Basil is happiest when it's treated like a delicate hothouse flower. As soon as you get your bunch home, trim about ½ inch off the stems, put the basil in a glass of cold water and put a plastic bag over the setup. Leaving plenty of air around the basil leaves, tie the bag closed around the glass with twine or a rubber band and refrigerate; change the water daily. Encased in its greenhouse, really fresh basil will keep for five days or more. Alternatively, you can wrap the trimmed stems in a wet paper towel and store the basil in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator. For long-term storage, make a thick purée of basil and olive oil and freeze the almost-pesto in an ice-cube tray. When the basil is solid, pop the cubes and seal them in airtight plastic bags.
Well it's official, I managed an audition with the Chopped show at the Food Network. Not sure if a Personal Chef falls into their profile of "contestant" but I did manage to land the audition. Now we have to wait for a month plus to find out if I made selection.
A friend, and Personal Chef, in California learned about the auditions from her culinary club and instantly thought I should give it a shot. Since I can never refuse a friend's request I hastily dusted up a resume and filled in the application. Low and behold they called and had me down to Manhattan to be video auditioned.
Please send positive thoughts and wishes my way. Thanks.
It's been a brutally cold Winter, and if you are like me you have been inside more than you'd care for - why not make the best of it and bake a loaf of bread? It tastes better than anything they sell at the supermarket, contains no preservatives, and makes the house smell wonderful.
Here is the easy recipe:
1 1/4 cup tepid water + 2 Tablespoons Honey + 2 1/2 Teaspoons Dry Active Yeast.
3 Cups Bread Flour (White, White Whole Grain, or 2 1/2 cups white and 1/2 cup Whole Wheat)
Teaspoon salt + 2 Tablespoons melted butter.
Bloom the yeast in the water and honey, if foam forms after mixing and resting a few minutes you have nice active yeast. Blend the flour, salt, and butter then mix in the water/yeast/honey until you form a loose ball of dough. Remove from bowl to a lightly floured work surface and kneed for 5 - 7 minutes then return to the mixing bowl, cover in saran wrap and place in a warm quiet area in the kitchen. After 40 minutes the dough should have doubled - punch it down and turn out on a lightly floured work surface and knead for 4 - 5 minutes. Form into a log and place in a buttered loaf pan, brush the top of the dough with melted butter and cover with the plastic wrap. Rest another 40 minutes.
Slit the top of the loaf with a very sharp paring knife about 1/4 inch deep and almost from end to end, place in 350 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes. Remove from oven and gently turn out of the loaf pan onto a cooling rack.
Viola, a loaf of bread - active time about 20 minutes. Use a good bread knife and turn loaf on it's side to slice. Store in a bread box.
See, now you have something to do before Football!
'Tis the season for stress mixed with fun - however, for the folks I've been working they will enjoy their Holiday gatherings more by handing off the food prep and service to me. This year they can sit back, relax, and enjoy more time with their guests comfortable in the knowledge that everyone will be fed and they have more free time prior to the event for Holiday Shopping and other fun activities.
Matthew West has been cooking with passion for over 25 years, and now brings that passion to his Personal Chef Service - the Home Chef of Fairfield County.