Monday, December 28, 2015

Southwest Lime Basil Pesto and Lemony Lemon Basil Pesto

I think you can't be a basil geek without being something of a pesto adventurer.  So, with the recent frosts threatening to destroy my miniature basil crop, it was time for some creative pesto creations. 

The first creation, lemony lemon basil pesto, was pretty simple: Using my favorite pesto recipe (the Williams Sonoma recipe in their muffin cookbook), use all the lemon basil. Supplement with enough Italian basil to make 1 cup. Add a splash of lemon juice. Other than that, follow the recipe.

Using up the lime basil called for something with a little more of a southwest inspiration. Alas, I didn't have any cilantro.  But then, Sis-in-lalala will be visiting soon, and she loathes cilantro. So, for now, we stick with flat leaf parsley. Plus some Mexican oregano, since I have enough to feed a small nation. But, next time, I will use cilantro and oregano. 

Next, the nut. Almonds immediately came to mind. While I was rummaging for almonds, I thought about using pepitas.  Next time maybe.  Or maybe next time, sunflower seeds. But, for now, almonds.

Oil: Either olive or sunflower. I used both.

Other seasonings: chipotle powder, ancho chile powder, smoked paprika, cumin.

Ready, set, Pesto:

1/2 cup raw almonds (or pepitas, or sunflower seeds, or combo)
4 cloves garlic
6 Tbsp unrefined sunflower oil or extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, loosely packed
1/4 cup fresh Mexican oregano, loosely packed
1 cup lime basil leaves (can use part Italian)
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1/4 - 1/2 tsp ancho chile powder and/or smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
salt to taste
3-4 Tbsp grated pecorino romano cheese

  1. Pulse almonds and garlic together in a small food processor until finely minced, but not quite ground.
  2. Add parsley, basil, and oil.  Pulse until well-incorporated, stirring periodically.  If it seems a bit dry, add more oil.
  3. Pulse in the rest of the seasonings. Stir, taste, and adjust. 
  4. Stir in the pecorino romano, adding more oil if needed.
Top with a little extra oil to keep the basil from turning brown.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Thai Basil Pesto, Take 2

Beautiful Downtown Santee rarely gets frost, but we're getting it this year.  A lot. And, covering the veggie corrals with old sheets only goes so far in protecting this sun-loving plant. So, I've been on a pesto-making frenzy all afternoon:
  • Classic pesto (Italian and Greek basils)
  • Lemony lemon basil pesto
  • Southwest lime basil pesto
  • Thai basil pesto
I looked at my last recipe for Thai basil pesto and figured I could stand to be a little more precise. And, I could stand to play with it a bit more.

So, here's another version of Thai basil pesto, plus a variation.


3 Tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1/2 cup raw cashews
4 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
4 Tbsp regular sesame oil
1.5 cups Thai basil leaves
Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Pulse sesame seeds, cashews, and garlic until cashews are finely minced, but not quite ground. 
  2. Pulse in the oils.
  3. Pulse in basil leaves. Periodically stir. If it isn't mixing well, add a little more sesame oil.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add some garlic powder if needed.
Variation: Spicy gingery Thai Basil Pesto

Stir the following into the pesto, then taste and adjust seasonings:

1.5 to 2 tsp crushed/minced ginger. (Or, use about 1/2 tsp powdered ginger)
Dash of galangal (or more ginger)
Dash or two of cayenne
A little extra black pepper

Thai Basil Pesto and Spicy Gingery Thai Basil Pesto

Friday, December 11, 2015

GF Marie Callendar's Style Cornbread - Take 1

Melanie informed me that Gluten-Free Mike had been lamenting the loss of Marie Callender cornbread in his life.  I understand. It is indeed a lamentable loss.

And, unlike Spouse 1.0, Gluten-Free Mike can't like the dense, corny cornbread made in cast iron skillets.  No, to Gluten-Free Mike, "cornbread" has only one definition: Marie Callender.

So, what could I say, other than, "Challenge accepted!!"

My first thought was to try incorporating corn and honey into my garbanzo bread. I rejected that idea before even getting home to my mixing bowl.  Instead, I reached for my iPad and started googling. Surely someone had done a GF copycat recipe.  They had. I tried it, and it was good in the way that an over-sweetened box of Jiffy cornbread would be good.

As in, not good enough.

I thought back to the first time I had Marie's bread. I splurted, "This isn't cornbread! It's cake!"

It took me many Sunday lunches of steamed vegetables to accept the idea that having a square of dessert with your steamed vegetables wasn't a bad thing.  And, many more Sunday lunches to come to love the stuff.

So, back to Gluten-Free Mike and the quest for cornbread.

If Marie's is more cake than bread, then I need to understand the ratio differences between quickbread and cake. Fortunately, Spouse 1.0 got me the Ratio book last year for Christmas.

I decided to try something half way between a quickbread and a cake. And, it worked!

Unlike a lot of my recipes, this one is all about specific ingredients and correct technique.  You'll dirty more things when you make this.  But, it is so very worth it.

I haven't heard yet whether the bread passes the Gluten-Free Mike test. But, since everyone else likes it, here it is: The bread and its back story.
Since this is half way between a bread and a cake, use a cake making method.  First, you cream the butter and sugar in your stand mixer until it is very, very creamy.  Scrape the bowl a time or two while it is mixing.
Cream butter and sugar
Cream butter and sugar
While the fat and sugar are creaming, prepare the dry ingredients.  Grind the cornmeal in a clean coffee grinder or a high power blender until the cornmeal is warm.  If using the coffee grinder, do it in two stages. Add all dry ingredients to a small mixing bowl and whisk well to combine.

Mix dry ingredients
Mix dry ingredients together

Once the fat and sugar is well creamed, add the eggs and mix until they are well incorporated. Don't over mix. You don't want the eggs to get tough. Scrape the bowl.

Add eggs
Add eggs

Add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture in 2 or three stages, mixing only well enough to incorporate and scraping the bowl a couple of times.

Add dry ingredients
Add dry ingredients
Add the clabbered milk and mix just until incorporated. Gently scrape the bowl once while mixing. The batter will be fluffy and beautiful. 

Add clabbered milk
Add clabbered milk
Gently pour the fluffy, beautiful batter into a well-greased 8" pan.  Wet your fingers and gently smooth the batter so that it is evenly distributed. 

gently spread batter in 8 inch pan

Bake and enjoy.  Of course, you'll want to mix up some honey butter to go with this. 

Pamela's Marie-Style Cornbread


1-2 tsp organic apple cider vinegar
4 ounces goat milk
2 ounces butter, softened but not melted
2 ounces Spectrum organic shortening
4 ounces (1/2 cup) organic sugar
2 large eggs
3 ounces Arrowhead Mills Organic Gluten Free Cornmeal*
3 ounces Authentic Foods Classic Gluten Free Blend**
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp xanthan gum

  1. Thoroughly grease an 8" square baking pan and preheat oven to 350 (f).
  2. Pour 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar into cup.
  3. Add goat milk to weigh 4 ounces. Set aside to clabber.
  4. Weigh butter, shortening, and sugar into the mixing bowl and set it to creaming. Scrape bowl periodically.***
  5. Grind cornmeal in a clean coffee grinder or a high powered blender.
  6. Add dry ingredients to a small mixing bowl and whisk to incorporate.
  7. Add eggs to butter-sugar mixture. Mix just enough to thoroughly incorporate. Scrape bowl once while mixing.
  8. Add dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture in at least two stages.  Mix just enough to incorporate. Scrape 2-3 times while mixing.
  9. Add clabbered milk, mixing just enough to incorporate.  Scrape bowl once while mixing.
  10. Pour mixture into the prepared baking pan.  Wet fingers and smooth batter evenly in the pan.
  11. Bake 350 for about 25-30 minutes, until toothpick tests done.

* I love Bob's Red Mill products, and I love the course grind of their cornmeal for other things.  For this bread, you really do need the finer grind of Arrowhead Mills.

** Authentic Foods grinds their brown rice flour more finely than other brands I've used.  This is important for the fluffiness factor. 

*** Be sure to turn your mixer off and unplug it while scraping the bowl.