basil-parmsan-sauce

Sauces are so important to any dish from the humble lunch sandwich to the most gourmet of meals. Often overlooked by home cooks because they can be intimidating, sauce is vital and what pulls a meal together. Like shoes to an outfit- it serves an important functional role as well as pulling everything together. Sauce should never, ever be overlooked.

This is one of my absolute favorite sauce recipes. I love that it is packed with fresh flavor, can be made in advance, and it’s extremely versatile. I use it on everything from classic turkey sandwiches to elegant beef tenderloin. It’s a perfect condiment to keep around and I am always finding new ways to use it. You can’t say that about too many other sauces.

basil mayo in jar

This sauce is really nothing more than a flavor infused fresh mayonnaise. I changed the name from mayonnaise to sauce after serving it with beef tenderloin (as I always do) after I discovered that not everyone was down with the idea of mayo and meat. So I started presenting it as Beef Tenderloin with Basil & Parmesan “Sauce” and guess what happened? Everyone tried it and loved it. Funny how people have what they “like” and don’t like” already made up in their minds before trying things.

The original recipe is from Ina Garten but I have tweaked the recipe over time to get it just right. Here are some tips I picked up along the way:

  • This is sauce is best made in advance so the flavors have time to marry together.  
  • While Ina uses vegetable oil, I prefer using sunflower oil. I found it lightens up the oily flavor and texture noticeably.
  • Mason jars are the perfect way to store this sauce.
  • When serving with beef, I like to take the chill off the sauce before serving.
Basil Parmesan Sauce
Prep Time
10 mins
 
Course: sauce
Ingredients
  • 4 large egg yolks at room temperature (organic free range eggs are recommended)
  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups sunflower oil
  • 1 cup good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped and packed fresh basil leaves
Instructions
  1. Place the egg yolks, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until smooth.
  2. With the processor running, slowly pour the oils into the bowl through the feed tube and process until emulsified.
  3. Add the basil and continue processing until finely pureed.
  4. Store the sauce in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

As always, I always suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs due to the risk of Salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, it is recommended you use only fresh, properly-refrigerated, clean, grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell. For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served use shell eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method.

spiced apple chutney

Chutneys are awesomely delicious. They are sweet, but not sweet like a traditional jam. Chutney has a savory components as well which balance it, makes it more versatile, and much more interesting to taste. Chutney’s texture is also unlike it’s cousin in that it is more chunky than jam, which brings some texture to the palate party.

Enjoyed all around the world, chutney is most commonly associated with Indian and African cuisines, and can be traced as far back to it origin sometime around 500 AD. (So the Google tells me.) It was at that time that the Romans introduced chutneys to European tables, which is actually where I fell in love with chutney. (English countryside. 17 years old. A picnic with my aunt and uncle. Cheddar and Chutney. Game over.)

Where as in India, the Caribeean, Africa and other parts of the world, Chutneys are often served with vegetables, meats and fishes. Europeans do it a little differently, often seen included on a cheese & charcuterie platters. Cheese and Chutney folks- that’s the good life right there.

The Chutney recipe is a fantastic one and extremely easy to make. I found it in Ina Garten’s cookbook to accompany one of the best pork recipes in the world. (yes, you read that right- I said best pork recipe in the world.)

The flavors were absolute perfection. Savory, spicy, sweet. It is amazing how good this chutney is. The recipe below yielded about 2.5 pint size mason jars, which would mean you would likely get about 5-6 jelly jars out of it, making a great food gift for friends and neighbors.

No question, the pork and apple chutney is superb. But what I really like to do with this chutney is serve it with a really great quality English cheddar. Mmmm….it’s just so good.  You will simply be amazed at how the flavors come together and elevate each other. Your taste buds will thank you after this bite.

Spiced Apple Chutney
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins
 

Sweet, Savory and Spicy! This chutney is perfect to serve with a sharp cheddar cheese or your favorite pork chop recipe.

Course: Side Dish, Snack
Servings: 10
Author: Adapted from Ina Garten
Ingredients
  • 6 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and half-inch diced
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 2 oranges
  • 3/4 cup good cider vinegar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon whole dried mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Combine the apples, onion, ginger, orange juice, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seeds, pepper flakes and salt and in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to simmer and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  2. Set aside to cool and store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe Notes

This recipe makes approximately 2.5 pint size mason jars. 

caesar dressing

Apparently, lettuce likes summer rain because I’ve had a bumper crop of lettuce this season and that’s about the only think I am loving about this wet season that we are having.

With so many leafy varieties doing so well in our garden this year, I’ve really had a chance to work on matching the different textures and flavors of the varietals with different meals, and finding the perfect dressings to accompany them. The delicate, silky nature of the butter lettuce and red oak varieties take well to simple dressings like a lemon vinaigrette. Anything more than a squeeze of fresh lemon, splash of olive oil, salt and pepper overpowers the delicate eaves.. When I match those varieties with a heavier meal, like chicken parmesan, I find the meal to be harmonious. On the other hand, the romaine is hearty and can stand up to a bolder flavor and a thicker texture- which is why it’s the preferred lettuce choice for a classic, tangy caesar dressing.Caesar dressing is very, very popular. I am confident that it is the most common item on menus across the country, meaning that just about every restaurant has a version of caesar salad on it. Given it’s popularity, it amazes, and disappoints me, that nine out of ten times I order it, it’s really not impressive. Some places serve more of a vinaigrette version, while others are garlic forward and creamy, some with raw egg, others with cream. Personally, I like a tangy, creamy, salty caesar. I don’t see how it can be any other way.

Having never made homemade caesar dressing before, I really wasn’t sure where to start or how to select a good recipe. So I decided to make three versions, one of which contained no egg. I was hoping I was going to like it the no egg version but unfortunately it came in last in the taste test. You simply need the egg.

The winning recipe turned out to be Michael Chirarello’s recipe. Over time I have tweaked it slightly to create a version that we really enjoy.

Caesar Salad Dressing
Prep Time
10 mins
 
Course: condiment, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: dressing
Ingredients
  • 1 large egg yolk- at room temperature
  • 1.5 tablespoons of dijon mustard
  • A dash of dry mustard if you have it.
  • 4 quality anchovy filets
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • dash worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup good quality parmesan cheese. I like a parmesan/romano mix
Instructions
  1. Place the egg yolk, mustard, anchovies, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce in a blender or food processor. Blend until pureed. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream. If the dressing stops moving in the blender, stop the machine, add the warm water and then continue until all the oil is added. To finish, add the cheese and pulse to incorporate. Taste and adjust your seasonings.

  2. Toss with Romaine lettuce leave and croutons, if desired.