Monday, 16 June 2008

Pesto Pasta Sunday

I had a lovely relaxing weekend - friends over for dinner on Friday night, more friends for lunch on Saturday, another one over on Saturday night, and then a really chilled Sunday - a bit of cooking, a friend's barbecue, watching a film.. and all to the sounds of Nigel Kennedy's violin practice coming from his house next door. It was lovely on Saturday but actually by Sunday we were a bit, "enough now, Nige" and wondering whether, if we complained, he would be given an asbo for disturbing the neighbours.

On Sunday we had one of our two traditional Sunday lunches - these are not very "traditional" in the British sense since one is egg and chips (I have scrambled eggs with fried onions, Blondini has an onion omelette or 2 fried eggs), and the other is pasta with pesto, but they are yum! We started this when we were watching the West Wing from start to finish - we liked to make our lunch and sit with it in front of as many episodes of the Wing as we could get through, and we've continued the tradition despite sadly finishing the whole thing a few weeks ago.

We had pasta this week because we wanted something really fast (no waiting for chips to cook) - I toasted a handful of pine nuts in a dry frying pan, together with a fat clove of garlic until they had turned brown, and then I added these to the food processor with a large handful of basil, some olive oil and some sea salt. I whizzed it up, put the fresh pasta in the saucepan and boiled it, and then, literally 3 minutes later, served our delicious lunch. We both hate cheese in almost all its forms but I imagine that if you like cheese you'd like some added to this dish.

Later on, while Blondini was working, I decided to make some brownies. This was really for two reasons: one, because I wanted to test out a recipe, since I have never made amazing brownies and I wanted to make some that were like the best brownies I have ever tasted, which are to be found at the Firehook Bakery in Washington DC. Two, because my grandma bought me a silicon baking tray/dish thing that wobbled a lot and I wanted to see how well it would work.
I made the recipe from the Green and Blacks chocolate cookery book, modified slightly to make a smaller quantity and decreasing the sugar content because I couldn't understand why it required so much. This excess of sugar thing is actually a common theme in many chocolate recipes - surely if the recipe contains a large amount of chocolate, it doesn't need very much sugar because chocolate is already sweetened to just the right level of sweetness and any more just makes it sickly.

My version of the recipe was -

180g dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)
180g unsalted butter
120g plain flour
1 teasp vanilla essence
3 eggs
100g sugar

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Meanwhile, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla, and when the chocolate and butter is melted and cooled slightly, add to the egg/sugar mix and beat together. Sift the flour and salt together into the mix, beat, and then pour into a baking tray (which for my recipe was about 20cm x 25cm and about 10cm deep). My tray didn't require lining or greasing (the beauty of silicon) but a traditional one should probably be lined with baking parchment.

Cook at 160 (or normal baking temperature for your oven) for around 20-25 minutes, until the top is forming a crust that flakes when touched. They should be gooey inside (but not uncooked) and it is fine to take them out too early and then put them back in again if not cooked enough. Leave to cool for about 15 minutes in the tin and then cut into squares and remove.

1 comment:

Ruth Daniels said...

Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights. I particularly love the brownies to wash down all the pasta :)