Caitlin’s Supreme Pesto

Pesto

My son’s fiancee, Caitlin is a wonderful cook – and she shared her great Pesto recipe with me a while back.

I love how flexible it is and how simple it is to make! The ridiculous cost of Pine Nuts has kept me from making traditional Pesto, so I love this version – especially with the combination of basil and cilantro.

 

Ingredients

1 handful fresh basil
1 handful fresh cilantro
4 cloves garlic
1 cup of mixed nuts (any nuts)
1/2 to 1 cup olive oil (depending on the nuts)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
big pinch of kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Put everything in the food processor and blend until you get the consistency you like. Start with a half cup oil, and add more until you get a smooth consistency. You can also add more salt to taste.

Caitie’s note says: Put on everything and enjoy!

Grilled Flank Steak with Charred Eggplant and Mint

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Eggplant by Deviyahya on Unsplash

This is another great recipe from the Slow Food Fast column in the Wall Street Journal,  from chefs Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hersheimer.

We made this with the last of the eggplant from the garden tonight and it was easy and good. It’s also a great way to use mint before the first freeze.  Makes enough for 4 hungry people.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. flank steak
6 tbsp Olive Oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 small globe or Japanese eggplants, halved. (If you use regular size eggplants, cut them into 1″ slices, lengthwise.)
Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, smashed or 1/2- 1 tsp garlic powder (use more if you love garlic!)
a good pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

Pat steak dry and use a sharp knife to lightly cut a crosshatch pattern on both sides. Drizzle with Tbsp olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper on both sides.

In a big bowl, mix lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add the eggplants and stir until everything is well coated. Remove the eggplants to a plate and to the remaining sauce in the bowl, add garlic, red pepper flakes and mint leaves. Stir gently to blend.

Grill steak on high heat until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side, then remove from heat, cover and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

While steak is resting, lay eggplants cut side down and grill 4-5 minutes. Then flip and grill 4-5 more minutes. Remove from heat and add back into the bowl with mint sauce. Toss gently to coat.

Slice steaks thinly across the grain, and serve with eggplants and mint sauce. So delish and so fast!

Note: this recipe would also be wonderful with lamb, or for a vegan version, with cauliflower steaks!

Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

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Butternut Squash Image by Nick Collins on Pixabay.

I’ve made this salad from Ina Garten a dozen times and it is so good there’s never any left.  It’s a perfect fall salad with all the gorgeous colors of the squash, arugula and walnuts.  Thank you Ina for another wonderful recipe!

Ingredients:
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4″ pieces (about 4 cups)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp real maple syrup (you can substitute honey if you want to)
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp Craisins

For the warm cider vinaigrette:
3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice (I use Martinelli’s Apple Juice in the little apple bottle if we don’t have cider on hand. It’s so good – you should keep some in your pantry.)
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp minced shallots
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

4 oz baby arugula, washed and spun dry
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese  (use Vegan Parmesan if you wish)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix 2 Tbsp olive oil, maple syrup, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Place squash on a sheet pan and pour mix over. Toss with your hands until well coated.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until tender, turning squash over after 10 minutes. Add Craisins for last 5 minutes. When you add the Craisins, add a small baking pan with the walnuts and let toast for 5 minutes. Watch that the walnuts don’t burn!

Let squash sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes while you make the vinaigrette.

In a small saucepan, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 6-8 minutes until about 1/4 cup is left. Take off heat and whisk in mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper.

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Pour 2/3 of the vinaigrette over and toss well.  (We don’t like our salad dripping with dressing but if you do – be bold and toss it all in.)

Serve immediately while the dressing and squash are warm. So good!

Rhubarb Ginger Jam

My English friend Tanya brought over a jar of this amazing jam, which her mother always made, and we finished it off in the first week.  So I decided to make a batch yesterday with my friend Donna.  It’s so unusual and so good. (Think it would be amazing on baked Brie!)

Tanya mentioned that the recipe was on BBC Good Food.  After much research, (what exactly is Jam sugar?) metric conversions and hard math, we came up with this recipe:

8 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces
Juice and zest of 1 1/2 lemons
9 Tbsp pectin powder
1/3 cup finely diced crystallized ginger
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger root (Use more if you really like ginger)
8 cups sugar

Add everything except sugar into a large pot. On high heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly then reduce heat and cook for a few minutes until the rhubarb is soft. (I used rhubarb I chopped and froze after a hailstorm, and it got soft pretty quickly.) Be sure to continue scraping the bottom as the pectin like to stick there.

Add sugar and bring back up to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute. Ladle into prepared jars and can as usual.

Eggplant, Tomato and Onion Pie

Made this for supper last night and it was so good! Based very loosely on a recipe I found online – it is super satisfying and requires no meat.  I used a really good Tillamook Cheddar cheese, but any good sharp cheddar would do.

Ingredients:

1 medium eggplant, unpeeled and diced into 3/4″ pieces
4 big Roma tomatoes, sliced (other tomatoes would be fine, too)
1 onion, rough chopped
4 cloves garlic,crushed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp dried basil
1 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

In a saucepan, bring 1/2 cup water to the boil and add eggplant. On medium-high heat, cook eggplant, stirring frequently,until eggplant is very soft and water is mostly evaporated. (Took about 8 minutes for me.)

Heat olive oil and butter in a frying pan. Add onions and cook until soft, 5-6 minutes. Make a well in the middle of the pan, add a little more olive oil and add garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.

Add onions and garlic to eggplant mixture and allow to cool slightly. Add salt, pepper, basil, breadcrumbs and egg to eggplant mixture and stir well.

Lightly oil the bottom of a pie pan, and layer 1/2 of the sliced tomatoes on the bottom. Pour the eggplant mixture over the tomatoes and smooth the top. Layer the rest of the tomatoes on top, and sprinkle cheddar cheese over.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Then turn on the broiler and heat another 4 minutes so cheese is well melted and just starting to brown in spots.

Remove from oven, allow to rest a few minutes and serve. So delish!

Panzanella Salad

Ina Garten shared a recipe for the 4th of July that we ended up loving – Panzanella Salad.  It is fresh, easy and hearty enough to be a main dish for lunch.

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 loaf of French Bread, cut into 1″ cubes (ends up being 6 cups)
1 tsp kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes cut into 1″ cubes

1 cucumber, unpeeled, halved and seeded, sliced 1/2″ thick
1 red bell pepper and 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1″ cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp capers, drained

Vinaigrette
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar (Ina uses Champagne vinegar but I didn’t have any)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat the 3 Tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan. Add bread and salt and cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently for 10 minutes or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients

In a nice large bowl, mix tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, red onion, basil and capers. Toss with vinaigrette, and then add bread cubes and toss again. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Can serve right away or after a half hour.

Delish.  Thanks for another fabulous recipe, Ina!

Silver Lining Sour Cream Rhubarb Coffee Cake

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Image by MikeGoad on Pixabay (be sure to cut off and discard all leaves!)

Rhubarb can be a bit too tangy for many people, but it is amazing in coffee cake. My version is stuffed with fruit and features a slightly crunchy, cinnamony crumble top.

We had a huge hailstorm a couple of nights ago and among other things, my rhubarb was demolished. There was nothing to do but gather up the broken stems and dice them up for baking. I froze most of the diced rhubarb, but used 4 cups for this recipe.

Fingers crossed, my plant will recover, but in the meantime, we’re enjoying this moist, delicious cake as the silver lining from an awful storm.

Cake ingredients:

1 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt
2 cups flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups rhubarb, diced

Topping:

1 cup sugar
¼ cup melted butter
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix 1st cup sugar, baking powder, salt and flour In a large bowl. Add in 1 cup sour cream and eggs and stir until smooth. (Batter will be very thick.) Add rhubarb and stir to distribute evenly. Scoop into a 9 x 12” baking dish and smooth top with a spatula.

In a small bowl, mix 2nd cup sugar, melted butter, flour and cinnamon until very crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over cake.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  So good – I’ll be surprised if you can stop at just one piece!