WICKWOOD INN
Saugatuck, Michigan
 

TOO MUCH OF TWO GOOD THINGS!


 
PERFECT PESTO
"Pesto" means "to make a paste" and once Americans fell in love with the classic pesto, we’ve all taken it to heart and let our imaginations run wild! Using the traditional pounding method we often change the ingredients, first using different herbs: basil, parsley, tarragon, mint, oregano and arugula and spinach, then hazelnuts, macadamias, walnuts, or sunflower, pumpkin or sesame seeds, vary the oils and cheeses, then sometimes pushing the envelope even further to include, roasted tomatoes, roasted red peppers, chipotle, artichokes, kalamata olives, sweet peas, or ginger. There are no rules. These new pestos simply dazzle everything they touch. You’ll feel like a very rich cook when you have a stash of pesto.

PERFECT BASIL PESTO

As Farmer’s Markets reap their harvest, large bouquets of cut basil will appear. Take advantage of the season to make a stash of Basil Hazelnut Pesto to last all winter long. We make huge batches of this, always using the mortar and pestle and it stays bright green and fresh tasting all year long. We don’t add Parmigiano Reggiano to the pesto now, instead we add it when we're preparing a dish and sometimes we "sweeten" it with a little unsalted butter as a finish.

At each of our recent Cooking Classes, we've made a batch of this Pesto in our food processor and then one by hand in a mortar and pestle. We passed the tastes around and there was no question which was the favorite!!!!  Everybody was astounded at the difference. Hands down, the classic technique won every time. The mortar and pestle makes all of the difference and is definitely here to stay.

And, so while it takes a little more energy, just go into your Zen mode and pound away with your mortar and pestle. One taste is all it will take.

l ½ teaspoon sea salt
l 6 large cloves of garlic coarsely chopped
l ½ cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
l 2 cups fresh basil, leaves only, roughly torn
l ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
l Freshly ground white or black pepper to taste

"Trust your work. And never hope more than you work."
                                                        --- Rita Mae Brown

1. Place salt and garlic in a large mortar crushing garlic with pestle. Add hazelnuts and pound to a paste.
2. Add ¼ of the basil along with the ¼ of the olive oil and continue to gently pound the ingredients until combined. Repeat until all ingredients are incorporated into a chunky paste. Add more olive oil depending on the thickness desired. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.
3. Place in plastic container and cover with a thin layer of olive oil. You can store in refrigerator for up to 6 months, if after each use you top with a film of olive oil.
First a confession. For over twenty years, I celebrated Basil Pesto. I sang its attributes in cookbooks, made massive quantities of it for The Silver Palate store, featured it in SP products, and on countless occasions have given it the starring role in summertime alfresco dinner party menus. During all of that time, I must admit, I made it only for others, never for me. While I love most foods (with the exception of okra and green pepper), the fuss about Basil Pesto simply eluded me.

That all changed , however a little over a decade ago, when on a visit in Genoa our departure port for a Christmas cruise with "The Mothers" to seventeen ports in the Mediterranean, we quickly grabbed a bite at the cavernous restaurant nestled next to the ship. We all ordered the expeditious Pesto Lasagna. When it arrived, before me sat a huge pale green square that looked helplessly weak.

With, my first bite, the lasagna’s flavors exploded in my mouth. While sitting in my chair I did one of my little dances I do when I really love the taste of something. WOW! What was this? Could this possibly be the pesto I’d ignored for all of these years? Of course I knew that Pesto was a sauce that originated in Liguria and here we were in Genoa, its largest city. I also long knew that the name meant "to pound, bruise or crush" from the Latin root word "pestare," but what was this ethereal pesto that I was tasting, as if for the first time?

Once home, after many fabulous meals in Casablanca, Fez, Tunisia, Madeira, Malta Barcelona, Sicily, Gibraltar, The Canary Islands, Rome, Nice, Venice and at sea, I simply couldn’t get the flavor of that simple Pesto Lasagna from Genoa out of my mind. I decided to chase that taste. Of course I knew that I was up against centuries of  Italian tradition plus pure heirloom Genovese basil, olive oil, probably only six weeks old, garlic grown at a local nearby farm and possibly even handmade fresh pasta  - all contributing to the extraordinary flavor of that Pesto Lasagna now so firmly embedded in my mind.

I've often said I cook in my head first then in the kitchen. I also know that the simpler the recipe, the more critical it is to have superb ingredients. But here I was in a small village in Michigan surrounded by mountains of winter snow. No Genovese basil here. I decided to focus on the "to pound or to crush" part of Pesto’s lineage. Luckily I had a mortar and pestle, that ancient tool that has been left unimproved by modern technology, which I’d "schlepped" home from the South of France years before. Made of beautiful olive wood, I had always thought of it as more of a kitchen sculpture than a piece of equipment.

In it, I crushed and pounded my usual Pesto recipe (however, with no walnuts on hand, my normal nut of choice, I substituted hazelnuts, toasted of course). Awkwardly handling the pestle as if it were a baseball bat, I struggled to incorporate all of the ingredients, gradually pounding them into a still slightly chunky paste. I stuck my finger in for a taste. Instantly I did my little dance! Could the hazelnuts have made such a difference?

I decided to make another batch using my regular food processor method and the hazelnuts. Tasted side by side there was absolutely no comparison! One was the familiar smooth green glob I’d ignored for years.

The other, made with the same mortar and pestle used by the Romans, was slightly chunky with an uneven texture. It tasted of each of its ingredients, intense and simultaneously clear and complex, yet loaded with nuance and sunshine. Its flavors sparkled! It was superb! I vowed to always make pesto this way and to eat it every day for the rest of my life. I implore you to do the same.

From that day on using my mortar and pestle has become an intricate part of my cooking. It is used almost daily for making all sorts of things; various kinds of pesto, crushing spices and seeds, aioli, mayonnaise, gremolata, smashing olives, grinding nuts, anchovies, or capers ... well, you get my drift.

     
"Pesto is the quiche of the 80’s." --- Nora Ephron

Of course there is no end to the kinds of "Pesto" one can make ... using basil, parsley, tarragon, arugula, cilantro, mint, sage, sorrel, dill, sun dried tomatoes, capers, broccoli, olives, peas, artichokes, pistachios, red peppers, mushrooms, spinach, roasted garlic, or smoothing beans of all kinds. The only limit is your imagination.

Nor, for the ways that it can make simple dishes absolutely sing by combining it with potatoes, fish, sandwiches, tomatoes, eggplant, pasta, pizza, rice and grains, breads, poultry, stews, soups, or to jazz up just about any vegetable.

First a confession. For over twenty years, I celebrated Basil Pesto. I sang its attributes in cookbooks, made massive quantities of it for The Silver Palate store, featured it in SP products, and on countless occasions have given it the starring role in summertime alfresco dinner party menus. During all of that time, I must admit, I made it only for others, never for me. While I love most foods (with the exception of okra and green pepper), the fuss about Basil Pesto simply eluded me.

     
"You walk into a restaurant, that’s all you hear: pesto, pesto, pesto.
Where was pesto ten years ago?"  --- George Costanza

That all changed , however a little over a decade ago, when on a visit in Genoa our departure port for a Christmas cruise with "The Mothers" to seventeen ports in the Mediterranean, we quickly grabbed a bite at the cavernous restaurant nestled next to the ship. We all ordered the expeditious Pesto Lasagna. When it arrived, before me sat a huge pale green square that looked helplessly weak.

With, my first bite, the lasagna’s flavors exploded in my mouth. While sitting in my chair I did one of my little dances I do when I really love the taste of something. WOW! What was this? Could this possibly be the pesto I’d ignored for all of these years? Of course I knew that Pesto was a sauce that originated in Liguria and here we were in Genoa, its largest city. I also long knew that the name meant "to pound, bruise or crush" from the Latin root word "pestare," but what was this ethereal pesto that I was tasting, as if for the first time?

Once home, after many fabulous meals in Casablanca, Fez, Tunisia, Madeira, Malta Barcelona, Sicily, Gibraltar, The Canary Islands, Rome, Nice, Venice and at sea, I simply couldn’t get the flavor of that simple Pesto Lasagna from Genoa out of my mind. I decided to chase that taste. Of course I knew that I was up against centuries of  Italian tradition plus pure heirloom Genovese basil, olive oil, probably only six weeks old, garlic grown at a local nearby farm and possibly even handmade fresh pasta  - all contributing to the extraordinary flavor of that Pesto Lasagna now so firmly embedded in my mind.

     
"Looks may be deceiving. It’s eating that’s believing." --- James Thurber

I've often said I cook in my head first then in the kitchen. I also know that the simpler the recipe, the more critical it is to have superb ingredients. But here I was in a small village in Michigan surrounded by mountains of winter snow. No Genovese basil here. I decided to focus on the "to pound or to crush" part of Pesto’s lineage. Luckily I had a mortar and pestle, that ancient tool that has been left unimproved by modern technology, which I’d "schlepped" home from the South of France years before. Made of beautiful olive wood, I had always thought of it as more of a kitchen sculpture than a piece of equipment.

In it, I crushed and pounded my usual Pesto recipe (however, with no walnuts on hand, my normal nut of choice, I substituted hazelnuts, toasted of course). Awkwardly handling the pestle as if it were a baseball bat, I struggled to incorporate all of the ingredients, gradually pounding them into a still slightly chunky paste. I stuck my finger in for a taste. Instantly I did my little dance! Could the hazelnuts have made such a difference?

I decided to make another batch using my regular food processor method and the hazelnuts. Tasted side by side there was absolutely no comparison! One was the familiar smooth green glob I’d ignored for years.

The other, made with the same mortar and pestle used by the Romans, was slightly chunky with an uneven texture. It tasted of each of its ingredients, intense and simultaneously clear and complex, yet loaded with nuance and sunshine. Its flavors sparkled! It was superb! I vowed to always make pesto this way and to eat it every day for the rest of my life. I implore you to do the same.

From that day on using my mortar and pestle has become an intricate part of my cooking. It is used almost daily for making all sorts of things; various kinds of pesto, crushing spices and seeds, aioli, mayonnaise, gremolata, smashing olives, grinding nuts, anchovies, or capers ... well, you get my drift.

Of course there is no end to the kinds of "Pesto" one can make ... using basil, parsley, tarragon, arugula, cilantro, mint, sage, sorrel, dill, sun dried tomatoes, capers, broccoli, olives, peas, artichokes, pistachios, red peppers, mushrooms, spinach, roasted garlic, or smoothing beans of all kinds. The only limit is your imagination.

Nor, for the ways that it can make simple dishes absolutely sing by combining it with potatoes, fish, sandwiches, tomatoes, eggplant, pasta, pizza, rice and grains, breads, poultry, stews, soups, or to jazz up just about any vegetable.

"You're only here for a short visit. Don't hurry. Don't worry. And, be sure to smell the basil along the way."
                                        --- JR
(with apologies to golfer Walter Hagan, Ringo Starr and Mac Davis.)
 

Heirloom Tomatoes
"Two of the greatest things in life are true love, and a great tomato --- And, they
are two of the hardest things to find." --- Armandino Batali

 
ROASTED PLUM TOMATOES

Caramelized roast tomatoes have a myriad of uses. Here, we describe our basic technique and once you’ve tried it and tasted the tomatoes, you’ll adapt the quantity to fill your needs each and every time you roast them. Then, in all likelihood you'll have plum tomatoes ripening on the windowsill year round as we do, ready for roasting.
l Plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
l Olive oil
l Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
l Dried thyme, Dried rosemary or Italian herbs

Roasted Tomatoes

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line shallow baking sheet with foil. Spread tomatoes evenly on baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle sea salt and pepper evenly over tomatoes. Crush herbs between the palms of your hands and sprinkle tomatoes lightly.Roast for 1-1 ½ hours depending on size of tomato and desired juiciness, checking every 10 minutes during the last half hour. If too much juice remains in tomato- use the back of a spoon to press down on the surface of the tomato slightly releasing the juice and then allow to air dry until perfect.
2. For a tomato with a texture similar to a sun-dried tomato, quarter the tomatoes, oil and season as in Step One. Roast the tomatoes 1¼ hour and; let them rest in an oven heated by a pilot light; or on top of an oven that is periodically heated or as we do atop our Garland’s broiler/griddle until they’ve air dried further with gentle heat, anywhere from 4 hours to 2 days depending on your preference. If not using immediately, place in a bag with a little olive oil and refrigerate.
HEIRLOOM TOMATOES

"Looks may be deceiving. It's eating that's believing"
--- James Thurber

Everyone's favorites as the tomato season bursts forth are the jewel like "heirlooms" shining in every size, color and shape. Most have dazzling good looks, but some a blemished exterior that hides brilliantly breathtaking tomato flavor - a perfect example of our favorite Thurber quote.

Heirlooms are the true glories of the season, worth searching for and even better worth saving seeds from those you love to grow your own next year.

     Our Favorites:

l Gold Rush Currants
l The 1884’s
l Snow White
l Thai Pink
l Yellow Perfection
l Black Prince
l Boony Best
l Chocolate
l Ester Hess Yellow Cherry
l Lollipop
l Principe Borghese
l Porter’s Dark

Cherry Heirloom seeds may be found at: www.reneesgarden.com, www.seedsavers.com, www.seedsofchange.com

Most folks we know try to grow at least a few plants of their own, exchanging varieties among friends at harvest to trade tastes and some seeds.

ROASTED TOMATO PESTO

Intense tomato flavor that has the taste of summer in every spoonful. Toss it with pasta, spread it on a grilled cheese panini, stir it into risotto - you’ll find a zillion uses.
l 20 roasted whole tomatoes (or 40 halves)
l garlic cloves
l ½ tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
l 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (slightly less if using oil-packed tomatoes).
l 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1. Pulse all the ingredients in a food processor or until well combined and smooth.
2. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Yield 1 cup

 

POMODORO (pom-oh-DOR-oh) (Tomato Bread Soup)

Nowhere in the world is the tomato harvest celebrated more than in Italy. The Italians have also perfected how to cook these juicy wonders to best show off their flavor. This is thick and substantial, served only slightly warmed, and with a green salad alongside becomes a great Indian Summer supper. Serves 4-6
l 2 tablespoons olive oil
l 2 tablespoons minced garlic (or to taste)
l 1½ tablespoons minced shallots
l 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
l ¼ cup slivered fresh basil leaves
l 2/3 cup chicken broth
l Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
l 5 slices day-old country bread, sliced ½ inch thick
l Chopped fresh basil (optional)
l Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Pomodoro
"Simplicity is the sign of perfection"
--- Curnonsky
Pomodoro

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and shallots, and cook over medium-low heat until soft and translucent, 10 minutes
2. Add the tomatoes, basil, stock, and salt and pepper. Stir, and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Tear the bread into 1-inch pieces and add them to the soup. Let it cook for one minute, then remove from the heat and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Serve sprinkled with chopped basil and Parmesan cheese.

Note: To change this from a chunky soup to a more “drinkable” soup for hors d'oeuvres, puree soup with an immersion blender and add up to 4 cups of great quality tomato juice. The flavor is so substantial that it remains delicious.

 

SAUTÉED CHERRY TOMATOES

Such a delicious way to savor cherry tomatoes almost anytime of year, but especially wonderful during the season. And, so simple!! They add just the right sparkle to a meal. Remember the fewer the ingredients the more important the quality of each one. Serves 6
l 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
l 3 pints ripe cherry tomatoes, stemmed, rinsed and dried
l 2 tablespoons fresh herbs – fresh or dried basil, oregano, tarragon, or rosemary
l Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes

1. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over low heat. Add the tomatoes and raise the heat. Shake and roll the tomatoes around in the butter until they are shiny and heated through, no more than 5 minutes. Please don’t overcook. Add your choice of herbs and cook 30 seconds longer.
2. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately. That’s it!
ROASTED TOMATO BRUSCHETTA

When just picked, vine-ripened, bright red, organic, heirloom, still-warm-from-the-sun tomatoes are not at hand, we cheat. Roasting tomatoes sweetens and intensifies them. They simply brighten bruschetta so that it can be served year round on warm crostini. Sometimes we use only roasted tomatoes, sometimes we add fresh tomatoes to the Bruschetta. We’ve also been known to serve Bruschetta warm by placing a leaf of basil, a slice of mozzarella atop and broiling it for a moment or two. Serves twelve to sixteen depending on how generously you top the crostini.
• 12 plum tomatoes, roasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped
• 4 plum tomatoes, diced
• 3 tablespoons of pesto, homemade or store bought
• 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar, good quality
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Mix all ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl at least 2 hours prior to serving to allow flavors to blend. Leave at room temperature until ready to serve. Just prior to serving, toast best quality country bread slices, and top with Bruschetta. Enjoy.

 

AMATRICIANA SAUCE

Every August, the Italian town of Amatrice holds a gala celebration marking their tomato harvest. It’s principal attraction is this sauce, served with the thick hollow spaghetti called bucatini. This is one of those tomato sauces worth making from scratch!! Serves 6 with 1 pound of pasta
l 2 tablespoons olive oil
l 2 medium-sized yellow onions, coarsely chopped
l 4 ounces pancetta (or Canadian bacon, trimmed of fat) cut into strips
l 6 garlic cloves, chopped
l 4 cups fresh ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
l 2 tablespoons sugar
l ¾ cup dry red wine
l Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Amatriciana Sauce

1. Heat the oil in a medium-size heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, and sauté for 10 minutes.
2. Stir in the bacon and garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes more. 3. Stir in the tomatoes, sugar, and wine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

SASSY SUMMER TOMATO CHUTNEY

Wonderful to have in the fridge to jazz up a meatloaf, scrambled eggs, a burger or simply spread atop crostini smeared with a bit of cheese.
l 6 allspice berries
l 6 whole cloves
l ½ teaspoon crushed dried red pepper flakes
l ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
l 1½ pounds ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juices retained
l 1 cup sugar
l ½ cup cider vinegar
l 1 teaspoon salt
l ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Sassy Summer Chutney

1. Combine the allspice, cloves, red pepper flakes, and mustard seeds in a piece of cheesecloth. Tie it securely with a long piece of kitchen string, forming a spice bag. Leave the string long.
2. Place the tomatoes and all remaining ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Add the spice bag, letting the string hang out of the pan. Slowly bring the mixture to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and discard the spice bag. Let the jam cool and refrigerate.

Availability

 
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or 800.385.1174

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Julee and Bill

Wickwood Inn   |    510 Butler Street P.O. Box 1019   |   Saugatuck, MI 49453
Tel (800) 385-1174   |  
www.wickwoodinn.com   |    Bill and Julee Rosso Miller, Proprietors