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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!

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!

Cranberry Compote

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Here’s my third post from my “holiday menu“.  To be honest, I think “cranberry compote” is just a fancy term for a cranberry sauce.  But again, alliteration is always a nice thing!  In case you’re wondering, a compote is basically fruit stewed in some kind of syrup.  It can serve as a topping for ice cream or just served on its own.  I did use some of this to make a cheesecake for my Winter Feast.  Of course, that’s going to be the next post.  Exciting stuff!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 – 3 cinnamon sticks, depending on strength
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 1 orange, juice and zest
  • 4 c. cranberries, divided
  • 1/2 c. cognac

1.  In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar.  Bring to a gentle boil until the sugar has dissolved.  Reduce by about 1/4.

2.  Add the orange juice and cook for 1 minute.  Add the cinnamon, anise, cardamom, and 3 c. of the cranberries.  Bring to a boil.  Once you start to hear some of the cranberries pop, reduce the heat and allow to stew for about 10 – 15 minutes.

3.  After the mixture has thickened, add the remaining cranberries.  Once the cranberries have started to pop, reduce heat to low and cook for another 3 – 5 minutes.

4.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cognac.  Let sit for about 30 minutes.  Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Notes — theoretically, this should last for at least a week, but it usually gets used up quickly in my house. . . you could try brown sugar which might be a nice change. . . I have seen some recipes that use maple syrup. . . another thing to try would be to add some ginger. . . I did make a double batch and just reused the whole spices.  It worked out fine.  You could cut down the amount of spices if it might be too much for you. . .   Adding cognac is optional, but I think it helps round everything out.  But of course, I don’t need an excuse to booze something up!

Smoked Fish Dip #1

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I know I did this a little bit backward, but here is my Smoked Fish Dip #1.  Sure, I posted to #2 recipe first, but like I said before, that one isn’t as strong with the “tang”.  This one is my favorite of the two just because the flavors are bigger — the ratio of smoked fish:cream cheese is higher, there’s some tang from the sour cream, lemon juice, and capers; and there’s some heat from the horseradish.  The instructions are pretty much the same as the other recipe.

What's that? Can I have some?

Here’s what you need:

  • 6 oz. smoked fish
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 t. horseradish
  • 1 T. capers
  • fresh dill, to taste

Coarsely chop the fish; if you like a smoother dip, chop the fish into smaller bits.  In a bowl, beat the cheese until nice and creamy.  Mix in the sour cream, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Add the horseradish, capers, dill and mix well.  Fold in the fish.  You can let this sit for an hour or so if you like, but it is ready to serve.

I can help you finish that!

Smoked Fish Dip #2

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Here is one use of all that smoke fish I got in the UP (Upper Peninsula of Michigan, if you haven’t been following my most recent posts).  Now this is called “Smoked Fish Dip #2” because it is my second favorite.  But it’s the one that we made and it’s still very good.  This recipe is a lot milder than my #1, which may appeal to more folks, especially if you don’t eat a lot of smoked fish.  The flavor can be a little intense, but I love that smokey goodness.  And what’s nice is that this is quick and easy to make, although you may want to let the dip sit for a little bit so that the flavors can marry a little bit.

Here’s what you need:

  • 8 oz. smoked fish (this recipe used whitefish, but use what you like)
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • a couple of dashes of hot sauce, to taste
  • 2 T. chopped chives

Coarsely chop the fish; if you like a smoother dip, chop the fish into smaller bits.  In a bowl, beat the cheese until nice and creamy.  Add the fish, salt, pepper, hot sauce, Worcestershire and mix well.  Fold in the chives.  You can let this sit for an hour if you like, but it is ready to serve!

I thought using my fishing-themed salt and pepper shakers was appropriate.

Lavender Pepita Croquant

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One of the things that adds a nice touch to desserts is some croquant.  Croquant is very similar to brittle candies (like peanut brittle, for example), but the recipe is a lot simpler.  There’s no butter, or cream, or baking soda, or anything like that.  Just sugar, water, and your “feature ingredient”, which is usually sliced almonds for some reason.  But it’s fall, so I thought this would be great to try with some pepitas / pumpkin seeds.  I also wanted to add some lavender for that added twist.

When I first started considering making something like this, I thought it would be extremely difficult and laborious, but it’s really quite simple.  I realize now that I was mistakenly associating this with pulling taffy.  And if you’ve ever seen or done that, you know what I mean about laborious.  This recipe is great on its own as a candy, but it’s also nice to garnish, I don’t know, something like a Pumpkin Cheesecake (hint, hint — that’s my next post!).  Of course, this recipe does make more than enough to use as a garnish, so luckily it tastes good in its own right.  Here’s what you need:

  • 4 c. sugar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 1/2 c. pepitas
  • 1 T. lavender

1.  Line a half sheet pan with a silpat or spray with cooking spray.  Set aside.

2.  In a medium-sized, heavy saucepan combine the sugar and water.  Over medium-high heat, stir until the sugar dissolves.  Do not stir after this point; only swirl the pan.  If a film forms on the sides of the pan, brush the insides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water.

3.  Cook for about 10 or 15 minutes until it is a light golden amber color.  Remove it from the heat and gently stir in the pepitas and the lavender.

4.  Pour onto the prepared sheet pan and spread it out quickly.  Allow to cool completely.  You can break it into pieces or before it has cooled 100% you can score it or slice it into desired shapes.  If you keep it in a dry space, this could keep for several months, but probably could last a week or so.

Notes — This batch does seem a little cloudy because I wasn’t paying attention and stirred it a little bit too much.  When you do that, crystals start to form which isn’t what you want.  I didn’t mind too much since I was breaking the croquant into very small pieces to serve as a garnish.  If you are trying to make larger sheets, take more care than I did in this batch.  A quick trick to help prevent this is to add a little corn syrup.  Without getting into too much detail chemistry-wise, corn syrup is a different type of sugar.  So when those two different sugars mix, it makes it difficult for molecules to organize and form crystals.

Garlic Confit Pesto

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Time to revisit that Garlic Confit that I had posted a little bit ago.  I just wanted to show a couple of different ways that you could use it in recipes.  This recipe is for another one of those multi-purpose sauces — pesto!  Quick fact about pesto — it comes from northern Italy (see? quick fact!).  Plus, what some folks don’t realize is that pesto really isn’t a sauce in the way that hollandaise is a sauce.  Actually, it’s more of a paste, at least the way that I do it.

Using the confit makes this sauce sweeter that regular pesto sauces.  When you use raw garlic, you get that sharpness and heat.  So you’ll need to keep that in mind when you use this recipe.  Now I don’t have a lot of exact measurements for this one; you just go for feel and texture and flavor here.  But I do try to standardize it when I can.  This time I did have a lot of fresh basil and parsley from the market, so I used a combination of the two.  But for ease of the recipe, I’ll just list the basil.  So here is about as standard as I can get it.

Here’s what you need:

  • 4 c. packed basil
  • 4 cloves of garlic confit
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
  • 1 – 2 t. lemon zest
  • 1 – 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 – 2 T. honey
  • 1/4 t. red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

1.  Coarsely chop the basil and place it in a food processor, along with the garlic, walnuts, zest, and lemon juice.  Cover and pulse for several seconds to combine.

2.  Add the honey and red pepper and process.  Slowly incorporate the olive oil and process the sauce until smooth, being careful not to over-process (the longer you do it, the more heat is added to the mixture).

3.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the cheese.  Store in an air tight container in the fridge.  Should last for a couple of weeks.  You can freeze it, and it should last for a few months.  You could freeze it in some ice cube trays to make it easier to just add a cube or two to some mashed potatoes, or pasta, or soup, or whatever you want!