Fresh Basil.

This gorgeous specimen is the newest addition to my kitchen.  I love basil.  Italian basil, thai basil, purple basil; any kind of basil adds such flavor and freshness to a dish.  I usually enjoy making Tomato and Mozzarella Toasts or chopping up some fresh basil and adding it to some rice cooked-with-chicken-stockand parmesan cheese.  Many people believe that the use of basil is strictly an Italian invention, but au contraire!  It is an incredibly versatile plant, and I’ve been known to add it not only to curry but to burritos as well.  Once, I even stumbled upon a dessert recipe for basil: Basil-Blackberry Compote.  I can’t wait to try that one.

Tomorrow, after a quick trip to pick up some dough, I’ll be making Fresh Tomato Pesto Pizza.  I figure it’s the perfect end-of-the-day, eat-on-the-back-porch type of meal to have on a Wednesday.  Mmmmm.

Fresh Tomato Pesto Pizza

4 cups Basil leaves
2 Garlic cloves
1/4 cup Chicken Broth fat-free, less-sodium
1 tablespoon Parmesan Cheese grated
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Italian Pizza Crust
3 cups Tomatoes , chopped seeded
3 Garlic , thinly sliced cloves
1 cup Provolone Cheese shredded
1/4 cup Basil thinly sliced leaves

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

2. To prepare pesto, place basil leaves and garlic cloves in a food processor, and pulse 5 times or until coarsely chopped.

3. With processor on, add broth, Parmesan, and oil through food chute; process until well-blended.

4. To prepare pizza, place pizza crust on a baking sheet.

5. Spread pesto over crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border; top with the tomato, garlic slices, and provolone.

6. Bake at 475 degrees for 12 minutes or until the cheese melts.

7. Sprinkle with sliced basil.

8. Cut the pizza into wedges.

happy cooking!

happy cooking!

Where Did Summer Go?

I can’t take this rain.  And it’s not even rain; more like a perpetual mist that seeps through every pore and fiber, dampening clothing and temperament alike.  Everything in Boston is absolutely and utterly soggy.  The air is thick and drenched.  Summer hues peep out beneath long, dark raincoats.  Faces are permanently shaded by nylon umbrellas.  I think you’re getting the idea.  This cannot possibly be June.

For me, rain breeds complacency.  I don’t want to do anything.  I don’t want to go out on my bike, and thus must muster every ounce of will to go out at all; I don’t want to cook, because my body goes into hibernation and craves nothing but bread and chocolate.  Add to this my most recent Trader Joe’s discovery:

It’s called “Chocotal” and it is an assortment of four delectably exotic and rich chocolate ice creams.  Of course, I saved the Costa Rican Chocolate one for last.   Wasn’t quite ready to see it go…  Still, hello, heaven, I always knew you’d be in chocolate form.

Anyway, like a mourning shawl lifted from the hunched shoulders of an ancient babushka, today was the first sunny day in what seems like an eternity.  I actually felt the warmth and heat of the sun!  Such a blasphemy that we need to feel this way at the end of June!  But, it was glorious, nonetheless.  And so, I immediately hopped on my bike and rode out to my local Trader Joe’s for some red wine and cherries.

Yeah, those are pits.  I got a little hungry during the shoot.  Cherries, to me, represent the jubilant calling of summer.  Their tartness, sweetness, juiciness, and vividness epitomize the food of this season.  There is just about nothing better than biting into a chilled, plump cherry after a long day out in the sun.  So, should the sun decide to tough it out for me, I’ll be making this Cranberry Cherry Relish to spoon over some grilled chicken sausage.

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Travels Well With Food: Back from Costa Rica

Well, I’m finally back from quite simply the most incredible week of my life.  I was in Playa Dominical, Costa Rica, surfing at the Green Iguana Surf Camp with some of the most talented, kind, and entertaining people I have ever had the pleasure to meet.  I surfed every day, I tanned on gorgeous beaches, I zip-lined through the rainforest canopy, I salsa/merengued and got turned about the dance floor by various Ticos, I jumped into a waterfall off a rope swing, I rode a motorcycle at 2 am, and I went for a midnight swim with all my clothes on.  I am bruised, scraped up, hungry, tired, and deliriously happy.

surfs up!

I can’t wait to go back.

Of course, part of the fun of this trip was the food.  As I’ve mentioned before, Costa Rica isn’t particularly known for being a culinary destination.  However, the food here was definitely something worth mentioning.  The key being: fresh ingredients.  Absolutely everything was fresh.  We drank amazing Costa Rican coffee and had fresh fruit smoothies (con agua) ever day.  I ate alfajores, arroz con pollo, arroz y frijoles, casado tico, chicken soup, and lots of avocado.  One of my favorite meals was actually my first meal in Dominical: a fried fish dish with papas fritas, salad, and a banana smoothie.  As frightening as the fish looked (note: deep-fried fish eyes staring up at you while you eat does not always make for the most comfortable dining), it was incredible.  So fresh, so crispy, so right.

Mmmm.  Unfortunately, this was the only shot of food that I took while on my trip.  I was far too busy with surfing and hanging out with my friends/surf instructors to be hampered down by a camera (plus, bikinis don’t have pockets).  When I return to Dominical (mind you, that’s a when not an if), I’ll be sure to take many many more.  Pura Vida and, as always, happy eating!

A Few Key Notes and 25 Years of Eating

It’s been a little quiet around here, lately, and I apologize for that.  This past week has been crazy between packing for my trip to Costa Rica, helping organize a bar night fundraiser for my team’s 3-day Walk for Breast Cancer (please donate here if you’re so inclined), and celebrating my impending doom entry into spinsterhood 25th birthday.  I kid, I kid.  I’m very excited to be turning a quarter-century old.  I’ve learned a lot in the past two-and-a-half decades, even more in the past 2 years, alone.  I feel 25.  I embrace 25.  I’m ready to be 25.

Am I where I thought I’d be in life at this age?  Heck, no!  And I couldn’t be happier for it.

Anyway, I wanted to give a blog shout-out to A.J. Rathbun, but this time for’s Al Dente blog.  AJ is a kitchen buyer at Amazon and contributes to their fabulous kitchenware/cooking blog.  He was so kind as to give my blog a shout-out on there, and linked to that gorgeous Kirsten Lepore film I’ve talked about.  Check it out!

All right, I’m off to get fabulous and drink wine and eat Italian food at Pomodoro with some of my closest friends.  Ciao bellos!