Basil Pesto

After a good start to the year with great intentions to blog more regularly, I have been a bit slack lately. I was good while on holiday but then real life struck.

Work. Summer school. Economics assignment. Laziness…

Pffft. I really should get my priorities right and get back in the kitchen where I belong! So today I did. It was a matter of having to. The Basil plants are growing like triffids and if I didn’t make pesto soon we would be having trouble getting out the door!


I’ve been meaning to make pesto for a while and now that I know how quick and easy it is I won’t hesitate to make it again. Probably when this lot runs out, which will be… probably tomorrow!

Anyway, let’s get to it.

Gather your ingredients.


You will need:

2 packed cups fresh Basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pinenuts
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Throw all ingredients except the oil into a food processor and process, adding the oil in a thin stream until smooth. This is quite a thick pesto, but you can add more oil if you like it a bit thinner.

Basil PestoThat’s it Amigo. All done. Finito.

Now was that easy, or was that easy?

Yep. Easy. Told ya!

I didn’t measure the volume of the finished product but I would say there is a good cup and a half of pesto here. We made a quick creamy chicken pesto pasta tonight which used about half of it in one go but I don’t think it will take long to get though the rest. Then I will have to make more! What a shame…

Now… does anyone have any ideas for what I can do with all the the sage in my garden? It’s taking over!

make your own vanilla extract

I’m willing to bet if you are reading this, that you love baking. And chances are you have vanilla extract in your pantry. Am I right?

Of course I am. Unless you have run out.

So is it real vanilla extract, or the imitation stuff in your pantry? I’ll wait here while you check…

Not all vanilla essence/extract is created equal. You certainly get what you pay for. While many home pantries contain imitation vanilla essence, this is not a true vanilla and the flavours often come from wood byproducts and chemicals. I know, right!

Pure Vanilla extract however, is made pure and simply from Vanilla beans, and alcohol. There is no sugar added and it can last forever, aging and improving in flavour. The difference in taste is remarkable. Once you try it, you will not want go back to the imitation product. But it is expensive ($10 for 50mls) and for the average home baker, cost is a factor. Will little Sophie and Jason notice the difference in their lunchbox goodies? Probably not. But considering you can make pure vanilla extract yourself, and much cheaper than it costs in the shops, why would you ever go back to the cheap nasty product?

You only need two ingredients.

  • High proof booze … either Bourbon or Vodka, although I have heard you can also use Rum. Each one would produce a different final flavour, but all will be superior in Vanilla taste than commercially produced imitation vanilla essence.
  • Vanilla beans/pods. Yes. They are expensive. But we are talking quality here! Use three of these per 250 mls of alcohol. Split them open along the length of the pod starting about an inch from the top.
  • Actually there is a third ingredient. Time. Two to three months of it actually. Just give it a shake every week or so while it hibernates in a cool, dark place.
All you do is plonk 3 vanilla pods per 250 mls of alcohol in a jar or bottle and leave it for a couple of months in a cool dark place. Not that difficult really. It’s up to you whether you make a small quantity or make a litre at a time plonking 12 pods straight into the one litre bottle straight from the liquor store (like I do).  Remember… it wont go off. It actually improves with age so it makes sense to make it in larger quantities especially if you bake a lot.
Now is the time to make some so you have plenty on hand for your Christmas baking. It also makes a lovely gift. Remember… it’s only 150 days til Christmas!
You’re welcome ;)