foodie friday: homemade pesto

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We have an out of control basil plant in our backyard. It’s pretty impressive because I generally kill every plant in sight. But the basil, greek oregano, and mint…oh they are thriving. The other day we noticed that the basil was going to seed and, well, the plant was about 18″ to 24″ tall. It was time to hack away at the plant and whip up two pints of pesto. A 20 minute project later and we got two pints of pesto out of it, one for the fridge and one for the freezer, so great!

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Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe
Prep time: 10 minutes
taken from Simply Recipes

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese**
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Special equipment needed: A food processor (if you’re in DC, I may loan you mine)

1 Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
2 Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

**note: if you are planning to freeze the pesto, leave out the cheese as it doesn’t freeze well. You can add it in before use.

oh happy day

I love Julia Child.

So when a coworker sent me the above from PBS Digital Studios, I may have re-watched it repeatedly. Cause, well, it’s amazing and I, as a little person, watched Julia on PBS with Jacques Pepin…my intro to the food world. So Happy 100th Birthday, Julia Child! You did more for the food world than anyone even thought possible.

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude” — Julia Child

must eat || umamicatessen

Umami

Go to LA and eat as the LA people do (or at least that is my personal mantra).

When I travel, I love finding the awesome food place and per my trip to LA over Christmas I already knew that Umami would be on the to do list this past April. So when I saw that UMAMIcatessen had opened, well, let’s just say it was pack everyone in the car and drive to downtown LA time.

The amazingness of Umami plus an incredible deli (get the pastrami, your life will be changed) and homemade donuts to finish off the meal. It was an amazing meal that I may still be dreaming of.

must make || haloumi cheese

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There is a day when you wake up and you think, oh my gosh I need a better blog structure. And then you hit a road block. That is kinda the way it’s been in the Kitchen of Throwing Cake. My creative brain went on sabbatical without telling me. So, to coax it back I give you (what I hope to be a regular feature), my current favorite recipe from the internets.

Haloumi Cheese.

So yummy, so Greek, and so perfect as a snack pre-summer BBQ. You can serve it on thinly sliced bread or pita (which can also go on the grill) and then sprinkle it with either dill or oregano. So simple, and so impressive. Adding this onto my giant “must make” list.

Grilled Haloumi Cheese & Lemon
From Melissa Roberts  c/o Gourmet Magazine, June 2007

2 lemons
1/2 lb Haloumi cheese
1 large garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
4 (3/4-inch-thick) slices peasant or country-style bread
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

Prepare a gas grill for direct-heat cooking over moderately high heat.

Cut 8 thin slices from lemons, then squeeze enough juice from remainder to measure 2 tablespoons and put in a bowl.

Halve cheese diagonally, then cut each triangle, cut side down, into 1/3-inch-thick slices.

Mince garlic and mash to a paste with a pinch of salt using side of a large heavy knife, then add to lemon juice. Whisk in salt and sugar until dissolved, then add 1/4 cup oil, whisking until combined.

Separately toss lemon slices and cheese each with 1/2 tablespoon dressing.

Brush both sides of bread with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.

Grill bread, cheese, and lemon slices on grill rack, covered, turning over once (use a metal spatula to scrape under cheese to loosen before turning), until bread is toasted (2 to 3 minutes total), grill marks appear on cheese (3 to 4 minutes total), and lemons begin to wilt (4 to 6 minutes total).

Whisk dill into remaining dressing. Divide bread among 4 small plates and top with cheese and lemon slices. Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately.

COOKS’ NOTE: If you aren’t able to grill outdoors, bread, lemon, and cheese can be cooked in a hot oiled well-seasoned large (2-burner) ridged grill pan over moderate heat.

Photograph: Romulo Yanes