basil

All posts tagged basil

The proof of the Pudding is in the Basil… Basil and white peach cupcakes with a honey-mascarpone frosting

Published August 13, 2013 by The Feminist

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I know, the title doesn’t make any sense at all, but it certainly got your attention, right? I mean, the fact that you’re reading this could indicate that

a) You like cupcakes. (who doesn’t?)
b) You like basil. (Again, who doesn’t?)
c) You like weird flavour combos. (only me, I presume)

My guess is that it is probably (or should I say hopefully?) a combination of the three. So whatever your reason may be for visiting this post , welcome and be prepared to witness something truly spectacular!

Basil cupcakes!

self five

Let me say that again: basil cupcakes!

high five

Basil is often considered the King of Herbs when it comes to savory dishes. So much so that I truly believe our love for Italian cuisine is solely derived from Italy’s multitude of basil-flavoured dishes; pesto being the crown jewel of Italian cuisine.

However, because we all love basil in savory dishes so much, we tend to overlook how brilliant it tastes in sweet dishes.

Yes, sweet dishes! Whether it’s ice- cream, crème brulée, brownies or a dainty tart, the fragrant freshness of basil can lift all of these already lovely desserts up to a whole other level!

So forget about pesto or salad caprese! Give your basil the spotlight it truly deserves and for once use the leaves in a very summery dessert!
Like this one, for instance. I got my inspiration from one of my favourite summer salads: a fresh peach, mozzarella and basil salad sprinkled with toasted pine nuts. So in a wave of culinary brilliance I thought to myself: “Wouldn’t it be totally awesome if I could make a sweet version of this salad?”

And this is what I came up with: a basil and white peach cupcake!

wow

At this point I still wanted to find a way to include pine nuts and any Italian cheese( let’s be honest: mozzarella in a sweet cupcake would have been too weird) and after some mindboggling brain activity, I had the most wonderful epiphany: a mascarpone cream, sweetened with honey and topped with crunchy pine nuts!

Eureka! Don’t they just look delicious? They tasted delicious as well, I might add. The basil is truly the star of this dessert and its herby freshness blends so well with the juicy sweetness of the peach. Add to that the smooth and comforting mascarpone cream, the delicious hint of honey in the back of your mouth and that lovely bit of bite from the pine nuts, and what you have is the most deliciously sweet taste of summer imaginable! Even Roman Gods would descend from their clouds and make their way to my tiny Belgian kitchen to taste one of my God-almighty cupcakes!

So if you’re ready to let the sunshine in, here is the recipe

Ingredients (makes 10 cupcakes)

• 120gr plain flour
• 140gr caster sugar
• 1 ½ tsp baking powder
• Pinch of salt
• 40gr unsalted butter
• 120ml whole milk
• 1 egg
• 6 tbsp fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
• 2-3 white peaches

For the mascarpone frosting
• 250gr mascarpone
• 4 tbsp honey
• Toasted pine nuts to decorate

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a bowl and mix on low speed until you get a sandy consistency.
3. Whisk together the egg, milk and basil and gradually pour the mixture into the flour mixture. Continue beating until well incorporated.
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cupcake tin and cut the peaches into moon- shaped wedges.
5. Layer each cupcake with 4 wedges . Try to create some kind of flower pattern. If this doesn’t really work, no biggy, just put the wedges on top any way you like.
6. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.
7. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tin before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.
8. Meanwhile, whisk together the honey and mascarpone for the frosting. Once the cupcakes are cold, spoon a quenelle of mascarpone cream on top of each cupcake and finish with a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts .
9. Optional: decorate the cupcakes with sugared basil leaves. Brush some basil leaves with a thin coating of egg white and sprinkle with caster sugar. Shake off any excess. Let them dry for at least one hour, this will make the leaves stiffen.

Everything tastes better with cheese: Tagliatelle with crunchy Mediterranean vegetables and feta cheese

Published March 7, 2013 by The Feminist

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Have I ever told you how much I love cheese? Never? Really? Damn! How could I just forget to express my love and devotion for cheese? Because cheese is the epitome of comfort food! Cheese is great! Cheese is wonderful!

I’m currently obsessed with Shropshire cheese. It is best described as a cross between Stilton and Cheshire. It has a sharp and strong flavour and a tangy aroma. I daresay it is the best thing to have hit this earth since sliced bread. (It is that good!)

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Another big favourite of mine is feta cheese. The taste of feta cheese immediately transports me to sunnier destinations. Think Greece minus the economic crisis, but with a bottle of retsina and sirtaki dancers. 😉

This pasta dish is so simple and quick you would almost think you were on candid camera: Some idiot would suddenly jump from behind your stove and shout: “Ha! You’ve just been pranked! Did you really think you could make this dish in fifteen minutes?”

Seriously. This is not a joke, this is reality. (And what a wonderful reality it is! ) Cook it. Eat it. Love it.

Tagliatelle with crunchy Mediterranean vegetables and feta cheese

Ingredients (serves 4)

• 350gr tagliatelle
• 2 medium-size courgettes, diced
• 1 yellow pepper, finally chopped
• 250gr cherry tomatoes, halved
• 1 red onion, finally chopped
• 1 clove of garlic
• 250gr feta cheese
• 200ml vegetable stock
• Lots of basil leaves

Method

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of good quality olive oil in a pan and fry the onion until soft. Add the courgette, pepper and garlic and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Add the tomatoes and the vegetable stock ( This will give the pasta a lovely saucy coating.)
3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente. Drain and combine with the vegetables. Toss well.
4. Crumble in the feta cheese and sprinkle over lots of shredded basil leaves.
5. Let the summer begin!

Some things are better left unsaid. But then again, that’s just not my style so I’m going to say it anyway: This was delicious!

Published February 27, 2013 by The Feminist

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Some things are better left unsaid. Other things ought to be shared with every person on the planet. This recipe falls in the latter category (no surprise there, I presume?)This pesto, courgette and mozzarella tart is healthy, hearty and delicious! The pesto is full of flavour and the beautifully grilled courgette slices work so well with the milky white of the mozzarella.
And what’s more: It is ridiculously easy to make and 100% meat-free! Even the most blatantly innate meat-loving cynic will love this bright and sunny dish. Serve with a triple bean and cherry tomato salad (forgot to take a picture of that one, sorry!) and you won’t even remember meat ever existed!

And no, I’m NOT exaggerating!

Pesto, courgette and mozzarella tart

Ingredients:

• 1 sheet puff pastry
• 2 small-medium size courgettes, in slices of approx. 5 mm
• 200gr good quality mozzarella cheese
• Homemade or store-bought pesto (I won’t judge 😉 )
• Basil leaves to decorate

Method:

1. Grill the slices of courgette on a hot grill until nice grill marks appear.
2. Preheat the oven to 200°C and place the puff pastry on a non-stick baking sheet.
3. Generously spread pesto over the pastry base, leaving a 2cm gap around the edge of the tart.
4. Arrange the courgette and mozzarella slices in a spiral shape on top of the pesto, overlapping slightly.
5. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Fold over the edges of the puff pastry and put bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.
7. Garnish with basil leaves and buon appetito!

Peas please: the pesto project

Published October 15, 2012 by The Feminist

Warning: If you’re Italian, this post might give you a heart attack

I decided to give the classic Italian pesto a makeover by adding a British twist.

(I’ll give you some time to process this…)

Instead of pine nuts, I used peas!

Instead of olive oil, I used cream!

And instead of basil, I used basil AND mint!

(Again, I’ll give you some time to envision the outcome…)

And tada! Here is my rigatoni with pea, basil and mint pesto and grilled mushrooms!

To all the Italians: Are you still alive?