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.

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Perfect Pesto Recipe

Makes one cup

chefgeorgehirsch.com | 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.

TIPS: 

- 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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Thanksgiving Countdown: Appetizers & Snacks

Let’s get this party started. The most important parts of a party or holiday menu is how it starts, the first impression and the ending, the last impression. So let's start with appetizers and we'll get to desserts next week. Til then, have a great weekend.

Savory Crab Cakes

Cheddar Potato Chive Soup

Tuscan White Bean Artichoke Soup

Curried Hot & Sweet Pecans

Brie Calzone

©Jason Gayman | istock

What's Coming Up On Monday: Thanksgiving Countdown Gets Serious with Desserts. Pie anyone?

Know Your Cookie

You could call the blondie the brownie's cousin. The brownie derives its character from a deep rich cocoa base for the chocolate flavor, a blondie's flavor is butterscotch-like, based on a high quantity of butter and brown sugar in the recipe. 

Know Your Cookie:
A blondie is considered a sheet cookie as it's soft batter spreads across sheet like pan to bake. Other types of sheet cookies would include brownies and rainbow cookies. After sheet cookies are baked they are cooled and can be cut into squares, rectangles or any other shapes. 

George's Blondie
Recipe by Chef George Hirsch | Makes 12-18 Blondies 

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) sweet butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
1 1/2 cups semisweet chopped chocolate pieces; or chocolate, or butterscotch chips

Optional: 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Grease and flour an 8 x 12 x 2 inch baking pan.

In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt well. Set aside.

Cream butter in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar, cream on high speed for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. 

On a low speed add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, stopping machine to scrape down the bowl well after each addition. On a low speed add flour  to the butter mixture and mix just until flour is absorbed. Do not over mix. 

By hand, fold the pecans and chocolate in with a rubber spatula.

Optional: if using coconut; mix 3/4 of coconut with pecans and chocolate. 

Using a spatula, spread the batter into baking pan making sure the batter is spread evenly and smooth. If using coconut sprinkle extra on top of the batter. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes. caution to not over bake. Blondies are baked when cookie springs back when pressed lightly with your finger or a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 2 hours and cut the blondies into rectangle or square pieces.

All Natural Fizz

You gotta love the family behind HOTLIPS SODA - they own five pizzerias! The Portland based, family owned and operated bottlers set their standards high in '05, creating maybe the best fruit sodas on the market today! Every bottle is made with vine-ripened, local fruit such as raspberries, cherries, blackberries, apples, pears and boysenberries.

"We use cane sugar, water and organic lemon juice; there are no added artificial flavors, colorings, or essences. Our soda is incredibly fresh, delicate, and very labor intensive to make. No one but us is crazy enough, in love enough, or daring enough to make something like it. Owner, HotLips

HotLips Soda