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Pesto... in February??

...when Trader Joes is involoved  :)
...I bought three of their big packs of basil- probably about 2c. per pack...
Since pesto is really a simple process, with few ingredients, make sure you use high quality olive oil, pine nuts and cheese... it makes all the difference in the world!!

1c pine nuts, toasted (300 degrees for about 12 minutes)
8 cloves garlic
1c. high quality parmesan, finely grated (about 1/2 - 2/3 lb.)
6c. basil, washed and spun dry
8 T lemon juice, from about 3 lemons
1c olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 c water

Put first 3 ingredients into food processor (alternatively use a blender) & process until paste-y. Feed basil leaves through chute with processor/blender running, alternating with the lemon juice and olive oil until incorporated. Season with the salt and pepper and add water until mixed through.
Spoon into ice cube trays and freeze about 5 hours. Transfer to a freezer bag or tupperware and store up to 6 months (if it even lasts that long!!)  ...OR use right away, fresh from the blender!


Making 'meringues' has never been my strong suit... its always been a yolk contamination issue or I over beat and break the whites. dont forget under/over baking them etc... They're tricky little buggers. After countless trials and errors over the years, I finally got my touch with this recipe & was happy when I got the OK to make them for the Ely Art Walk open house this weekend... You can really alter this as a base and make any flavor combo you like:
vanilla/raspberry/cherry/orange/mint-chocolate, or exchange the cocoa powder for all powdered sugar and make plain vanilla, etc... you can also add food coloring too- have fun!

*Preheat oven to 300 degrees*

2c confectioner's sugar
1/2 c. cocoa powder (or powdered sugar, if making vanilla etc)
2 T cornstarch

8 large egg whites, at room temp
1/2 t. cream of tartar
1 c granulated sugar
1 t vanilla, mint, any flavor extract...

luster dust or melted chocolate, etc for decorating- optional...
Sift together the first 3 ingredients. Set aside.
Beat the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes. Add granulated sugar, one tablespoon at a a time until incorporated. Beat on high until stiff, shiny peaks form. Add extract and food coloring, if using.
Gently fold the powdered sugar mix into the meringue. Fill 16" disposable frosting bag with meringue batter. (Use whichever shape/size tip you like, I used a plain one)
((this is what my arm felt like after doing 200 little blobs!))

Pipe the batter on to parchment-lined cookie sheets, about 1" apart. Bake 8 minutes and then reduce oven temp to 200 degrees. Bake 1 hour further. Let cool 1 hour more.

Decorate or leave plain. Eat alone or use in a fruit trifle   :)