Tag Archives: Cookbooks

Presto! Pesto! #weekendcooking @BethFishReads

cover image of Best 125 Meatless Mediterranean DishesI mentioned making pesto from the recipe in The Best 125 Meatless Mediterranean Dishes by Susann Geiskopf-Hadler & Mindy Toomay a couple of years ago for Weekend Cooking, but I recently made a batch and remembered to take some photos for this post, because there can never be too many blog posts about pesto.

The recipe from this cookbook is a very basic one that starts with two packed cups of basil, but for some reason, I find the proportions always work exactly right to make my idea of pesto. It’s thick, but not drippy; it spreads easily and mixes evenly into hot or cold foods. It’s bright green (underneath the top layer in the container that always gets discolored even with a thin layer of olive oil on top) and smells divine! Basil, garlic, Parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil…mmmmmmmmm.

(Yes, I have spooned pesto straight from the container into my mouth, as some people like to do with peanut butter or Nutella. But don’t worry, I don’t dip the same spoon back in, just in case you’ve ever come to eat dinner at my house.)

To make pesto, you absolutely must have a big bunch of fresh basil that is still nice and green. (Don’t put it in the fridge! I’ve learned you can just put a big bouquet of it in a vase of water on the counter until you’re ready to use it.)

close up of basil leaves removed from stemsAnother fan of this classic basil pesto recipe at Tales of Twisty Lane blogged about it and included the recipe in a blog post here.

Basically, you grind up the basil leaves in the food processor with garlic, pine nuts, and grated Parmesan, and 1/4 cup of the 1/3-cup of olive oil you’ve measured out and then as the food processor’s still going, pour in the remainder of the oil slowly, the way you do if you’ve ever tried making homemade mayonnaise. It gets emulsified that way, I guess, so the oil doesn’t separate out from the other ingredients. You can keep it in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks or more and it’s still good.

photo of pesto just after it's madeThis pesto was made with basil fresh-picked from the garden the same day. If you don’t think that looks delicious, then I can’t help you! 😉

Pesto was a revelation to me when I tasted it for the first time at a restaurant in the mid-80s, some time after graduating from college. I don’t think I ever had a dish of pasta again that tasted so incredible! So pesto has a special place in my heart, and is going to come back into style again one of these days, I just know it.

Some ways to eat pesto other than on pasta:

  • on corn on the cob instead of butter
  • on roasted or grilled veggies
  • on a cheeseburger
  • on a tomato sandwich
  • on a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich
  • with a spoon (for fanatics only)

Happy Weekend Cooking!

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It’s Still Summer: Pay No Attention to that CrockPot in the Corner #weekendcooking

At the library, I put out a display of summertime cookbooks over a week ago and have only had to replace a few titles since. The rest are still sitting there, as pretty and appealing as can be, but no takers.

Come on, people! There are still farmers’ markets and farm stands overflowing with all sorts of produce! Let’s keep cooking with the fresh corn, tomatoes, melons, peaches, greens, peppers, and berries. There’s time enough to move on to apples and pumpkins later.  Yes, I saw the Halloween displays in the stores on August 1st, but I’m treating them like ads on the Internet and pretending they’re not there.

That said, I did use the slow cooker a couple of times recently and made these Slow Cooker Enchiladas. I made them first for a potluck with corn tortillas, following the recipe pretty closely using chicken, corn, and black beans in the filling, and they came out great, although slightly burned on the bottom. The next time I made them, I planned on the shorter end of the suggested cooking time range, but was in a big hurry and skipped the chicken and black beans and forgot the corn and decided to use the gluten-free teff tortillas instead of corn ones, and they came out a gloppy mess. (Lesson learned: Teff tortillas dissolve if you cook them for extended periods covered in salsa.)

I have no photos from the successful or unsuccessful versions of the recipe, so you’ll have to look here for the recipe and the photos.

In celebration of its still being summer here in New England, I did make these drinks last night from an improvised recipe of my own devising. We have been eating peaches from the tree in our yard and even though we didn’t get many this year, I squandered a few small ones in this blender drink, including one that I had frozen whole as an experiment and chopped up to put in the blender frozen.

two drinks with bookcase in background
Peach-Watermelon Limoncello Coolers: Put chunks of fresh watermelon and fresh or frozen peaches in the blender to about two-thirds full. Add limoncello and a few ice cubes. Blend. Pour into glasses and garnish with fresh mint.

For other gluten-free CrockPot recipes for late summer and early fall, check out my Pinterest board: So Fast in the Slow Cooker.

Happy Weekend Cooking!

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Weekend Cooking: Breakfast Salad from Mollie Katzen’s Sunlight Cafe #weekendcooking

cover image of cookbookThe tagline for Sunlight Café, a 2002 cookbook by Mollie Katzen, is “Breakfast served all day”. The recipes are all vegetarian; most include so many suggested variations on them that you could easily try a different breakfast every day for a year.

I’ve written about Sunlight Café before, but that was when it was cold outside and hot breakfasts were the thing. This morning it was already hot out (in the high 70s) and I had some ricotta cheese to use up, so I looked in the index (which is excellent, BTW) and found a recipe for Breakfast Salad. It’s a free-form kind of recipe. Basically, you take a combination of crisp, chopped veggies (e.g. tomato, red pepper, scallions) toss them with olive oil and a little salt and then with crumbled feta or ricotta salata. (I don’t know what ricotta salata is. I just used regular Dragone-brand ricotta. Will have to look up to see if they’re the same thing.) Add hard- or soft-boiled egg (still warm is good) and additional salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds. (I used toasted pine nuts, which were also left over from something else.)

Why I love this cookbook
Breakfast Salad is a simple recipe that experienced home cooks would be able to glance at and then make up their own version of, and really wouldn’t need a recipe at all. But I don’t think I would have thought of making a salad for breakfast if Mollie Katzen hadn’t given me the idea! Also, the cookbook provides complete instructions on everything a beginner cook might wonder about, including how to boil eggs. (I checked to see if I was hardboiling my eggs as directed, and I was, at least according to Mollie Katzen. Since she is one of my favorite food gurus, that’s good enough for me. No green-rimmed yolks!) Actually, she probably explains ricotta salata, too, but I’m supposed to be working on stuff for Bloggiesta this weekend, not Weekend Cooking, so I’m not going to check now!

Mollie Katzen hasn’t posted her recipe for Breakfast Salad in her online recipe archives, but you’ve already got the basic idea from the pictures and my description. You can make the proportions to suit your own taste, and besides, you really want the whole cookbook, anyway!

You can find a similar description of the recipe in this post about making salad for breakfast on Culinate.

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