Sides and Appetizers

Hazelnut Pesto

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Alright, I know that I’ve posted a pesto recipe before.  But this one is different because I used hazelnuts!  Plus I fiddled with the ratios on this one to get a more standardized version.  If you’ve made a pesto before, you understand how easy making this can be.  But you also understand how important it is to use high quality ingredients.  If anything you use is of a lesser quality, you will definitely notice it.

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Now using hazelnuts in this recipe can be slightly problematic, since they do have those pesky husks on them (I am not sure that terminology is right).  It does take some effort to get those things off, but I think it’s worth it.  This recipe makes a big batch.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3/4 c. hazelnuts
  • 5 c. fresh basil leaves, packed tight
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 c. olive oil
  • juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 c. grated Parmesan
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1.  Roast the hazelnuts in either a preheated 350 degree F oven or in a pan over medium heat.  Roast them until they become fragrant and slightly browned.  Transfer them to a plate and cover with a light towel and allow them to cool.  While they are covered they can steam which helps release them from the husks.  Now rub the nuts with the towel to clean off husks and set aside.

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2.  In a food processor, place hazelnuts and pulse to chop for a few seconds.  Add the basil and pulse again.  Do the same when you add the garlic.

3.  With the food processor running. drizzle in the olive oil to combine.  Add the lemon and pulse for a few seconds.  Transfer to a serving bowl or storage container.  Stir in the Parmesan.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Just a little shot of pesto!
Just a little shot of pesto!

Notes — I made a batch of Garlic Confit and added a little bit of the infused oil into the pesto.  I didn’t put too much because I just wanted a hint of the flavor.  Maybe I used a couple of tablespoons. . .  I like putting lemon in my pestos which most people don’t.  Maybe it makes it too much like a gremolata for folks.  I just like the brightness it adds, plus it helps keep everything green. . . Roasting hazelnuts is made more idiot-proof because of their husks.  The husks help protect the nuts from burning so even if you get a little charring on the husk, the nut may actually be just fine.

Friday Foodie Funnies, ep. 4

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Now it’s probably too late in the season for corn, but getting some fresh corn is absolutely amazing.  If you’re still in season, head down to your farmer’s/farmers market and get yourself some.  Here’s an old post of mine with a recipe for some corn on the grill.

I'm not 100% sure that I agree, but I do love fresh corn!
I’m not 100% sure that I agree, but I do love fresh corn!

And just a reminder for folks, these are just some images that I either find on the Interwebs or that have been sent to me.  So I do not own them and will gladly take them down if it becomes problematic.  Just don’t be jerks about it.  You know who you are.

I’m on Facebook, too!  Happy Friday, y’all!

Steamed Mussels with Andouille and White Wine

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Wow.  It is definitely weird how much having a new full-time job affects your life.  There’s a whole new schedule to figure out, there are weeks of intense training, there’s tests, new policies and procedures, new people, new office. . . well, you get the point.  So my mind has been preoccupied lately, which explains the dearth of postings lately.  Sometimes you just have to make a paid gig a priority!  But I am sad that I’m probably gonna have to close up the bakery at this point.  Just a sign o’ the times!  Maybe I’ll just go super-super small-scale, although there is a limit to the amount of downsizing that you can do, especially if your workforce consists of one.

I could eat this everyday!

So this is my attempt at achieving some sense of normalcy — a return to blogging, a return to working out, a return to volleyball (that is, if my injuries would stop lingering).  I would like to stress the word “attempt”.  It may take me some time to really figure out how to balance everything.  What makes it more challenging is that my work schedule isn’t exactly always set in stone.  Eh, it’s a work in progress, much like everything else in life.

Anyhoo. . . on to the recipe!  Now mussels are one of my most favorite things to eat.  Just throw them into a pan with some white wine and dinner is ready in like 5 minutes!  Really.  It’s not the most user-friendly, mainly because you have a whole bunch of shells to deal with when your done.  Which is why I try to schedule meals like this the day before trash day.  I don’t need bits of shellfish lingering in the trash for several days.

Now that I’ve gotten that lovely image out of the way we can get back to the recipe.  It’s relatively simple and it’s easily changed to fit whatever ingredients you have around.  This time around I had some onions, garlic, celery, Roma tomatoes, and some basil.  Throw in the little bit of Andouille that I had bought specifically for this and you get one of my most favoritest dishes.  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 1/2 lbs mussels, cleaned and beards removed
  • 1/4 lb. andouille sausage
  • 1 rib of celery, 1/4 in. diagonal slice
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 c. basil, chopped
  • 1-2 c. white wine
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1.  In a large pan, sauté the Andouille for about 3 minutes.  Add the celery and onion and sauté for about 2 minutes.

2.  Add the tomatoes, garlic, and half of the basil.  Cook for another 2 minutes.

3.  Throw in the mussels and white wine and cover.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Then remove the cover, stir the mussels, and return the lid.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes.

4.  Top with remaining basil.  Serve over pasta, or rice, or with crackers, or with a straw (or just slurp it out of the bowl).

Notes — If some of the mussels don’t open, throw those out and don’t eat them.  Bad things might happen if you don’t!. . .  Don’t forget to visit Jereme’s Kitchen and Daisy Cakes on Facebook. . .

Grilled Beets with Micro Greens and Feta

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Gonna slice me up some beets

Beets.  Now who doesn’t like beets?  Actually, I didn’t for the longest time (skip this if you already know this story :) ).  The taste was odd to me — kinda like an earthier carrot.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But it just seemed weird.  Maybe it’s because I wasn’t exposed to them as a child.  Actually I don’t think Brooklyn had any beets at the time.  Sure, that’s probably not accurate and my memory is somewhat foggy.  After all, I was only like five years old at the time and that was like 100 years ago.

I admit, I did not dress the greens on this one

But I digress… This I served as a side, but it is easy to turn this into a full vegetarian course.  And again, this is hard for me to quantify because I grilled some beets and served it with a handful of greens and topped it with some feta so ingredients are just a guestimation.  This is easy-peasy lemon-squeezy; here’s kinda what you need:

Just another way of arranging the beets.  I did dress these greens.
  • 1 beet, sliced about 1/4″ thick
  • vegetable oil, for brushing the beets
  • 1 c. micro greens or baby greens (I used daikon and chard)
  • 1/4 c. feta, crumbled
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • salad dressing, to taste

1.  Prepare your grill, as needed (again, I use hardwood charcoal).  Brush the beets with the vegetable oil on both sides.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2.  Grill the beets until tender over direct heat, about 2-3 minutes a side.  Remove from the heat to cool slightly.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, lightly dress the greens

3.  Arrange the beets on the plate.  Top with the dressed greens.  Sprinkle with the feta crumbles.  Add salt and pepper if you like.

Yay for beets!

Notes — for the dressing, I just drizzled some olive oil and lemon juice on top of the greens to dress them

Grilled Corn with Radish Butter

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Mmmm, tasty!

Corn, a grill, and compound butter.  How can that combination be wrong?  I love grilling corn and I’m on the side of the spectrum that grills the corn without the husks on.  In my opinion, if you grill with the husks on you’re really not grilling the corn but steaming it.  I, for one, like a nice, smoky char.  And I like nice, simple, summer recipes.  You can’t get much simpler than this — corn, butter, radishes.  That’s essentially all you need.  I just add some herbs for some additional flavor (just some basil and parsley, but use whatever you want).

We were grilling those peppers, too. Can’t waste that fire on the grill!
Oooooo — action shot!  Threw that squash on the grill, as well.

I would serve this as a side, but it is easy to get full from this because you can get carried away.  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 -2 radishes, chopped
  • chopped herbs, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 – 8 ears of corn, husks removed
  • vegetable oil

1.  Prepare your grill (I use charcoal).  Meanwhile, combine the butter, radishes, herbs, salt, & pepper in a bowl.  Set aside.

2.  Brush the corn with the oil and place on the grill over direct heat.  Grill until nicely browned, about 8 – 10 minutes.  Turn the ears as needed to cook evenly.  Transfer to a serving plate.

3.  After the corn is removed from the grill, brush with the radish butter.  Sprinkle on a little salt & pepper if you like and serve.

Don’t know why I like this shot
That chopper makes things so much easier.

Notes — You can bush the radish butter on the corn while it’s on the grill, but I’d wait until the last couple of minutes because the radishes could burn. . . You can keep the husks on.  Peel them back and tie them to make a handle.  Just keep the husks off the heat — hang them over the edge of the grill. . . Make some extra radish butter — it’s great on a nice toasty baguette!

Aerial shot
Built-in handles!

Cranberry Peanut Granola

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So I’m planning on doing some hiking soon and I was thinking to myself, “Waterlily, what would be something tasty that you can take on your expeditions?”  And that’s when granola popped into my head.  It’s something that’s good to eat when you’re on the go, plus you can eat it on its own or on top of stuff like yogurt, ice cream, cobblers, and the like.

I use a simple formula here:  4 cups of stuff + 1/4 cup of vegetable oil + 1/4 cup of honey.  That’s just for the mixture that goes into the oven.  You can add as much fruit as you like afterwards, like raisins (yuk!), or dried hibiscus flowers, or dried apricots, etc.  Just don’t bake the fruit in the oven because it will burn.  This recipe is very simple, and I love it when things are simple!  Here’s what you need:

  • 2 c. old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 c.  peanuts
  • 1 c. shredded coconut (I used the unsweetened big shavings)
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 c. dried cranberries

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or foil.  Set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, toss the oatmeal, peanuts, coconut, oil, honey, and salt to combine.  Pour onto the pan into a single layer and bake in the oven.

3.  Bake for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally while in the oven, until the granola is golden.

4.  When done, scrape the pan to loosen the granola and allow to cool in the pan.  After it has cooled, mix in the cranberries and store in an air-tight container at room temperature.  Should last a month, but I have no clue — a batch usually lasts me a couple of days before it gets eaten up.

Notes — You can mix things up by changing the ingredients.  Try different nuts, different fruits, add spices.  The possibilities are endless. . . If you are still getting some moisture left over from the oil and honey, try baking at 325 degrees F for about 30 minutes

Kale and Herb Pesto

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I had a whole lot of kale to use I was thinking how could I make this without having to make kale chips. When I made this, it was unseasonably hot here in SE Michigan (and 85 degrees F is very hot for that time of year — I think it was in March) and I didn’t want to turn my oven on unless I really really had to. So I saw the title of a post for a Killer Kale Pesto and wanted to give my take a shot. I didn’t want to go to the grocery so I wanted to use what I had already. Lucky for me I had everything I needed. And I was surprised at some of the similarities between what was in the recipe and what I had in my freezer.

Getting ready to pulse
Got some extra cheese?

Some of you may already know, making things like pesto are very organic and free form for me. I really don’t have specifics here since I go by feel and what the pesto looks like. And with this one, I really like the tarragon in here. It adds a nice subtle twist. And the toasted pecans give a nice butteriness. Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 c. toasted pepitas
  • 1 c. toasted pecans
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • 4-5 sprigs tarragon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan

1. Place the nuts in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Cut the stems from the kale and cut the spine out of the leaves. Coarsely chop and place in the food processor. Do the same for the parsley. Strip the leaves from the tarragon and place in the food processor as well.

2. Add the salt, pepper, garlic, lemon juice, and the olive oil. Process until smooth. Fold in the parmesan. Can last about a week in the refrigerator. You can freeze them in an ice cube tray to have quick portions of pesto that you can just add to warm pastas and such.

3.  Don’t forget to visit me on Facebook!