Monthly Archives: August 2011

opal basil and oven roasted tomato pesto..

The first days of summer are marked by that familiar smell of a sun-baked earth. The smell usually rises into the air around the dusk of a fully stretched out day, almost sweet, and where I grew up, with a touch of pine tree.  The earth is fully alive and awake, plants are heavy with fruit, gardens are leafed over in green, and flora and fauna alike are over flowing with energy.  Around this time of year we strive to preserve this internal sense of energy and freedom that summer fosters. We roast and can tomatoes, we pickle cucumbers and zucchini, freeze our corn, and make granitas out of watermelon. All in the hopes of preserving the smells and tastes of that summer heat, so that we can reminisce on winter nights about our barefoot escapades…when we were allowed to be heathens.

I love preserving the heat-treated herbs of summer in an earthy pesto.  I actually freeze it in a covered ice cube tray so that I can savor the pesto all winter long. I will confess however, I do not really use, nor do I really have a recipe to follow, but I can offer these vague guidelines:

Opal basil and oven roasted tomato pesto… 

  • Summer herbs (basil, parsley, cilantro)
  • Toasted nuts (walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, almonds)
  • A salty, hard cheese, grated (Asiago, Parmesan)
  • Roasted garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • Oven roasted tomatoes

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Cover your cherry tomatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and allow to roast until dried.  At the same time cut a bulb of garlic in half, cover in olive oil, wrap in foil, and place in oven until each clove is just about spreadable.

In a medium pan, toast nuts, whichever variety you have on hand.  For this pesto I used pecans, which gave it a hint of sweetness. 

In a small food processor, add equal parts cheese and nuts, and then pack in as many herbs as you can. For this pesto I used what came in our farm box, opal basil and parsley. Pulse in the processor while adding olive oil little by little.  Once the mixture moves freely you can continue to add olive oil in a stream until it forms a thick paste. 

Add oven roasted tomatoes, about a handful or so, and process. Serve the rest on top of a pasta, or on their own. They are the little red jewels of summer. Then salt and pepper to taste. 

We first used this pesto over pasta. We also used it on the sandwiches we made for our daughter’s first birthday party.  We made the organic wheat bread, and filled the sandwiches with pesto, heirloom tomatoes, feta, and cucumbers.

Eat together toast to each other, and share!




Just a few lovely things… 

Ines Rosales tortas de aceite

this color palette

this bread and the featured cookbook

this book

a little bit of fashion inspiration

I want this store to be my neighbor

all things lemon

to travel in this Airstream

these bagels for breakfast

exploring the domestic arts

midi skirts

these sunglasses

these birthday cupcakes…

and the colors of this farmbox…

Eat together, toast to each other, and share…

Old world plum cake…

I have needed that sense of “home” lately. You know that moment when you wake up, walk out to your kitchen to make some coffee, look out into your space, and that feeling of “home” washes over you? The smells, lights, space, and sounds, all come together in some sort of sensory harmony that somehow cues you that…your world…right now…is alright.  We are getting there, but our space still wants for more…you know boxes in the corner can be awfully discordant. It is amazing how long it takes for us humans to adapt to change, to find our due north again.

So, my remedy to this has been to bake.  Bake bake bake. That is what the women in my family have always done when their axis gets shifted. My grandmother baked bread, my mom made Swedish pancakes. I thought this old world plum tart would help bring some sense of tradition and gravity to my day today. The plums are so tart, balancing out this sweet, simple butter cake.

Happy birthday to the women who was my due north.  Thank goodness that the kitchen is such an amazing compass.

Old world plum cake…

(adapted from Lorenza de’ Medici)

2 ½ cups flour

2/3 cup organic cane sugar

3 eggs

2/3 cup unsalted butter (melted) (plus more for pan)

zest of one lemon

½ tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup milk or plain yogurt

3 plums

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Quarter plums and remove pits.  Slice very thinly.Combine all dry ingredients.  Combine all wet ingredients.  Add dry to wet and mix until batter is smooth.

Pour mixture into pan. Arrange plum slices into concentric circles on top of the batter. Sprinkle the top with sugar and it will make a nice sweet crust to house the moist cake. 

Bake until a toothpick comes of clean, about 50 minutes.  Careful not to over bake, the cake will get very dry. I tested mine every couple minutes towards the end,  just to make sure.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!