I used to be the sort who read a recipe and followed it to the hilt. Now I don't.
Now I read recipes like a good story. In fact, I like to read a good cookbook, like it is a good novel and then riff off of it. I only use the recipes as a guide to how it could be done (with substitutions, of course) and for possible proportions.
Now that I am writing about food and cooking here at the Happy Tastebud, I have good intentions of writing down my recipes for dishes about once a week, except I don't.
What stops me? I don't measure. I don't know exactly how much I did of such and such other than the vaguest terms - a handful, a few shakes, you know as much as you want to eat of this... Well, my approach may work great for me, as an experienced cook with over 20 years in the kitchen under her belt, but not for recipes.
Today, I was going to take the two huge bunches of basil in my fridge and turn them into basil pesto to be divided into small batches and then frozen for later use. What a great way to preserve a summer bumper crop of basil, right?
Well, first off, I got distracted by my Mom arriving from North/Central California and taking a walk with the dogs. Then we found ourselves at Walt's for wine & artichokes. Then it was too late.
But even if I were to write down the recipes that I make for my "country style" basil pesto that I make about twice a month, I don't have exact proportions. But here is my approximate...
1) Take a bunch of basil (handful), wash it, and separate the leaves from the stems. Discard or compost stems. Save leaves.
2) Chop the basil leaves with a good chef's knife until minced. All of it. Will take a bit of time. Put in a bowl with room after minced.
3) Take a handful of fresh, non-roasted pine nuts (about 1/2 cup) and chop them with your knife until smallish or minced (your preference). Put in bowl with basil.
4) Take 1-4 cloves of garlic (depending on how much raw garlic you like), mince into small bits. Put in bowl with basil and pine nuts.
5) Take your salt grinder and grind in about 1/4 teaspoon of salt into the bowl. If no salt grinder, then put in 1/4 teaspoon of good salt into to the bowl with other ingredients.
6) Take a spoon and start to stir ingredients in bowl as you slowly pour in good virgin olive oil, only add enough to make a paste (not a green liquid).
7) If you so choose, add a 1/4 cup of Pecorino Romano grated cheese (Italian sheep's cheese) or good grated Parmesan.
Then use this fresh made hand chopped "country style" basil for pasta or dip or put in the freezer for later use.
When I use it for pasta (rice pasta), I reserve out about a 1/3 cup of the pasta boiling water (towards the very end before draining), to pour over the drained pasta and pesto paste to help make it a sauce.
Have fun with my inexact recipe. It is fun to make, doesn't take more than 15 mins. and is good and fresh.