Basil

It’s basil season on Edgecliff and we’ve got lots…

I grew four kinds this year. The standard genovese variety…
…a red variety I forget the name of – different than the one I usually grow (and don’t like it as much)…
…thai basil (going to try thai basil mojitos this weekend)…
…cinnamon basil – too pretty to pick.
If one has lots of basil then of course one needs to make pesto:  One huge load of basil…
…about three heaping cups once trimmed and cleaned…
…about 1/3 cup of pine nuts…
…a couple cloves of garlic (this beautiful garlic is from our CSA and is so much fresher and such a huge difference…who knew)….
Swirl it all together in the Cuisinart with a healthy dose of good olive oil et voila.
Pasta with super fresh pesto and lots of herbs, zucchini with lots of basil and some really cool purple carrots (sauteed in butter and maple syrup).  A beautiful summer plate of freshness.

Garlic and Lemon Pasta with Arugula

simple, fresh and tasty
the arugula is prolific in the garden now and our first crop of the year
yeay summer

Garlic and Lemon Pasta with Arugula

Bon Appetit, March 2005

1 pound spaghetti, dry
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup baby arugula   (I would use twice as much)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Accompaniments: freshly grated Parmigiano-reggiano, sea salt, freshly ground pepper, squeeze of lemon

Cook spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Meanwhile, in small saucepan, heat oil and butter over medium-low heat. Stir in garlic, lemon peel, lemon juice, broth, basil, salt and pepper and raise heat to medium-high. Bring to a gentle simmer, reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes.

Drain pasta, return it to its cooking pot and immediately pour the heated sauce over it, along with the arugula and parsley. Use tongs to gently toss the pasta and sauce together. Transfer pasta to heated serving bowl. Top with grated Parmigiano-reggiano, a light sprinkling of sea salt and freshly ground pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Senate Bean Soup

We have been making this soup for years whenever we have left over ham and a ham bone.  It always tastes better the next day.

Senate Bean Soup

Soup Suppers, Arthur Schwartz

  • 1 lb. dried white beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 small ham hock (we usually use the left over bone from a ham)
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 to 8 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
  1. Soak the rinsed beans overnight in cold water to cover by several inches. (we usually skip this as we aren’t thinking that much ahead.  Just a couple of hours soak helps though if you have time).
  2. In a 5 to 6 quart pot, combine the drained beans, ham hock, and water.  Cover and bring to a boil; adjust the heat, partially cover, and simmer briskly until the beans are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the onion, celery, garlic, potato, salt and pepper.  Keep at a steady simmer another hour, stirring occasionally, until the beans are very tender and the soup is very thick.
  4. Remove the ham hock and, if desired, strip the meat off the bones and put into soup. (we usually add more left over ham if we have it)
  5. Serve piping hot.

Monday Night Pasta

We have been trying to do meatless mondays for quite a while now.  We have come to perfect this pasta dish over the past few months.  It is quite adaptable and is a good way to clean out the refrigerator on a Monday night.  It is definately worth it to make your own beans instead of using canned.  They are firmer and stand out better with the pasta.

beautiful swiss chard from our garden
the swiss chard wintered over from last year and is growing great
lots of garlic is always a good thing
the beans and greens before putting the pasta in
in goes the pasta and lots of parmesan

Monday Night Pasta (Pasta with Garlic and White Beans)

Serves 4-6

  • 6-8 cloves of garlic or more, sliced very thin
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • bag of cannelini beans, or any white beans  (canned beans work just fine too)
  • bunch of swiss chard, or broccoli, or broccoli rabe or whatever is left in the refrigerator
  • vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • salt, pepper, red pepper flakes if feeling spicy
  • 1 lb of penne, rigatoni or whatever pasta you want
  • parmesan cheese

Soak beans in a pot of water overnight. The next day drain them and rinse them.  Boil in a pot with salt until tender.

In large saute pan, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon or so of butter.  Saute the garlic on very low heat making sure you don’t burn it.  Take your time and get them nice and soft.  Don’t be stingy on the olive oil.  When the garlic is nice and soft, about 15 minutes, add the greens to the pan and saute them for a few minutes.  Add a few splashes of broth and put a top on the pan to help the greens cook.  After the greens wilt put the beans in and keep the pan on low.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente or even a touch under al dente as it will cook a little bit more with the sauce.  When pasta is done, drain the pasta but keep a cup of the pasta water.  Once the pasta is drained, put it in with the beans and greens.  Mix everything up and add enough pasta water to get it to a nice creamy consistency.  Adding pasta water is a great trick that brings everything together.  Add salt and pepper if you want and last but not least lots of parmesan.  Serve and enjoy.

Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

This was my third attempt at making dolmades over the past year or so and I am happy to report success at last.  I have always loved these ever since Uncle Tom and Aunt Evie introduced them to us, but could never quite get it right.  We were at the West Side Market on Saturday and they were charging $7.00 for a half dozen of them so I said… sam hell… I can make those for much less and much better to boot.

Fennel….our new favorite vegetable that makes everything taste good:  (made a risotto on Saturday w fennel, shitakes, cremini and sausage… awesome).

pine nuts.  an essential ingredient in dolmades:

The slightly cooked mixture of onion, fennel, rice, parsley, dill and mint:

rolling them up…

Not the most beautiful things… and they are a lot of work…but they sure taste good.

Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves)

Recipe 99% from Tyler Florence on FoodNetwork.com after looking at lots of recipes.  I also learned from watching quite a few YouTube videos of Greek Grandmas dolmades techniques.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb, halved, cored and diced
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 T. finely chopped dill leaves
  • 1 T. finely chopped mint (or 1 t. dried)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 jar grape leaves, rinsed and drained – the big jar
  • 2 lemons, juiced

Directions

To make the filling, coat a large saute pan with 1/4 cup of the oil and place over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel and lemon zest and stir until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the pine nuts and rice, saute for 2 minutes, stirring to coat. Pour in just 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and lower the heat. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 10 minutes. Scrape the parboiled rice mixture into a bowl and add the dill, mint and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Allow to cool.

Bring a big pot of water to a simmer. Blanch the grape leaves in the hot water for 5 minutes until pliable. Drain then trim the stems and any hard veins from the leaves. Pat dry with paper towels.  The leaves are all really packed tight in the jar.  I found it easiest to separate them by submerging them in water.

To assemble the dolmades, lay a grape leaf on a work surface, shiny-side down. Put 2 tablespoons of the rice filling near the stem end of the leaf. Fold the stem end over the filling, then fold both sides toward the middle, and roll up into a cigar – it should be snug but not overly tight because the rice will swell once it is fully cooked. Squeeze lightly in the palm of your hand to secure the roll. Repeat with remaining grape leaves and filling.

Place the dolmades in a large Dutch oven or wide deep skillet, seam-side down in a single layer. Pour the remaining cup of broth, remaining olive oil, and the lemon juice over the dolmades, the liquid should reach halfway up the rolls, add some water if necessary. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until the dolmades are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve warm, at room temperature or cool.

Turkey Meatloaf

Jane Brody

  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 2 t. minced garlic (2 large cloves)
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery (2 large stalks)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts) or ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 ½ cups diced red sweet pepper (2 medium) or 2 roasted peppers diced
  • 2 ½ cups thinly sliced mushrooms (1/2 pound)
  • 1 ¼ lbs. ground turkey
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. freshly ground black pepper
  • dash of nutmeg
  • ½ cup fresh bread crumbs
  • ½ cup minced fresh parsley

In a large skillet, heat the oil briefly, and sauté the garlic, celery, leeks or onions and red pepper, stirring the vegetables until slightly softened, about 3-4 min.

Meanwhile, boil a kettle of water, and preheat the oven to 375.

Stir the mushrooms into the red pepper mixture, cover the pan for a few minutes until the mushrooms start to give up their liquid, then remove the cove, and sauté the vegetables, stirring them, until all the liquid has evaporated.  Remove the vegetables from the heat and set them aside.

In a large bowl, combine the turkey, egg white or whole egg, salt, pepper, nutmeg, bread crumbs and parsley.   Add the sautéed vegetables, and combine the ingredients well.  Transfer the turkey mixture to a lightly greased loaf pan (approximately 8 x 4 inches), and set the pan in a large, shallow baking dish.

Place the pans in the preheated oven, pour the boiling water into the outer pan to a depth of about one inch, and bake the loaf for 1 hour 15 minutes.  Remove the loaf pan from the outer pan and from the oven.  Let the loaf rest for 15 minutes, then remove it from its pan for slicing.