Archive | 10:53 pm

Pesto for storage

12 Feb

The basil took a while to get started this year but we’re definitely in the swing of it now. Today I had to trim my plants because they had gone mental, so it was time to make some pesto for storing into winter.

Pesto stores for a little while in the fridge if you cover it in olive oil, but this isn’t going to get you through to next summer. The jars you buy in the supermarket are pressure-preserved, so the pesto has had the life cooked out of it before you even open the jar. It isn’t suitable for water-bath bottling because it isn’t a high-acid food.

So freezing it is!

There is much debate over whether pesto should be frozen with or without the parmesan cheese, or even whether it should be frozen at all. Undoubtably, pesto that you have made fresh before serving is going to be superior to anything defrosted, but if the choice is between home-made and frozen, store-bought or no pesto at all, I know what I’ll be choosing.

As I’m constantly nattering on about, Little D has a milk allergy so this solved the cheese debate for me. I made the pesto without the parmesan, and I’ll add it upon defrosting. I can make his portion with soy-based parmesan substitute, and it also gives me the flexibility to use it in other dishes, like a coconut-milk based pesto ‘curry’ that the kids really enjoy.

My basil offcuts amounted to 8 firmly packed cups of washed, trimmed basil leaves. I started with Linda’s recipe, but found that I didn’t have quite enough pine nuts, so I just cut that back. It seemed to work. I omitted the parmesan cheese:

  • 260 grams of lightly toasted pine nuts
  • a cup, packed of basil
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • salt to taste
  • Olive oil to blend

I found that I had to toast the pine nuts in batches because 260 grams of organic pine nuts are really expensive. I know it’s easy to burn pine nuts when you are toasting them, and I didn’t want to send $30 of pine nuts literally up in smoke!

All the ingredients went into the blender (I really need a food processor!) until smooth and combined.

I packed one jar with the pesto and covered with a layer of olive oil. I put that in the fridge for use over the next 2 weeks.  The remainder I froze in ice cube trays covered in plastic wrap. Once frozen, I’ll pop them out into a zip lock bag and vacuum seal. It’s really easy to defrost 1 or 2 cubes at a time and add the freshly-grated parmesan cheese.

My 8 cups of leaves made 1 (sacla-sized 190gram jar) of pesto for the fridge and 2 1/2 ice cube trays for the freezer. It will stretch further than normal because it gets bulked up with the cheese.

I may have to make another batch in the autumn, but I think this will get us a good way through the year.

Dairy-free White Sandwich Bread in the breadmaker

12 Feb

I’m so excited by this I can hardly contain myself!

My family likes white sandwich bread. You know – the stuff they say you should never eat because it has no nutritional value? It’s white, sweet, fluffy and never goes stale (highly suspicious, I must say). Maybe it’s made of marshmallows?

For a long time I’ve been striving to achieve this result with home-made bread. I’ve tried countless recipes, wildly different methods, breadmaker, KitchenAid, oven, bread improver – no luck. It always came out heavier than I wanted. Sandwich bread should be light as a pillow!

I had all but convinced myself that milk powder was the magic ingredient. Having Little D (with his Cow’s Milk Protein allergy) in the house meant that all those recipes were off limits. Lillian inspired me with her post the other day to give it another go in the breadmaker.

I didn’t like the look of her recipe specifically, but I found another random internet recipe that had good reviews and made some alterations (I really can’t help myself).

Here’s my version:

Dairy-free White Sandwich Bread (for the breadmaker)

1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons caster sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons dried yeast (I use Lowan brand in a canister)

4 tablespoons rice bran oil (or other vegetable oil)

440 grams bread flour (I use Kialla Organic Unbleached Plain Flour)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

First put the warm water into the bread machine with the sugar and yeast. Stir it around and leave it for 10 minutes to start frothing. Add the oil, flour, yeast and salt, then bake on a setting for a normal white loaf, approximately 700grams. I chose the setting for a light-coloured crust.

The dough was far sloppier than I’m used to. I wouldn’t actually like to be kneading it by hand because it would have been quite messy. Maybe that’s where I’ve been going wrong.

One tip I picked up from a book is that in order to get the best texture for a loaf of bread, you need to let it cool completely before slicing. This is really hard with home-made bread, but do try to control yourself – it’s worth it.  Look at the texture of the loaf – it even sliced straight!

Now we can knock ourselves out with cheap carbs on demand. All without additives or preservatives.