I am not a big gadget person. I don’t like to read instruction manuals and if I can’t learn to use something in a matter of minutes, it probably won’t be a big part of my life. Yes, you guessed it: there are functions on my phone I have yet to contemplate, and I am unable to turn on our DVD player to watch a movie without my teenage sons to remind me how (ie. I haven’t seen a lot of movies lately because I don’t like to embarrass myself. But I digress.)
I have pared my kitchen down to the basics. I love my knives and my fancy knife sharpener. I couldn’t get by without my mixer, my blender or my coffee pot; I’ve had the same ones for years and they are easy to use. Yet, it’s my food processor that has been with me the longest – and like many things that have been around for so long, we have a love-hate relationship. Love – because it still works after all these years and it’s small enough to fit in my cabinet. Hate – because it’s not as perky as it used to be and I know I should break down and get a new one with sharper blades (it’s so old, I can’t buy new ones for it). But every time I shop for a new food processor, I am amazed at how huge they’ve gotten. I mean huge. I mean I would have to build a new garage to store some of them they’re so big.
So anyway, the only time of year I really wish I could build that extra garage and buy one of those super-duper-on-steroids food processors is in the summer when I find myself wanting to make large quantities of pesto with my always abundant basil crop. Yesterday morning when I looked out on the patio and saw my basil pot groaning under the weight of all those leaves (and threatening to go to seed like the pot of unruly cilantro nearby), I knew we would be having pesto for dinner.
But I didn’t feel like pasta. Hmm… I remembered I had a big beautiful, fresh ball of hand-made mozzarella in the frig. I had picked it up at the market the day before for a Caprese salad I never made. My mind turned to panini. I would make panini with fresh mozzarella and my homemade pesto and focaccia. A feast awaited.
I made the foccacia towards the end of the day and let it cool on a rack while I harvested the basil. The kitchen held fragrant scents of freshly baked bread and rosemary I had sprinkled over the top of it. As I started to chop the garlic and basil in my cranky food processor, my youngest son Bradford, who now towers over me, came into the room sniffing and looking around for signs of dinner. He stood nearby watching and started giving me advice about scraping down the sides of the work bowl, adding more sea salt, and didn’t it need more olive oil? I stepped back and let him play. He scraped, tasted and tweaked until he thought it was right. We put it into a tightly sealed container and I showed him how to lay plastic over the top to seal out the air. I fought him off as I sliced the mozzarella so I would have some left to make the panini and I set him to work constructing the sandwiches because he is a master sandwich maker and I wanted to focus on washing lettuce for a salad.
Here is a picture of Bradford’s creation before we cooked it. Looks good enough to eat just the way it is.
And here it is after we cooked it in our heavy-duty panini pan – a golden, crispy, melted cheese dream of a sandwich (and no, it is not an electric panini press gadget).
Many pesto recipes call for two packed cups of fresh basil, but in the summer when my basil crop runneth over, I want to use as much as I can all at once. I found, however, that the amounts for some of the other ingredients don’t have to be doubled exactly.
3 large cloves fresh garlic
4 packed cups fresh basil leaves, stems removes
2/3 cup walnuts (or pine nuts)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (more if needed)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Coarsely chop garlic in work bowl of food processor. Add basil, walnuts, and cheese and process until very finely chopped. Scrape down the sides and pour the olive oil all over the pesto mixture; then process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cooks Note: Pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days in a tightly sealed container (put a piece of plastic wrap over the top to keep it from discoloring). It can be stored in the freezer for up to three months.
Food Philosopher’s® Gluten-Free
RUSTIC FLAT BREAD
From Gluten-Free Baking Classics
This recipe also appears on Foodphilosopher.com
Makes one 8 or 9-inch round bread.
Recipe can be doubled.
1 1/2 cups Bread Flour Mix*
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 packet (1/4 oz.) of dry quick-rise yeast granules
1 teaspoon olive oil
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water, heated to 110°F
- Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with baking spray and lightly dust with rice flour or sprinkle with cornmeal.
- Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl of electric mixer. Pour warm water (110ºF) and olive oil into mixing bowl; mix until just blended. Scrape bowl and beaters, and then beat at high speed for 2 minutes.
- Spoon dough into prepared pan and spread it out to the sides with a spatula. Cover with a light cloth and let rise in a warm place (about 80ºF) for about 40 minutes. Bread should be approximately double in height.
- Place rack in lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 400ºF while bread is rising.
- Sprinkle olive oil over top and carefully spread it into a thin film over the entire surface of the bread (use your fingers to do this for best results). Sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt (or other toppings of your choice).
- Bake 15-20 minutes for a 9-inch bread (or 8-inch bread for 20-25 minutes). Bread should be medium golden in color and cooked through. Remove bread from pan and cool on a rack for 15 minutes; slice and serve.
Bread can be prepared in advance: bake according to directions. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack. Wrap well in plastic wrap and then foil. Bread can be stored in refrigerator for up to three days or freezer for up to three weeks; wrap well in plastic wrap and then foil. Defrost in plastic wrap. Rewarm in 350°F preheated oven for 10-15 minutes; sprinkle bread with a bit of water and wrap in foil, but open the foil for the last five minutes.
Dry ingredients can be mixed ahead and stored in plastic containers for future use. Do not add yeast until just ready to bake bread.
*Find my Bread Flour Mix under Guide to Flour mixes on this blog.