Perfect Pesto

George Hirsch Pesto Ingredients

My basil is growing so fast with all this warm weather we've been having. What better way to enjoy the first batch of fresh basil than whipping up my first summer pesto. Pesto is one of those recipes that is ready in minutes, it just requires a bit of patience; first rinsing the basil free of soil and then carefully removing the basil leaves from the stems. Once your mise en place is set up, you can be enjoying pesto in a matter of minutes.


Perfect Pesto Recipe

Makes one cup | Recipe from Living it UP! Cookbook

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, washed and dried 

1 head Caramelized Garlic or 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons pine nuts or slivered almonds, chopped 

1 ice cube (keeps basil from cooking from friction in the food processor) 

3 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano 

3 Tablespoons olive oil 

Place garlic and pine nuts in a food processor or blender. Puree gently. Add ice cube, basil and slightly grind. Do not over grind too long, or you will actually be cooking the tender leaves. Add the olive oil and cheese and process until it makes a paste. Refrigerate until ready to use.  

Use for more than pasta. Pesto is a great addition to salad dressing, topping bruschetta, poultry, seafood and vegetables. 

Serving Accompaniments: Tossed Salad with No Yolk Dressing,  Grilled Garlic Shrimp,  fresh shaved Grilled Corn. And top off with Double Chocolate brownie Cookies.


- Use good quality extra virgin olive oil. 

- Great make-ahead dish for work-week dinner crunch. Simply make the pasta and toss in refrigerated pesto sauce, top with grated cheese.

- Use a mixture of leafy greens like spinach, parsley or cilantro in addition to the basil for a different pesto spin.

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Pacific Northwest Style

You are going to need cedar planks for today's fish recipe. I am encouraging you to step outside and grill with this recipe. Soak planks for 30 minutes before you fire up the grill. Make sure the grill is good and hot, this is key! Cedar planked fish takes on a wonderful smokey flavor with more flair and a lot less hassle. The plank will be charred, but the fish will be perfectly cooked. This technique of cooking on planks is not new. Developed by Indians in the Pacific Northwest, cooking on cedar and alder has been a tradition for centuries.

This weekend when you are running errands, head to the hardware store and pick up some cedar planks. Oh- be sure they are untreated non-resined wood, and no thicker than 1 inch. Cedar and alder are popular choices, but mesquite, cherry, peach, apple, and oak also add their own unique flavors. Enjoy.

image,© Olga Lyubkina

The Fruit Whisperer

This is a serious topic at my house—knowing when to cut into a perfectly ripened piece of fruit. There is a fine line between unripened and overripe. Here are a few ideas that may help widen that window of use for your pears. Are you ever stuck, trying to make a different salad? Try slicing a ripe pear with feta or blue cheese. Has that pear on the counter over-ripened? Don't fret, chop it up and add it to a spicey soup or make a decandent dessert like my Roasted Pears with Raspberry Sauce which is ideal during the holiday season!

Roasted Pears and Raspberry Sauce
by George Hirsch | 4 Four Servings

4 ripe Bosc or Anjou pears
2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cup seedless raspberry preserves
2 Tablespoons orange juice
4 sprigs of fresh mint

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut pears lengthwise into half, remove the cores.  Grease a non stick pan with butter.  Place quartered pears in pan and top with cinnamon sugar.  Cover pears and bake for 8-12 minutes or until slightly soft.  The time will vary according to level of ripeness.  Remove from oven and cool.

In a sauce pan simmer three fourths of the raspberries, the preserves, and orange juice for 4-5 minutes.  Press the sauce through a strainer, discarding the seeds.  

Pour the sauce evenly onto four dessert dishes, topping each with two pear halves.  Add the remaining raspberries on top of pears.  Top with fresh mint leaves.

Coffee, Beyond The Brew

I'm guessing, the first words of the day globally are- make coffee. Yet, to have a really good cup of coffee, is another thing. I’ve shared with you my favorite place in Italy for great espresso, and am still on my global quest for the best cup of regular coffee. Right now, brewed coffee in my kitchen is in first place. I’ve told you about my favorite coffee accoutrements, and now here's a handy checklist of tips to keep that first cup of the day - your best!

Suggestions for good tasting coffee
- Use good quality coffee, freshly roasted and freshly ground.
- Grind your own beans for the best tasting coffee, and only grind as much coffee as you will immediately use.
- Use the proper grind. If the brewing process is quick, the grind should be fine; if the process takes more time, the grind should be made more coarse.
- Use fresh, clean, cold water. Filtered or bottled water works well.
- Make only enough coffee for your immediate consumption.
- Coffee tastes best when it is fresh, best within 10 minutes. The longer it sits, the more bitter it gets. 

How-to clean your coffee maker once a month
- Remove filter from coffee maker.
- Fill carafe with cold water and add two tablespoons of white vinegar.
- Pour water and vinegar into the coffee maker and turn on the coffee maker.
- Let it brew halfway through the brewing cycle, stop machine for 10 minutes.
- Resume the brewing process and let the brewing cycle complete.
- Rinse carafe and brew two pots of plain water.
- Rinse carafe. It is now ready to brew with coffee.


Comfort One Pot Dish

When the first frost is about to stake a claim on the season, it's time to prepare warming, comfort food. Chicken Pot Pie is the first one-pot-dish that comes to mind. It's probably the single most popular main entrée available at your grocer’s frozen food aisle. 

Many restaurants will also feature it on their menu this time of year, and one restaurant that comes to mind that does Chicken Pot Pie real well is the Publick House in Sturbridge Massachusetts. It may be the roaring fire and New England colonial ambiance-thing they have going on, especially in Fall, that made that pie taste so good. The wine also assisted. My dear friends Shari Alexander and John Bills took us there when we were taping my TV show in MA. BTW- if visiting the Sturbridge area in Massachusetts, a wonderful place to lay your head for a night or two is The Red Maple Inn in Spencer, Mass., it's in good proximity to autumnal activities like antiquing. Ask about Dinner & A Movie, and Shari's fabulous breakfasts and afternoon tea.

But, if you can’t make it to Sturbridge, there’s nothing easier than preparing Chicken Pot Pies from scratch with a 1,2,3 pie dough, or make it semi-scratch by using pre-bought pastry. Other options include; puff pastry, biscuit dough, brioche, or top noodles Dutch-style as you'll find in Lancaster PA.