So I have had the desire to create a website for some time now, but never really had a direction for it. Then, over a great dinner at Murphy’s Kitchen and Tap, I had a discussion with my girlfriend about doing a site discussing food, beer, bars, diners, and all the other objects of my attention.
Therefore, I have to say right off the top, Murphy’s was astounding. The food was solid. We had the Irish Nachos, Irish Stew and the Fish ‘n Chips all of which were devoured. The tartar sauce, which I normally can’t stand anywhere else, was amazing. I even went and had a discussion with the Executive Chef about what he does differently to create it. Definitely, if you are ever in Charlotte, go here at least once.
Now, for my first post I wanted to start in my own kitchen with a very humble and simple dinner. It was a Pesto Chicken Pasta and a beer. The pesto was made by hand from basil grown in my girlfriend’s garden using a mortar and pestle. I would say it was a decent 6 out of 10, losing points for the presentation because, well, I just dumped it into a bowl and topped it with cheese and diced tomatoes.
Here is the process:
First, I started with Mark Bittman’s Pesto recipe from How to Cook Everything:
- ½ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted.
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil.
- 2 garlic cloves.
- 2 cups packed basil leaves (2 1/2 ounces/75 grams, from 1 big bunch or 2 small bunches)
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (3 ounces/85 grams)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste.
I took the pine nuts, garlic, basil and salt and crushed them into a pulp inside the mortar. A little at a time, I added the oil, blending it in with the pestle. Once all of the oil was added and the leaves had been pretty much reduced to a gooey, yummy spread, I moved the sauce into a small bowl and chilled it while I worked on the other portions of dinner. After roughly an hour, I whisked in the cheese. His recipe calls for Parmesan, which is traditional, but all I had was some Asiago so that is what I used.
Now, during the time that the sauce was chilling in the fridge, I chopped a handful of rosemary and thyme (also from the garden) and tossed it with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Then, I coated chicken thighs with the concoction and placed them on a sheet pan, cooking them for about 20 minutes at 450 degrees. Afterwards, the thighs were sliced into 1/2 inch strips.
While that was in the oven, I boiled the pasta (Gourmet Texas Pasta) and prepared some mushrooms and tomatoes that I had on hand. I started with putting the mushrooms in a small skillet with some olive oil and cooked out most of their moisture. Then I added diced tomatoes and cooked those down until everything started to thicken.
After removing the tomatoes and mushrooms from the heat, I added some freshly chopped rosemary and basil, along with some salt and pepper. I let this cool down to room temperature and then mixed with the finished pesto.
After the chicken and pasta were finished, both were tossed with the tomato/pesto sauce. Then, just because I love their taste, I tossed in a few pinenuts and topped it all off with some shredded Asiago cheese and diced tomatoes.
The beer in the pictures is Magic Hat’s Elder Betty. While not something I would normally pick for myself, preferring stouts and porters, it was really quite good. So, if you enjoy ales, this is definitely worth giving a try.
You may have noticed that throughout this entire post I have provided links to what I have used. Understand that no one is paying for this site except me. These companies (and in the case of Mark Bittman, people) have not paid for any form of promotion. The views I have expressed are 100% my own. I want to share my experiences with you all and want you to know when I find something worth checking out for yourself.
That being said, if you have a bar you think I should check out or a product you want reviewed, please let me know. I am always open to suggestions. While I am in the Texas region (specifically, San Antonio), I do periodically venture outside my comfort-zone. Let me know what you would like to see on this site.