Fresh Basil Pesto

Kinfolk Magazine, you are the amazing.An indie short film for a basil pesto recipe? Can I work for you right now?

[vimeo 34766296 w=500 h=281]

A good basil pesto recipe is something that every chef should have in his or her arsenal. Watching the video from Kinfolk makes me wish that is how inspiring I looked while making pesto. Truth is, it's not. Nonetheless, the recipe is simple and is made even easier with a few modern tools (i.e. food processor).

basil

I've made pesto numerous times before but wanted to try making it with my Vitamix. I figured that it would work perfectly, however I found that it wasn't able to blend the ingredients smoothly enough into a paste. Perhaps it was an abnormality, but I would suggest sticking with a food processor.

pine nuts

garlic

Pesto is a great addition to any pasta (my favorite being gnocchi), pizza, or sandwich. Check out this page from The Food Network talking about 50 things to make with pesto. There are a few ideas that I may have to borrow and try for myself.

pesto

Thursday's post will be for a recipe that I was able to include this pesto in, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for new posts.

Fresh Basil Pesto Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

5-6 ounces (2 healthy bunches or about 6 cups gently packed) basil leaves, or any other green 1/2 cup pine nuts, or any other nut 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, or any other hard cheese 1-2 garlic cloves 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4-1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Combine half of the basil with the nuts, cheese, cloves, and salt in a food processor. Blend continuously until the ingredients are finely chopped.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the rest of the basil. Blend until a uniform paste has formed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. With the blender running, stream in the olive oil. Less olive oil will make a paste good for spreading on sandwiches and pizzas; more will make a sauce better for pastas and stirring into soup. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue blending as needed until the olive oil is emulsified into the basil and the pesto looks uniform.
  4. Taste the pesto and add more salt, garlic, nuts or cheese as needed to taste.
  5. Pesto will darken and brown very quickly, but will still be tasty and fresh for several days. For best appearance, use it right away. If storing, store it in the smallest container possible and thoroughly press the pesto to eliminate air pockets. Pour a little olive oil over the surface, cover, and refrigerate for up to a week. Pesto can also be frozen for several months.

Homemade Vanilla Extract Part I

Back to reality...

The past week in Door County was exactly what I have been needing. A little time to relax and recuperate body and mind - I couldn't have asked for anything more. On the drive back home my mother was paging through a new cookbook that she purchased, Fresh Farm Recipes from the Missing Goat Farm.

vanilla beans

She stumbled upon a page that talked about making your own vanilla extract. The strange thing? It called for two ingredients - vanilla beans and vodka. Shut the front door - vanilla extract is alcohol? Does this mean that I can pour some vanilla extract on the rocks and enjoy it after a long day at work? No, not quite. If you've ever tasted vanilla extract, you'll know that it tastes anything but delicious. The dilemma? The liquid will smell absolutely delicious and all you will want to do is taste it - resist. You might as well keep it exclusively for baking.

mason jar

The process is extremely simple. Two ingredients and a little bit of time. The more research you do, the more you will read about allowing the vanilla beans to marry with the vodka over a longer period of time. You can let the mixture sit for about six weeks, but the longer you wait, the more depth you will get in flavor.

I've decided to try a little experiment. Yesterday, July 20, 2014, I put the vanilla beans in a mason jar with vodka. The entire process will last six months. Every two months I will use some of the vanilla extract in a recipe and will compare any changes in flavor. At the end of the six months, we will decide, does age really make it better?

date sticker

Many chefs will use masking tape to date or label their foods. This is an important tool to have in your kitchen. As I have already said, this is an experiment for myself. Every two months I will give you an update with tips or advice.

In the meantime, go out and buy some vanilla beans and vodka and start making your own vanilla extract.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Ingredients: 3 Madagascar vanilla beans 16 ounces vodka

Instructions

  1. Split the vanilla beans lengthwise and place in a 16-oz mason jar.
  2. Fill jar with vodka and seal shut.
  3. Every few days swirl the contents of the jar. This step is important for the first few weeks. After that, the frequency will most likely decrease.