A man taking basil from a woman will love her always.
An Herb To Be Revered
The British, who at one time inhabited many far flung corners of the globe, when bringing the accused before a magistrate of Her Majesties Raj in India, had a problem getting the poor soul to swear upon the holy bible and were forced to resort to having him swear on the holy tulsi, a kind of basil ( ocimum sanctum ).
Basil probably arrived in Europe via India in the sixteenth century. In fact Boccaccio tells the story of a woman named Lisabetta, whose tears water a pot of basil in which she has buried the head of her lover.
Basil is simple to use fresh from the garden. You can use sharp scissors to cut it into summer and fall salads. A salad of vine ripened tomatoes, with basil, simply snipped over the top, a few
twists of a pepper grinder, some virgin olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and you have a zesty, but light meal.
Another nice way to cut basil is in a chiffonade. Lay up to three leaves flat on top of each other. Roll the leaves tightly. Cut thinly with a very sharp knife. If your knife is not sharp, the edges of the basil will tear and turn black.
Heading the list of recipes using basil has to be the Genoan classic, pesto.
Simple to make, pesto cannot be praised enough for what it can do for
sauces, soups, and salads.
What are those things anyway ?
I remember on my first trip to France, my father in law, Edmund Stillman, for whom food held a place, quite high on life’s most important list, took us to one of his favorite bistros, Chez Balzar. It was a Parisian classic : bright and busy, waiters and busboys moving quickly, erect, in starched white shirts and pressed pants, and of course those long white aprons. As the menus were ever so neatly dealt around the table, he strongly suggested that I try the raie au beurre noir, a plate for which the establishment was apparently notorious. I had never tried skate before so I was game. When the dish was placed before me ( the wing of the fish was now swimming in a wonderful butter sauce with a distinctive nutty aroma and little green things ), the dinner conversation turned from the Iranian Revolution and Poland to just what the heck are capers anyway. The worlds problems weren’t going to be solved at one meal anyway.
Capers are the buds on a bush called, not surprisingly, the caper bush. It grows wild throughout the Mediterranean in both Europe and North Africa.
My friend whose culinary comments are fairly predictable, was just astounded that some madman ever would have thought of picking that small of a bud and then age it in a pickling brine.
All we could think of was that before a human being ever slung an arrow at tomorrow nights roasted venison, they wandered and grazed gathering whatever vegetation struck their culinary delight.
The bush has white or pink flowers which open in the early morning and close in the afternoon. The buds are gathered in the morning when they open to just the right size. They are then wilted in the air for a few hours and then put into casks and covered with salted white vinegar.
The distinctive flavor of the caper comes only after pickling produces an organic compound called of course, capric acid. They really have no flavor as a bud.
Capers are a primary ingredient in tapanade ( one of the Spanish words for caper is tapana ) and in a remoulade sauce.
A few spoonfuls of capers thrown into a pasta towards the end of cooking makes for a very nice pasta.
I couldn’t have asked for a better intro to capers than that raie au
beurre noir. But that was just typical of my father in law for whom given
wonderful food and a few people who appreciated it, we became his orchestra
and he our inspired conductor.
One of the most wonderful uses of an herb known to man 3C basil leaves
3C basil leaves
Put basil leaves, garlic, and pine nuts in food processor. while processing, add the olive oil slowly, but steadily. Pulse in the cheese and salt and pepper
Baguette with pesto, tomatoes, and goat cheese
Split a baguettes and spread both sides with pesto. Line with ripe tomatoes, sprinkle goat cheese, freshly ground pepper and some virgin olive oil.
Chick Pea, Roasted Pepper, Caper Salad
This is a classic Spanish salad. Spain is the leading producer and
exporter of capers.
2 15 ½ oz. Cans chick peas drainedWhisk together olive oil and lemon juice. Combine other ingredients and add olive oil and lemon juice.
Fresh Tuna Tartare
From the french classic steak tartare this is a wonderful summer meal.
1 shallot mincedSaute shallots in olive oil and place in a bowl. Add all ingredients and toss gently. Give a final seasoning. Serve with fresh baguette or with any nice bread. Paella a la Valenciana - 14 " paella pan
The one we all think of when we hear paella.
5 ½ c fish stockPaella
1 ½ # lobster shelled, cut into pieces. you can leave claws whole for presentation if you like.Preheat the oven to 375 and bring the stock to a simmer. Heat the oil in paella pan and sear the lobster 1 min. season. Remove. Cook monkfish, shrimp, season, 2 minutes and remove. Cook onion, garlic, add paprika, 3 - 4 min. Add tomato and rice stir to coat. Add the fish stock and stir frequently. After 10 min., add peas, parsley, shrimp, and monkfish. Arrange mussels, lobster claws and roasted peppers. Place in oven 10 min.
Do not overcook the rice. If it is crunchy but close, remove from oven and allow to finish cooking outside. Brush outer garnishes lightly with olive oil if they appear a bit dry. There should be very little liquid left, drain if necessary.