Posted on December 16, 2014
I feel like getting back to basics. I’m officially on holidays from my food editor job, and the past weeks have seen all manner of festive dishes cooked, tested and prepared for the magazine. I feel i’ve already cooked my way through Christmas fare and now I just crave some simple food that requires no recipe, no testing, no oven!
If you follow my recipes in the magazine (unfortunately, there’s only old recipes to be found on line, we’re promoting people to still buy the magazine in print!) you’ll know I’ve cooked pomegranate baked ham, spice baked salmon (my favourite), there’s been hazelnut pavlova, fruit mince slice, salami tartlets with green olive ricotta, mango salads, turkey salads, prawn cocktails. This week’s issue has three pages full of yummy festive foods and you know what, I want basil pesto!
I can think of no better condiment to make in summer than basil pesto. Of course, like most of my recipes, there must be a twist. Pine nuts are replaced with raw macadamia nuts, and this for me is what makes THIS pesto truly irresistible.
This is the point where I must credit my good friend Sofie who owns Toast cafe in Surry Hills. She’s been making this version of macadmia nut pesto at her cafe for 10 or more years now. When I worked there seven years ago, I learnt how to make it this way and I’ve never diverged from the recipe.
My other favourite summer condiment is pickled cabbage. It’s easy to make, stores in the fridge for weeks, and can be added to almost any food. When I cook taco’s for the kids, I like to serve this pickled cabbage for the adults, our tastes require it. I add it to sandwiches and rolls, serve it with salads, and it can even be warmed and eaten with rich meats. We enjoyed it with this lamb a few weeks back. Antipasto plates and cheese plates are never dull when pickled cabbage is on hand.
My son, and I must say I’m absolutely ecstatic about this, discovered he likes to eat my pesto with crackers. He actually polished off the entire bowl the other day and instead of lecturing him on how greedy that was, I was congratulating him on finally discovering he liked pesto. One child down, one to go.
Sofie’s basil and macadamia nut pesto
1 1/2 cups picked and washed basil leaves
80g (1/2 cup) raw macadamia nuts
1 small clove garlic, chopped
1 small lemon, juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan
Place all the ingredients for the pesto in a food processor, blitz till nuts are a chunky consistency. Check seasoning and adjust with extra salt, pepper or lemon juice.
TIP – washing the basil enlivens the vibrant green colour and gives you a bright green finish to the pesto. Pesto stores in the fridge for several days.
Beetroot and red cabbage pickle
1/2 large red cabbage
2 medium beetroot
1 litre water
325ml apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp fine salt
1 tbsp mustard seeds (yellow or black)
1 tsp fennel seeds
Place the water, vinegar, salt, mustard seeds and fennel seeds in a large pot and bring to the boil, once boiled turn heat to low.
Halve the cabbage and shred thinly. Peel and grate the beetroots. Combine the cabbage and beetroot in a bowl and mix to combine. Turn the heat back up on the pickling liquid, add the cabbage and beetroot and stir to combine, cook on high heat for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Sterilise 3 x 750ml jars (or two larger jars), divide the cabbage between the jars and top with pickling liquid. Seal the lid on the jars and set aside for 2 or more days (you’ll get away with one day if you’re really in need). Once opened, store the pickle in the fridge for several weeks.
TIP – there’s two ways to sterilise jars. The first, you can fill them with boiling water, stand for several minutes, then, and this is sometimes the awkward part, pour the hot water out without burning yourself, and fill them whilst still warm.
The second way, to sterilise jars – pre heat oven to 120C.Place the washed jars, minus any plastic seals in the oven on a tray for 20 minutes, remove and fill whilst still warm.