Counter Intelligence
The Kipling

Born of a combination of neglect, inspiration, obsession, and convenience:  my new favorite fancy-ass bourbon thing.  Basil, ginger, curry, bourbon, and pear come together to create a sweet/spicy/herbal cordial that I’m gonna hold onto for a while.

The Kipling

Kipling

To make individually: 

Add to a cup several fresh basil leaves and a dash of curry powder.  Muddle to bruise the leaves, but not to shred them.  Add 1-2 teaspoons of ginger syrup (my obsession: The Ginger People’s organic syrup), 2oz bourbon (I used Evan Williams, i don’t think you need to get too highbrow), 4-6oz pear juice, and shake.  Shaking helps to incorporate the syrup and also reduce the thickness of the pear juice, which can sometimes be a little…heavy.  Sometimes icemelt is functional!  You might want more syrup than that, or less, depending on how much you like ginger, how sweet the pear juice you’re using is, and probably other reasons as well.

The Kipling Party Kit:

2T ginger syrup, 1/2t curry powder, some basil leaves (I bruised them between finger and thumb), and 8oz of bourbon.  Shake it up a little, and stick in the fridge overnight.  Bring to party with a bottle of pear juice.  Best to shake each one for reasons of texture and the sometimes reluctant miscibility of liquids of different densities, etc, but lack of a shaker during my experimental phase didn’t reduce individual consumer enjoyment as far as this lady could tell.

Note: I hate posting flash photos, but now that it’s basically dark by 4pm it would probably bode poorly for my mental health if I were taking photos of bourbon cocktail creation sessions in broad daylight.  Alone.  In my apartment.  So, be heartened by my crappy photo.  And go make this!

PS: props to Kimi for the name.  I’m terrible with names.

PPS: The first time I made this, it was with homemade bosc juice, and I used black tea to blend the pears before straining, but at that point the curry powder wasn’t part of the equation.  I might add tea back in next time to see what happens.  Tea infusions are easy: Two or three tea bags in a liter bottle of high proof liquor for two hours, pour into a different container rather than squeezing the tea bags out of the bottle to avoid some bitterness.

Summer Pasta with Basil and Raw Tomato Sauce

I love all my children equally.  Except that I love this one the most.  The seasonal tomatoes and fresh basil really anchor it as a summer dish, and it’s great warm or cold.  You could use the sauce with squash “spaghetti" if you need a raw option, and it’s perfect for potluck pasta salads: tastes great straight from the fridge as well as warmed by the sun!

Summer Pasta with Basil and Raw Tomato Sauce

Summer Pasta

3 medium tomatoes, green or yellow

1/2c green or red onion (or vidalia??)

2-3 garlic cloves, diced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (or santa fe wax pepper, or poblano??)

1c fresh basil

1/3c olive oil

salt to taste

2 yellow tomatoes

1 pint cherry tomatoes

2 red bell peppers (or purple! or yellow! or green! or orange!)

fresh ground pepper

grated parmesan

1/2lb cavatelli (or rotini, or bowties??)

For the blender!:

Chunked tomatoes, onion, garlic, diced pepper, rinsed basil, olive oil.  Puree your sauce, and see if you’d like some extra salt in there (keeping in mind your future parmesan addition).  Ideally you’ll make this a day in advance, as this sauce, like gazpacho and guac and salsa, matures overnight, and the garlic and onion flavors are able to permeate the mixture.  If you are worried about using a jalapeno, 1. we are very different people, and 2. do whatever you want.  You can totally skip the pepper, but I think it adds a nice vegetal top note, and a mild burn that I pretty much always want.

For serving!:

Boil your pasta with a little salt, and for the minimum time they say.  Unless you like when the pasta is a little softer?  To each his own, but if you are making this in advance mushier pasta won’t hold up for more than a day in the fridgerator.  While your pasta is boiling, chop up some bell pepper, and cut up some tomatoes.  Toss your drained pasta with your sauce and veggies.    In addition to peppers and tomatoes, you could easily add or sub carrots, cucumber, squash, or whatever else you have lying around!  Don’t be scurred.  I like to top each bowl with fresh ground black pepper and grated parmesan.  Made with fresh, seasonal tomatoes, and the most colorful of your farmer’s market offerings, this dish really showcases the best offerings of the season!

Walnut Basil Pesto

I love this stuff.  Also, I have a basil plant that sometimes threatens to plant a flag on my window sill, so I’ve even had occasion to make some, recently!  It’s easiest to make in a food processor, you get the most consistent texture.  I’ve used an immersion blender, with everything thrown in, but leaves can get stuck above the blade, and blah, blah.  If you don’t have a food processor, I personally would say don’t let that stop you, cause if there’s a basil leaf in your pasta, so what?  Just make sure you use a press for the garlic so you don’t get chunks of the stuff in your teeth.  Also, I usually have walnuts around (for salads, or, you know.  things) and pine nuts (the pesto “nut” of tradition) are, I hear, expensive?  And, apparently, not nuts?!  …so, you know, here’s what I do:

Walnut Basil Pesto

Basil Plant

2c basil leaves

1/2c raw walnuts, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed

1/3c olive oil

1/2c grated parmesan

1/2t sea salt (maybe)

In your food processor, pulse the basil leaves a few times, then add walnuts, garlic, and olive oil.  Pulse a few times, scrape down the sides, and then blend until the texture evens out.  The parm gets stirred in last.  Before you add salt, taste it.  The cheese you add might have a different salt content from mine, depending on the variety and age, so you might want more or less salt.  Unless I’m making a double batch and a pasta salad for a potluck, I like to divide my pesto among a few different small tupperware, a few tablespoons in each, and then stick them in the freezer.  This way when I’m craving it later, I don’t have to defrost everything at once just for my own dinner.  If you’re looking for a wheat alternative, or have a bunch of summer squash to use up, here’s one idea.

Fennel and Basil Martini

This.  Is.  Good.  You know, if you like that sorta thing.

Fennel Basil Martini

Fennel and Basil Martini

fresh fennel (from my CSA)

fresh basil

2oz gin

I’m not sure how to tell you how much fennel I used, and I’m not sure if it matters.  I’ll say…a finger.  Chop up a finger amount of fennel, and muddle that with four or five basil leaves.  Bruising, not pulverizing.  When you can smell the basil, you’re done.  Add ice and gin and shake.  I stuck my little cordial glass in the freezer so it would be frosty.

Fennel and Basil Pasta

So, when the fridge is nearly empty I am totally open to putting each of the odds and ends I have in a pan and then deciding to call it food.  Sometimes I end up with something that is not so pretty.  This week: great success!

Fennel and Basil Pasta

Fennel and Basil Pasta

1/4c chopped fennel

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

2T olive oil

black pepper

pasta of your heart’s desire (or cupboard’s content)

light tomato sauce/tomato juice

3-4 sundried tomatoes (mine were leftover from a stock I made)

a decent handful of fresh, washed basil

shaved parmesan

Put some water on to boil.  Chop the last of your fennel and your last jalapeno and some garlic for the hell of it.  Maybe you’re lucky enough to have an onion, then you could chop up half of that, too (better yet, if you had half an onion!).  Hopefully your chopping and the water’s boiling are accomplished around the same time, cause my saute of the chopped things in hot oil (on…medium to low heat?  with a little cracked pepper) and the pasta cooking time were almost the same.  Score.  Take the pasta out shortly before it’s done, drain, and add to your pan with fennel, etc.  IF your garlic or jalapeno start to brown take those things off the heat til the pasta is a minute shy of cooked.  We want them soft, not crispy.

Add drained pasta to pan (turn the burner back on if you had to shut it, before), as well as an amount of sauce that looks good to you.  I didn’t want a heavy sauce, because I wanted to taste my veggies.  Luckily, I have no tomato sauce.  Instead I added about 1/4c low sodium tomato juice and my sundried tomatoes, and let that simmer for a couple minutes.  Just when the pasta and veggies are coming together, right before you turn the heat off, stir in the basil.

Top with fresh grated pepper and shaved parmesan.  When you go back for seconds, swap the parm for herbed goat cheese.  Briefly consider putting goat cheese on everything ever for the rest of the days.

Eureka! (that’s the bev’s name)

Some people think that summer drinking is all about the mojito, and mint is great or whatever, but you should buy some gin and make this instead:

Salad and Eureka

The salad was delicious, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about, this time.  I like this drink for summer because the cucumber is fresh and light, the basil gives a great herbal kick, and you can’t fake it with a bottle of “mint lime syrup” found on shelves at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  It’s a huge crowd pleaser, it’s not hard to throw together, and it’s perfect for these recent climes.

Eureka

4 cubes cucumber

3 basil leaves

1.5oz gin

.5oz triple sec

white cranberry juice

seltzer

Muddle your cucumber and basil leaves in a shaker, bruising but not shredding the basil if you’re not straining (but if you’re gonna strain it later like I do, go nuts).  Add gin, triple sec, and ice.  Shake.  Strain over ice, and top with juice and soda.  (Or, like, stir all that ish together.)

If you’re making this for a party: wash a big handful of basil leaves and put them at the bottom of a pitcher with a cut up cucumber.  Muddle a bit, somehow.  A big spoon or the bottom of a heavy glass?  Something that will bruise the basil leaves and make everything smell great.  Add gin and triple sec 3:1 and let that hang out in your fridge til party time.  Then your guests can get ice in a glass and add juice and/or soda to their heart’s content.

Yellow Bell Pepper and Basil Omelette

Everybody loves breakfast.  Don’t argue.  An elaborate breakfast is one of my favorite things to prepare, given the opportunity, because it’s the perfect start to a lazy day that kind of just bleeds into the afternoon without anyone noticing.  Unfortunately for me, I’ve set myself up for disappointment as I have to leave for work in an hour (boo) but my roommate (and dog?) will reap the full benefits of my labors.

This morning, I noticed that my windowbox basil is out of control.  That’s it on the left, heavily picked from the top (is that how you’re supposed to do it?) and that’s spearmint on the right (see Vanilla Mint Julep).

Window Box 6.12

The next natural stop on this train of thought (see what I did there?) was eggs.  I also wanted some kind of vegetable, preferably a contrasting color (I’m a big fan of contrasting colors in my food for several reasons, including the simplest: I’m gonna have to look at it).  (Un)fortuately, there was a lone yellow bell pepper in the fridge.  Color-wise, it didn’t win any awards for this dish, but a yellow pepper has a great crisp sweetness that I really love, so I think we still came out ahead with this one.

Yellow Bell Pepper and Basil Omelette

1/2 a large pepper

6-8 basil leaves

3 eggs

dash of soy milk (or regular milk, or not)

olive oil

salt, pepper

Dice the bell pepper and put into a skillet with heated oil on medium.  Saute until just soft, they’ll finish cooking with the eggs.  If you want you can shred the basil and whisk it with the eggs, salt, pepper, and soy.  I poured the whisked egg mixture over the peppers (trying to get an even distribution, if possible) and then layed the basil leaves, halved over the top and put the lid on.  It probably would have been a slightly more basil-y dish, and maybe more aromatic had I done it the first way, but this picture looks nice.

Omellete cooking

When the top is almost set, get a spatula around one side and fold the whole thing in half.  If you think it needs a little more time to fully cook in the center, lower the heat and replace the lid for a minute.

If you have sundried tomatoes I would suggest adding a couple cut up real small during the pepper cooking stage, as that seemed like it would have added a richness to the finished product, but it was kind of great like this, with a little parmesan on top.

fin

This amount fed two!  Ratchet ingredients and pan size depending on your crowd size.