I spend a lot of my year developing and testing recipes for my books, for other people’s books, for various projects, sometimes for companies.  It’s my job and my passion, which occasionally means I’m tasting things that aren’t exactly what I want to eat.  I love it all because developing and testing recipes is like science, imagination, and poetry all combined. And I get to taste things that I might not have otherwise. 

testing recipes, tool, recipes, France


You will get all the tips you need to become an expert recipe tester when we work on your Culinary Story. For starters, the following will help you test recipes:

Competence in the kitchen
A decent aptitude for math
A tape measure
A calculator
Sharp knives
Pencil and eraser
Plenty of small bowls
Equipment that everyone might have: food processor, coffee grinder, mixer, pots and pans, measuring cups, scale
Patience, patience, patience


Why patience in threes?

Because you have a recipe. You test it. It doesn’t taste quite the way you think it should. You have to retest.
Let’s say you have tasters on hand and each has a suggestion. Weigh them; sometimes they are less about the recipe than the palate of the taster. You can always tell. But maybe you get an idea.
You have to retest

I teach this and more as part of my Writing Services. You’ll get the dream cookbook you want, with recipes that WORK!

basil, pesto, cubes, summer, writing services

And now a little story about basil.

At the market, growers are offering “bon poids” which means an extra bunch or two just to get rid of them, the season has been so lush.  I’m always happy to fill my basket, especially this year because the leaves are meatier and more fragrant than ever.  They’re also dirtier because we’ve had tremendous rains followed by muggy air, so the basil has to be carefully rinsed.

Pluck the Leaves

I get home from the market and bury my nose in a basil bouquet, then immediately pluck the leaves from all but one bunch (this one I will use as I see fit for the next several days). Yesterday I was making stock, and I put a bundle of basil stalks in it to give it a whisper of anise flavor.

Make the Purée

I put several garlic cloves in a food processor and process until they’re chunks. Then I add the basil leaves, and pulse until the basil leaves and garlic are combined and coarsely   chopped. Note that some leaves are stubborn and won’t chop well; scrape down the sides of the bowl, pulse again until they knuckle under, then add enough oil to make a pesto-like purée. For one big bunch of basil, you will need about ½ cup (125ml) olive oil. Spoon the purée into ice cube trays, smoothing out the cubes and wiping the tray so it all looks tidy. Freeze the trays for at least 24 hours, so the cubes are solid, then transfer the cubes to a container, label it and voila! You’ve got basil all year round!

Using Basil Cubes

If I make soup, I pop some basil cubes into and they melt languidly on the way to the table. Roasted vegetables benefit from basil cubes added when they are blistering hot – stir it in, summer is on your plate. You can put basil cubes on toast (you may want to slice the cubes – yes, they slice), on rice, quinoa, or any other grain. You can even slip a few sliced basil cubes atop a roasted chicken after it’s come from the oven so that as the chicken rests, the basil oil melts over the crispy skin. And here is a favorite: boiled potatoes, crushed, seasoned with basil cubes.

You Will Think of More

You will think of forty other things to do with your basil ice cubes. I haven’t yet added one, or a piece of one, to a cocktail – but who knows?

With luck, basil is with us for another month so you’ve got time to shake out your ice cubes into a container for the freezer, and fill the spaces with basil purée.

For more information about bringing your Culinary Story to life, contact me to schedule a conversation about how best I can help you.

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