Posts made in July 2020

BetsaPesto 2020!


Lettuce leaf basil is, in my opinion, the best for making pesto. It’s a popular Italian large leaf variety of sweet basil and one of the most productive. Also known as Large Leaf Italian, Large Leaf or Crispum Basil, these large large crumpled looking leaves can grow up to about 5″ long and produce, for me, the flavor I want in a pesto.

Oops! An example of what not to do! I certainly should not have let this flower so much, however it was a branch that was missed by me with all the basil growing so close together as seen in the pic below. But still…look at those leaves!

This year I blended about 30% sweet basil  and 10% purple basil (love the scent of purple basil) to my lettuce leaf basil and the result was, of course, phabulous! Don’t you worry about blending as it’s all a matter of taste and experimentation that I put myself through every year. That’s simply what chefs do..

Basically…and as I’ve said before…it’s creativity in the kitchen to stimulate and surprise patrons (and sometimes myself) with recipes that manipulate and finesse ingredients to reach a level of individuality that sets them apart from other recipes and even recipes for the same dish.

A quick tip: Basil once it flowers tends to produce a more bitter taste in the leaves. Pinching off the flowers is recommended to reduce bitterness unless you are specifically looking to harvest the seeds.

Ok…so here goes….

This recipe will prepare enough for 6-8 people as a main course. Since I usually freeze my pesto,  I do not use any cheese in the initial blending stage as cheese does not freeze well in pesto.  I will add the cheese to the pesto blend after thawing and just prior to serving.

If you are serving the entire recipe and not freezing, you can add the cheese while blending these ingredients.

Ingredients :

-2 cups packed tight basil leaves

-2 large cloves of fresh garlic (I prefer the use of a garlic press)

Why?…click this link and see “What are the differences between pressed, chopped, and sliced garlic”

-Heavy 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

As with most nuts, ‘toasting’  brings out more flavor. Heating nuts (I use a frying pan) will intensify the flavor of the nut  by warming the naturally occurring nut oils.

  • Place pine nuts in a dry (don’t add oil) frying pan large enough to hold them in a single layer.
  • Turn heat to medium-low and cook until fragrant and golden brown, keeping them moving (stir frequently or constantly).
  • When they’re golden brown, immediately transfer them to a plate to stop the cooking and prevent burning.
  • Yup…these are my nuts being flipped by me:-)

-1/3 cup garlic infused EVOO***.

***Infused EVOO offers a subtle garlic flavor. It’s a simple process by which you let the garlic sit in the olive oil for about one hour, stirring frequently to flavor the oil. You then separate the garlic from the oil prior to blending the pesto ingredients.. If you prefer a more substantial garlic flavor, you can simply add some of the garlic to the pesto ingredients that was used in the infusion process.

-Large half of a fresh squeezed lemon through a strainer to catch seeds

-2 pinches kosher salt

-4 turns from a pepper mill

-3/4 to 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.  1/2  to 3/4 cup gets used when blending and the rest is served on the side to add at the table)

Pesto is usually made with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or some like Grana Padano (it’s also half the cost of Parmigiano-Reggiano) Either one works although I prefer Parmigiano-Reggiano.




-In a blender place EVOO, lemon juice and toasted pine nuts, salt and pepper and blend about 10-15 seconds.

-Add 1 cup basil and blend about 20-25 seconds Remove top and scrape sides with a spatula,

-Add second cup and blend another 20-25 seconds. Remove top and scrape again, then blend for another 10 seconds

-Taste and add more salt and/or pepper if you choose. Store by placing plastic wrap directly on top of pesto. This will keep the pesto a nice green as air will discolor and darken the finished product.The lemon I use in this recipe also serves two purposes: I love the flavor lemon adds to pesto and it also quite conveniently will help keep your pesto a nice green color.  

If freezing, use very small containers or an ice cube tray to make ice cube size chunks of pesto for the now and then individual size servings.


A quick appy just for the heck of it 🙂

Oh yes…a couple of more things! The pics you see represent a recipe that I tripled 🙂


Note that when made without cheese, it remains a vegan dish.


Hope you enjoy…and please…love your comments below!

Mangia Bene

Chef Bert


A Covid-19 visit to Portofino With Pizza Master Taner & Chef Carlos

Well…we’re back visiting in Goldens Bridge, N.Y. and where else does one go for lunch but to our favorite spot for ‘abeetz’***…ie…pizza @ Portofino Pizza & Pasta!

Jaw Dropping Size Pizza Slices & Taste to Match at Portofino’s In Goldens Bridge, New York (With a Quick Side Trip to KMA)


Ok folks…Welcome back!  We’d like you to meet again Pizza Master Taner and Chef Carlos.

All we can say is thanks again for your fine reception. We thank you for not only another phabulous pizza experience…but we felt comfortable and safe that all proper social distancing was in play along with face masks (except for the 3 seconds it took to take a pic of your smiling faces and your wonderful pizza!)

See ya fellas and till we meet again…Mangia Bene!

With that it was out to the car where the pizza party began for Sandy and me.

Check out that chicken parm slice as big as the 14″x 14″ box!

btw…Lower left are 1/2 slices 🙂

***A little sidebar…As a young kid, “abeetz’ was the way I got used to saying pizza. Pizza restaurants or parlors as some would say were much less common in Brooklyn in the 1950’s than today. As a matter of fact, the place where most folks would get pizza was in a bakery. That’s right…a bakery. There were really no pizza restaurants around as we see them today and where there was a substantial Italian-American population pizza was phonetically pronounced  “abeetz”. Additionally, there was no menu spelling either “pizza” or a “apizza.” …ie abeetz!

A True Vintage Emporium with Character on the NOFO in Greenport, Long Island, New York

Elizabeth Sweigart spends her days surrounded by hundreds of items, each with its own story to tell. The 26-year-old said she’s always been drawn to old things, whether it be a vinyl record or antique piece of clothing.

 It still shocks her, she said, that nearly four years ago she opened her own vintage shop in Greenport selling many of those items.

“It was pretty spontaneous,” Sweigart said.

Originally from Texas, she moved to New York in 2008 to study art at Marymount Manhattan College. In 2013, her father, Michael Sweigart, converted space at the former Suffolk Times building on Main Street, which he owned, to start the new business with his daughter.

The array of items for sale ranges from children’s toys to dishware, chairs, lamps, records, men’s and women’s clothing and jewelry.

“I believe there’s a little something for everyone,” Sweigart said. “I think people come in here looking for something and then walk away with something they did not expect to find.”

Let me start by saying in these Covid-19 times, Sandy & I have found sanctuary in our own backyard. Over the last few months we’ve done whatever we can to keep ourselves in a good state of mind and that state of mind keeps evolving in our backyard with our purposeful plants (can’t wait for the hummingbirds) and scene setters.

On our first unplanned visit to The Sweigart’s “The Times Vintage” we walked away with a few vintage fishing buoys we spotted sitting outside the entryway to add to our backyard collection.

Colorful styrofoam buoys at The Tin Shed in Apalachicola Florida ...

What really blew my mind…yes, blew my mind…was the selection of vinyl records courtesy of music lover Mike Sweigart (Elizabeth’s dad) that greets you when you enter. Beyond the nicely cataloged selection of records I have not seen in years, the visual impact of scene setters and one-of-a kind posters was in its own right…unique!

The entryway into The Times Vintage.

Are you looking closely at all those jacket patches on the vintage dress form?


Who else but…The Bee Gees…

We  had to control ourselves a bit from going further into the store because of the pandemic mentality (the abundance of hand sanitizer helped set us at ease)…however not before I also bought an ‘album’ by one of my favorite groups… appropriately named “LOVE” …actually 🙂

Ahhhhh…LOVE’S Best with Arthur Lee and my buddy Joel 🙂

Getting back to our sanctuary…Sandy and I both couldn’t help but notice one of those scene setters. It was a hanging piece of wood carved & painted into the Beatles Yellow Submarine that a local artist had made to help set the scene for the entryway album section. Sandy felt it would fit perfectly into our newly created  Beatles and Moody Blues state of mind backyard and so we asked if it was for sale..and it was.. I almost felt a bit guilty taking it out of the store, but I have the confidence in Elizabeth’s level of creativity and that they will find something else to replace it. Right Lizzie?

Look familiar?

On the day we came back to pick up the Yellow Submarine, it was around opening time and the store had not yet seen its first customer. With that, I decided to take a closer look throughout the entire store and found myself marveling at the abundance of so much art, fashion, and furnishings. I felt I needed to slow down to take it all in or I would miss something. As a matter of fact, that’s what one would need to do in order to absorb the nostalgia, one-of-a-kind selections,  and vintage clothing from 30+ years ago awaiting any visitor.

I’m one who understands the art of ‘visual display’ and you can see it throughout from the way items are individually displayed to the movement and flow of the colors painted on the walls pulling everything together!

Are you looking closely? See the Jubilee?

A one-of-a kind clock put together by Elizabeth’s mom!

Ok folks…Saved the best for last! Are you ready?

Meet Elizabeth!

To the Sweigart family…

We love your vintage  ’emporium’! You are genuine, sincere and gracious and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

All the best always….and we wish you continued success…especially in these times!

Sandy & Bert

Oh yes….Mike…This pic below is for you!

K Folks…As always, comments or suggestions or your own personal experience(s) much appreciated.

Hope you enjoyed the read.