basil oil

here in new york winter is slowly creeping to an end. this is the time of year where if you squint hard enough you can see spring in the distance, but you can’t quite touch it yet. i am yearning for spring’s bounty of herbs, fruits and veggies. i miss its flowers, green grass, and tree buds. therefore, this recipe comes out of my need for something green, and fragrant, and alive! luckily, our local market supplies fresh herbs from gotham greens, a rooftop greenhouse a few miles away in greenpoint. as soon as frank and i opened the lid to the container our noses were filled with the most delightful smell! the smell of fresh, pungent herbs. at this point in the year there is nothing better.

lately my eye has been going to oils infused with herbs. i think i was intrigued when i saw a tarragon oil to garnish a soup. it was much different than a pesto; the oil was a delicate green color without a trace of herb leaves or residue. i left this recipe alone for fear that an oil infused with herbs would prove too difficult to make – especially in my little kitchen. but with frank’s help i was able to pull it off! the result is a lightly flavored oil, with a bright green hue. i would say that this oil is good for drizzling on bread, or on fresh mozzarella. we used it to top off our pizzas (a post to come later on…). basil oil, or any herb oil is not difficult to make. all you need is a food processor or blender, and fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth, and lastly, some time and patience.

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recipe from Fine Cooking

:: makes 3/4 cup basil oil ::

1 cup good olive oil

2 packed cups basil

a couple pinches of fine grain sea salt

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:: directions ::

measure the oil and place in the refrigerator while you prepare your basil

bring a small pot of water to a boil while water is boiling prepare an ice bath for the basil

place the basil in the boiling water and blanch for 10-15 seconds

pour the basil into a colander and quickly transfer to the ice bath

once the basil is cooled (about 5 seconds) squeeze out excess water and transfer to your food processor

add oil and salt and blend until smooth

let the mixture sit for 30 minutes

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over a bowl use your fine mesh sieve (or cheesecloth) and gently push down the basil mixture with the back of a spatula to extract the oil

use right away or store in an air tight container in the refrigerator

:: enjoy ::

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.:avocado vegan buttermilk dressing:.

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there has been a deep freeze here in new york city for over a week now.  however, i had a craving for something spicy and creamy to put on my cold salad.  i had avocado, lemons, shallots, even a jalepeño in the kitchen.  i took out my mini cuisinart and started blending my ingredients.  what i had was far too thick to put on my salad, so i tried to thin it with olive oil.  while the oil made it really smooth and creamy it did not thin it much.  for whatever reason i remembered a buttermilk dressing that i grew up loving; it added a tangy punch to whatever salad i ate.  i knew i didn’t have buttermilk in the fridge, so i took to the interwebs to see if they had any ideas on how to make your own buttermilk.   i spotted many recipes only calling for milk and vinegar, and some calling for lemon juice. i had the vinegar, but i only had almond milk.  i combined the two, waited a few minutes, and after giving it a whiff i realized i had just made buttermilk! i have not made buttermilk with any other milk besides cow’s milk and almond milk, but i assume that unsweetened soy or rice milk would work just as well.  i used this as a dressing for my salad, but this recipe works perfectly for a dipping sauce as well.  i also can’t wait to use it on my vegetarian quesadillas and other wraps or sandwiches – the options are endless. oh! for those who don’t like the jalepeño heat as much as frank and i do, you can either leave it out or substitute it with a more mild pepper, like a poblano. **bradley, this one’s for you, xo.

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1 ripe avocado

1 chopped shallot

1/4 jalepeño pepper deseeded and chopped (or more depending on how much heat you want)

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup vegan buttermilk

salt and pepper (i used three large pinches of salt)

::directions::

combine avocado, chopped shallot, chopped jalepeño, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender – blend until smooth.

pour in half the buttermilk and process

depending on what you are using the dressing for add the rest of the buttermilk and process the mixture until desired consistency

::enjoy::

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