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KotW: Not-Quite-Classic Basil Pesto. July 28, 2009

Posted by panterazero in cheesy goodness, herbs & spices, Kip of the Week, pasta, vegetarian.
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[Part one of a two-part invention; the other part is above.]  This may be one of the simplest things I make, but hot pasta with pesto is a dish that our regular dinner guests ask for most often, and who am I to argue?

One bunch fresh basil sprigs (12-18 stems)
eight cloves garlic, peeled
one half cup sharp white cheddar cheese, chopped
one half cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
one half cup asiago cheese, shredded
one half teaspoon red flake pepper
one half cup broken walnut meats
one half cup pine nuts
one half cup good olive oil

Rinse the basil and pluck the leaves off the stems.  Put the basil leaves with the garlic in your food processor and grind both to a fine paste.  Continue grinding, adding the three cheeses to the food processor one at a time.  Stop grinding, add the pepper and nuts, and grind again until the nuts are finely chopped in the mixture, but not until they disappear.  Finally, add the oil and spin until blended.  The mixture should have the texture of soft clay and a dull finish, without containing so much oil that it’s semiliquid or its surface looks slick.

This can, of course, be simply and lavishly tossed with hot pasta and served.  But if you go one step further — okay, a few steps further — you will have re-created one of the greatest culinary pairings of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Stay tuned.

© /KC July 2009

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KotW: Summer Eggplant and Mushrooms July 24, 2009

Posted by panterazero in all-in-one, cheesy goodness, pasta, tomato, vegetarian.
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This casserole is one of the most substantial vegetarian dishes I’ve made, and although the three subassemblies are a little bit of work, everything goes together quick, clean — and pretty — at the end.

one cup dried small white beans
two cups boiling water

Put the beans in a large measuring cup and pour the boiling water over them.  Cover the cup with a saucer and let stand one to two hours.

six large, flavorful (heirloom) fresh tomatoes
two large globe (Italian) or four to six long (Asian) eggplants
one-quarter cup good olive oil
one teaspoon salt
one-half teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 475°, or 450° convection.

Core tomatoes, top and tail eggplants.  Cut both into chunks — larger than bite-size, since they will shrink.  Toss the vegetables like a salad with the oil and seasonings.  Put the vegetables in a heap in a 9×13 glass baking dish, and bake them in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes.  Meanwhile:  Put the soaked beans, with their liquid, in a saucepan, add more water until the beans are covered by about 2 inches.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a high simmer.

one large yellow onion, diced fine
one pound fresh white mushrooms, sliced thick
two tablespoons oil

Sauté these ingredients altogether until the onions are translucent, and the mushrooms are tender and shedding liquid.

When the beans are fully cooked but still firm, after 30 to 50 minutes of simmering, add

one cup orzo

Bring back to a boil and boil for nine or 10 minutes, until orzo is al dente. Drain beans and orzo and put in large serving bowl; add eggplant and tomatoes, then mushrooms and onions, and mix thoroughly.  Top with

grated Parmesan, asiago, or smoked cheddar

to taste.  This is meant primarily as a hot dish, but the leftovers are quite good dressed with a vinaigrette as pasta salad.

© /KC July 2009

Guest of the Week: Walnut Balls December 3, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in appetizers, cheesy goodness, Kip of the Week, tomato, vegetarian.
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These are from my longtime friend Anne, who paints landscapes, designs databases, plays the flute, and lives in the coastal redwood forest north of San Francisco. Her home is smack in the middle of one of the most beautiful parts of California, and here’s what she does with it.

This appetizer, like most of what Anne does, is excellent in a way that you’ll really notice. I make them once a year at the outside, because I want everybody to wait for them — they’re that good.

Mix together:

one cup walnuts, ground
one cup Parmesan cheese, grated
one cup breadcrumbs

Sauté until soft:

one large carrot, grated
one medium potato, grated
one medium yellow onion, grated

Combine the two mixtures and add:

Three eggs

The result should have about the same consistency as meatloaf. Roll this mixture into balls about an inch and a half in diameter. Sauté in butter or oil until firm and well browned.

At this point you can do one of two things. Bake these in a glass dish at 300° for 15 minutes, then serve them on toothpicks as appetizers — in which application they’re sort of like falafel, but a lot better. Or you can keep going:

Three or four Yukon gold potatoes, sliced fairly thin
Walnut balls as above
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (or whole ones cut up)

In a buttered baking dish, arrange overlapping potato slices. Add walnut balls in one layer. Pour tomatoes over. Cook covered in a 350° oven for one hour.

© Anne Kessler December 2008

Quickie: Not-so-original pinwheels. September 15, 2008

Posted by sarawr in appetizers, cheesy goodness, pig pig pig, quick & dirty.
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I should probably put in a disclaimer here: when I came up with the recipe I’m about to post, I truly thought I was a genius. People, I bragged about this. “It’s so good!” I said. “It’s so easy!” I was very smug, and I planned this post in meticulous detail.

Then I told my friend Heather about this recipe and she was like, “Oh, yeah, pinwheels. Those are good.” D’oh. Also, duh. Still, while this little snack-or-lunch option isn’t as creative as I’d thought, it is still tasty and super easy.

YOU WILL NEED:

Several slices of deli ham — or, even better, prosciutto
Cream cheese (whipped, if you’re feeling fancy)
Chives or green onions
Paper towels

WHAT TO DO:

Chop up a small handful of the chives/onions. Lay out your ham slices and blot them with the paper towels. Put a teaspoon or so of cream cheese in the center of each slice, then dampen your hands with water and spread the cream cheese with your fingers. (I have tried to do this with a knife, and without blotting the ham, and all that happens is Cream Cheese Ham Skating.) Sprinkle a generous line of chopped chives down the center of each ham-cheese concoction, then roll the whole thing up.

Et voila. You have either a tasty snack, a delicious hors d’oeuvre, or — if you’re a busy freelancer with a deadline and a hungry pre-schooler — dinner. You can cut the rolls in half and place each one on a garlic Triscuit if you want to be really fancy. Black olives make a nice accompaniment too.

(Be gentle with me, guys. I’m going to attempt gingerbread in the next few days — if it turns out well I might have a real recipe for you!)