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Got some recipes for basil beyond pesto? Let us know.
By Deborah Pankey | Daily Herald Food Editor

Fresh basil

 

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National Honey Board

 

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Published: 8/11/2010 12:00 AM

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I heard that it wasn't supposed to be a good year for basil (some fungus floating around), but thankfully no one told that to the basil in my garden.

My two plants have been producing vibrant, aromatic leaves faster than I can harvest and use them.

The most common basil growing on window sills and in containers is sweet basil; we know it by its large, wavy, smooth-edged leaves and its slight licorice flavor. There are more than 60 varieties of basil with flavor notes ranging from lemon to clove.

A woman can only make so much pesto, so I've been looking for other ways to use it. My favorite so far has been to simply rinse the leaves and layer it on a sandwich in lieu of spinach or lettuce. It went perfectly with a grilled veggie panini and brought a new dimension to a BLT (a BBT?).

I've torn leaves and tossed them into my lunchtime salad and added lightly chopped leaves to softened butter to smear crusty bread - it would be great spread for corn on the cob as well.

If you have a favorite way to use basil, I'd love to hear about it. Share your ideas and recipes with me on Facebook.com at Deb Pankey Daily Herald.

And the survey says: Pick out four people in your view. One of them doesn't cook. At least that was one of the findings in a recent survey of 2,503 adults conducted by Harris Interactive.

According to the poll, conducted online in May, one in five Americans say they either do not enjoy cooking or do not cook. (That's really too bad, because we've got some great recipes in today's section to try!)

The good news for me and other food writers is that 79 percent of U.S. adults say they enjoy cooking, though most don't do it every day. Two in five say they prepare meals at home five or more times a week and about 30 percent do so three to four times a week.

Men and those adults older than 65 appear to love cooking more than others. Perhaps that's because they have more time and look at cooking as a fun diversion, not the daily chore that many women see cooking as.

Among those who prepare meals at home, 81 percent say they cook what they are familiar with very often and 75 percent say they often or occasionally use prepared and/or frozen ingredients and kitchen appliances such as microwaves and toaster ovens to speed up the process and cleanup. Count me in that group.

Sweet celebration: Learn about honey and taste some locally made honey treats from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 15, at HoneyFEST at Heritage Prairie Farm in Elburn.

The family-friendly event features a Busy Bee Kids' Corner with wing making and face painting, beekeeping tours and demonstrations and honey-infused foods like lavender honey ice cream from Graham's Fine Chocolate in Geneva.

Admission costs $10 for adults; kids get in free. Heritage Prairie Farm is at 2N308 Brundige Road. (630) 443-8253.

Sweet contest: Sunday's celebration may provide just the inspiration you need to enter The National Honey Board's online recipe contest.

The National Honey Board is looking for ways cooks incorporate honey into savory recipes and sweet treats. Three winners will bring home Le Creuset cookware sets (valued at $200 to $1,600) for their original efforts.

The Cooking with My Honey Bear contest runs through Sept. 15 on honey.com. Entrants have the option to include photographs of their finished dishes or of themselves with a bottle of 100 percent pure honey. Get complete rules at honey.com/nhb/contest.

- Deborah Pankey

• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at food@dailyherald.com, (847) 427-4524 or on Facebook at Deb Pankey Daily Herald. Listen to her discuss food and restaurant trends on Restaurant Radio Chicago, 5 to 6 p.m. Saturdays on WIND 560 AM.