Friday, June 8, 2012

presto rosso

two years ago, when i moved here, we had a very limited kitchen.  and by limited i mean it wasnt really a kitchen.  it was a room that had a gas fueled two-burner stove top (read: camping stove) and an oven the size of a microwave.  and no water.  or sink.  we lived in an attic apartment, a mansarde, which provided us with lots and lots of rooms... but not a kitchen per se. the mansarde is home to the offices of le Groupe de la Riponne, a group of troublemakers philosophers, writers, and translators.   many members of the bœufsteak gang* have lived there over the years and they've made some renovations to the place, insulation for one (when they first got the place, you had to wear your winter gear inside), but it's just next to impossible to install water.  it made things tricky, this perilous walk down the hallway with a pot of freshly boiled noodles needing to be strained in the shower.  doing the dishes was always interesting too.  however, a powerful shower nozzle is pretty efficient for dish washing, i must say.   it's like a mini car wash for plates.

cooking in the quirky kitchen was entertaining.  of course, everything was exciting when i first arrived in swissyland.  new language, new country, new food... amongst the new things i tried was pesto rosso.  i was well schooled in pesto genovese making and eating... but this... this pesto was different.  on a whim i bought the sauce and bell peppers, not knowing whether or not it was a sound combination.  it was.  and it quickly became one of our staple dishes.  the bonus was, it was an easy dish to make in our quasi-kitchen.  i could boil noodles on one burner and sauté bell peppers on the other.   once we acquired a real kitchen, my cooking repertoire expanded, but we still love that dish.  of course, now i have the ability (and tools!) to make my own pesto rosso.

the rough recipe i use is as follows.  in a food processor, combine:
nuts (christian is allergic to walnuts so i usually use almonds, or sometimes cashews)
lots of garlic (we are junkies)
sundried tomaters (at least two generous handfuls)
olive oil

i usually decimate the garlic first, then toss in a healthy handful of basil.  then i add the nuts.  you dont want to use too much--maybe start with a quarter of a cup and go from there.  i usually use almost an entire bag of the sundried tomatoes (i like the kind that comes packed sans oil) because i enjoy the zing of the garlic and tomato together.  i slowly stream in some olive oil and let it all mingle.  you dont want it to be too thin, but maybe that's just a matter of my taste.  i like thick sauces.
presto! rosso
these days i enjoy roasting our vegetables.  the intense flavours are great for pasta, soup, salad... or... well, anything.  i put chopped veggies on a cookie sheet, spray it with some olive oil (i have put some olive oil in a spray canister [the balsamic vinegar comes in one! brilliant! so i just waited until we were out of vinegar, washed it, and filled it with olive oil] and love it), and throw it in the oven at 220°C for about 20-ish minutes.  
roasted peppers and garlic

eating pesto rosso always reminds me of those early days in Switzerland.   im always experimenting with recipes, but this is one we dont touch (though i will occasionally toss in some fake chicken for protein).  it's just so lovely comme ça.  

someone *hem* likes it so much, he tried to steal mine!
hey, buddy! you have some already!

i decided to follow up one common dinner with a common dessert--cupcakes for two.  i stumbled upon this recipe last february and ive never looked back.  it's great for lots of variation.  
mix dry ingredients and wisk in wet ingredients.  pour into cupcake containers (i have some fabulous silcone ones) and bake for about 18 minutes at 160°C/325°F 

making the batter

this time i broke up chunks of choc'late to put in the batter.  they are tasty without any addition, but my favourite has got to be small bits of crystalized ginger.  ive also been known to add cinnamon and cayenne for a mexican chocolate taste.  

for a frosting, i like to make a ganache with a little butter, a little milk, and chocolate.  

again, im sorry for my lack of precise measurements... 

101_0761we had just a smidge of butter left (maybe a little less than 1 tbsp?) and i melted that and poured it over some broken up chocolate bits.  i wisk wisk wisked until the chocolate had melted and combined with the butter.  you want to wisk until the mixture is shiny.  

i let it rest for a few and once the bowl was cooled, i stuck it in the fridge until the cuppiecakes were baked and toothpick tested and done.

slowly i added a splash of milk and wisked wisked wisked.  it was not too late to whip it and whip it good. 


ganache is my new favourite frosting.  i love it mostly for it's versatility, but also because we usually have a chocolate bar and milk in the houes, so it's pretty much on hand.  since i only make a monster batch of cupcakes for friends and dinner parties (unless i make a whole cake, which also happens for friends and dinner parties), making a little for the two of us is just perfect.

just perfect.

bon appétit <3
*i refer to them as the beefsteaks because sometimes, if they go out after a meeting, they will almost all get steak.  i sometimes join them but they dont always frequent restaurants that have something for me, a pescatarian.

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