Pesto Much?

Today I spent time making some pesto, following a modification of a recipe from Ottaviana’s Kitchen (an old Geocities site that is cached and no longer active).  The recipe follows:

3 cup fresh, packed basil
1 cup olive oil, extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup fresh parsley
4-5 cloves garlic, or to taste


Walnuts are a substitute for pine nuts, which are traditionally used in pesto.  Pine nuts give kind of a rustic, woodsy flavor, and I think a little bit of a richer flavor.  Walnuts give body to the pesto, but seem a little bitter.  I settle for walnuts because they are cheaper.  For the cheese, you can use Romano or Parmesan; I have also used Asiago.  Use as much garlic to your liking.  I like a ton of garlic, to which point the pesto is hot on the tongue once it is first ground.  My wife isn’t into that, so I have to tone it down (which is something I don’t understand as she is Italian).  Work in batches, get a little basil chopped up a little into your blender so it is easier to work with, top with the parmesan, walnuts and garlic.  Glug some olive oil, glug, glug, and grind away.  About the olive oil . . . don’t get hung up on the recipe.  Drizzle that stuff in until the blender starts to really mix stuff up and churn the mixture into a sort of smooth consistency.  If you’re fighting with the blender, then it probably means you have either too much basil in at the moment, or not enough olive oil.  Salt to taste, add pepper if you wish.

I brought in quite a haul of Sweet Basil from the garden (approximately 5 quarts packed).

Sweet Basil, ready to get washed

Sweet Basil, ready to get washed

And below, getting my ingredients ready for the NINJA!!!!

everything in place for a batch run of pesto

everything in place for a batch run of pesto

that's a lot of green

that’s a lot of green

8 quart pan, nearly full

8 quart pan, nearly full

feerst wee steer de pestooo, den wee salty-talty!  Bort! Bort!

feerst wee steer de pestooo, den wee salty-talty! Bort! Bort!

they come in pints?!

they come in pints?!

Irish Bread Pudding

During Holidays, and especially Christmas, I like to do things like plan a good steelhead fishing trip, listen to some good Christmas music on the radio, drive around and look at lights, all that stuff.  I also like to eat.  There’s nothing I like more than satisfying my family with good eats.  Sure, I like to spend time with my immediate family, but I especially like to do things for them.  It’s just my nature.

My favorite pièce de résistance is Irish Bread Pudding.  Everyone lights up when they hear I’m making it, and I enjoy making it.  They especially light up when they dig into that first bite.  Now here is my recipe, and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do:

Irish Bread Pudding

2 French bread baguette (I use this recipe, but feel free to use baguettes made at your local bakery), cut into 1 inch thick slices
1/2 c raisins
1/4 c Jameson Irish Whiskey
1 3/4 c 2% milk
1 3/4 c heavy cream
1 c sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

topping:
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.  Brush melted butter on one side of French bread slices, place on baking sheet butter side up, baking at 350 for 10 min or until lightly toasted.  Cut into 1/2 inch cubes and set aside.  Combine raisins and whiskey in a small bowl; cover and let stand 10 minutes or until soft (do not drain).  It is important to cover the whiskey and not let it stand for more than 10 minutes or you’ll lose the flavor, as alcohol evaporates.  While you’re at it pour a shot for yourself and enjoy it as you go.

Combine milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, and eggs; mix well with a whisk until smooth.  Add the bread cubes and raisin mixture, pressing gently to moisten; let stand 15 minutes.  Spoon bread mixture into a 13×9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Combine the sugar and cinnamon topping and sprinkle over your pudding.  Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, or until set.  I like to cook it until there is a nice crust on top–it shouldn’t be a moist crust, but rather firm.  Serve warm and top with Custard Sauce:

Custard Sauce:

1/2 c heavy cream
1 c 2% milk
5 egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
3 T Jameson Irish Whiskey
1 tsp good vanilla extract

In a heavy saucepan, combine the cream and milk and bring to a simmer over medium heat, but do not let the milk boil (this will prevent the milk from separating).  In a large bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together until smooth.  Gradually whisk the hot milk into the yolks.  Return to the pan and stir constantly over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, or until custard thickens and coats the back of the spoon, but make sure the custard does not boil.  Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the whiskey and vanilla.  Serve.