A wonderful use for basil is pesto. Pesto tossed with pasta delivers a quick and tasty entrée, it also adds amazing flavor to paninis and Mediterranean style pizzas.

Basil is a lovely plant, and quite easy to grow. I tuck it around my flower pots, so that I can snip away to my heart’s content. The flavor is best when harvested before the plant has gone to seed. To keep the plant attractive, snip healthy leaves above side branching stems. Place the harvested bunch into a vase of cold water until ready to use… it makes a very attractive bouquet.

  • Makes: 1 cup
  • Difficulty: Easy
2 cloves (1/2 ounce) of garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 ounces fresh (no substitutions) sweet basil leaves, rinsed in a bowl of cool water and spun dry in a salad spinner
In a food processor, layer in the order listed.

Tip: After separating a garlic clove from the head; cut off root end. Place the broad side of a chef’s knife over top; strike with your fist or palm. Release skin and discard. Cut in half; place cut sides down and chop into a few pieces.

Placing the garlic, nuts, and salt near the blades of the food processor helps move the basil around in the next step. Dried basil can never be used for pesto. It yields an unpleasant taste and an inedible texture.
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pour over basil. Pulse all together just until pine nuts are finely chopped but still visible. Scrape down bowl sides 2-3 times during the process. Transfer to a 1-quart bowl.

Tip: Cut a lemon in half at the equator, place cut sides down and quarter. Juice with a citrus squeezer held over a mesh strainer to catch seeds. 

Lemon juice helps basil retain its bright green color. Settings other than “pulse” lack control and can easily over chop the mixture.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, cubed to 1/2 inch
If butter is not yet softened, warm on medium microwave power in a tempered glass bowl. Pulse cheese in a food processor until fine. Use a silicone spatula to fold butter and cheese into basil mixture. If not using directly, refrigerate in a tightly capped jar. A silicone spatula makes folding easy. Mixing by hand preserves texture.

Testing Notes: Parmesan is the American version of Italian Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano. It is not made the same or aged as long.



Toasted muesli (MUSE lee) is an incredibly popular Australian breakfast staple. The first time I joined Mark in Sydney for a temporary relocation, we lived at the Westin for over a month. Every morning the club lounge served a bountiful breakfast bar, but eventually we found ourselves drawn to this healthy choice. Served over yogurt, it is a perfect start to the day!

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Avocado Remoulade
Remoulade (ray moo LAHD) is incredibly easy to make, and yet quite elegant as an accompaniment to fish and frittatas. Continue reading “AVOCADO REMOULADE”



Hummus is an amazing food. Not only is it incredibly tasty, it provides a complete protein (like meat) because it combines a legume (chickpeas) with a seed (sesame). We have never been vegetarians, but this is so good, I can almost envision it as possible.

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Hotter Than Hades Salsa

1997 was the year of the salsa (no, I am not referring to the dance). After every batch, Mark asked “Can you make it hotter?” That is, until this version. He took in a big scoop, wiped the perspiration from his brow and gasped “Oh. This one is just right!” If you can’t take the heat, just use milder peppers. For a garden fresh version, serve straight from the blender without cooking.

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