Friday, September 18, 2009

Talking the Foodie Talk (and Making Pesto)

People at the Park Slope Food Coop seem to speak another language. They toss around phrases like "Lacinato Kale" and "Dandelion root" and expect me to understand.

They know which farm their apples come from and even the name of the cow who supplied their grass-fed beef (why are they all named Elsie?).

My husband speaks their lingo and so does my best friend, Dori, but, until recently, I've felt ignorant and illiterate.

But, I'm pleased to say that starting to get the hang of it.

Yesterday, when I did my work shift at the coop, I tested out some of my newly acquired knowledge and tried to speak this foreign tongue. Amazingly, people seemed to understand me (or at least they acted like they did).

In fluent "foodie talk," I compared my homemade pesto recipe with a fellow co-op member.

Paula's Pesto

Puree 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1 garlic clove, 1/2 cup pine nuts, 2 cups fresh basil leaves, and salt and pepper to taste in a food processor until almost smooth.

Add 1/4 cup olive oil gradually, with the blades turning, scraping the side of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula to ensure that all of the mixture is incorporated.

Unfortunately, I couldn't brag because when I tried out this recipe on Sunday night, it didn't taste quite right -- even after Avo dutifully ran out to the back garden for more basil to add to the mix.

"It's better, but it's disappointing when your homemade pesto isn't as good as the kind you can buy at the store," he said.

"It's not surprising when the store you shop at is the Park Slope Food Coop!"

Even if my pesto didn't measure up, at least I can now tell the difference between basil and arugula. I just need to study up on the varieties of Kale.


Kathy N. said...

Hmmm...that recipe looks like it would make delicious pesto! I've seen recipes that call for more oil and I always use lemon in mine, or I blanch the garlic, to help with the bitter taste of the raw garlic. I'm also a huge fan of this cooking site, and her pesto recipe looks interesting. More parmesan, less oil.

Good luck!

Undomesticated Me said...

I should have made it clear that the pesto we get at the coop is pretty amazing, so it's hard to top that. Mine wasn't bad, just a bit bitter. Maybe blanching the garlic would help. Thanks!

AmandaA said...

Ok - Here is the best pesto recipe ever. We have never found store-bought pesto to match it. Like Pasta Fresca, it is essential that you use a high quality, strong tasting olive oil.

2 loosely packed cups basil
Lots of salt
1/2 to 2 cloves garlic
2 T. pine nuts, lightly toasted using a dry skillet
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil, or more
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan

Combine basil, salt, 1/2 clove garlic, toasted nuts and 1/4 to 1/2 cup oil in blender or processor. Process. Add more oil to desired thickness. Add more garlic to taste. Add more salt until the sauce tastes pretty salty (it tastes less so on the pasta).

Only add the parmesan cheese when you are ready to serve with the pasta. That way you can freeze the pesto or keep in refrigerator longer.

AmandaA said...

Looking back, my recipe is almost exactly like yours except for the amount of oil and the toasting of the pine nuts. Perhaps the quality of the oil, the amount of salt and the blending of the parmesan could also be factors.