Parsley pesto

It was time to slay the mighty parsley-beasts.  I felt a little regretful about this, as they had done me proud by growing all green and bountiful, despite my doing very little to help them.  But, many leaves had been picked for many dishes, and now the beasts had gone to seed.

My parsley-beasts looked a little sad all uprooted and laid out on my deck:


My garden likes very much to grown parsley, which has left me with similar questions in the past about what one should do with the crop.  This was an unprecedented situation because rather than just a mere glut, I had several large plants’ worth of the stuff.  And when I think ‘something that uses an unholy amount of herbs,’ I think ‘pesto.’


As I’m sure you know, traditional pesto is made from basil, pine nuts, olive oil, parmesan and Fiore Sardo, a sheep’s milk cheese.  Its name comes from the Genovese word ‘to pound,’ and some even say it lends itself to the English word ‘pestle’, as in ‘mortar and.’

Apparently the Ancient Romans themselves ate a paste called ‘moretum,’ consisting of herbs, cheese and oil.  This was of particular interest to me, as my only memories of food and the Ancient Romans, scraped from the dim, dusty part of my brain labelled Third Form Latin Class, were that stuffed field mice were typically on the menu.   How unfair of me.   I shall be contacting the editors of Ecce Romani forthwith to suggest a showcasing of moretum and pesto.

It seems to me that these days, we are increasingly embracing any number of nut, cheese and herb combinations for our pesto.  The parsley pesto I have made here, based on this parsley pesto recipe, contains walnuts, almonds, parmesan and olive oil. I made it like so..

My ingredients (note: I had a HEAP of parsley, so needed a heap of everything else and in turn made a heap of pesto – you could quite easily halve or quarter this and still have a respectable amount):

  • About six large handfuls / cups of parsley
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 peeled garlic cloves
  • 200g parmesan cheese, cut into small chunks (as much as you can manage, depending on how firm it is!)
  • ground black pepper
  • lemon juice and a pinch of salt, to taste

I toasted the almonds and walnuts of the stove-top in a non-stick frying pan until they were all golden and smelling tasty.


I ripped the parsley into smaller bits with my hands, and added it to the bowl of my food processor, along with the toasted nuts, parmesan, olive oil and plenty of ground black pepper.  I processed it until it made a smooth paste, adding a little salt and squeezing in some lemon to taste along the way.


I wound up with 6 jars of roughly 250mls capacity, meaning that a few friends and family members had pesto thrust upon them.  Our first meal with the bounty was a salad with roasted potato, shredded poached chicken and plenty of pesto. This pesto is rather tasty slathered on freshly toasted bread, and I am reliably informed it tops pasta quite nicely too.


Happy gardening and eating.




Ginger shortbread with orange curd


This idea came to me by accident, really.  I’m always a fan of shortbread, so any excuse for that.  But the orange part happened when a lonely orange, languishing in the fruit bowl, happened to cross my field of vision whilst I was enjoying a Sunday morning browse through Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess.

I happened to spot Nigella’s cute little Lemon Gems and immediately wanted to create similar little dollops topped with something rich and citrus-y.  Lacking the vegetable shortening required by the recipe, however, and not feeling much inclined to go out hunting for some, another hearty biscuit was needed.

Shortbread is the heartiest of the hearty in my opinion.  My friend the internet tells me that shortbread is so named due to its texture, as an old meaning of the word ‘short’ was ‘crumbly.’

My go-to shortbread is recipe is the trusty Edmonds’ and so I very naughtily used it here…and I say naughty, as I’m using not using Edmonds as part of my Edmonds Challenge, which reminds me that I am due some more excitement with that particular endeavour.  And so, I mixed things up by deviating from the recipe slightly with the addition of ginger.

Edmonds asks the following, and I have added my ginger tinkerings…

Cream 250g butter and 1 cup of icing sugar together until it’s light and fluffy.  Sift 1 cup of cornflour and 2 cups of flour together.  If you’re me, at this point also add 1.5 teaspoons of ground ginger and 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger to the flour and cornflour.  Mix the dry and creamed ingredients together, knead and roll out to 0.5cm thickness on a floured board.

At this point, I transferred the shortbread to an oven tray and it into rectangles.  I used a (clean!) fingertip to make little craters in the biscuit and popped them into a 150 degree celsius oven.


And now for the curd. Seeing as I was having a Nigella day anyway, I used her recipe for lime curd, replacing the lime juice and zest with the juice and zest of my orange, along with a quick squeeze of lemon juice.


When my indented shortbread had become pale golden (which took about half an hour) I removed it from the oven and filled the little craters with the orange curd.

It was a creamy, custardy curd which was rather pleasant with the shortbread.  And the whole lot went at work the next day, so they can’t be all bad.










Smokin’ hot

We have recently started smoking.  No, not the nicotine kind (don’t worry Mum!), the charcoal kind.  And my is it fun.

Our little smoker cost us the princely sum of $50, half price on the GrabOne daily deals website.  I think it looks a bit like a cute little alien space pod that landed on earth:


We’ve had adventures with pulled pork (delicious) and smoked beef (still perfecting that one) but my favourite so far has been a smoked leg of lamb, using Yotam Ottolenghi’s lamb shawarma recipe.

I know I prod and poke around with some recipes, but there is really nothing you would want to change about this one: it is totally amazing and has ruined me for all other lamb dishes.  The preparation may feel a bit like a labour of love – plenty of fancy and delicious ingredients like cinnamon sticks and star anise and fresh coriander that need to be ground, sliced, crushed and grated.  But it is utterly, totally worth it.


The recipe asks that you dry-roast the peppercorns, cloves, cardamom pods, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, star anise and cinnamon stick until the seeds pop, and then add nutmeg and paprika.  This will make your kitchen smell absolutely lovely.  These ingredients then have to be ground to a powder – we used an old, slightly decrepit coffee grinder with a dodgy cable, borrowed from my parents.  No electric shocks resulted, you will be glad to hear.


All of that delightful fresh coriander (40 grams), along with sea salt, lemon juice, garlic, peanut oil, sumac and fresh ginger are mixed with the ground spices to make a paste.   I loved this bit because the lovely fresh smells hit you in a big delicious wave.

One then massages  the paste into the lamb joint.  Which, I won’t lie, does feel a bit odd.


The lamb gets wrapped in its own little foil tent.


Now we divert from Mr Ottolenghi’s method, as we placed ours in our smoker, instead of a 170 degrees celsius oven.  A smoker, I have learned, is a delicate thing when it comes to heating and maintaining a specific heat.  I must confess I leave the more technical aspects of this part to the spouse, who has a far greater aptitude for tools, gadgets and generally all things that go ‘beep’ than I do.  But for those of you wishing for these details,  we use charcoal in our smoker, and to cook this joint, we tried to keep the temperature around 200 degrees farenheit / 93 degrees celsius, and took our lamb out when it reached an internal temperature of around 65 degrees celsius.


I’ve already confessed that Mr Ottolenghi has ruined me for all over lamb recipes with this amazing concoction.  A purist may be horrified, but I found smoking the lamb joint complemented the flavours beautifully and boy does it make your garden smell incredible while it’s cooking.  Happy experimenting ’til next time.