, discovered this sandwich on a trip to Chicago at the Hop Leaf Tavern.  I’ve named it the “Pappas-Mitchell” sandwich in honor of them, and hope that if I name a few more dishes after them they might come back to Houston! J (I know, very unlikely but it’s worth a try right?!?)

Ingredients

  • Sliced Sourdough (or any kind of hearty bread you like, it can’t be too soft or it will fall apart)
  • Brie (any brand you like, I like the ones that aren’t too rich since it’s being paired with cashew butter.  Save the expensive cheese to eat solo with a glass of red wine!)
  • Cashew Butter
  • Fig Jam
  • Thinly sliced apple or pear (optional)
  • Butter for grilling the bread

Method

  • Butter both side of sourdough
  • Toast one side until golden brown in skillet
  • Remove from skillet and spread a healthy layer of cashew butter and fig jam to the toasted sides of each half.
  • Add a layer of sliced brie to one side and sliced apple to the other (apple is optional but adds another layer of texture
  • Assemble the sandwich and return to the skillet to finish toasting the other side
  • Cut in half and enjoy!

The last time I made this sandwich for Steph is was part of her going away dinner.  She said, “This sandwich just keeps getting better and better.  Philippa, you’re definitely mastered this one”.  Maybe she was just being nice, but I’ll take the compliment. J  I hope you enjoy this distinctive sandwich as much as I do.

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