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PestoPasta_4068

Everybody I know has a favorite pesto sauce recipe – just because if you grow basil you have to have something to do with it when it goes summer haywire and bolts to the sky. And, although I hate giving a name to a traditional dish that I’ve messed around with I don’t quite know what else to call my pesto. I guess I could just call it green pasta sauce. To my version, I add a few mint leaves and a bit of fresh green chile – the former for a bit of freshness and the latter for a bit of the heat that we love. It still tastes like pesto, but with a bit of pizzazz. Try it, you might just like it.

 

3 to 4 peeled garlic cloves

½ hot green chile, seeds and membrane removed, optional

½ cup pine nuts – toasted if you have the time

3 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves

About 10 mint leaves or more to taste

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

 

Combine the garlic, chile, and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process, using quick on and off turns, until coarsely chopped. Add half of the basil and again using quick on and off turns process to coarsely chop. Add the remaining basil along with the mint and, with the motor running, begin adding the oil, processing until a thick green sauce forms.

Add the cheese, season with salt, and give a quick couple of turns to incorporate.

If the pesto is too thick for your taste, add more oil. If too thin, add more basil and, perhaps, a bit more cheese. The flavor is yours to decide.

If not using immediately, scrape the sauce into a nonreactive container. Smooth the top and cover it with extra virgin olive oil to prevent discoloration. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.

broad-beans_p7038211

Steve, my photographing husband, does not much like green beans. I have no idea why as I find them bland with nothing off-putting at all. However, I introduced him to what I call broad beans, but which are actually Romano or Italian beans, he took a liking to them so when I can find them they sometimes take the place of ordinary green beans. I find their flavor richer and like to mix them up with other vegetables – corn, onion, and broad beans being one combo I’m particularly fond of. I also like to use them in a light pasta. The one in this photo is sliced broad beans, cherry tomatoes, garlic, sweet onion, and basil with a good dose of grated Parmigiano. Light, filling, and healthy, too.

 

broad-beans_pasta_7038220

Garlic fresh_P6288157

Garlic Scapes_P6288150

‘Tis the season for all types of fresh vegetables, but one of our favorites is fresh garlic.  And, when it arrives, so do garlic scapes.  Both are less pungent than dried garlic (which my son, Chris, tells me I always use too much of in everything) and the bulb has a sweetness that is only detected in the dried when it is roasted.  This is an easy recipe that allows that flavor to shine.

 

4 to 5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth

⅓ cup unsalted butter

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

8 ounces diced pancetta

2 bulbs fresh garlic, peeled and finely minced

1 shallot, peeled and minced

8 ounces arborio rice

Zest of 1 orange

Salt and pepper

½ cup finely chopped garlic scapes

½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese plus more to taste
Place the chicken stock in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a bare simmer, lower the heat, and leave on the heat as you prepare the rice, taking care that it doesn’t boil and lose volume.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or just until the pancetta begins to crisp.  Add the garlic and shallot and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for another 4 minutes or until the aromatics have softened, but not taken on any color.

Add the rice and orange zest and cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute or until the rice is glistening.   Season with salt and pepper.

Begin adding the stock, a large ladleful at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the stock before adding more.  Cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 minutes or until the “sauce” is creamy and the rice is almost cooked.  Add the scapes and cook, stirring, for about another 5 minutes or until the rice is al dente.

Stir in the cheese, taste, and, if necessary, season with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat and ladle into shallow soup bowls, sprinkling with additional cheese, if desired.

Oyster Mushroom_P6288128

I purchased this absolutely beautiful oyster mushroom at the green market just because, to me, it was a work of art.  Of course, it was a wonderful subject for Steve to photograph, also.  Once it had been admired and framed, I sautéed it in a little extra virgin olive oil and garlic and scooped it up on a piece of toast as Steve’s reward for being such a gifted photographer.

 

Oyster Mushroom_P6288094oyster-mushroom_p6288189Oyster©StephenKolyer

Corn©StephenKolyer

 

The first corn of the season was simply boiled and eaten as is.  There are lots of debates on just how to prepare corn on the cob.  Personally, I love it best in the husk on the grill, but that only occurs when we are out of the city.  When boiling, some put the husked cobs into boiling salted water, some into boiling water that has been seasoned with lemon juice, sugar, and salt.  Some prefer putting the corn into cold water and bringing it to the boil.  Some just steam it, in or out of the husk.  I like to bring it to a boil in unsalted water, cover, and turn off the heat.  Then, I let the corn rest in the water for about 10 minutes or until I think it is done.  Works for me!   This first crop was not awe-inspiring, so we only ate one ear each.  I had an aunt who loved to make a contest of corn on the cob – I remember when I was about 5 or 6 years old or so and I watched in awe as she ate 8 ears and challenged everyone at the table to do better.  I’ve never beat her record.

The second green market find was absolutely sweet, tender, and delicious.  However, since I wasn’t trusting the outcome of leaving it on the cob, I stripped the kernels and added them to a mix of sliced broad beans, fava beans, and sweet pepper for an almost succotash.  I only added a pat of butter, about a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream I found in the fridge, and salt and pepper.  The mix was sweet, crisp, and sang of summer.

 

Corn_p6288175

Scallops

 

Summer Sunday mornings at the green market always inspire me.  This past Sunday I picked up some scallops along with a bag of pea shoots, foraged trumpet mushrooms, and a plastic clam shell of edible flowers – among other things, of course.  But, these were to be the makings of a light Sunday supper.  When time came to put it all together, I placed the pea shoots on a nice plate and spread some of the flowers around and on top of them.  I lightly dusted the scallops with Wondra flour and salt and pepper and gave them a quick sear in extra virgin olive oil.  I had some vinaigrette on hand that was made from moscato vinegar so once the scallops were seared I placed them on the pea shoots and drizzled some of the vinaigrette over the top.  (Totally forgot the mushrooms, but they will not go unused, I can assure you – at $25.00 a pound we will relish every bite.)  The scallop dish was light and very tasty and the flowers were the most delightful addition.  I’ve always loved nasturtiums and in this case their bite added just enough zest to an otherwise very sweet dish.

 

Fancy Scallops

PIE©StephenKolyer

 

I have been writing cookbooks for 45 years and I rarely hear from anyone who has cooked from any one of the many, many books I have written, co-authored, or ghosted.  However, the other day I got the following note posted on Facebook from a very nice lady named Elaine Grahame-Dunn.  I wanted to share it as just simple graciousness doesn’t come my way very often.  The book about which she is commenting was published in 1992 in the States and in England and Australia somewhat later.  How nice that it is still being used.

 

June 16th, 6:19am

Just wanted to say how much I use your wonderful book ‘The Great American Pie Book’. I am a British woman living near Seville in Spain and own a bed and breakfast establishment. It is a great book to go to for inspiration when I feel a little jaded with my menu choices. Thank you. It isn’t said enough in this World nowadays. X

 

And after my response to her I received the following:

Just wanted to make contact and I think it’s important to let people know when they do a good job. Some recipe books are nice you look at but not practical. Few and far between are those that make life easier as a cook! Thanks again for a job well done. You are welcome here any time. X

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