Peanut Butter Brownies


I’ve come to the conclusion that baking is by far harder than cooking.  When I’m cooking it’s easier to improvise as I go, tasting, tweaking, coming up with new twists on standard things without really feeling pressure. The minute I start baking I lose all self-assurance. I might not really be a failure when I’m baking–I’m following the recipe, cookies come out of the oven as planned–it’s more that the end result is sometimes just not what I want or rather not what I imagined. This might explain why I just don’t bake that often besides some utilitarian bran muffins when the healthy-food mood strikes.

A few nights ago I started thinking about brownies, specifically how the formative brownies of my youth (ha!) I had no idea how to bake. See, my paternal grandmother always had brownies in the freezer. I usually ate one after every meal or in between meals when she wasn’t looking. These brownies had nuts (walnuts?) in the layer of brownie beneath a dense layer of chocolate fudge unlike the cake-like box mixes of my youth. Duncan Hines brownies have their place, I’m no hater. But my grandmother kept a constantly filled stash of cold as ice fudge brownies in the freezer. I miss those everyday.

We were never close. I didn’t see her, as so many people do, as an inspiration for cooking. We butted heads. She could be tyrant at times. I was mostly just young, afraid of her sternness, her lack of respect for me putting ketchup on everything. She was one tough lady, though, doing things like sewing her underwear out of curtains (I tell no lies). In retrospect, a part of me wishes it had been different between us because I bet she was a fun, adventurous, and great cook in her own right. I think she must have been a great cook because sometimes I catch myself remembering meals spent with her, the kind I was sure I had forgotten.

So I went searching then for a dense, chewy brownie just like for my next recipe in the Mark Bittman 102 Essentials challenge. Of course, Bittman has considered that not all brownies are created equal before too. I believe he would have liked my grandma’s freezer brownies because they were not under-baked chocolate cake. Bittman’s recipe has no chemical leavening, a revelation to me. It’s just melted chocolate, butter, sugar. eggs, and a little bit of flour to do the impressing.

Of course, I inserted my own tastes into the nostalgia.  I added roasted and salted peanuts as I’m always in craving a meeting of sweet and salty. I swirled peanut butter into the prepared batter, right before baking.  As the brownies baked I mixed up a peanut butter chocolate ganache to spread on top to achieve the dense fudge layer. Then I froze those bad boys for hours. I have brownies for days.

So while I won’t be a weekly baker anytime soon, I’m glad I know a little more about making a brownie of my youth.

Peanut Butter Brownies
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything.

Makes 12 brownies

Ingredients:

Brownies:

  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stick of butter, more for greasing pan
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Ganache:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter

Directions:

  1.  Line a 8 inch square pan with tin foil. Grease. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a sauce pan start to melt chocolate and butter until just melted. Remove from heat and slowly stir until all the chocolate is melted.
  3. Stir in sugar. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the vanilla extract then the flour. Mix until flour is incorporate. Fold in the roasted, salted peanuts.
  4. Pour into prepared pan. Using a fork swirl in the peanut butter. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until set.
  5. To make the ganache: bring the heavy cream just until a boil. Pour over the chocolate and peanut butter in another bowl. Let stand for 3 minutes. Mix until chocolate is melted.
  6. Pour ganache over brownies. Stick in freezer for a few hours. Keep frozen. Just trust me.

Sriracha Salt & Here’s Looking at You, 2012

Homemade gifts tend to be a theme of my December as I’ve inherited the cheap gene (thanks, Dad.) I’m also inclined to making catastrophic messes in my free time. This year I made around five batches of biscotti, salted caramels, spiced nuts, flour free peanut butter and dark chocolate cookies, and sriracha salt. The former were all on purpose, the latter a surprise impulse last gift but now a personal favorite salt.

Now that the time of homemade gift giving is basically over, I’m able to reflect on the things I made, the burnt chocolate, the scorched sugar, and the wooden spoon that appeared to be permanently stuck to the bottom of the beloved pot. And it’s interesting to see the tricky dance and politics of making it from scratch at the holidays.

I’m speaking directly to an New York Times article from last month titled “‘Store Bought’ Spoils the Potluck Spirit“, which caused a little internet stir about whether it was fair to criticize people who brought store items to holiday potlucks and such. I happened to read this article a few days before I had decided to bake around thirty biscotti cookies for an office cookie swap party I signed up for on impulse. I didn’t think much about the debate-does this author pretend all people (and specificaly women) have the time to cook? Does store bought really ruin tradition?- since I literally had a lot of cookies to make in a few short hours.

But after making a fairly disappointing bunch of cookies (undercooked, flavor all off, etc), I didn’t feel so sure making something from scratch really meant anything more than well, deciding to make something from scratch with my time. I could see exactly the backlash against the an article criticizing those who don’t want to do it themselves or just decide not to.

Let’s be honest: sometime making something can be a disguised judgement of others, trying to say “Look I’m great! I’m skilled!” I admit it,  I started out thinking: I Will Bake The Worlds Best Cookies   ,Everyone Will Love Me. In the end, I didn’t even like what I made. But I brought them in, swapped cookies, and realized that my personal effort in baking cookies really wasn’t the point. Serving cookies that looked misshapen, kind of like mangled fingers, was an epiphany of sorts. Making things yourself should not be about forcing other people to recognize your skills or about judging the free time of others. It should be about having fun, or not having fun and realizing you aren’t much of a baker, or about watching Home Alone 1 and Home Alone 2 back-to-back while creaming butter and sugar. Food shouldn’t be a judgement of yourself or others, or a responsibilty, since it ignores the privilege some people have in taking the time to cook.

I happened to find out during the cookie swap that my favorite coworker made cookie was based on a store-bought sugar cookie mix, too. They were awesome, spiced with chai tea and glazed with eggnog.

That’s why I’m in love with this sriracha salt  because it isn’t stuffy or put-on. It’s easy, not really homemade as it’s based on store-bought ingredients, but still a little crafty. If you are of the rooster sauce persuasion you can sprinkle this salt on anything:  eggs, popcorn, shredded meats for tacos, soup.  I’ve been keeping it in a little jar by the stove,  making everything I eat from breakfast to dinner a little rooster-y.

Sriracha salt, believe it or not, is symbolic of my 2012 theme: don’t take yourself so seriously, Lindsey, but make things count. I’m changing up the meaning of my blog, too. I’m making this blog less serious in a way. That is, I want this blog to be about both food and writing, recipes and thoughts, not just a blog I feel I have to write to be A True Food Blogger. I quit my ad network as a way of rethinking everything here too. The world of food blogging  became so serious in 2011, sometimes good and sometimes bad, and I’m not sure what I want out of blogging about food but I do know I want it to be less serious and more fun.  I’m lessening the restriction and just freeing this space, to make and write about food in a new way. The emphasis is still on tinkering and D.I.Y., but also about the ideas behind what I’m making and eating.

So I hope 2012 is a full of traveling the US, baking better bread, writing & Sriracha salt.

Sriracha Salt
From The Sriracha Cookbook (accessed from Epicurious)

Makes 1/2 cup of salt

Ingredients:

1/2 cup kosher salt
5 teaspoons Sriracha

Directions:

1. Combine salt and sriracha in a bowl. Mix thoroughly.

2. There are two ways to dry the salt: the first is just leaving the salt out on a parchment lined cookie sheet for a day or two. The second method is to preheat the oven to 200 and turn off immediately before placing the salt on a parchment lined cookie sheet into the oven to dry out slowly over a few hours.

Cheddar, Bacon, and Avocado Grilled Cheese

It’s the lead up to Thanksgiving. I should be blogging about turkey. The truth is I don’t need to cook for that holiday of champions yet. Instead I travel to western New York so that other people can do the basting, the pie making, for me. I’m grateful. Someday I may well have to host a holiday meal on my own, when I will finally have an opinion other than “more” in regards to pie.

So instead of working on the staples of a holiday feast I decided to pay homage to my favorite Boston food trucks: Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, which makes a killer bacon-avocado grilled cheese. The ingredients in this sandwich work for one simple reason: fat makes food taste good.

On the afternoons when Roxy’s Grilled Cheese parks near my office I wait in line, order my sandwich, and yet get irritated like clockwork. Irritated at not getting my sandwich before that guy who came four people after me. Irritated I have to walk back to the office with the sandwich or quickly eat it on the library steps because it is getting cold outside, no longer picnic weather. I fester with quiet work week lunch rage until I’m handed my order of the best grilled cheese in the city. It is greasy. It is cheesy. It is awesome. So thank you, Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, for your sandwiches of glory even if I’m that temporary curmudgeon in your line, hovering too close every time an order is called.

p.s. you know what makes a better grilled cheese? Mayo on the outside of the bread instead of butter. I learn something new every day.

Cheddar, Bacon,  and Avocado Grilled Cheese

Makes 1 Sandwich

Ingredients:
2 slices of crusty bread
1 tablespoon (approximately, you be the judge) mayo
1/4 avocado, sliced
2-3 slices of sharp cheddar cheese
2 stripes of bacon, cut into smaller pieces

Steps:

1. Cook the bacon. Blot dry. Cut into a few smaller slices to make sandwich eating easier if you like.

2. Coat one slice of bread with a generous heaping of mayo. Place down on cutting board. Load sandwich with alternating layers of sharp cheddar, bacon slices, and avocado. Top with another slice of bread. Slater the top of that slice with more mayo.

3. Cook on each side until browned in a skillet/fry pan on medium. I’d ball park it as 7 minutes. Grilled cheese making isn’t a science though. Just make sure the sandwich doesn’t burn (unless that is your thing.)

 

Salted Peanut Butter Snickers Cookies

 

You know what you should do after Halloween comes and goes? You should use your leftover snack sized candy bars to make cookies and then pawn them off on your coworkers so you don’t eat them one by one (which you would, you admit this freely.)

I present: Salted Peanut Butter Snickers Cookies. These have a long name but they are awesome cookies, goey and peanut buttery with the right salt-to-sweet ratio to satisfy almost anyone. The snickers break down into their nougat-chocolate-caramel-peanut parts, swirling with rich peanut butter to create a a satisfying flavor and not the sense you are just eating a melted snickers bar.

I used the recipe for salted peanut butter cookies from Orangette and subbed in chopped up snickers. It is a knock out recipe. Probably my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe ever. I sprinkled each with additional salt, sea salt, as they cooled. After all, I am a salty-sweet fiend.

Salted Peanut Butter Snickers Cookies 
From Orangette (with the addition of snickers & a few tweaks)

Makes 18 cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cup+ 2 tablespoons of white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup of creamy all natural peanut butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
about 1 cup of chopped snickers

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour + baking soda + salt in bowl. Set aside.

2. Cream the butter and the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time beating until smooth.

3. Add the peanut butter and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add in flour mixture in 3 steps until smooth.

4. Fold in the chopped snickers.  Freeze the dough for 20-30 minutes.

5. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using  an ice cream scoop scoop cookies and bake 6 at a time, spacing them equally. Press each down lightly with a fork before cooking.

6. Cook for 15-18 minutes. Sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of salt after they are cooked but still gooey. Press with fork. Place cookie sheet on the cooling rack until firm enough to remove with a spatula.

 

 

White Bean, Butternut Squash and Kale Soup

Clearly I haven’t been blogging much lately. I have been still creating a lot good eats–like fig and cashew granola and apple-squash curry soup–but the blog has become a wee bit dusty in the meantime. Sometimes you just need a break from things though.

I learned something fundamental last night that inspired me to post: freshly grated Parmesan makes all vegetable soups better. See, I had the creative bug last night, urging me to make a gigantic mess in the kitchen. I wanted soup. I wanted to clean out tons of vegetables from the crisper bin to make a huge cast iron pot full of it. My second soup of the season. Since I didn’t have ham, bacon, or sausage to deepen the  flavor I turned to the Parmesan wedge. It did just the trick.

This is just the kind of no-frills soup that I can see transitioning from fall to winter. It is hearty with butternut squash roasted beforehand in olive oil and creamy white beans. The standard vegetable broth is heightened with Parmesan and dried herbs. Kale, usually a bitter green, is softened by all the other flavors.

I had a second dinner of soup last night. I could get used to ten o’clock bowls of soup, topped with cheese.

White Bean, Butternut Squash and Kale Soup
Serves 6

Ingredients:

3 cups of butternut squash, peeled and sliced into chunks
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 celery stick
1 carrot stick
1/2 white onion
4 cups vegetable stock and 2 cups water
1 can of white beans, rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
6 cups of packed, chopped kale
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan, (more for serving)
1 tablespoon of pesto (more for serving)

Directions:

1. Toss butternut squash chunks with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Roast on 350 for 18-20 minutes, tossing a few times to ensure even cooking/browning.

2. While squash is roasting, mince the celery, carrot, and onion. Prepare other ingredients to have ready.

3. Near end of roasting add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to big soup pot. Heat to medium high. Add in celery, carrot, onion. Cook for 5-7 minutes until soft.

4. Add in white beans. Season with salt and pepper. Add rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf.

5. Add roasted butternut squash, broth, water and bring to a boil. Slowly add in cups of kale, wilting each in the boiling soup before adding the next. Squeeze lemon juice over pot.

6. Bring down to a low simmer and cook for 10-20 minutes, to let the flavors combine.

7. Remove bay leaf. Add parmesan and pesto after finishing simmering, swirling them into the soup. Salt and pepper now if more is needed. Serve with more parm and pesto with each bowl.The flavors of this soup improve after a day in the fridge!

Homemade Creme Fraiche + Bacon/Corn Pizza with Creme Fraiche

When I visited Chicago over labor day weekend there was a pizza (not deep dish, though) that started my interest in creme fraiche. In the Andersonville neighborhood there was an itsy bitsy pizza shop, recommended by the friend we were staying with, called Great Lake. It is the kind of the place that has few seats and where the pizzas are made by the owner from scratch so they take upwards of an hour to craft. But guess what? The pizza was out of this world good. It was the crust, springy and bread-like, that made me understand all the hype. .  One of the pies we shared had a creme fraiche base topped with corn, bacon, and red onion. It tasted kinda like: “Damn! I wish I had thought of these flavors on a pizza before.” I knew I had to recreate the flavors at home.

A little investigation taught me that there is no need to buy creme fraiche. In science class fashion, you can make it yourself with a little effort and trust. Homemade creme fraiche means stirring a small amount of yogurt or buttermilk into heavy cream and letting it sit out of the fridge, covered, until thick. Magically the cultures  thicken the mixture, giving it a slightly sour tang, like a gentler relative of sour cream. I now have creme fraiche in the fridge, ready to use in savory and sweet dishes, just like that. First thing I did was reconstruct the pizza, though. I had to. It rocked.

Homemade Creme Fraiche

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons yogurt or buttermilk
a container or jar with a lid

Directions:

1.  Mix the cream and yogurt (or buttermilk) together in the container/jar. A whisk helps if using the yogurt.

2. Leave in warm area–ideally around 70 degrees–covered for up to 24 hours. Make sure the seal is good. If you don’t have a cover  you could use plastic wrap and a rubber band on the top of a washed out jar.

3. You will know the creme fraiche is ready when it is thick but still pourable plus it will be slightly sour. If it is not getting thicker try placing it in a warmer place like under a lamp or near a warm stove.

4. Store in the fridge for about week.

5. Besides pizza creme fraiche works in deserts, in pasta with ham/peas, on crepes, in soups, etc. Really anywhere a little richness can be used.

Of course here is the outline for the pizza I had. I’m not saying it was Great Lake quality because that pizza was just too good to replicate at home but the flavors are what I was looking for. The combination does not disappoint:

Bacon and Corn Pizza with Creme Fraiche

Serves around 2

Ingredients:
Pizza dough made by hand or buy some ready to bake at the store.
2 slices of bacon, cut into lardons/chunks
1 small red onion, sliced
1 cup of corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup creme fraiche
salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 500. If you have a pizza stone put it in to preheat too.

2. In a skillet over medium high heat cook the bacon until almost crispy. Add in the onion and corn. Cook until just browned. Remove from heat.

3. Top pizza, either before going into the oven or after prebaking the crust, with creme fraiche and the bacon/corn/onion mixture.

4. Cook for 5-7 minutes until browned.

5. Sprinkle a liberal amount of salt and pepper when finished. This is key, trust me.

6. Eat away!

 

Rosemary and Bacon Scones

I don’t bake that often besides bread and a random batch of cookies when the spirit strikes. I’m intimidated by all the butter and the ingredients I don’t own like whole wheat pastry flour. But lately I’ve been feeling the need to experiment with baking realizing it is a weak spot and that maybe I do want some scones for breakfast now and then, thankyouverymuch. During the hurricane build up on Saturday we decided to venture out to The Boston Public Library before the storm hit, getting clobbered by a tropical down pour in the process and eating gigantic brunches to escape the rain. I snagged Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook along the way.

I decided on a recipe for fennel and golden-raisin scones as a first try. Savory baking seems very popular right now; it was time I gave it a go. The recipe called for a mix of butter and olive oil which drew me in. The flakiness of butter combined with the nuttiness of olive oil seemed like a perfect combination for a savory take on scones. I nixed the fennel/raisins going with rosemary and uncured bacon instead. The tops of the scones were speckled with more rosemary and sea salt. They cooked quickly, just like that. The only time involved was waiting for the dough in the freezer.

These scones had just the right level of richness, making them easy to pair with anything. The rosemary is strong but welcome, a kind of reminder that summer is leaving. The bacon is well, delicious, because bacon is the best surprise in a baked good.  I enjoyed a scone for breakfast this morning with strong coffee. I had another when I came home, making a quick dinner of a chicken sausage, mixed green salad and a rosemary bacon scone. Fancy but simple. I could get behind the savory baking trend.

Rosemary and Bacon Scones
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

Makes 6 scones

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt (a little more for the tops, too)
3 strips of bacon
1/2 of a stick of cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (1/4 cup)
1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup heavy cream

Directions:

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together the dry ingredients. Cook 3 bacon strips until brown and crisp. Blot the bacon with paper towels. Chop. Set aside.

3. Cut in the butter either with a pastry blender, with two knives, or in a food processor. The dough should resemble a coarse meal with the butter distributed evenly.

4. Add the rosemary and ground pepper. Mix in the olive oil and heavy cream.

5. With floured hands turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Roll flat until around 1 1/2 inches thick.

6. Using a floured biscuit cutter or a juice cup, cut 6 scones. You will need to gather the dough and roll it out again after the first 3 to continue making scones.

7. Place on the scones parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap. Freeze for at least 2 hours or overnight.

8. Preheat the oven to 350. Add more rosemary and salt to each scone. Bake for about 10 minutes, rotate, and bake for another 10 minutes. The total time is 20-25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. The scones are better the first day but if you keep them tightly away in tupperware they should be good for a few more days.

 

 

Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes

Making pancakes on a weekend morning always feels fancy and lazy. It means taking out the flour and spilling it all over the red tiled flour without noticing for longer than a while. It means lingering with coffee that goes from hot to cold because I’m not getting up off the couch. It means watching Disney Channel TV shows on ABC because we don’t have cable. It means not taking a shower for a long, long time. Pancakes are a rebellion against the nine to five life. At least I think so.

For the longest time now I have been using the Mark Bittman everyday pancake recipe exactly–why mess with something that works? After sampling some oatmeal waffles, though, I began making a few changes to the standard recipe. Just adding some oatmeal, a little vanilla extract, and brown sugar turned the regular everyday pancake into something reminiscent of a baked good.

Now that the farmer’s market is full of pretty, colorful things I couldn’t resist blueberries for breakfast. I plopped around eight blueberries into each pancake as it bubbled on the skillet. They sizzled and exploded with color. The cinnamon and brown sugar make theses pancakes like muffins. The end result is a chewier pancake with bursting blueberries.

 

Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal pulsed in a food processor to become flour
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
2 teaspoons  baking power
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup of washed blueberries
butter for a skillet

Directions:

1.  Combine all purpose flour, the oatmeal flour (created by processing old fashioned oats in a food processor), the old fashioned oats, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Sift.

2. In another bowl combine the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract.

3. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients until almost smooth.

4. Heat a skillet on medium. Add some butter.  Add 1/4 cup of batter.  Drop around 8-10 blueberries into each pancake. Flip once lots of little bubbles appear. Cook until browned on both sides. Repeat. Add extra butter after each pancake if needed.

 

Garlic Scape Pesto

 

Garlic scapes are the cool kids at the farmers market in between late spring and early summer. Those alien-like spiral tendrils are part of the culinary in crowd. I finger their weird shapes in perplexity when they make their brief celebrity appearance at the market stalls—what do you exactly do with garlic scapes? And why does everyone love them?

I bought around ten scapes recently. I brought them home, placed them on the counter, and I stared at them while I ate the more approachable items from the market. In a moment of boredom I bit into a raw garlic scape.  Despite proving that they did in fact live up to the garlic part of their name, I would not recommend that approach to testing the flavor.

Worst. Garlic. Breath. Ever.

I lost hope for the scapes then. I stuck them in the crisper having heard they kept a long time. A kind of dare, because if the scapes stayed, I could probably make something out of them. If not, I’d be out ten scapes. No big deal.

Yesterday in the 4th of July long weekend laziness I craved potato salad but not the mayo kind. Purple fingerling potatoes caught my eye in the grocery store. Pesto potato salad with thinly sliced fingerlings I thought, nothing more.

I remembered the scapes too. Hadn’t I been told they are best in pesto? The scapes were still green and crisp despite my lack of effort. I cut the tendrils thinly, added walnuts, olive oil, basil, and salt and pepper to the food processor bowl. I kept the Parmesan out as freezing pesto is better without the cheese in my experience.

I boiled around two pounds of tiny fingerling potatoes, tossed with a heaping spoonful of garlic scape pesto, and a little more salt and pepper. Overnight in the fridge the potato salad mixed for that perfect cold potato salad taste. I ate it for lunch on top of a mix of greens—a green colored lunch but full of flavor.

The verdict on scapes, then? Surprisingly, I think I get their cult following in pesto form. While the pesto was garlicky, I think scapes have a less edgy garlic taste than a few cloves of raw garlic. Sometimes I make a pesto just with 1 clove of raw garlic but it is too much. Cutting the flavor of the scapes with basil made them mellower but still pleasantly garlicky. I’m definitely freezing some of this pesto to use in other dishes—pasta, risotto, maybe pizza?

Garlic Scape Pesto

Makes around 1 cup

Ingredients:

3/4 cup of washed and sliced scapes (about 10 scapes)
3 tablespoons walnuts, toasted or not.
1/2 (or more) cup olive oil
1 1/2 cup loosely packed+ torn basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Pulse the sliced scapes in the food processor first until minced.

2. Add in the rest of the ingredients except the cheese. Pulse until mixed. Add in extra olive oil to achieve the right consistency.

3. If you are using all of the pesto now, mix in the cheese. If you aren’t into cheese, leave it out. The pesto, believe it or not, works without cheese. If you plan to freeze some of the pesto only add cheese for the portion you are using as pesto freezes better without cheese.

Ginger Lemonade

Wow, getting featured on WordPress Freshly Pressed this past weekend was awesome. Thanks to WordPress and all the fun people who found my humble recipe blog. I hope you found something useful here (and didn’t mind all my snarky comments.)

So, ginger lemonade makes one mean mixed drink as well as a great twist on regular old lemonade. I didn’t mean to turn it into my rainy Saturday night drink, but it seemed so perfectly matched for vodka and frozen blackberries in my favorite mason jar drinking mug. I was right.

This lemonade is ridiculously simple. The ginger is as strong as you want it to be. The technique is to steep the honey and ginger in boiling water for around 30 minutes, but this time is up to you depending on the depth of ginger you want. The resulting simple syrup is infused nicely with ginger and honey; lemon juice and water to taste round it all out. The original recipe uses mint leaves too. I would totally get behind that in the future.

What else can I steep in a honey simple syrup to make some great homemade summer drinks? Rosemary lemonade? Is that crazy? I might just try it.

p.s. frozen raspberries make good ice cubes

Ginger Lemonade
From Epicurious

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients:

1/3 cup peeled fresh ginger
1/3 cup honey
2 cups boiling water
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
about 2 cups cold water

Directions:

1. In a large heat proof bowl add the chopped ginger and honey. Add the boiling water. Let this simple syrup steep for around 30 minutes.

2. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain the simple syrup to a large pitcher. Add the lemon juice. Begin adding the water to taste.

3. Serve with ice cubes.