Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mythbusters: "Bad things" are healthy now?

Well, not really healthy now; they have always been healthy. Your favorite "bad food" may not be so taboo in the realm of healthy living. Blame your mother for telling you the following are bad for you all those years. 

For more ways to splurge smartly, refer to Prevention. In the meantime, just remember that anything can be unhealthy if you eat too much of it, especially in one sitting. A trick to make sure you don't overeat (no matter what is for dinner) is to eat meals on smaller plates. Sometimes people get in the habit of filling their plate when it's actually way over the recommended serving. 

What brought on this post? Well, my dad has lost 18 pounds (and counting) just by watching what he eats, walking during lunch and hiking/biking with me on the weekends. Granted, he doesn't really eat beef at all anymore because of all the grease, but he'll splurge and eat a burger or something once a month. We have replaced ground beef with ground turkey in every applicable recipe. So far, without missing beef at all (except with chili. the texture was just not the same at all. we're still tweaking it).

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I'll take some cheese with this wine

Wine pairing with antipasti parties and such gatherings is essential. So look at your menu and plan accordingly. A common accompaniment for wine are cheeses, but you have to match them up just right. Some wines are fruity or nutty, dry or fresh; cheeses can be bold or subtle, tangy or elegant. There's a lot to think about, but that doesn't mean pairing has to be stressful. These are just suggestions for basic cheeses:

50% reduced fat cheddar: half the fat, all the flavor in mild, easy melting cheddar. 
     white wine pairing: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. (Tangym sippy flavors and aromas of grapefruit and honeydew melon.)
     red wine pairing: Dry Rose. (Semi dry pink wine with soft aromas of violets and subtle flavors of cherry and spice.)
     appetizer: put this wonderful cheese on a platter with summer sausage, crusty bread, fresh fruit and vegetables. Add a side of ranch or french onion for dipping and enjoy. 

Mild cheddar: subtle, refreshing flavor. 
     white wine pairing: Late Harvest Reisling. (Off dry medium bodied white wine with aromas of honeysuckle, apricot and flavors of soft peach and spice.)
     red wine pairing: Sangiovese. (Medium-bodied, dry red wine with soft flavors and aromas of vanilla and fresh cherries.)
      appetizer: shred a bar of mild cheddar and drape over a plate of crisp corn chips, top with sour cream, guacamole and black olives. 

Sharp cheddar: rich, rustic flavor.
     white wine pairing: White Bordeaux. (Crisp, smooth, medium bodied white blend of Semillion and Sauvignon Blanc with hints of melon and citrus.)
     red wine pairing: Zinfandel. (Bold, dry red with rich aromas and flavors of blackberries, vanilla, black pepper.)
     appetizer: A potato gratin is the perfect side dish for a turkey or ham. In a buttered casserole, arrange layers of peeled and sliced Yukon Gold potatoes, shredded sharp cheddar and creme fraiche (about 1 1/2 cups each of cheddar and creme fraiche for 3 pounds of potatoes.) Season with fresh chives, salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, then 350 degrees Fahrenheit until potatoes are tender in the center. 

Extra Sharp Cheddar: elegant, rich, lush. 
     white wine pairing: White Rhone. (Silky, medium bodied blend of Marsanne/Rousanne/Viognier with spicy yet floral nose and rich lingering flavors of peach, nutmeg and tropical fruit. 
     red wine pairing: Red Rhone. (Dry, full flavored red blend of Syrah/Grenache features cassis, mulberry, spice.)
     appetizer: Fruit and cheese make an elegantly simple way to end a meal. Serve extra sharp cheese with seasonal fruits like red grapes and Seckel pears. Or top slices of buttery pound cake with oven-roasted pears and a spoonful of creme fraiche whipped with a little honey.

Seriously Sharp Cheddar: bold, pungent and memorable. 
     white wine pairing: Blanc de Noir Sparkling Wine/Champagne (Rich, creamy, yeasty, full flavored Brut styles.) 
     red wine pairing: Petite Syrah. (Rich, dry, full-bodied red with hints of raspberry, blackberry, chocolate, toasted oak.)
     appetizer: Hearty roast beef sandwiches with thick slices of seriously sharp cheese. Top with horseradish sauce and serve on rye bread. 

Pepper Jack: spicy, tangy, fun.
     white wine pairing: Gewurztraminer. (Semi dry, fruity, light white with floral nose and touch of sweetness.)
     red wine pairing: Beaujolais. (Light bodied, fresh, fruity, tart red wine.)
     appetizer: Quesadillas. Shred pepper jack cheese and sprinkle on top of flour tortilla. Sprinkle layer of cooked shredded chicken or crab over cheese. Top with tortilla. Grill or pan cook until golden on both sides. Cut into wedges and serve with sour cream and chopped cilantro. 

These are just basic cheeses that most people have around the house, but there are hundreds of cheeses to choose from. For a quick reference, check out these sites: 
Wine and Cheese Pairing Guide 
Wisconsin-Pairing Guide
Oregon-Pairing Guide

Wine Snobs

I must start off my saying I am (re)reading this hilarious book. Though it is tiny, it is mighty. Mighty odd. It was given to me by a friend as a joke a few years ago. (I didn't know anything about wine when I started working at Blackberry Farm at the beginning of my college years.) It's titled "The Wine Snob's Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Oenological Knowledge." I'm not kidding. 

I enjoy reading it. I laugh (out loud, of course) quite a bit. David Kamp and David Lynch were the authors of this delight. The information in it (so far) is spot on correct. And I am dying to know if they are honestly as stuck up and sarcastically hilarious as they come off, or are they just a couple of goofballs who appreciate wine for it's greatness. Maybe one in the same? I don't know, but I like it.

If you enjoy wine or are interested in learning more about it, this book is an entertaining way to learn more about wine. The introduction alone explains a lot of things about wine--both facts and cultural stigmas. I am going to share the introduction from the authors in full with you, so you can laugh and learn as well: 

"Wine Snob. Isn't that a redundancy, like saying wet rain or nuisance telemarketer?
     Well, yes--there's no getting around it. Central to the very premise of wine appreciation is the notion that is requires an advanced skill set; that, in order to most fully understand and enjoy the experience of sniffing and sipping fermented grape juice, one must have a cache of special knowledge to which mere ordinary people do not have access
    Wine Snobbery is, therefore, the default state of the wine enthusiast. In this regard, it is unique among Cultural Snobberies. In other realms, such as music, film, and food, the Snobs are the hard cases, the ones who have taken their passions to irrational extremes--devoting their lives to, say, the post-Mokees work of Michael Nesmith, or frame-by-frame dissections of Peter Jackson's early splatter pics, or the pursuit of the perfect round of Portuguese semisoft sheep's milk cheese made with thistle rennet. We recognize such figures as grotesques, at best euphemizing them as "intense," at worst calling them out as scary nutjobs.
     The Wine Snob, on the other hand, can sit judgmentally as a bottle is presented to him, watch intently as its contents are decanted and poured, swirl the liquid centrifugally in his glass, hold teh glass up to the light, lower it under his nose, close his eyes, take a sup, pause in contemplation, open his eyes, and declare what he has just drunk to be 'Complex, cola and pencil-lead on the nose, with leather, dust, barnyard, and raspberry on the mid-palate, and a medium-long, tannic finish'--and not only will this man not be led away in restraints to the sanitorium, he will find himself actually being admired for his taste and acumen.
     Far from existing on the freaky margins of society, like the ever-resentful Rock Snob or the madly dogmatic Food Snob, the Wine Snob commands center stage in his chosen area of cultural fanaticism. So why, then, should a book such as this one exist? Aren't there already plenty of wine references out there that are defacto guides to Wine Snobbery? In a world where library shelves groan with multiple titles by the likes of Jancis Robinson, Oz Clarke, Hugh Johnson, and Andrea Robinson, is a Wine Snob's Dictionary really necessary? 
     As much as the Wine Snob is widely and correctly perceived to be the archetypal wine connoisseur, his profile and tendencies--precisely who he is--are only dimly understood. There persists an outmoded notion that the Wine Snob is necessarily wealthy, wellborn, and Francophilic, when, in fact, Wine Snobbery has many faces, some of them surprisingly homely. Indeed, one of the reasons the 2004 film Sideways proved so jarring was that it revealed a breed of Wine Snob that, while eminently recognizable to other Snobs, was unfamiliar to the public: a drab schlub who knows his stuff and commands the respect of winemakers and pourers, but who is also professionally unsuccessful and abjectly unglamorous. (Indeed, the film's surprise-hite status sent Snobs into defense mode, railing against purported slights and inaccuracies: C'mon, the Central Coast isn't even representative of the rest of California! He's totally wrong about Merlot--it only happens to underpin some of the greatest Bordeaux of all time! Well, let me tell you that I've never stolen money from my mother!)
     There are Wine Snobs all around us, and they range widely in age, income bracket, and hair length. There's the standard-issue hedonist-aesthete, for whom Wine Snobbery is another trait in the portfolio, along with the vintage-car fetish and the permanent tan. There's the hippie-ish evangelist who wears muddied boots and baggy shorts, and likes to remind you that viticulture is a kind of farming, man, and that the juice you're diggin' tells a magical story about the special chunk of earth from which its grapes came. There's the NFL offensive lineman who's spent his signing bonus on an insta-cellar and learned about wine from the top down, evolving from label whore ('Petrus! Awesome!') into shrewd collector ('An Araujo vertical! Awesome!') 
     Put simply, you never know when or where you're going to encounter a Wine Snob. And then, before you know it, you're weathering a storm of terms like malo, extracted, and Cab Franc leafiness that leaves you feeling bewildered, humiliated, and inclined to drink nothing by beer (which will expose you to Microbrew Snobs, who speak a still-more-incomprehensible language of 'porters,' 'doppelbocks,' and 'dunkel weiss,' but never mind). 
     The Wine Snobs Dictionary equips its reader with the tools and survival skills to endure a Wine Snob encounter, and possibly even disarm the Snob with a casual reference that he doesn't see coming--to, say, 'the '78 La Tache I was fortunate enough to share with Aubert,' or 'damnable, spoofalated swill that the McMansioners drink.' The book further serves as a helpful cheat sheet for those who simply wish to understand advanced-placement wine chat without actually getting caught up in tastings and spit buckets, and as a legitimate study guide or trainee Snobs who aspire to be wine professionals. Would-be sommeliers are warned, however, that even a book such as this is no substitute for experience, runty stature a persecution complex, and a tightly cinched dark suit offset by an assaultively loud necktie. 
     A Brief History of Wine Snobbery
     Though the references to wine abound in the Bible and in ancient classical literature (the word symposium is a corruption of a Greek term meaning 'drinking party'), Wine Snobbery as we know it dates back only to the middle of the  nineteenth century. It was in 1855, on the occasion of that year's Exposition Universelle de Paris, that Napoleon III enlisted his country's wine merchants to put together a system of ranking and categorization for its finest Bordeaux wines. The result, the Bordeaux Wine Official Classication of 1855--or, in Snob shorthand, the 1855 Classification--was at once baldly hierarchical and utterly idiosyncratic: ideal breeding conditions for Snobbery. 
     There were already plenty of wineshops in the Anglophone world--such as London's Berry Bros. & Rudd, founded in 1698, and New York's Acker, Merrall & Condit, founded in 1820--but the advent of a classification system, with its Premier Crus (first growths) and exalted chateaux, equipped wine-lovers with a common set of standards to be upheld, absorbed, dissected, and showboated. In Britain especially, it became the mark of a true oenophile to drink one's way through all the classified Bordeaux and jot down tasting notes about one's impressions, as much for purposes of social one-upmanship as for one's on edification. 
     The image of the Wine Snob as a fancy English or Anglophile toff remains powerful in the public imagination, as antiquated as it now is; only the white-haired wine sage Michael Broadbent has legitimately played such a role in contemporary Snob discourse. But not for nothing has the image persisted in America. The period of Prohibition, from 1920 to 1933, was such a profound setback to winemaking in the United States that it really wasn't until the 1970s that there was enough indigenous wine of high quality to get Snobby about. Prior to the Nixon presidency, American Wine Snobs, their ranks thin and suspiciously emigre-heavy, looked invariably to Europe. 
     But in the '70s, events conspired to legitimize both American wine and American oenophilia, opening entirely new frontiers for Wine Snobbery. In the so-called Judgment of Paris, a collection of condescending French judges, presumably on loan from central casting, convened for a blind tasting of French and American wines, and, to their utter consternation, reserved their highest praise for a Chardonnay crafted by Napa Valley winemaker Mike Grgich and Cabernet Sauvignon crafted by Napa Valley winemaker Warren Winiarski. Near the end of the decade, a thirtysomething Maryland lawyer named Robert Parker gave flight to his latent Wine Snob urges and came out with a newsletter called the Baltimore-Washington Wine Advocate (its name later shortened) that connected with a like-minded audience of young adults who pleasured in tilting balloon glasses into their faces for extended periods of time. 
     Parker instituted a practice of rating wines on a 100-point scale, which while more user-friendly and easier to comprehend than the Bordeaux classifications, essentially opened up all wines to scrutiny and discussion. Suddenly, there was much more wine out there to be knowing about, and much more knowing-ness to be achieved through borrowed opinion. The Wine Advocate became, and remains, a Snob juggernaut. 
     As is so often the case in Snob discourse, where yesterday's indie band/film/coffeehouse becomes today's corporate sellout, the upstart Parker soon enough morphed into the Establishment, bemoaned for his outsize influence and alleged preference for 'international-style' wines whose makers have crafted their products just to please him. Yet this has hardly sounded the death knell for Wine Snobbery; rather, it has created a powerful new strain of Reverse Snobbery in which wines and winemakers are esteemed for existing off the Parker grid. As with Food Snobbery, which as taken on a locavorist, sustainableista, sociopolitical dimension in recent years, Wine Snobbery is now sometimes informed by a crunchy consciousness that finds its adherents proclaiming their fealty to the purity of terrior and zero-manipulation wines. 
     Meanwhile, Parker's Establishment Snobbery trundles ever onward, turning small-batch favorites like Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvingnon and Mollydooker Velvet Glove Shiraz into feverishly pursued cult wines. And somewhere, heard faintly from old drawing rooms with faded wallpaper and Noel Coward playing on the Victrola, there still persist a few members of the old Brit-Snob school who insist on calling an aroma a 'bouquet' and a red Bordeaux a claret. Wine Snobbery is, like the wines it inordinately celebrates, a living thing that changes over time.  
Helpful Hints 
Given the complexities and interconnections of the Snob universe, cross-references between entries are common and are spelled out in CAPITAL LETTERS for easy identification. The editors have also seen fit to identify certain entries with the Wine Snob Vanguard icon, which depicts the black or shaded blind-tasting glass used by experts and sommeliers when stunt-tasting for public approbation. The blind-tasting glass keeps out light and lends no visual clue to what its contents might be. And yet it's said that the dean of American sommeliers, Larry Stone, is capable, on days when his palate has brought its A-game to a blind tasting, to divine not only the vintage and grape variety of what he's sampled, but the specific producer. It is only fitting, then, that the presence of the blind-tasting glass icon should indicate, in this book, an entry that is held in especially high regard by Wine Snobs--for example, the intimidatingly esteemed Burgundy estate Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, or the Grand Award, the prestigious distinction bestowed by the Wine Spectator upon the Snobworthiest, most extensive wine lists in the world.  
     Finally, let us express our sincere hope that the knowledge collected herein serves you well on the path to Snob enlightenment and to a more mannered, ridiculous approach to wine-drinking. And if that doesn't work, at least this book makes a good coaster.
So that's the it; the introduction. Does it make you want to read more? Get the book here: 
Can't get enough Snobbery? Check out Snob Site.

Friday, April 2, 2010

What to do with Easter Leftovers

Holidays are great. You get to visit with friends and family to stuff your faces and sit and talk for hours upon hours about the good times. And when the day is over, you have all the leftovers to eat on for the rest of the week. Wait, what? Leftovers are a good thing?! Well, they can be. 

While the holiday leftovers do clutter the refrigerator, you don't have to make an extensive effort for meals for the next couple days. But what if you're sick of eating ham and turkey (cold, hot or on a sandwich)? Well, these recipes will help out with that predicament. And hopefully after these recipes, the ham and turkey will be gone!

Ham and Broccoli Bake
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Serves: 6 

14 ounces whole wheat rotini pasta
10 ounces frozen broccoli
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups diced fully cooked ham
15 ounces Alfredo sauce
1/2 cup milk
1 cup shredded Colby-Monterrey Jack cheese
ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; cook the pasta in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until tender but not mushy, about 10 minutes. Drain.
  3. Thaw the broccoli in a microwave oven until you can break it apart into small pieces.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; cook and stir the diced ham in the hot oil until the edges start to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the broccoli and cook and stir until any excess water has cooked away and the ham and broccoli are hot. Pour in the Alfredo sauce and the milk; stir to blend, sprinkle with pepper, and add the cooked pasta. Stir everything together to coat the pasta with sauce and bring to a simmer.
  5. Spread the bubbling pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish, top with shredded Colby-Monterrey jack cheese, and bake in the preheated oven until the casserole is hot and the cheese is melted and starting to brown, about 30 minutes. 

Nutritional Information, Amount Per Serving  Calories: 649 | Total Fat: 39.9g | Cholesterol: 77mg

Ham 'n Bean Soup
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 2 hours 20 minutes
Serves: 9

6 cups chicken stock
1 pound dry great Northern beans 
1 pound kidney beans
1 pound chick peas
2 cup chopped ham
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 stalk celery, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

  1. Rinse the beans, sorting out any broken or discolored ones. Soak in water overnight. (Drain before you proceed with cooking directions.)
  2. In a large pot over high heat, bring the stock to a boil. Add and the beans and remove from heat. Let beans sit in the hot stock for at least 60 minutes.
  3. After the 60 minutes of soaking, return the pot to high heat and place the ham bone, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, mustard and bay leaves in the pot. Stir well, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 60 more minutes.
  4. Remove ham bone and discard. Stir in the chopped ham and simmer for 30 more minutes. Season with ground white pepper to taste. 
Nutritional Information, Amount Per Serving  Calories: 257 | Total Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 30mg
Turkey Divan 
Serves: 6

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese
2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen broccoli spears cooked and drained
sliced cooked turkey, about 1 pound, enough for 6 servings
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


Melt butter. Add flour and cook, stirring until mixture bubbles. Remove from heat; gradually blend in milk and egg yolk. Add dry mustard, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and begins to boil. Add Cheddar cheese and cook, stirring, until cheese is melted. Arrange hot broccoli and turkey in 12 x 8-inch dish, spooning sauce between layers and on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Broil about 4 inches from heat until cheese is browned.

Turkey Tetrazzini
Serves: 6-8 
8 ounces thin spaghetti, cooked, rinsed and drained 
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided  
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, divided  
2 to 3 cups diced cooked turkey  
2 tablespoons diced pimientos, if desired  
1 tablespoon butter  
4 ounces sliced mushrooms  
1/4 chopped cup onion  
1 can cream of mushroom soup  
1/2 cup chicken broth  
1/4 cup dry sherry  
salt and pepper, to taste


Combine spaghetti with 1 cup Cheddar cheese and half of the Parmesan cheese. Add turkey and pimientos. In a skillet, melt butter and sauté mushrooms and onions just until tender; add to the turkey mixture along with remaining ingredients. Gently stir to combine ingredients; place in a greased casserole and sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Cover with lid or foil and bake at 350° for about 45 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Easter Weekend Treats

Whether you are religious or not, many people have decorated hard-boiled eggs or participated in an Easter egg hunt at some point in their life. I had fun with it myself growing up, but it was also a time for our family to gather together. 

However, when you graduate to the "adult table" at family gatherings, you are most of the time given some sort of responsibility--such as bringing a course for the meal spread. Sometimes this can be a tricky and stressful task, depending on what you're stuck with. You want to impress your family, of course, with your creativity and cooking ability. So what do you make? 

For a brunch gathering, there are some simple options: a fruit tray, banana pudding, veggies and dip, egg omelets or even some bacon. While those are all very delicious, they aren't always very creatively presented. So maybe you can keep the ease of cooking and get a little in the spirit with these recipes: 

Courtesy of Disney's Family Fun Magazine, check out this Easter Brunch Pizza.  While this recipe used red, yellow, and green peppers, red onions, and cooked breakfast sausage for toppings, you can use whatever you want...as long as you decorate your egg!
For a little sweetness to top off any brunch menu (since it's too early for Cadbury Eggs), try this recipe courtesy of Taste of Home: Cinnamon Roll Bunnies
Now if you have a lunch or dinner gathering, like my family, the options are wide open with fun possibilities. Starting off with a salad, enjoy this recipe courtesy of Taste of Home: Bunny Pear Salad. (A substitute option for this recipe: rather than having whipped cream as the bunny tail, you could also use a dollop of cottage cheese. A more healthy option that also meshes well with pears.) 
Next up, you could create a different spin on the commonly served hard boiled egg with this recipe, courtesy of All Free Crafts: Boiled Egg Easter Bunnies. These are really easy to make, and look like they took hours. (But you know the truth of the simplicity.)

If you have a bunch of little ones running around your family gatherings, they usually aren't so much impressed with healthy or tasty food. They want the goods. The cool looking and ever so sweet desserts. I have done some heavy research and these are the neat things I have found: 

Courtesy of Martha Stewart, these Spring Chick Cupcakes are sure to attract people to the dessert table. And aren't they so cute?
Here's something the kids can help you make, but everyone will enjoy. They don't take a lot of prep time either, so you can be doing other things. Courtesy of All Recipes, Easter Egg Dipper Treats are a hit. 

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sun Dried Tomato & Artichoke Penne Pasta

For those rainy days or long Mondays, you need an energy-filled lunch to get you through the afternoon slumps at work. A pasta is a good, quick and affordable way to get that much needed energy. If you choose a whole grain penne (which I suggest), you can also score some omega-3s too. 

Pastas are typically reheat extremely well, so this is a good thing to cook the night before and take to work the next day for lunch. This recipe is like that--reheating in the microwave does just fine. Now for the recipe:  

12 ounces of whole grain penne pasta 
       (cook as packaging suggests)
8 ounces of artichokes 
       (unseasoned. if pre-packaged and seasoned in an oil or herb, just simply rinse off in water prior to warming. recipe is best with fresh artichokes.)
8 ounces of sun dried tomatoes, sliced
1 C of mozzarella cheese 
1 C of pesto (jarred or homemade is fine)

Cook pasta as the package suggests. Meanwhile, cook artichokes in skillet. If using jarred artichokes, place in skillet to heat with sun dried tomatoes. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain and mix together with artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and pesto. Finally, mix in the cheese and save some for garnish. 
This pasta is very flavorful and it's super easy to fix. Using pesto as a sauce is a lighter option to a marinara or an alfredo sauce. 

I think pesto is such an underused element in recipes. It makes this recipe easier to use a jarred pesto, but if you have the time and resources, it is easy to make yourself. Take it from Food Network Star, Ina Garten (of Barefoot Contessa), and try this recipe for pesto when you make this pasta dish: 

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Yields: 4 Cups
Level: Easy

1/4 cup walnuts  
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)  
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)  
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed  
1 teaspoon kosher salt  
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper  
1 1/2 cups good olive oil  
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan 

    Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 30 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Serve, or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.