Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year and yet another basil recipe!

Where has 2008 gone? December went with a flutter of the eyelids, which is quite obvious looking at the number of posts I've submitted this month. I blame that on the seasons. When it's cold and dreary, you stay inside and cook and blog. When it's warm and sunny, and vegetables need to be planted, tended, watered, beds weeded - who has time to be indoors? Obviously not moi!

The first edition of Weekend Herb Blogging for 2009 will be duly hosted by Haalo, of Cook (Almost) Anything at least once, who is the new Hoodoo Guru of herbs and cooking (and especially photography), and Haalo will be opening up a fantastic New Year of wonderful entries, recipes and a wealth of information provided by herb groupies. I think I can qualify to be one of them by now!

However, I'm starting to sound like a broken record with my first entry for 2009. Yep.....basil. Once again. But...wait....I'm talking about LEMON basil. Citrusy, tangy and "I just can't walk past it without picking a leaf or two and inhaling the scent" type of basil. Eat basil. It's good for arthritis, psoriasis, acne, constipation, stress, build up of gas from over-indulging over the Christmas name it, you've got basil!!

Lemon basil was born to be married to seafood. Prawns and lemon basil ....salsa agresto with a twang!! Throw in a fillet of Murry River Cod, and you have the perfect close to 2008.

Lemon Salso Agresto

1 cup (160 g) almonds

1 cup (100 g) walnuts

2 cloves garlic

2¾ cups flat-leaf parsley leaves

½ cup firmly packed lemon basil leaves

1½ teaspoons sea salt flakes

freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup (180 ml) extra virgin olive oil

¾ cup (180 ml) verjuice*

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Roast the almonds and walnuts on separate baking trays for about 5 minutes, shaking to prevent burning. Rub walnuts in a tea towel to removebitter skins, then leave to cool.

Blend the nuts, garlic, herbs, salt and 6 grinds of black pepper in a food processor with a little of the olive oil.

With the motor running, slowly add the remaining oil and verjuice. The consistency should be like pesto. (If required, thin with more verjuice*.)

*If Verjuice is unavailable, you could try mixing white wine vinegar, lemon juice and a bit of sugar as a substitute.

It's the last day of 2008, so I take this opportunity to wish each and everyone a Happy New Year, and may 2009 bring you everything you wish for, plus more.

I'm off to the beach for a couple of days (taking my beanie, winter woollies and Ugh boots...thats Summer in Australia for ya)! Catchya next week, when I'll be the Hostess with the Mostest!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Tarts

These little tarts make one of the fanciest entrees that could adorn your Christmas table. An Australian Christmas can either be a traditional turkey, chicken, pork, roasted vegetables and all of the trimmings, or as is more popular in the last few decades, BBQ’s and seafood, casual and laid back, a trait that Aussies are famous for.

This is yet another dish utilizing what I have growing in the garden, and whilst the tomatoes are a little while off from being ready to cultivate, the basil is winning by miles. Last year my basil crop was just OK, so I covered myself this year and planted nearly double the amount of seedlings. As it would be, every single plant has flourished and I’m already freezing pesto for the ensuing winter doldrums.

basil pesto tarts 2

Baby Bocconcini & Roast Tomato tarts with Pesto
Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 110g plain flour
  • Pinch of icing sugar
  • 60g cold butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 250g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tub of baby bocconcini, drained
  • 1 1/2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil pesto
  • Fresh basil leaves, to garnish
  1. Sift flour, icing sugar and a pinch of salt into a food processor, add butter and process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg and 1-2 tablespoons of cold water. Process until mixture forms a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  3. Bring pastry to room temperature, roll out on a lightly floured surface and use to line four 1 x 4cm tart pans with removable bases. Refrigerate for 10 minutes (in really warm weather, I usually freeze the pastry to hasten the chilling process).
  4. Line the pastry lined pan with aluminium foil and fill with pastry weights or rice. Bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes in the oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place on a baking tray.
  6. Remove tarts from oven and remove foil and weights. Return to oven with the tomatoes for 5 minutes or until pastry is golden and the tomatoes have softened slightly. Spread a little pesto over base of each tart and fill with bocconcini and tomatoes. Place in oven for 5 minutes to warm through. Serve with remaining pesto and basil leaves.

Source: Delicious Magazine January 2002 from Valli Little

Chriesi of Almond Corner has kindly given her time to host this weeks installment of Weekend Herb Blogging, an event founded by Kalyn, that has been one of the most successful food blog events in history, now capably overseen by Haalo from Cook Almost Anything at Least Once.

basil pesto tarts 1

Bon Appetit and Buon Natale to all.