Monday, 27 February 2017

How to Use Basil

Herbs are an essential ingredient in cooking to add flavor as well as a garnish. Many top chefs recognize the importance of fresh herbs in their dishes to the extent of having their own herb gardens from which they can grow and pick only the freshest and best herbs for their cooking. Every country has it's favorite herb that is used extensively in their cooking and often becomes synonymous with that style and flavors of that country. For example Basil is recognized for Italian dishes while Coriander is often used in Indian dishes. So I am going to look at a few methods of cooking with herbs  which can  give dishes their unique flavors.


Basil is a versatile and widely used aromatic herb.  There are many varieties of basil; some have scents reminiscent of pineapple, lemon, cinnamon or cloves.  In Mediterranean regions, basil and tomato is a classic combination. However, one of the most popular uses of Basil is for making the classic Pesto sauce. This can be used on pasta dishes, fish or meat, pizza etc. It is an extremely versatile and easy to make sauce.

Recipe For Pesto. 

125g pine nuts
125g parmesan cheese, cut into small chunks
1 large bunch of fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic, crushed
200ml extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
squeeze of lemon juice


1. First toast the pine nuts by placing them in a dry frying pan on a medium heat until just browned.
2. Put the cheese, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and basil in a food processor and blend until all the ingredients come together in a smooth mixture. This should only take a few seconds.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste and a squeeze of lemon juice. 

Your pesto can be stored in a jar in the fridge for up to a week if not using straight away. Pesto can also be frozen for longer life by placing it in ice-cube trays and freeze. 

What I am doing on my plot.

Well, I cut my grass for the first cut of the year...makes it look much tidier.

I have also dug up all my raspberries. The problem was they were becoming full of bindweed, so I dug down as deep as I could and removed as much as I could and replanted.

Hoed and tided up my raised beds.

Went through my seed box and sorted them out in order of sowing. I got rid of a few packets that were well past their sow by date.

It has been quite mild here in Oxford...17c the other day......however do not be fooled for it is still winter. It is very easy to be fooled and rush out sowing seeds all over the plot.

There are one or two problems with early sowing: your seeds will rot in the ground because of the wet and cold and your seeds will grow because a short spell of warm weather and be knocked over by a late frost.

I want sturdy, strong plants that will give me a good yield and be more resistant to pests and diseases and to get that : I wait a while yet

Thoughts while digging:

What is the question to ask to get the right answer?

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