Tag Archives: Basil

Backyard pesto and hand cut pasta

25 Mar

Every year on the first day of school, my brother, my dog, and I posed for the camera. Early in the morning before heading to the bus stop, we went outside with our backpacks already on, held up our fingers to demonstrate the grade we were each entering (4 fingers = 4th grade…the dog refrained from this part), and smiled as my parents took our picture to commemorate the day. To me, the photo signified the beginning of a new year, and I remember the pride we took in the outfits we had chosen for that first day and the worry we felt about the unknowns of our new teachers and routines.Backyard pesto

This annual photo op always took place in the backyard in front of our small family garden. Usually by September, the bed was in full swing – tomato plants too heavy for their own height, zinnias reaching higher and higher for the sun, and a jungle of basil fending off the native army of mint. While simple, it reliably produced ingredients for our summer cooking needs.

My favorite warm weather food was my mom’s pesto. I remember smelling the basil as I rode my bike up our driveway on my way home from our local swim club and running into the kitchen to see the pesto in the making. My mom’s version is creamier, nuttier, and more garlicky than the traditional Italian type. With only a few ingredients and 2 steps (blend, add oil), it was ready in a snap. The most difficult part was knowing how much oil to add; the sole instruction was to slowly add the oil to the spinning food processor until the pesto looked ‘right,’ which I learned meant smooth, not too stiff, and not too runny. Continue reading

Homemade pizza that’s taken over our lives

16 Feb

My attitude toward pizza was relatively neutral for the first quarter century of my life. My childhood memories of pizza strike me either as deliciously excellent or just plain gross.Delicious Franzone's pizza and not so delicious Ellio's While I always looked forward to Franzone’s pizza, with its sweet sauce swirled over salty cheese and to Ocean Pizza after a day spent playing on the raft at the beach house, I also remember suspiciously eyeing frozen and perfectly rectangular Ellio’s Pizza and cringing as Mansoor put mustard on his pizza during lunch in second grade.

It's alive!Then came Pizza a Casa. In year 26, I stumbled into pizza enlightenment, and now I am practically a prosthelytizer. Pizza a Casa is a fabulous pizza-focused cooking class on
NYC’s Lower East Side. Mark and Jenny, a terrific (and newly married – congrats!) couple have perfected the art of teaching a group of enthusiastic but unskilled tourists and natives the art of making homemade pizza. Mark and Jenny are pizza connoisseurs for sure, but their focus during the four hour class is imparting recipes, techniques, and tool recommendations that suit the average home cook in the average kitchen. No fancy brick oven in your microscopic New York kitchen? No problemo.

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