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#AiCooking: Basil-Pistachio Pesto

The CSA last week contained a large bunch of basil. M & I normally use basil sparingly, chopped finely and stirred into just-cooked pasta, bruschetta, or on top of homemade pizza. This much basil calls for pesto, but M doesn’t like pesto. I do, but I have been taking radish greens and making pesto from them, so my refrigerator contains two full jars of my delicious pesto, so I was at a loss as to what to do with all this basil.

Then, I remembered that I was going to a friend’s birthday party and I could make a pesto for that occasion. I researched good “dipping pestos”, which would be tasty with bread so that I could make some bread in the morning to bring to the party. The recipe that intrigued me first was Alton Brown’s Pistachio Mixed Herb Pesto, which used something other than pine nuts or walnuts for the recipe. I thought that pistachios would be an interesting change from traditional pestos, but I wasn’t sure about using entirely just pistachios. I opted to use the same general ratios in Alton’s recipe, with half pistachios and half pine nuts and entirely basil instead of mixed herbs.

The recipe ended up delicious, where the pesto has a different, more complex flavor than typical pesto. The lovely pistachio aftertaste lingers and tempts me to have another bite, which makes it hard to stop eating. Sampling the first batch with multigrain corn chips was so delicious that I decided to make a second batch for myself so that we could pick at it during our monthly Game Day.

Here is the recipe that I used, modifications to my taste, as I love garlic.

Basil-Pistachio Pesto
Delicious with multigrain corn chips or crusty bread

1 large garlic clove (or two small cloves)
approximately 1.5 cups basil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup roasted pistachios (shelled)
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Take the pine nuts and toast them in a dry pan on the stovetop. Be careful not to burn them. I like getting them to look toasty, but they should be fine once you can smell them.

Place the toasted pine nuts, pistachios, Parmesan, basil, and garlic cloves into a food processor and blend until finely chopped. While the processor is running, slowly drizzle 1/3 cup of olive oil. Turn off the processor and taste the pesto at this point; add salt and pepper to taste. Turn the processor back on and finish adding the remaining olive oil.


(Make two batches. It will go very quickly.)

#AiBaking: Granola

This past week, I got a delivery of ten pounds of organic blueberries from southern New Jersey from our CSA (new this year, so I am very excited to eat vegetables seasonally). I dove into research on what I could make that fits my baking and cooking criteria.

I am part of a small household, so there aren’t many mouths available to consume my baked experiments, especially as I am diabetic and should be limiting my carbohydrate intake. So, I turn to small batches. Baking for one to three makes not wasting the end product much easier. I also want small batches so that I can bake frequently. It’s no use to me if I can’t cook a recipe repeatedly over a short period of time. I learn best by doing and repetition, so small batches done frequently allows me to learn the recipe. It also allows me to do variations, tweaking as I go along, to get the recipe to suit my tastes. This ensures little waste and quick development to something I love.

In light of the blueberry acquisition, I turned to my newest baking book, “Small-Batch Baking” by Debby Maugans Nakos. She has a recipe called “Blueberry Granola Whole Wheat Muffins”. It sounded delicious, but I have had little success finding granola recipes I like. Too often, store-bought granola are packed with dried fruit in greater proportions than I would like and with less nuts than I would like. So, I started researching granola recipes.

I turned to a constant favorite for recipes: Alton Brown. His granola recipe looked simple but it had a number of ingredients I didn’t like. I am not a fan of cashews in granola. Almonds, yes. Walnuts, sometimes. Peanuts and cashews, no. It also contained shredded coconut, a huge no-no for me as I do not care for dried coconut in almost every form. Lastly, it contains raisins, which I like but only in small amounts in granola. Also, given that the granola is going to end up in blueberry muffins, I don’t think the raisins would be suitable, so they would have to go as well.

To keep the general proportions of stuff the same, I substituted additional almonds to replace the cashews and eliminated the coconut and raisins entirely. I also halved the batch, in keeping with my small batch baking philosophy.

At the time I was making granola, I was called into a work meeting and couldn’t “watch” the batch well. My partner, M, took over and had issues with the oven, so we ended up cooking it for an indeterminate amount of time in an oven of indeterminate temperature. Thankfully, the first batch turned out wonderfully, especially spooned over vanilla ice cream and fresh blueberries.

Granola with blueberries and ice cream

Granola with fresh blueberries over vanilla ice cream.

In order to get the recipe right, I made a second batch. This is made doubly complicated as I believe my oven to run cool compared to other ovens: it seems to take the maximum stated cooking time to get baking recipes right. It came out equally lovely: toasty golden, not too sweet with delightful crunchy bits to give the granola a good bite. The key is to watch the cooking process by checking the mixture regularly and mixing it to ensure even toasting.

Next time: blueberry granola whole wheat muffin adventures!

Plain Granola
Perfect for applying to other baked goods, as a crumbly ice cream topping, or eating straight

1.5 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used canola)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Combine oats, almonds and brown sugar in a large bowl. Be sure to crumble the brown sugar so that lumps are minimized. In a separate bowl, mix the maple syrup, vegetable oil and salt. Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and stir well to combine. Make sure all of the oats are coated and glistening.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the granola over it in a fairly even layer. Bake for one hour and 15 minutes at 250 degrees. Every 15 minutes, check on the mixture and stir it well so that it cooks evenly.

Turn the heat up to 350 degrees F and bake it at the higher temperature for 20 minutes. Every 10 minutes, check on the mixture and stir it well so that it cooks evenly.

If your oven runs hot, you may find your mixture is golden toasty after the first batch of cooking at 250. Feel free to take it out at that time. If your oven runs cool like mine, the extra baking at the higher temperature will help bring it to the proper state.

Let the mixture cool in the tray. When cooled, break it up and store it in a covered plastic container. It will last well on your kitchen counter for several days assuming it lasts that long.

Variations: substitute sunflower seeds for half of the slivered almonds. Double the salt for a deliberately salty-sweet combination. Add dried fruit or chocolate chips after it has cooled.

2011 Cybering Monday

Yesterday, @deadzebra called the Monday after Thanksgiving “Cybering Monday” and that gave me an idea.

@Siniful So… who wants a text detailing my fantasies featuring them? XD RT @deadzebra: shhh.. can you smell that? it’s almost “Cybering Monday”

I had only a couple of requests, so I decided to send my fantasies to some of the people I know. Some I know intimately. Some I don’t know intimately, yet, but I am eager to change this. Here is what I sent:

  • Fantasy: you are orchestrating a hot fuck, whispering to me and a partner what you’d likes us to do to each other. And you.
  • Fantasy: taking turns sucking each other’s cocks & fucking each other until we collapse in a sweaty mess of lube and orgasms.
  • Fantasy: you spend an evening slowly flirting & seducing me. You slip me your hotel room key and whisper your room number.
  • Fantasy: watching you and [your partner] fuck each other hard while [my partner] fucks me. Later you offer your cocks to [my partner] to suck.
  • Fantasy: watching [my partner] make you orgasm repeatedly while I fuck [my partner] with my blue cock. Then, you fuck me with your strap-on.
  • Fantasy: we take turns dominating each other. I hold you down as I ride your cock. You hold me down as you make me suck you.
  • Fantasy: I introduce you to [my partner] & I get to watch you two flirt & make out. Later, I enjoy watching you fuck.
  • Fantasy: I get to fuck you with my blue cock as I watch you suck someone else off. I want to make you come hard.
  • Fantasy: watching you & [your partner] fuck while [my partner] & I fuck next to you. Much cross-fondling. [My partner] & I eagerly suck you off.
  • Fantasy: me wrapped in chains, forcing your cock & things into my mouth, pussy & ass. Your cum dripping everywhere.

Enjoy trying to figure out which fantasy I sent to which person. Hee!

Note: If I sent you a fantasy, it’s because I have fantasized about that specifically with you, but I’d be more than happy to do almost any of the above with you.

Looking forward to fulfilling all of these by next Cybering Monday.