Tag Archives: orange

Hazelnut Orange Pesto

5 Jan

For fifteen years now, I have been subscribing to the New Yorker.  During that span of time, there have been maybe three instances—four, tops—in which I have not greeted the arrival of yet another issue of the magazine by plopping the new week’s issue upon a vast pile of previous weeks’ issues.  A very good friend of mine, who, at the time, was also a longtime subscriber to the New Yorker, and also, incidentally, unable to keep up with the barrage of unstoppable arrivals flooding his mailbox, once began to refer to every new issue of the New Yorker as “the dead rat,” due to its unassailable, somewhat onerous presence in his mailbox.  Plang!  The flap of the mailbox just slammed shut.  What’s new?  Oh, yes.  The dead rat has arrived.  Add it to the pile.

Other people I know who subscribe to the New Yorker are perfectly fine with the sight of piles of unread magazines littered about their home.  Perhaps it speaks of a more developed sense of ease on their part when it comes to matters of reading materials that those people can accumulate back issues of the New Yorker and never blink an eye.  I get more than three weeks behind and I start to develop cold sweats.  Maybe because of that fellow I read about who was something like a year and a half behind on the New York Times, a newspaper he read every single day, though not in its entirety every single day, which meant that when it took him a couple of days to make his way through a copy of the Times, he’d be a couple of days behind, well, the Times, when he finished.  Take too long to read the paper over a long enough period of time and, look, there you are, reading an issue of the New York Times from 2007 as you ride the subway to work in 2009.  Sometimes it feels like a slippery slope between getting a couple of weeks behind on the New Yorker and becoming that man and his archive of New York Times reading matter, perpetually living in the past just so he can leisurely work his way towards the future.  (Also, it bears mentioning that the story about the man and the New York Times?  Yeah, I read about it in the New Yorker.)

The main culprit in my chronic struggle to maintain a current reading schedule with the New Yorker is the fact that I insist on reading every single thing in the magazine, cover to cover.  I read the listings for what bands are playing at what clubs, what new building by what new architect is currently being built to house what new condo complex, and what new restaurants are opening.  You may think I am insane to take on such a seemingly worthless endeavor, but let me tell you something.  Had I not insisted on reading a review of a new restaurant that opened up in the West Village, I would have never read about that restaurant’s offering of a small, delicious plate of crusty bread topped with hazelnut orange pesto.  Not helping my reading situation at all, as soon as I read about the combination, I put down my magazine to make it.

Not surprisingly, the pairing of the two elements is absolutely fantastic.  The robust flavor of the toasted hazelnuts gets a nice brightness from the orange zest, and when whirled together with a generous glug of olive oil and a large handful of Italian parsley, the pesto comes together as a well-rounded, satisfying sauce for pasta, topping for crostini, or even a nice embellishment to a pile of sautéed greens rested upon a bed of thick, belly-warming polenta.  I savored each bite of this warm, filling meal, and I am not the least bit ashamed to admit that while eating it, I cracked open an old back issue of the Atlantic.  From September 2010.  Don’t worry.  I’ve let that subscription lapse.

Hazelnut Orange Pesto

If you are going to make this pesto as a sauce for pasta, reserve about ½ a cup of the pasta’s cooking water to add into the pesto when you toss it with the pasta.  This will help the pesto loosen up a bit and maintain more of a sauce-like consistency.

1 cup hazelnuts

1 cup loosely packed Italian parsley leaves

1 large clove of peeled garlic

2 tablespoons grated orange zest

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼-1/3 cup olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet, and toast for 15 minutes, until the nuts are golden brown and the skins are beginning to peel free.  Remove the toasted nuts to a clean dishtowel.  Fold the dishtowel over the hazelnuts, and vigorously rub the towel around to slough the skins off of the nuts.  If you don’t remove all of the skins, don’t worry.  You just want to remove enough of the skins to ensure that your nuts won’t taste too bitter.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the nuts, parsley, garlic, orange zest, Parmesan cheese, and ¼ cup of olive oil.  Pulse the mixture for about 20 seconds, until the ingredients are chopped and the nuts still have a good amount of texture (if you process the mixture too long, the hazelnuts run the risk of turning into a paste).  If the mixture looks a bit too sturdy, add in the remaining olive oil, one tablespoon at a time, pulsing briefly after each addition until the pesto reaches your desired consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Use as a topping for crostini, a sauce for pasta, a dressing for greens, etc.  I’ll bet this would taste great dolloped on top of a nice firm piece of white fish.

Six Threes Ice Cream

3 Jun

Dear Summer,

Did we do something to anger you?  I only ask because it seems as though you have been avoiding us.  Here we are, the first week of June, and you are nowhere in sight.  I can’t help but think that maybe you are feeling a bit hesitant about joining us this year.  Maybe you had a great time hibernating during the months you were not with us, making you decide that you’d rather stay asleep a few more weeks instead of prodding your good friend The Sun in the ribs and making a good argument for spending some time with us.  We’re pretty fun, you know.  We like going in the pool and hitting baseballs in the backyard while our skin warms in the heat of the afternoon, and the hammock is all cleaned off and good to go.  Basically, we’re ready whenever you are.

Look, I even made a little something to celebrate your arrival.  My husband’s family has this great ice cream recipe that I had been dying to make.  I first tasted it at a family reunion last summer—remember that?  You were sort of there, Summer, but mostly in name rather than in feel (it was extremely cold and wet last August, as you may recall, but I promise I am in no way holding that against you).  Anyhow, my husband’s family made a huge batch of this ice cream.  They took turns hand churning it, and when it was done they called to all of the children to come and have an inaugural taste of the ice cream straight from the dasher.  All of the children were feeling uncharacteristically shy, so I swiped my finger against the dasher and demonstrated how non-poisonous and definitely delicious the ice cream was.

As you may also recall, the children had a rather difficult time getting to the ice cream covered dasher after that, such was my devotion to gobbling that thing clean before anyone else could snitch a taste.  I wouldn’t say I went so far as to push any children aside while protecting my ice cream sample, but that was only because I happened to be taller than all the children, allowing me to conveniently hold the dasher up much higher than they could reach, rendering unnecessary any sort of pushing or jostling on my part.

So, I decided that, in anticipation of your arrival, I would make some of this ice cream.  It is dead simple to assemble, and it tastes supremely fresh and cooling.  The ice cream is egg-free, but it has the smooth, soft, creamy texture of a custard-based ice cream. Do you know what the secret is, Summer?  It’s the banana.  The banana makes the ice cream so rich and luscious, you’d never know it was devoid of eggs.  I tell you, this is the perfect ice cream to start with if you’re feeling hesitant about making homemade ice cream.  It really is foolproof.  Plus, the taste bears a strong resemblance to that of a Creamsicle, which not only gives it points for childhood nostalgia, but also for maximum enjoyability.

I hope we see you soon, Summer.  Rumor has it you’re going to be making an appearance this weekend, but, quite honestly, I can’t really bring myself to believe that prediction, what with how little we’ve seen or sensed of you thus far.  Don’t get me wrong, I want to see you, but I don’t know if I can handle any more stilted anticipation.  If you do happen to show up, believe me, I’ll be more than happy to eat my words—right along, in fact, with a nice bowl of this delicious ice cream.

All the best,

EM from Savory Salty Sweet

Six Threes Ice Cream

The original recipe, which uses three of each measure of ingredients, makes enough ice cream to fill a very large hand cranked machine.  Since the ice cream machine I own only holds 1.5 quarts of finished product, I had to scale the recipe down by two thirds.  This, technically, does not make the ice cream I made a combination of six threes, but rather six ones.  However, since that name does not have nearly the clever ring to it as the original name, I have decided to just stick with calling it six threes ice cream.  Still delicious, just not as abundant.  If you have a larger ice cream maker, you should, by all means, scale the recipe up to make as much ice cream as you can.

Note: Be sure to follow the directions and keep the dairy and citrus ingredients separate until the dairy has been partially frozen in your ice cream machine.  If you add the citrus to the dairy beforehand, the acid in the citrus will cause your dairy to curdle.

1 ripe banana

1 lemon

1 orange, the zest finely grated or chopped

1 cup milk

1 cup cream

1 cup sugar

In a medium bowl, blend or mash the banana.  To this, add the finely grated or chopped zest of the orange.  Squeeze juice from lemon and orange, and combine with the mashed banana and orange zest.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine milk, cream, and sugar.  Whisk steadily until sugar is completely dissolved.

Add cream mixture to your ice cream maker, and allow to churn until it reaches the slush stage.

Add the fruit mixture to the slushy cream mixture, then churn according to manufacturer’s instructions (until, that is to say, you have ice cream).

Makes about 1.5 quarts of ice cream.

A Trio of Flavored Butters

14 Apr

What I am about to say may get me kicked out of every food-appreciation club in America, but here goes: I am not an enormous fan of butter.

Now, it’s really as cut and dry as that.  I do, of course, enjoy the way butter adds an unmistakable flavor to a recipe, and, obviously, you can’t bake (and enthusiastically devour) as many things as I do without a fine appreciation of butter, but the habit of positively slathering a biscuit, pancake, or slice of bread with enough butter to create the look of a frosted cake is not really my idea of maximum deliciousness.  While not in any way anti-butter, I so have fairly set standards for where my enjoyment of butter starts and stops.  A light slip of butter atop a slice of warm bread?  Yes.  A biscuit soaked through with a prodigious slick of dripping butterfat?  No.

I am sure this proves some sort of fault with my tasting capabilities, and it no doubt points to some sort of loss of my ability to enjoy the most basic things about simple food and plain ingredients, but I am fine with that.  Why?  Because that possible weakness in my taste preferences leads me to do the type thing that I did yesterday afternoon, which was spend a very pleasant half an hour coming up with creative ways to flavor butter.  Just like that, my loss has become your gain.

The idea here is to use each butter sparingly.  The subtle briskness of the mint, the fresh shot of citrus, the layered combination of the lemon and basil—these are all meant to coax your butter into something a bit more satisfying to the palette than what ordinary butter provides.  If you are not sure that anything in the world can ever top the simple pleasure of plain old butter, I certainly don’t disparage that opinion.  What I do suggest, however, is that you take a few minutes to at least make and try these wonderful flavored butters, as it might just change your opinion about what butter can do.

 

It certainly altered my opinion of the joys of butter, a turn of events that has, not surprisingly, managed to almost work against me.  Whereas I used to eschew butter on my bread 90% of the time (with the exception of fresh, hot bread newly released from the oven), I now find myself looking for reasons to spread these lovely flavored butters on everything I can.  If, previously, my loss was transformed into another’s gain, it seems as though my weakness has now become, well, my weakness.

It would be a crime to relegate these butters as being toppings for just baked goods.  I have visions of any of these butters making for an absolutely dreamy combination when lightly dolloped on poached fish, steamed new potatoes, or roasted asparagus.  I plan to get right on those experiments, and I encourage you all to get in on it as well and let me know how it turns out.

Orange Butter

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted, softened, room temperature butter

2 heaping tablespoons finely grated or chopped orange zest

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

pinch sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Thoroughly combine by beating vigorously with a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula.  If you want your butter to have a lighter consistency, whip butter combination with an electric mixer until fluffy.

Mint Butter

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted, softened, room temperature butter

3 heaping tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

small squeeze of lemon juice

pinch of sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Thoroughly combine by beating vigorously with a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula.  If you want your butter to have a lighter consistency, whip butter combination with an electric mixer until fluffy.

Citrus Basil Butter

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted, softened, room temperature butter

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil

1/4 teaspoon finely grated or chopped lemon zest

small squeeze of lemon juice

pinch of sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Thoroughly combine by beating vigorously with a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula.  If you want your butter to have a lighter consistency, whip butter combination with an electric mixer until fluffy.

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