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Chef’s corner: Basil basics

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You know what’s handy?  Tips for the kitchen!  You know what’s even more handy?  Tips coming from a pro.

Chef David knows all about Caribbean cooking.  Before (unfortunately!) having to pack up and move back home to Ireland to be a head chef in someplace far colder than the Cayman Islands, he was with Hemmingways.  But he’s still got his finger on the pulse of all things Caymanian cuisine-y, even helping me land my very first Top 9 over at Foodbuzz.

Since basil is in season in Cayman right now, I asked Chef David to lend me hand on how best to deal with it.

It’s fantastic herb to have fresh on hand. I use it with alot of my dinners or even to liven up a toasted sandwich!

  • Basil is perfect to pair with tomatoes, eggplant and courgettes (aka zucchini for our American friends.)
  • It’s always best to add basil at the end of the cooking process.  For example, once you have made a soup then whisk in some chopped basil or, after your homemade pizza is cooked, tear up some basil and place on top.
  • When chopping, make sure it’s nice and dry before you chop and only use the leaves. Leave out the stalks, as they tend to be bitter.
  • Basil is the main ingredient in pesto. When making pesto, only use the leaves because the stalks will make your vibrant green pesto…less so. Another tip to keep things bright green is to be careful not to over blend in the blender.  A hot blade makes for bad color.

Oh, Basil oil is great too

You will need:
2 cups of basil
1 cup of olive oil

  • Put oil in fridge until chilled 
  • Dip basil leaves in boiling water for 5 seconds then into ice water. 
  • Strain and dry. 
  • Blend with salt to taste – not to long, blade gets warm – then put through a fine strainer or cheesecloth and voila! Yummy basil oil!
An immense thank you to Chef David!  And don’t worry, there will be more where this comes from.
In the meantime, some of you may remember that Clark Kent and I are very much into Halloween.  After the success of last year’s Labyrinth costumes, we decided to stick with the 80’s movie motif for 2012.

I’d like to think we’re a pretty convincing Andy and Brand from The Goonies

Pumpkinpalooza was also a rousing success!

Bit more luck with the ParaNorman Pumpkin than with the ParaNorman cookies 🙂

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  1. great tips on the basil and love your halloween outfit

  2. Very true with the pesto. Some Italians here told me a secrete too. They only use the small new leaves for making pesto. Something to do with the taste and freshness.

    Thanks for sharing all this! =D

  3. Love this post!! Basil is by far my favorite herb 🙂 I would eat pesto every day if I could!

  4. One of my favorite herbs!

  5. Ooh, basil oil–that sounds amazing! I think I could put that on everything I eat. Basil is totally my favorite herb. 🙂 And I love your costumes!

  6. I love the idea of making basil oil…I should have done with all the basil when had lot of them.
    Thanks for the recipe and hope you are enjoying your week 🙂

  7. Thanks for sharing everything that is about Basil!! Another tip I have is to dump a huge amount of basil leaves in a colander, pour hot water and immediately shock it in some icy cold water bath. That definitely retains the color of basil for pestos or oils 🙂

  8. Basil oil?! YESSSS! I want that! I am going to make it like today. 🙂

  9. I’ve just started growing a basil plant and it is really thriving. Thanks for the ideas to use up all the leaves! 🙂

  10. Basil is one of my favourite herb! I’ve just made some basil oil for a bread last week! It was really good!
    Thanks to Chef David for all the incredible tips!
    Both you and CK looks super!
    Have a great week!

  11. Love pesto and loving the basil oil idea – must make this. And I must take a look at your recent posts since I’m so far behind. What an AMAZING new look to the site! It just makes you want to dive in for more. Bravo!

  12. Basil oil is so easy to make and sounds like it’s wonderful to have one at home. I do remember you guys are into Halloween and how fun! Thanks for sharing the pictures. You two look the cutest!!

  13. Love basil!

    Have tried to grow it at home many times but the sun always killed the bush 🙁

  14. Congrats on your first Top 9 — woohoo! Thanks for the basil basics, too — good to know!

  15. I love this awesome post, so many great tips 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  16. I love that basil oil!

  17. It is good to know how to make the basil oil. I have to try next time it is basil season here again, which is oh like next summer!
    I wonder how the Chef is dealing with the cold after being in Cayman!

  18. I grew my basil leaves but mine is the Thai version. I think it should be ok to use to make the same paste. I love the smell of basil and a couple of leaves into a chicken savory dish brings out a superb flavor and aroma.

  19. So fun to get tips from a chef…who doesn’t love basil?! I think I need some basil oil…and fast!

  20. Great tips! I make this too but it takes a while to strain that gorgeous green oil.

  21. Wow,
    Basil oil sound incredible!

  22. I can eat basil straight from de bush! Thanks for such great tips (I think I am going to make some basil oil today!!!). 😀

  23. The weather has turned cold and my basil plant won’t last too much longer. What better way to retire than as a pot of fragrant basil oil. Thanks PS. Sounds like Hallowe’en was fun on Cayman.

  24. Great post and tips!

  25. Great post! Our snow snap killed my basil…but, when I come across some good fresh basil, I’m making this!

  26. I love basil–the idea for basil oil is fantastic!

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