Lemon Infused Basil Pesto

Heirloom_tomato_pesto

The farmers’ market is the place where I am often inspired by local artistry. In the case of produce farmers, colourfully displayed seasonal veggies make us dream of what’s to come for this evening’s supper. Long, hard hours of field labour yield endless varieties and flavours for the consumer, while raw food enthusiasts’ eye popping creations draw people like a giant magnet, shocking audiences with unexpectedly delicious treats that are packed full of pure energy.

I created this pesto recipe after I visited a chef vendor who was selling new lines of tasty oils and vinegars. Focused on the mind-blowingly tasty pesto sample, the chef’s sales pitch, which included the ingredients list, faded to the back of my head.

As a result, I shamefully don’t remember what exactly went into the recipe, but my palate recalls this chef’s pesto simply served on a slice of heirloom tomatoes, making me long for my own heirloom tomatoes to ripen quickly. In the meantime, in the effort to store basil leaves from my garden, I made a few jars of pesto using what I had been saving for a special occasion. And my wild mushroom-infused olive oil turned out to be another unique and sublime pesto ingredient.

lemon-infused basil pesto

Lemon-Infused Basil Pesto

Makes about 350ml

2 cups tightly packed basil leaves, washed and patted dry
¾ cup almonds, toasted and cooled
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly
120ml lemon-infused olive oil
¼ to ½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

Place the basil, almonds and garlic in layers in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse while adding the oil in a thin, steady stream from the feed tube until the mass becomes a coarse, grainy paste. Scrape the side of the bowl to make sure no big pieces of leaves are left.

While pulsing, add salt little by little to reach the desired saltiness. Add pepper and pulse to combine. Finally, add the vinegar and pulse until well mixed.

Store the pesto in an airtight container and keep it refrigerated up to 10 days. Or alternatively, freeze for later use.

 

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Lemon-Infused Basil Pesto on Heirloom Tomato Slices

This recipe celebrates the season’s end for glorious heirloom tomatoes that we grew and the unbelievably sunny months we had! Serve as a light appetizer without bread or as part of a full lunch with toasty rustic bread to mop up all the pesto and juicy tomato goodness. Or conversely, serve everything in layers to taste the wholeness!

Serves 4

3 tablespoons Lemon-Infused Basil Pesto, room temperature
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced to ½ inch thick pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
A loaf of good rustic bread, sliced and toasted (optional)

Thin down the lemon-infused basil pesto with the extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl.

Place the tomato slices on a platter or a plate and drizzle generously with the pesto over tomatoes. Sprinkle with the black pepper. Serve as is or with/on bread.

 

Lemon-Infused Basil Pesto & Portobello Mushroom Pasta

Lemon-Infused Basil Pesto & Portobello Mushroom Pasta

Serves 4

4 large Portobello mushrooms
Vegetable oil for brushing
Salt and freshly ground pepper
10 tablespoons Lemon-Infused Basil Pesto
4 portions pasta of your choice

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Clean the gills on the underside of the mushrooms by scraping with the edge of a small spoon. Removing the gills will prevent the mushrooms from leaching black colour onto your dishes. Cut off the ends of stems until a clean surface appears.

Brush the mushroom tops with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper on a baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper. Flip the mushrooms, underside facing up, and spread 2 tablespoons of the pesto evenly into the grooves of each one.

Roast the mushrooms, pesto side up, on the centre rack of the oven for about 20 minutes or until cooked. If the pesto and the edges of the mushrooms get too dark, cover with a piece of aluminum foil. Let sit for 5 minutes and slice the mushrooms into ¼ to ½ inch pieces. Keep covered to maintain warm until the pasta is ready.

In the meantime, cook the pasta in salted boiling water to al dente. Drain well. Mix in 2 tablespoons of pesto to coat the pasta noodles. Set aside.

Place the pasta on a platter or individual plates and top with the mushrooms. Adjust with freshly ground pepper. Serve warm.

 

Lemon-Infused Basil Pesto & Portobello Mushroom Pasta2

 

September 22, 2014 by Emi Uchida
Categories: Appetizer, Breakfast, Garden, Pasta, Recipe, Salad, Sandwich, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 comments

Peach Galette

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We happily wake up to fallen peaches each morning these days. If you have read my previous post about our peach tree, you may remember how we ended up harvesting the luscious fruits at home during the last few summers. This year, however, we made some improvement by placing pea nets under all the branches to catch the precious fruits so as not to bruise and lose them.

I have already canned 8 X 1L jars in light syrup to savour during the winter months, and am still trying to find new ways to enjoy them. This year I didn’t make the jam as I did last year, but we have been using this wonderful fruit in our daily fresh green juice.

Creating a luscious galette is one delectable way to honour these seasonal treats. I truly look forward to when the peaches give off a sweet aroma and are pleasingly plump! Whenever I crave a galette, I use a go-to recipe that I’ve had for quite some time, which I found in Helene Dujardin’s Tartelette blog. I adore this recipe due to the dough’s perfect texture. Although Dujardin uses gluten-free flour in this recipe, I have only baked with the regular variety and it works every time. The light texture of the crust pairs well with the warm baked pieces of peaches and hint of rosemary. Get a bucket of good vanilla ice cream for an easy yet gorgeous summer dessert. Baking this galette has become an annual ritual in my household, an ode to runaway summer!

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Peach Galette

Makes 1 x 9 inch circle.

Dough:
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
A pinch of sea salt
8 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into ½ inch pieces
2 tablespoons to ¼ cup ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for brushing

Filling:
4 to 5 peaches, peeled, and cut into thin wedges
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon rosemary, finely chopped
A sprig of rosemary for decoration

Place the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, and mix well.

Add the butter and combine well using a pastry cutter, or alternatively pulse in the food processor, until the mixture becomes crumbly.

Add the water little by little, and continue mixing until the dough comes together and cleanly detaches from the edge of the bowl.

Flatten the dough by hand into a disk, cover and refrigerate for about half an hour.

In the meantime, prepare the fillings. Mix the peaches, honey, cornstarch, and chopped rosemary in a bowl and gently stir to combine well. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Using a rolling pin, spread the dough 1/8 inch thick, making an 11 inch circle on a floured work surface.

Transfer the dough immediately onto a baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper. Place the peaches from the centre outward, making circles, leaving 2 inches from the edge of the dough. Fold the edges and pleat to enclose the galette.

Brush the top of the galette with egg wash, and bake on the centre rack of the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Best served topped with vanilla ice cream.

Adapted from Tartelette.

peach_galette

September 10, 2014 by Emi Uchida
Categories: Baked Goods, Breakfast, Dessert, Recipe | Tags: , , , , , | 4 comments

Roasted Garlic & Rosemary on Crusty Bread

Roasted_garlic

It seems like my blog has become a place for quarterly posts, there’s just so much to do and I haven’t made much time to share. In the midst of summer, my garden is full of abundance. I’m forever in awe of Mother Nature’s bounty… Today, I finally felt the oomph to post this amazingly hearty spread made with home-grown garlic. Thanks, Gastropost, for challenging me to be a part of their unique project! Participating in this project helped me focus my mind to create something delicious!

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But before we explore the new recipe, I’d like to share something more personal. To tell you the truth, I have been in a dark place for a while. I have felt so deflated that I lost my appetite to create… Everyday got darker and darker to the point where I was at the point of losing precious things in my life. I felt vulnerable, scared, fearful of the unknown… I had remained where I was unhappy too long, feeling so caught up and thinking that it would be impossible to turn my life right-side up… But one day, I gathered all my strength, stood up for myself and said NO to my circumstances.

The deciding factor to make a change came from reflecting on my life. What I have achieved as a person, as me, is not so big but is big enough that I feel content with myself. I remembered how grateful I was at some prior points in my life and thought about why? It was because I had remained true to who I was. I stayed true to my core values, not letting anyone or any circumstance change who I was. Mind you, I’m open to feedback and welcome opinions, but being taken advantage of is something that I cannot accept. That’s something that crushes me to pieces and deflates me to the point where my health declines, self-esteem is hurt, and I find myself increasingly cursing myself for accepting what I am doing … at the end it’s not good for anybody, especially for those closest to me.

During this difficult journey, I cannot tell you how much being in my garden helped heal my soul. I spent numerous hours sitting right on the pathway, feeling the soft grass on my bare feet, watching birds’ activities, sometimes hiding behind sweet pea bushes seeking a safe place, smelling ripening peaches on the tree in the heat of the afternoon sun. It was a pleasure to simply breathe, feeling the gentle breeze all over my body, being reminded of who I truly am. I am so grateful, nothing could help me but you, Mother Nature. You always calmed me down, washed away my anger, and cleansed my spirit to shine once again.

My dear garden friend gave me a piece of advice. “Peaceful acceptance.” Accept and choose to be peaceful. I will stick to this mantra for as long as I live along with the power of NO when the situation is right. Amazing thing is, since I let go of the negative energy, good things have already flown into my life. Thank you, my friend.

Thank you also to some of blogger colleagues for your encouragement, which has given me the strength to post once again to my own blog. I am so grateful for your support.

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Roasted Garlic & Rosemary on Crusty Bread Recipe

Use fresh garlic in season for the best smooth taste.

Makes about a 200 ml container

6 garlic bulbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sprig rosemary, stripped to pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Butter
Good quality European rustic bread, sliced into ½ inch thickness, toasted
Good friends with whom to share

Preheat the oven to 375F. Cut off the bulb tops. Peel coarse layers off, leaving the last skin to keep bulbs intact.

Place the bulbs on individual pieces of aluminum foil. Top with rosemary. Pour 1 teaspoon olive oil to the cut surfaces of each bulb. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Close each packet by twisting tightly at the top. Bake on a baking sheet for 45 to 50 minutes or until tender.

Spread butter on the toasts and smear with the garlic clove and rosemary packets. Adjust with salt and pepper.

dahlia

August 29, 2014 by Emi Uchida
Categories: Appetizer, Breakfast, film, Garden, life style, Recipe, Snack, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 comments

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