September 26, 2019
Well here it is, the end of September already. I’m told that Autumn in upon us. However, as is usually the case in Virginia, no one bothered to forward the “it’s Fall now” memo to the weather department. Yup…we’re still baking around here with temps due to hit the lower 90’s this weekend. I know some folks are just thrilled with this turn of events, but ya’ll know that I really do not like hot weather. Not. One. Bit. So I’m going to have to take comfort in the fact that it will eventually cool off. Patience is a virtue. One good thing happening right now is zucchini is plentiful. I have a fantastic recipe to share with you today that will help you use up some of that delicious squash: Zucchini-Basil Pistou. When I first came across it on one of my favorite cooking blogs, Once Upon a Chef, I was certainly curious “What exactly is a Pistou?” I’m familiar with Pesto, but not Pistou. Turns out that a Pistou is somewhat similar to it’s Italian cousin Pesto. The main difference being that Pistou, a Provençal cold sauce, is traditionally made with garlic, basil, olive oil and salt. It does not contain the nuts found in pestos. The word “pistou” is an Occitan word which means “pounded” , which is pretty much what happens to that basil. This particular Pistou I’m sharing today contains zucchini (Yay!) in addition to the traditional ingredients. Oh and it also has a bit of lemon juice thrown in to brighten it up.
This seemingly simple sauce is an absolutely amazing flavor enhancer! I tell you it makes everything better! You can put it on pasta, spread it on bread or over crackers, add it to scrambled eggs, serve it with grilled chicken or fish, add a dollop to dress up your veggies or just eat it straight out of the bowl. This recipe originally comes from Chef Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame, so I guess it is no surprise how mouth waveringly delicious it is! And here is the cherry on top of this recipe – you can make up a big batch while your zucchini garden is overflowing and then just freeze it! It keeps for 3 months when frozen in an airtight container. Yup – you can be savoring the scrumptious taste of the last hot and hazy days of summer well into the winter when it will (supposedly) be cold. This Pistou is easy to make, so what are you waiting for? Break out your food processor and you’ll have this tasty sauce done is just a few whirrs!
recipe from: Once Upon a Chef
- 1-1/3 pounds zucchini (2-3 zucchini, depending on size)
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish if desired
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
First you will need to core the zucchini to remove the inner seeds. To do this cut the zucchini in half and then slice off the ends so that each piece will stand flat. Cut off the outer flesh of the zucchini, leaving the inner seed cores behind. Discard the cores or save for soup. Cut the remaining zucchini into 1-inch pieces.
In a small saucepan, combine the zucchini pieces with the olive oil and garlic and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the basil leaves, stir, and cook for one minute. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor. Add the lemon juice and salt. Pulse until you have a chunky purée. Transfer the pistou to a small bowl and serve warm.
Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The pistou can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until heated through.
Zucchini-Basil Pistou brought to you by Runcible Eats (www.leaanjay.com)
Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Zucchini-Basil Pistou:
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale
Cuisinart Pro-Classic Food Processor
September 9, 2015
Since I just told you about those delicious Pad Thai Zoodles, I figure zucchini noodles might still be on your mind. So it would be the perfect time to share this Spicy Tomato Butter Basil sauce recipe with ya’ll. We’ve have been enjoying this amazing sauce over zoodles all summer long. The buttery sauce is just perfect over that fresh zucchini. But even if you’re not in to zucchini noodles
– which I can’t imagine because they are sooo yummy – this rich decadent tomato sauce is equally to die for over regular old pasta.
I bet a lot of you folks have bunches of ripe tomatoes that need to be put to good use and this recipe is just the thing for that. But if you are in a bit of a hurry and don’t want to make things totally from scratch, you can substitute in two 28 oz. cans of diced tomatoes (I love the San Marzano ones) in lieu of the garden fresh option. Always tasty, no matter which way you go. And you’ll have quite a bit of this sauce. Generally the husband and I get two to three meals out of a batch of it. So if you don’t fancy having it for dinner twice in a week, the good news is that it freezes very well.
Fresh and flavourful, lush and velvety, you just can’t go wrong with this Spicy Tomato Butter Basil Sauce. Serve it over zoodles for a light, summer garden vibe and when you need some cold weather comfort, it will be just the winter warmer you need served over a big bowl of pasta.
Zoodles with Spicy Tomato Butter Basil Sauce
recipe for Spicy Tomato Butter Sauce with Basil slightly adapted from: Once Upon a Chef
For the Zoodles:
- 5 medium zucchini
- 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
For the Spicy Tomato Butter Sauce with Basil:
- 4 pounds plum tomatoes (or two 28-ounce can diced plum tomatoes)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and cut in half
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 red pepper, finely diced
- 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar (you may not need this if your tomatoes are very sweet)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- freshly grated parmesan cheese – to serve
If using fresh tomatoes: Using a sharp knife, cut an 1/4-inch deep X on one end of each tomato. Then, place scored tomatoes into a pot of boiling water and cook until you see the skin starting to wrinkle and split, 1-3 minutes, then lift the tomatoes out with the slotted spoon and plunge them into a bowl of ice cold water. Peel the skin off of the tomatoes and cut into 1/2-inch chunks. (Cut off and discard the cores at this point.)
Place the diced tomatoes and all of their juices into a large saucepan. Add the butter, olive oil, onions, garlic, red pepper, salt and sugar and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 75-90 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce is no longer watery. Remove and discard the onions and any large chunks of garlic (the garlic should have mostly dissolved into the sauce). Personally, I like onions and at this point these onions are sooooo tasty, I couldn’t bear to throw them away. So I chopped one of the onions up and added it back into the sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add basil right before serving.
Cut the zucchini into noodles by using a vegetable spiralizer tool. Cut zucchini noodles to a manageable fork twirling length – about 10 – 12″. Toss zoodles with a bit of salt and set aside for 15 – 30 minutes so that they can release some of their moisture. Drain zoodles. Add olive oil to frying pan and heat over medium heat. Add zucchini noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Take care not to overcook the zoodles. They are better slightly crunchy. Turn the heat off and let the zucchini noodles sit for about 5 minutes to allow as much moisture as possible to release from the noodles. Drain excess water away.
Add your desired amount of spicy tomato butter sauce to zoodles and toss to coat. Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan.
Zoodles with Spicy Tomato Sauce with Basil brought to you by: Runcible Temps (www.leaandjay.com)
October 15, 2014
Perfect Salted Caramel Sauce! Are you listening? I said…Perfect Salted Caramel Sauce!!! I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of the stuff. If you’ve never had it before, which I can’t imagine since it seems to be all the rage, it is luscious buttery caramel which has been spiked with delicate fleur de sel. Sweet/salty bliss I tell you. Veritable liquid gold! When a humble apple slice is dipped in it, it is suddenly elevated to gourmet treat. Drizzle it over ice cream with the same results. In fact, it seriously enhances almost anything it comes in contact with, be it cake, brownies, cookies or pies. It is hard to believe that 4 simple ingredients can produce such a magical concoction, but somehow they do. And with this recipe, you can make up a batch of Perfect Salted Caramel Sauce at home in about 10 – 20 minutes. Indeed I was able to make up a batch of Salted Caramel Sauce that was complete perfection on the very first try!
I don’t know if you have tried making caramel sauce in your kitchen or not. Most folks say it is pretty easy as long as you keep a close watch of the pan as the sugar caramelizes. I know that, and I have tried to keep an eagle eye on it but…. it has not come easy for me to say the least. I remember a couple of years ago I wanted to make these Apple Pie Salted Caramel Cupcakes for the husband’s birthday.
After much travail, I was finally able to get them done, but they literally took all day. Thankfully I was able to finish them two minutes before midnight, so technically they were done on his actual birthday, but talk about being exhausted. And really there was nothing terribly difficult about that particular cupcake recipe. Except that salted caramel…I failed making it 4 or 5 times. Perhaps that is why I am so completely psyched about making this Perfect Caramel Sauce perfectly on the first try. (If you feel inspired to make those terribly tasty and gorgeous looking Fall cupcakes, you might just want to sub in this Caramel Sauce recipe.The one I have listed in the Apple Pie Cupcake recipe was the one that finally worked for me on that day. I had tried several different ones.) I had made it before successfully, but not that day. Salted Caramel is strange and elusive that way. I think you just aren’t meant to make it on certain days. It is simply not in your stars. You should just accept it and move on. But I am pretty stubborn…so of course I never handle a caramel failure in such a zen manner. I panic and freak out! Which is silly. I mean you pretty much know if the caramel has failed early on, so worse case scenario you’ve wasted a cup of sugar and a bit of time. No big deal right? Well that’s what logical me says. The real me gets a bit nervous the night before I have planned to make some salted caramel. I should perhaps avoid salted caramel dishes…but that’s not going to happen. It is so irresistible. But I think I’ve got it this time. This recipe yielded up a big old batch of Perfect Salted Caramel Sauce on this very first try! I can not tell you how happy I was. So don’t be scared! You can do this. Say whatever prayers you need, check your astrological charts, complete any superstitious kitchen rituals you hold, whisper the appropriate incantation and then take a deep breath and calmly and patiently brew up this most exquisite Perfect Salted Caramel Sauce today. Folks will be completely enchanted!
Perfect Salted Caramel Sauce
recipe from: Brown Eyed Baker
*The Brown Eyed Baker has great step by step photos on her site. Please have a peek before you take the plunge!
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
- 1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon fleur de sel (or any other flaky sea salt)
Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy saucepan, with a capacity of at least 2 or 3 quarts. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt. You’ll see that the sugar will begin to form clumps, but that’s okay. Just keep whisking and as it continues to cook, they will melt back down. Stop whisking once all of the sugar has melted, and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks.
Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. It should look almost a reddish-brown, and have a slight toasted aroma. This is the point where caramel can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds, so keep a close eye. If you are using an instant-read thermometer, cook the sugar until it reaches 350 degrees F.
As soon as the caramel reaches 350 degrees, add the butter all at once. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble up when the butter is added. Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted.
Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, be careful because the mixture will once again bubble up ferociously. Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the fleur de sel and whisk to incorporate.
Set the sauce aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then pour into your favorite glass jar and let cool to room temperature. You can refrigerate the sauce for up to 2 weeks. You’ll want to warm the sauce up before using.
Perfect Salted Caramel Sauce brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)
April 30, 2013
Yuuuuummm! Guacamole!!! I’ve recently been blogging about some great Mexican style dishes in preparation for Cinco de Mayo, which will be here before you know it! First there was the Carnitas Tacos and just a few days ago, I shared my favourite homemade Salsa recipe. Up next is Guacamole, that delicious avocado based sauce. It seems that in addition to Salsa, the Aztecs are also the folks who gave us “ahuaca-mulli” or avocado mix, which we know as Guacamole. Like Salsa, this dish is easy to prepare, with just a small amount of chopping, no food processor is necessary here. The big difference between the two sauces is that Guacamole must be made the day it is to be served. You really can’t refrigerate the stuff long before that yummy vibrant green begins to take on a very unappetizing brown hue. One fun trick I’ve learned is that you can save the three avocado pits and place them on top of your finished Guacamole while you are waiting to serve it. This will actually slow the oxidation which results in the unfortunate color change. The Guacamole recipe that I am sharing today is really more of an El Salvadorian style Guacamole, than Mexican. However, I’m sure you can still serve it on Cinco de Mayo without too many folks getting their panties in a bunch. Though you never know…last year I shared a recipe for one of my favourite dips, Santa Fe Dip and said it would be a great dish to serve at a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Next thing I knew I got a snippity comment informing me that I needed a geography lesson and that Santa Fe was in the United States. Clearly a dish with Santa Fe in the name could NOT be enjoyed on Cinco de Mayo a Mexican holiday!….Really?!! Perhaps we could relax a bit, it’s just a food blog here… Anyway…
I say this is an El Salvadoran style Guacamole because it has chopped hard-boiled egg in it. I first encountered this type of Guacamole at my favourite Mexican restaurant, DiOGi’s. They serve up amazing latin style cuisine there. If you ever find yourself in Fayetteville, West Virginia, you must pay them a visit! The chef and owner, Oscar Aguilar, is from El Salvador and told us that the egg bit is an El Salvadoran thing. Now don’t scrunch up your nose like that until you try it. It is really good and while pretty subtle it really adds that extra layer of flavour. Bursting with freshness, this Guacamole is great with a basket of tortilla chips, on a taco or even a burger. It easily puts any store-bought cups of green stuff called guacamole to shame. Make a batch up today!
recipe adapted from: Alton Brown and Oscar Aguilar
- 3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, jalapeno, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic and chopped egg. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.
April 23, 2013
Cinco de Mayo isn’t far off and I just shared a great recipe with you for Carnitas Tacos, which I’m sure would be warmly welcomed at any Cinco de Mayo celebration. One of the fixings you will definitely need to have on hand when you make up a bunch of those afore-mentioned Tacos is a spicy fresh salsa. So I thought I’d go ahead and share my favourite salsa recipe with you. Salsa is easy to make, especially if you have a food processor. But even if you don’t, it is still pretty straightforward, just requiring a bit of chopping. And it tastes fantastic. Wonderfully fresh! So different from that stuff you find on supermarket shelves you’ll be wondering what in the world it was that you were eating out of those jars for all those years. Salsa which simply means “sauce” in Spanish has been around for a long time. In the mid 1500’s, Spanish Franciscan missionaries mentioned it in their writings as a dish the Aztecs enjoyed. And it is still being enjoyed today all over the world. As it turns out Americans have been eating a whole lot of Salsa. In 1991 it overtook ketchup as the top-selling condiment here! This homemade version goes along great with any mexican dish or simply on its own with a big old basket of tortilla chips. Make up a batch for any Cinco de Mayo celebration and you will be the talk of the town. But remember, it takes a little while for all of the lovely flavours to come together, so it is best if you can make this salsa at least 12 hours before you want to serve it. I usually make it the day before. So what are you waiting for? Get chopping!
recipe adapted from: Alton Brown
- 6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 seeded and minced jalapeños
- 1 red bell pepper, fine dice
- 1/2 red onion, fine chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (We love cilantro, but if you don’t, you may want to reduce this a bit)
- Chili powder, salt, and pepper, to taste
- 5 Fresh scallions, chopped
Get a large bowl out and set aside. I use my food processor to chop the tomatoes, red pepper, garlic and onion. I process each vegetable individually (with the exception of the garlic and onion which go in together) so that I can get them to the texture I prefer. As you finish chopping each vegetable, add it to the large bowl and then add in the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, scallions and spices. Stir to combine. Place in refrigerator for up to 12 hours for optimum flavour infusion.
Serve with tortilla chips.