"basil" news and stories
Photo: amandabhslater, Flickr
- Does Top Chef D.C. taste a little off?
- Speaking of TV, the new Cooking Channel gets a pan (and not the frying kind).
- Chef Michael Richard takes to the friendly skies -- and brings his cooking with him.
- Love cookbooks? Here's a roundup of great beach reads.
- Sweet basil faces a fungal menace this summer.
Among perpetual kitchen aggravations, storing fresh basil is up there. Leave it out, and it's wilted or dead in no time. Put it in the fridge, and it turns black. If storing fresh basil gives you a headache, imagine the poor basil growers. How do you get it to market without wrecking it, and how do you store it once it's there?
Jim Simon may be about to solve these problems. He's a Rutgers University professor of plant biology and plant pathology who also runs the New Use Agriculture and Natural Plant Products Program there. And he loves basil. So he and his team of researchers figured out how to cultivate chill-resistant basil.
No genetic engineering here -- just good old-fashioned hybridization. In 2002 they started with more 6,700 individual plants and began subjecting them to cold temperatures, selecting out the ones that did okay. Then they had to figure out which ones smelled and tasted best. After that, they started crossbreeding the best of the best.
"Right now we have over 25 new lines including 15 hybrids that look very good and we're challenging them to taste test and chilling," Simon said. "Of those, there are about four that rise about the rest."
Photo: ulterior epicure, Flickr
If you build it, they will come. They will; we promise. Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's tomato tower elevates one of the most straight-on, delicious combos simply by stacking it. Take one astoundingly ripe tomato (heirloom or brand-new variety; your call). Blanch it (see the recipe at blogger/photographer ulteriorpicture's post), slice it, layer it with olive oil and fresh basil leaves. Drizzle with ulteriorpicture's tomato vinaigrette to up the tomato ante. Repeat. Eat. Swoon.
A cool presentation of tomato towers might use a variety of colors and flavors: big red Early Girls, striped Green Zebras and maybe throw in some Yellow Brandywines. And, tomato fiends, here's an event you won't want to miss: The Tomatomania seedling sale is coming to Arcadia, Calif. starting today as well as to Lothian, Md; and Litchfield, Conn., in May. See the Tomatomania website to explore all the varieties available for planting.
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