Pesto – amazing 

pesto [pes-toh]

noun, Italian Cookery.
1. a sauce typically made with basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and grated Parmesan blended together and served hot or cold over pasta, fish, or meat.
In college, I made some great friends, and one of them was a girl named Karen T. (cannot believe I remembered her whole name, but somehow that makes me feel good, but won’t divulge).
She threw excellent (read: grown up) parties. If you said you would attend, you were actually expected to do so. She was a great cook – the first person I knew to make chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. She totally rocked, and she also introduced me to pesto. I think it was her mom’s recipe, photocopied, and I remember this most clearly, the recipe was called “Pesto by the food processor method.” Hysterical now, but at the time a totally new thing for me.
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It is basically the “recipe” I still make today, except I substitute walnuts for pine nuts. I don’t notice a difference, so it works for me. And I always have walnuts in the freezer.
It’s great for pasta, for pasta salad, add some sun-dried tomatoes and it is excellent in my sun-dried tomato pesto torte. Have I not made that for you? Damn, will rectify that situation soon.

Basil – 2 bunches, stems removed mostly
Garlic – 2 cloves or or more if you would like it
1 1/4 cups walnuts or there abouts – fear the pine nuts.
1/4 cup really good olive oil
A good bit of freshly grated Parmesan – indeed.

First chop the garlic in the food processor. Then add the walnuts and mix it up again   Do this before you add the basil. Because this is a good thing. It just seems to work so well. Then stream the olive oil in and the when it is all done, add the Parmesan. And if you want to go crazy add some sun-dried tomatoes. Because that is amazing. Yep.

I was to go to Italy with Karen and Dierdre in the spring of 1993, but giving birth to the Boy put those plans into a stall. Never regret it. And he was eating pesto as a 3 years-old – he was that kind of boy. Sushi, sure. Pesto, yep. Mushroom pate – always. Kids will try anything if you don’t make a big deal of it.
Karen moved to New Jersey and we lost touch, but some things stick with you in an important way. And I miss them both.

I have a bundt pan problem. There I said it.

I love a good pound cake. I have quite a few favorites in this category: a sour cream one, a cream cheese one, a lemon buttermilk one. Yes, I just could go on and on, I am Southern after all.

I think pound cake is a favorite for me because this is one of the few desserts the the MotH* likes. It is simple, slightly sweet, but not too sweet, and I think that appeals to him. It does not hurt that the Boy is a big fan too, as am I.

Funny, my mom used to make pound cake (or as my paternal grandmother would call plain cake)** and toast it in the toaster oven and then smear it with peanut butter. Not something I would do, no matter how much I love some peanut butter, but I understand the idea. Crunchy cake with goopy peanut butter. To each her own.

So in the next few posts, I’ll share my favorite pound cake recipes and my favorite bundt pans as well. They really are, in my opinion, works of art. And the ones I order are all Made in America. Pretty cool, right? Yes, it is Nordic Wear and it is pretty damn cool.

My first non-traditional bundt pan is one that a great friend got for me ages ago – from William-Sonoma – which I could never had afforded at that time. Since my degrees were in Art History and I focused on 17th-century French Chateaus and 18th-century British Country Houses, I had a thing for the Fleur-de-lis.dd_1524 Living here lots of people mistake my fleur-de-lis thing for a support of New Orleans, and most of the time I do not bother to correct people and I do love New Orleans a lot. But the people that know me – really know me – understand the origin of this symbol for me. And my dearest friend bought this bundt pan for me – and shared her sour cream pound cake recipe with me. We are similar in that family recipes are very important and Southern Living magazine has produced some of our favorite things to make (see: Cranberry Relish).

*Man of the House.

** I have made my grandmother’s Plain Cake recipe as an adult and it was pretty much disappointing. Just not inspiring in the least. That said, she made the most amazing fried apple pies. Yes, this conversation will continue.

 

 

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies

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Oatmeal Cran White Chocolate Walnut Cookie

You know how some time you see a recipe and think, “I am just not sure how that is going to work?” I felt that way about this recipe. It is kind of like the way I felt about the lemon, white chocolate cookies that I now love – just thought it was odd at the time. Thank you Shirley Corriher – the coolest food scientist ever!  Is it the white chocolate that puts me off? No, I do not think so. I think it is the flavor combinations that I cannot imagine – obviously need a better imagination – sad. But sometimes you have to trust your gut – or in this case – trust a friend. My friend Dana.

2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 ozs dried cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chips (a 4 oz bar chopped up)

changes
1 tsp vanilla, in after the eggs
bit of freshly grated nutmeg, in with the cinnamon
1 cup of chopped walnuts – or more (yes, more), in with the cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Shift flour, baking soda, and salt and then add the oats. (Usually do this over a bit of waxed paper and it works really well.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture in a few additions, mixing well after each. Stir in cranberries and white chocolate.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Bench Notes: I opted to chill the dough overnight before baking, but after not doing it, it doesn’t seem necessary.
Added 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, a bit of freshly grated nutmeg and a cup of chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts) which I think are necessary for an oatmeal cookie.

23 Nov 2013. Recipe from Dana, a great friend who made several of the modifications herself. But I will say, more nuts is always a better thing.

11 September 2015 – Baking on this day just seems to relax me. The Boy and I were all alone at a very new life when this happened. Nothing compared to what people who were impacted felt, but I sure felt alone in a strange world.

Peanut Butter Fudge

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Peanut Butter Fudge

This recipe is from my favorite student staff member … from her grandmother. So excellent.

2 cups sugar
3 Tbs butter
1 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter

Prep an 8 x 8 glass pan with cooking spray.
Put sugar, butter, and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to minimum and stir continuously until the mixture is caramel brown and the candy thermometer reaches 245 degrees (use the thermometer – no really, do it!)  Remove from heat, add vanilla and peanut butter. Stir until completely mixed. Place in a 8 x 8 glass pan and let firm up. Then cut into bite-sized pieces.

New refrain in my house: “No, you are not getting any fudge.” This, you must understand, is being said repeatedly to our dog Hood regarding peanut butter fudge. It is my fault, I stared by giving him a little, now I have created a monster.

My mom made us a great breakfast thing and it was based on the fact that her family was poor. How to extend peanut butter for a very large family? In this case you boil sugar and water and add vanilla extract. And then stir it into peanut butter. It makes a smooth spread, slightly sweeter than peanut butter and with a hint of vanilla flavor. We would spread it on toast for a great Saturday breakfast in front of the television watching cartoons. When I was a kid, that was the only time cartoons were on – oh, how things have changed. Sometimes when I’m in the mood for a late night snack, I still make this. But only if I give Hood some peanut butter too.