Saturday, July 28, 2012

Basil Salt

You can use this method with any herb - rosemary, oregano, chives, marjoram, thyme, tarragon, summer savory, sage, parsley – and it would be fun to experiment with a combination of herbs.  And a great kitchen gift for any basil lover!

Alternately layer even measures of unblemished fresh basil, bits of leaves, and blossoms with sea salt in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Start and end with a salt layer about ¼ inch thick, then make the remaining layers even (evenness isn’t crucial). 

Cover tightly and ignore until the leaves have dried – usually a few weeks. 
Then stir the jar, mixing the dried leaves with the salt.  They will have darkened, but they’re quite delicious. 

ADDENDUM: 8/10/2012
I found that during the drying process the lid should be removed from the jar occasionally because the salt does absorb moisture from the basil.  When the basil has dried, maybe a week or two, you should vigorously shake the jar (with the lid on) to break up any clumps.  I've found that the salt actually absorbs the basil flavor and is quite good.  I also followed the recipe using rosemary and I liked the results very much.

Pesto with Fettuccine, Fingerling Potatoes, and Green Beans

A classic dish from the Liguria Region of Italy, know for their pesto.  This recipe will provide 4 servings.  Ingredient portions are approximate depending on your taste.


1 cup pesto approximately
8 ounces green beans, trimmed, halved
8 ounces white potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
9 ounces fresh fettuccine
salt and pepper to taste

  • Cook green beans in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Using 4- to 5-inch-diameter strainer, transfer beans to large bowl.
  • Return cooking water to boil. Add fingerling potatoes and boil until tender, about 7-10 minutes. Remove potatoes with same strainer and transfer to bowl with beans.
  • Return cooking water to boil. Add fettuccine to same pot. Boil until pasta is just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking water.
  • Return green beans, white potatoes and cooked pasta to pot. Add pesto and toss to coat. Gradually add enough reserved cooking water to coat pasta with moist sauce.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Basil Pesto


1 cup moderately packed fresh basil leaves
2 ½ tsp pine nuts
2 tsp walnuts
2 moderately sized garlic cloves (pressed)
1/2 to 1 tsp salt or to taste
6  T parmesan cheese
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • In a food processor fitted with a metal lade, puree the basil, pine nuts, walnuts. salt, and garlic, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  • Add the cheese and blend well.
  • With the processor on, pour in the oil in a steady stream until thick, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  • Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  • Refrigerate or freeze until used.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

German Apple Pancakes

This pancake is more like a Yorkshire pudding than a griddle cake.  Baked at high temperatures the pancake puffs up dramatically.


  • 2             apples - peeled, cored and moderately sliced
  • 1 T          fresh lemon juice                                             
  • 1 tsp       ground cinnamon, plus cinnamon for dusting                                             
  • 1/4 tsp   ground nutmeg (optional)                                              
  • 3-6 T      confectioner's sugar, plus sugar for dusting                                             
  • 5 T          butter                                              
  • 3             eggs                                              
  • 1/2 C      milk                                              
  • 1/2 C      all-purpose flour                                              
  • 1/4 tsp   salt
  • Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C) 
  • In a bowl, toss together the apple, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and 3 tablespoons of sugar (more depending on tartness of apples). 
  • In a heavy ovenproof 10-12 inch skillet, preferably cast iron, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and then add the apple mixture.  Saute the apples until tender but not misshapen, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  • In the microwave or in a small pan on the stove, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter.  Reserve.
  • In a bowl, using a whisk, combine eggs and milk until well blended.
  • Combine flour and salt and slowly pour the flour mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
  • Add the reserved melted butter and mix well.
  • Arrange apple slices evenly in bottom of skillet used to fry them. 
  • Evenly pour the batter on top of the apples and bake until golden and puffy for 15 to 20 minutes.  Do not open oven until close to the end of the baking period.
  • Remove from oven when done, turn upside down onto a platter, apple side up.  Sift powdered sugar and cinnamon over top and serve.