About Beth

Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.

« Pesto by the Food Processor Method | Main | Pasta and Pesto with Potatoes and Green Beans »

Pesto~ by the motar method

Don't y'all just love it when timing is just perfect? It doesn't happen often in life.

This week's recipe from 'Essentials of Italian Cooking' came at the perfect time. I was in Montisi with a garden FULL of fresh Italian basil, cooking in a Tuscan kitchen and my 'chore' was to make Pesto, by the Motar Method.

Marcella has a beautiful page in her cookbook on the true origins of pesto, and the art of creating pesto by using a mortar with a pestle. If you have ever had truly fresh, perfectly prepared pesto on fresh pasta... It will make your heart sing. This is not the pesto-boyRdee, or even what they make in the authentic Olive Gardens across the country. We are talking honest-to-goodness-hallelujah-chorus flavors.

Start with 2 generous cups of fresh basil, that have been rinsed in cold water and dried. Combine in a mortar with sea salt, pine nuts, and mashed garlic. Using the pestle, mash against the sides until a thick paste if formed. (stop here and just take a deep breath~ y'all will be transported to my Tuscan kitchen for a moment) Add grated cheese and continue until it is a smooth paste. Add olive oil in a very thin stream, beating with a wooden spoon. Finally, add a few tablespoons of softened butter. This pesto can be used so many ways. We enjoyed ours on thin slices of bread drizzled with olive oil. We were lucky enough to be a few short miles from Pienza~ known for its pecorino cheese, and I was able to find some 'fiore sardo'.

Ciao y'all~

Comments (2)

Marcella Hazan:

Millions of people make pesto, darling, and even buy pesto, but there may be just a few score left who can take a deep breath of pesto and let pesto coat their palate and stamp imprint itself on their taste memory having made a mortar and pestle pesto as you just did. The insistence on the Tuscan kitchen is a little distracting, however. There is a lot more to Italy than Tuscany. Let's remember that it's the sunlit herb gardens of LIguria that you should feel pesto transporting you to.

We were hardly ever without an aged pecorino di Pienza in Venice, which we used to order by corriere. Let me remind the reader, on your behalf, how lucky you were to have been able to put both a stellar pecorino and fiore sardo into your pesto.

Ahh, let me inhale!

Marcella~ of course the last thing I would do is imply that all of Italy is 'Tuscan'. I was carried away by the joy of being in Italy and the beauty of your pesto.

It was an honor to be one of the '4 pomodori' in Bologna this week... we toasted to you and Victor.
ciao gioia~

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