Monday, June 13, 2011

Fresh pesto

Basil leaves are so aromatic they call your name as you walk past, or so I assume, I've never walked past without stopping for a sniff. The plants trumpet the delights of fresh pesto, caprese salad and real napoli pizza.

My basil plant started growing like crazy, especially considering the small pot it calls home. It was growing so much, I had to buy a food processor, seriously, it was a requirement. Plus I found an amazing deal for a small Cuisinart food processor online and now I can make hummus too.

I made just enough to use for one large serving of pasta or about a 1/4 cup.

20-30 basil leaves
1 clove of garlic
~3 tablespoons of olive oile
2 tablespoons of pine nuts (or walnuts)
1/4 Parmesan or Romano cheese
sprinkling of sea salt

equipment: food processor

Place nuts and garlic and cheese in food process and chop them up. When they are corsely chopped, add salt and basil leaves and pour small amount of olive on top, reserving additional oil to add later (it helps coat the leaves and get them to settle down toward the blades). Chop until fine and well mixed, adding additional olive oil as needed.

Perfection. Or it will be next time - I used way too much garlic, as in 3 cloves, so all I could taste was garlic. When I was breaking apart the head of garlic three stray cloves broke off and I just decided to use them all, because I like crazy amounts of garlic but not that much. I have hope for the next rendition and am contemplating buying another basil plant.

Look for my end of summer post on how to preserve pesto for use during the winter months, after the of season basil harvest.

Pesto is great on pasta, sandwiches, toast with cheese and a variety of other uses. Enjoy the summer!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The complete opposite of Italian pizza

I recently went on a business trip to Chicago and I must say I was thoroughly impressed not just with the city's breath-taking architecture but high quality eateries. Okay, it's a little heavy on the pizzerias, but they are good pizzerias. I found myself thinking, "too bad it's SO cold in the winter!"

As luck would have it, the hotel I was staying at was in the Magnificent Mile area and just a few blocks from the original Pizzeria Uno, the birthplace of Chicago's deep dish. Which, was of course super busy, and just around the corner from their second location Pizzeria Due, a significantly less crowded incarnation.

I had never had real Chicago deep dish and was of course keen to partake! I went with a colleague of mine, who is from the UK and was unfamiliar with this Chicago treat. In the UK and Europe, pizza is more often the flatter, more authentic, Italian style. We Americans monkey around with everything. I briefed my colleague on deep dish on the walk to the restaurant, "imagine the complete opposite of Italian pizza - that is deep dish." I also included some historical information on the immigration waves to the US from Italy and how this led to rise of different regional pizza styles, very thorough.

We chose an amazing spinach and broccoli topped (stuffed?) pizza, and it was delicious. The bread was crispy the toppings pouring out all over the plate and lots and lots of cheese! I mean, look at that big slab of deliciousness! I'm not sure I'd want to eat a meat topped deep dish pizza though...too dense. The veggies were a nice counterbalance.

I highly recommend the deep dish! But you need to be willing to accept is as a different entity than Italian or even New York style pizza.