Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Recipes and recipe suggestions for homemade coffee syrup, carrot top pesto, blueberry cake and a Vietnamese dinner

Recipes and recipe suggestions for homemade coffee syrup, carrot top pesto, blueberry cake and a Vietnamese dinner.

Hot weather treat: chilled or iced coffee

What do you do in hot and humid weather? Stay inside, that’s what. I get out there to exercise and sweat once a day but the rest of the time you can find me in the cool comfort of the AC. If it’s morning, you’ll also find me with a big chilled coffee. I haven’t graduated to any sophisticated methods of making chilled coffee, I simply make a pot of coffee and stick it in the fridge.

I like my hot coffee with a bit of milk but when it comes to chilled coffee, I like a hint of sweetness in it too. My homemade spiced coffee syrup is just the thing.

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the water, maple syrup, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg in a small saucepot and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

You can strain the mixture through a cheesecloth if you wish or simply pour it through a funnel into a jar or bottle. Store it in the refrigerator.

Recipes and recipe suggestions for homemade coffee syrup, carrot top pesto, blueberry cake and a Vietnamese dinner

Carrot top pesto

I’ve written about my carrot top pesto here before but did I give you the recipe? At first, like you, I thought the idea of making pesto from carrot tops was a bit of a stretch, but the flavor is much better than you could ever imagine. As proof, I will point to Jim who has no idea he’s eating carrot top pesto but loves it when I stir it into vegetable sautés. Plus, I hate food waste so I love that I can use every part of the carrot—the ones we get from the CSA or farmers market usually come with their frilly green tops.

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin or sunflower seeds — I’ve been making it only with pumpkin seeds (pepitas) but will try pecans next.
  • 2 cups lightly packed carrot leaves, stems removed, rinsed thoroughly
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and place them in a preheated 350-degree oven or toaster oven. Toast until fragrant and lightly browned. Watch them closely after 5 minutes so they don’t get too dark and burn.

In a food processor, combine the carrot leaves, parsley, oil, garlic and salt, and process until finely minced. Add the nuts and pulse until finely chopped. Add more oil to get to the consistency you want. I like it thicker than tomato sauce but not as thick as hummus, if that makes any sense.

If you’re not freezing the pesto, stir in the Parmesan. If you’re freezing it, wait until you defrost the pesto to add Parmesan. Taste the pesto and add salt and/or lemon juice if you think it needs it. I freeze my pesto in ice cube trays.

Here are some ways to use carrot top pesto:

  • Stirred into a vegetable sauté.
  • Tossed with pasta—I added it once to cheese-filled tortellini.
  • Dolloped on top of hard-boiled eggs.
  • Tossed with roasted potatoes.
  • Spooned on top of bruschetta with goat cheese.

Blueberry season

Peaches have overtaken the farmers market but blueberries are running a strong second in the most popular fruit category. I’ve been coming home with at least two pints every week.

A few weekends ago, I made this blueberry cake recipe from Simply Recipes. I increased the cinnamon because why not. And I omitted the powdered sugar topping because this cake really doesn’t need it. This is more of a breakfast and snacking cake than a fancy wow-you-made-cake dessert cake.

Recipes and recipe suggestions for homemade coffee syrup, carrot top pesto, blueberry cake and a Vietnamese dinner

Satisfying my Vietnamese yearnings

Southeast Asian food is perfect for hot humid evenings. I pulled some wild salmon from the freezer and made roast salmon with Vietnamese caramel sauce—a Food52 recipe. Fantastic. I will make it again, but next time I’ll add some heat to the sauce itself.

My spiralizer went into action for the side: Vietnamese zoodle salad with herbs and roasted peanuts—a Fine Cooking recipe featuring zucchini, carrot and red onions with mint, cilantro and Thai basil—the recipe called for regular basil but I’ve got a pot of Thai basil on the deck.

That’s all for now. I’ll have more meals to share soon since I’m still catching up here.

Creative Commons licensed photos by Frank McKenna (iced coffee) and Joanna Kosinska (blueberries) via Unsplash.

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One thought on “In My Kitchen: 7.2.18

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