Monday, June 21, 2010

Presto! Pesto!

Pesto is delicious. On pasta, grilled vegetables, toasted baguette...chimichurri, which my husband loves on skirt steak, is similar to pesto too. Bright green, garlicky and addictive. It's so easy to make! You don't need to adhere to traditional genovese ingredients like pine nuts, basil and Parmigiano Reggiano. Tonight I made a version with whatever I had in the kitchen: farm fresh parsley and basil, Grana, toasted walnuts leftover from Saturday's banana nut muffins, fresh garlic, a squeeze of lime and extra virgin olive oil. Whirr it up in the food processor and presto! Pesto!

Although we could have had just pesto and bread for dinner, I pulled together an easy weeknight one pan dish: frittata. Frittata is another versatile Italian dish and like pesto, once you learn the technique and proportions, you can mix and match ingredients.

Tonight's frittata was with summer squash and feta.

Saute the vegetables, 2 small squash, in a little butter and olive oil in a non-stick pan until they're softened and some pieces are lightly browned. Beat 6 eggs with a splash of milk using a fork and folding in lots of air so there is a layer of bubbles on top. The bubbles help keep the egg mixture fluffy when cooked.

Pour the eggs on top of the veggies and let it cook, covered for a few minutes over medium heat. You want to create a firmly cooked bottom of your frittata. As the egg cooks from the outside in, sprinkle with feta cheese and cover again for another 6 or 7 minutes. 

When the outside starts to brown and the very inside is almost cooked through set the pan under a hot broiler to finish cooking. It will puff up on the sides and create a slight crust.Slice like a pizza and enjoy with crusty bread and pesto!

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Lovely fresh herbs weekly. Sounds heavenly! But I just can't use a bunch each of sage, oregano, parsley, basil, mint, peppermint and lemon balm every week! I thought about drying we used to dry our Valentine roses and corsages in high school. Hang them upside down in the closet until they turn black and crunchy. Sentimental? Yes. Accurately describes the outcome of many of those high school relationships? Yes.

Hey! I want my herbs to look and smell great so I will use them in yummy dishes! gave an easy and effective recommendation. Nuke your fresh, clean herbs on a paper towel on high in the microwave for 3 minutes. See the results!

< Oregano at attention! Bright green, soft leaves, light earthy, herby smell. It keeps fine for a few days wrapped in damp paper towels in a plastic bag in the fridge. Great with chicken, beef, turkey, lamb. Too strong for fish, but perfect for pizza.

Nuked in the microwave! The leaves are whole, > very delicate so easily crushed between your fingers. The smell is intense! The same earthy, herbiness but stronger. They look amazing--like they were freeze dried. Looks pretty in an old jam jar. They'll keep for at least 6 months then start to lose some of their intensity.

How long have you had your herbs?

< Here is the alternative I found in my pantry. Bulk, dried oregano. Brownish green, crumbly almost to a powder. The smell is unpleasantly overwhelming. It's harsh, like really old potpourri. Would you sprinkle potpourri on anything you planned to put in your mouth? Sacre bleu, non!

I use the microwave sparingly...usually in a time crunch. Drying your herbs this way keeps them looking and smelling wonderful. It's a great way to capture the summertime freshness and enjoy it at any time of year. If I had known this clever trick 15+ years ago, might I still have those pretty roses? I think not. 

Let me know how it works for you!

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Encouraged by my husband and two girlfriends, I've started this blog to share my passion for food and cooking. I have a folder on the computer and an album on facebook entitled "food" for pictures of my dishes...some are better than others and I'll be honest about the results! Those of you invited to read my first post are a small group...we'll see if I can keep up the blog and expand to more friends. You're welcome to add comments or questions. Enjoy!

After reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver we joined a CSA this summer and I'm excited to share the beauty of fresh, organic vegetables! Here are two recent dishes.

Cornbread made with Vermont Maple Syrup and fresh sage. I used the cast iron skillet Erica got me for Christmas. The recipe instructs to warm it in the oven first and melt the whole stick of butter in the skillet before adding it to the batter. Clever! The sage smells wonderful.

My friend Lisa prepared scallion pancakes while we were in New Hampshire a few weekends ago. They were straight from the freezer. I found a different brand at my local Chinese Food Market and the package suggested preparing fillings for the pancakes. Here I sauteed onions in sesame oil and added ground turkey with hoisin and soy sauces. Topped with a fresh slaw of farm cabbage and carrots in a ginger dressing. Pretty tasty!