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Basil Oil

"can it be true, that I hold here in my mortal hand a nugget of purest green?"

"can it be true, that I hold here in my mortal hand a nugget of purest green?"

While it's great to be able to experiment with different methods and techniques in a professional kitchen, one of the things I really wanted to be able to do was work on dishes that anyone could MacGyver in their homes. One of my favourites is an intensely flavoured basil oil that comes out with really vibrant green colour. It's easy to make, tastes wonderful and looks incredible. All you'll need is a few of these: 

coffee filter

That's right. When making herb oils coffee filters are your best friend, as they'll allow you to remove all of the pulp from whatever herb you're using while retaining all of the colour and flavour. I had my mother in law Nancy bring me a large box of coffee filters when she visited us in New York, because indeed there are some things that just don't seem to get exported...

I've used basil in the recipe below, and I love making oils with parsley and chive as well. However, feel free to experiment and use what you've got in your garden or what you find at the market; the higher the chlorophyll content, the brighter the result. 

Here's all you'll need and the process. 

100g basil

100g extra virgin oilve oil

Pan of boiling water, ice water, a blender and a coffee filter

  1. Remove the Basil leaves from the stems
  2. Cook the leaves in the boiling water for 30 seconds
  3. Remove the basil from the boiling water and into the ice water
  4. Strain the Basil from the ice water and gently squeeze out any excess water
  5. Put Basil and OIl in the blender and blend on high for a couple of minutes
  6. Once blended leave the basil oil mix to sit for a couple of minutes
  7. Pour the mix into the coffee filter (suspended over a vessel to catch the oil)
  8. Cover and leave in the fridge for a few hours
  9. After a few hours remove the coffee filter and discard and marvel at your clear shiny basil oil

Clarified herb oils have been a staple for me in the kitchen since I first started, and it works especially well in Italy where herbs are so prevalent. I use them to finish dishes (see tuna crudo in the gallery) or I toss them through pasta for a light sauce. Even on its own a rich herb oil is fantastic with some fresh bread- plus, it gives you a good chance to hone your scarpetta skills.