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A L L  T H E  L O C A L  N E W S,  G O S S I P,  R E C I P E S  A N D  L O R E  T H A T' S  F I T  T O   P R I N T flower_pot.jpg (1947 bytes) S U M M E R  2 0 0 5

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In Wickwood's Kitchen ...

As Farmer's Markets open, cut basil and varieties of basil plants will appear. Take advantage of the season to make a stash of Basil Pesto and feel rich too!! This is the best gift I've given lately.

BASIL HAZELNUT PESTO

"Pesto" in Italian means "to pound"- so there's no better way to make pesto than the way the Genoians do by pounding it in a mortar and pestle. Forget the processor, once you make it by hand you will know that you're tasting pesto for the first time! It takes no more time, just "muscle".

We make huge batches of this at a time and it stays bright green and fresh tasting. I don't add parmesan to my pesto - instead I add it as I'm cooking a dish.

Yields 3/4 cup, just multiply for your "stash".

1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 large cloves of garlic coarsely chopped
1/2 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (added by mistake one day - now always)
1 cup fresh basil, leaves only, torn 1/3 at a time
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix salt and garlic in mortar crushing garlic with pestle. Add hazelnuts and crush. Add 1/3 of basil along with the 1 T of olive oil and continue to gently pound the ingredients. Incorporate the next 1/3 of the basil. With the final 1/3 of the basil, add the remaining 1/4 c olive oil and mix thoroughly. Season with black pepper.

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.

Basil Hazelnut Pesto is great with
circle.jpg (1267 bytes) Linguini, Hot & Sweet Italian Sausage, Asparagus and Parmigiano-Reggiano
circle.jpg (1267 bytes) Atop gnocchi - pesto sauce thinned with a little heavy cream
circle.jpg (1267 bytes) Stirred into a Sweet Pea and Proscuitto Risotto
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circle.jpg (1267 bytes) Added to a shrimp dish or topping grilled fish
circle.jpg (1267 bytes) Spread on Crostini and topped with Roasted Tomatoes and Mozzarella

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WICKWOOD INN CHEESE SPREAD

At the Inn we combine all of our Little Bits and pieces of cheese into a tasty spread, which the French call "fromage fort" (strong cheese). Although our Inn cheese has a milder flavor than those made with the true Artisinal "stinky cheeses of France," it's a great way to use left over cheese.

For every pound of cheese at room temperature (rinds removed), add 2 cloves of minced garlic, freshly ground pepper to taste and 1/4 cup of minced chives, basil, tarragon, Italian parsley, or dill. The more varieties of cheeses the better - and preferably with at least a small amount of Roquefort. Place the softened cheese in a food processor, add the remaining ingredients, and process for 20 to 30 seconds, until smooth. Add 1/4 cup dry white wine, one stick of softened sweet butter, and pulse for a couple of seconds more. That's it. Place in a crock, cover tightly, and refrigerate until 1 hour before you want to serve it. We like it atop a piece of still warm grilled bread.

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TRUFFLED EGGS

One of the simplest ways to dazzle your family or guests at breakfast or as a light supper is also one of the most lush and elegant. Its origins are simple…the old campsite favorite of Egg in a Hole - updated. Simple, yet it is delicious!!

Remember less is more. We like to serve Truffled Eggs atop roasted asparagus spears or a slice of country ham - or better yet, both. Sometimes more is more!

Serves 4

4-1 inch slices of English Muffin Bread, Brioche or multi-grain bread
8 egg yolks (yes, really)
8 ounces fontina, or good Swiss, or greuyer cheese (or other mild semi-hard cheese) sliced thinly
1/4 cup grated best quality parmesan reggiano (or better yet, shards)
1-2 tablespoons Truffle Oil, best quality

1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. Hollow out an indentation in each bread slice large enough to hold two egg yolks. Leave a sufficient cushion of bread surrounding the indentation to avoid leakage. Place the bread on a baking sheet sprayed lightly with olive oil.
3. Place two egg yolks in each bread indentation. Place the slices of the cheese over the entire slice of bread, to its edges. Place the bread in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Place Parmesan atop during the last two minutes of baking.
4. Remove each bread slice to a serving plate and lightly drizzle the top with the truffle oil in a diagonal stream. Serve immediately with salt and pepper at table and pass additional truffle oil, if desired.

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ROASTED ASPARAGUS

Once we discovered this method of cooking asparagus - it happens at our house about twice a week. We actually prefer them roasted a bit longer, until slightly browned and crispy. Your choice.

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Spread asparagus in one layer on a baking sheet.
3. Lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil in a zigzag pattern. Sprinkle generously with crackled black pepper, and lightly with sea salt.
4. Bake 15-30 (usually about 20) minutes depending on the thickness of asparagus and desired doneness. Serve immediately.

 
ANYTIME BALSAMIC SHRIMP

This is one of my all-time favorite dishes, and it couldn't be simpler. It began because I brush "tradizionale" (50 - 100 years old) balsamic vinegar on shrimp as we're grilling them. But only "tradizionale" works for that because it's so extraordinary - commercial balsamic is far too acidic. And when I'm out of the real stuff - I make Faux Aged Balsamic Vinegar - simple enough.

The method goes so quickly, so please read the recipe through carefully before you begin cooking. You can use shrimp of any size - but I prefer the large, jumbo "prawns" (only about 4 per person). Butterful them or not, as you please, tail on or off.

Serves 4

1 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup "tradizionale" balsamic vinegar or Faux Aged Balsamic Vinegar (see below)
Sea salt to taste, optional
1 tablespoon snipped chives, chervil leaves, or minced Italian parsley for garnish

1. Mix the shrimp with the garlic and olive oil in a bowl and set aside to marinate for half an hour. Heat a skillet large enough to hold the shrimp and when it's hot, add the butter. When the butter sizzles, add the shrimp.

2. Using a wooden spoon, flip and toss the shrimp around in the skillet over medium-high heat until they're pink and beginning to crisp a bit at the edges. Add the remaining oil and garlic in the shrimp bowl and stir well. Add the balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring rapidly so that it doesn't separate. If it begins to, remove the pan from the heat at once and turn it down before you add the second tablespoon. Continue to cook the shrimp stirring constantly until they're coated with the balsamic glaze and done (1 or 2 minutes), but still springy to the touch.

3. Remove the shrimp to a serving platter and sprinkle very lightly with the salt, if desired. Drizzle with the glaze from the pan and sprinkle with the chopped herbs. Serve immediately.

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FAUX AGED BALSAMIC VINEGAR

Aged Balsamic Vinegar, or as it is known in Italy, tradizionale, accumulates its flavor in a variety of wooden casks for as long as one hundred years. The result is a very concentrated dark brown, thick sweet vinegar, and it is a great luxury. If you don't have it in your pantry - chefs have learned to do as the Italians so - reduce your balsamic vinegar with a little brown sugar. It's a good second.

Makes 1/4 cup

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, commercial grade
2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1. Over medium-high heat, reduce the vinegar for 7-9 minutes until thickened.
2. Add the sugar and cook for 2 minutes longer.

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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