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Posts Tagged ‘basil’

Lunch Box

In my lunch box today…

Tomato Basil Soup from Randall’s (Safeway)

Salad:

tomato

zucchini

radish (garden)

basil (garden)

arugula (garden)

peas (garden)

beans (garden)

croutons made from French bread

Italian dressing

It was missing red onion and maybe some cheese.  That would make one smashing salad!

What did you have for lunch today?

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Picked ripe from the vine tomato, basil, arugula, and lettuce.  A deliciously fresh salad will be my dinner tonight!  That little green house is working like magic.

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For some reason, husbands are great steak chefs.  It must be those ancient chromosomes relating back to the first discoverers of fire and the application of fire to the hunted thing du jour.  I don’t think my steaks are bad, his are just better and I’m willing to share the kitchen to get my paws on a crusty caramelized piece of meat.  But a girl can’t eat meat on its own.

I wish I had the picture to show you: Little Sister helped create this dish, and she is 19 months old.   Don’t say you can’t cook this dish.  I sliced the eggplant and Little Sister grabbed the squeeze bottle of olive oil and dripped oil on each eggplant slice, proceeded to flip them over and repeat the process.  I followed with a light showering of sea salt.  Next was the pesto.  She helped me pick out the chunks of garlic stuck in the press and put them in the blender.  She tore basil leaves and added them to the blender.  Finally I showed her the bottle of oil and she dripped the oil as I pulsed the blender.  I dipped my finger into the bright green sauce for her to taste her work, she hummed and nodded with toddler approval.

The eggplant planks, prepared by Little Sister, were browned in a moderately hot pan.  You want to get some good caramel color, this provides a sweet counterpoint to the salt in the pesto and spicy seasoning of the skirt steak.  Definitely use the white/lilac coloured eggplants (Japanese variety or Rosa Bianca heirloom variety) this will let  you avoid the sometimes bitter taste of the dark purple eggplants.  I source mine from a local farm and they are delicious.

Basil Pesto

  • about 6 stalks of basil (good handful)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • pinch of salt to taste
  • crank of black pepper mill
  • bit of lemon juice (scant teaspoon)
  • olive oil

Put everything except the oil in a blender or mini-food processor and pulse to chop the basil.  Drizzle the oil while pulsing at first, then let it whiz.  Add just enough oil to end up with a smooth cohesive mix.

If you like it hot, kick it up with some spice like cayenne pepper or chopped jalapeño.

BTW: Happy Canada Day!

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Basil Serrano Polenta with Smoked Pork Tenderloin

 

It’s the end of summer, at least we thought it was… It hit 99 degrees today.  So what better day to cook outdoors!  My dear hubby wanted to smoke something and started a fire for me to work with.  I had the foresight to prepare a tenderloin with a marinade sèche straight out of Mastering The Art Of French Cooking by Julia Child (finally I could open up her book again!)  I will always use her recipe for pork because this was beyond delicious, it left you with a mouth-watering flavour of the pork plus my added twist of smoke.  Unbelievable! 

With the tenderloin, I made Polenta for the first time, on the BBQ as well.  Who needs plain boring polenta?  Not me! So I experimented a little: 

  • 2 3/4 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 1 Serrano, into slivers

Bring the 2 3/4 cups of water to a boil, meanwhile mix the polenta, sea salt and cold water in a bowl.  Slowly add the polenta to the boiling water, stirring with a wooden spoon constantly.  Once all of the polenta is in the pot, turn down the heat to low and stir in the onion and garlic powders.  Cover with a lid for a few minutes as it will splatter, and trust me it’s HOT.  Cook while stirring for 10-15 minutes.  When the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pot, it’s ready to be poured out into a baking dish.  At this moment, add the basil and Serrano and mix it quickly to distribute them as evenly as you can. Let it cool for 30 minutes in the pan or pie tin to set up.  I used a pie tin because I knew it was going on to the grill, otherwise a baking dish is fine for the oven.  If you bake it off in the oven, it’s about 20 minutes at 350ºF.  On the grill, I covered the tin with foil and popped it on for about 30 minutes over indirect heat.  If you’re not sure it’s done, take out a small slice to see if the bottom is soggy, if it is, put it back for another 10 minutes, uncovered.  In the end it should hold it’s shape all on its own. 

I think the leftovers will be fried and garnished with parmesan cheese… mmm cheese… 

The potatoes you see on the plate were also prepared on the grill.  Super easy: quartered Yukon gold potatoes, halved Roma tomatoes, chucks of onion, about 4 whole cloves of garlic, nice bit of fresh rosemary, good tablespoon coriander seeds, same with sea salt, just enough oil to coat everything.  I had my 5-year-old help me by stirring everything in a huge bowl and grind fresh pepper over top.  Then we put the whole lot into a foil bag (just fold a large piece of foil like an envelope) and covered it with one more layer of foil (I tend to burn the potatoes on the grill since it’s outside and the doors are shut I can’t smell them when they start to char).  I start the potatoes on the heat then move them to the indirect heat once the foil is very hot and you hear them sizzle.  Since they are over indirect heat, they can stay on for the same amount of time as the meat, roughly an hour and a half.  Mind you, I had hot coals, no flame, for this time.  If you are using a gas grill, this amount of time would obliterate the veggies, so use your judgement according to what method you use!  There are lots of variations on potatoes-in-a-bag on the grill (oven works too), use flavours you like and veggies you like.  Heck, you could eliminate the potatoes all together and use bell peppers and squash!  They would be ready in about 20 minutes, or less.  

For the duration of summer, which lasts until Halloween around here, I would like to make it a point to smoke something every other weekend.  Once the grill is ready and the wood is chopped, you can smoke a lot of food with little effort if you plan ahead. 

Happy grilling 🙂

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