My Motto

May the muffin rise to greet you, may your friends be always at your door, and until we meet again, warm a single-malt in the palm of your hand and make something homemade for someone you love.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

No Knead Pizza Crust

"Ideas are like pizza dough, made to be tossed around"
~Anna Quindlen

I've been making this a LOT lately.  The starter dough is easier to whip up than a batch of cookies, is always available, gets better by the day, and is super-economical.  In 4 words: It fits my life.  In recent weeks I've been working more and have quite a bit going on personally too, making everything more of a juggling act.  There are people close to me, that I love, who are going through serious struggles that break my heart, and I want to be available for them as much as I can.  Makes it hard to get here as often as I'd like.  Not that I've stopped cooking.  I'm cooking up a storm!  Additionally, my camera has been giving me laptop went through a couple weeks of constant crashing, until I de-fragged it (that worked wonders.)  AND the dish I was prepared to blog about last week (Nicaraguan Arroz con Pollo) was an epic failure (bleh-patooey!) The perfect recipe for blog-neglect.  But that brings me back to the pizza dough.
Over a year ago, I posted a recipe for no-knead bread that you cook inside a heavy dutch oven.  That's a great recipe and it tastes delicious, but you make one loaf at a time.  About a month ago, I came across a no-knead recipe for Artisan Bread on The Italian Dish.  I tried it and found it even easier to work with than the first recipe I tried, and the fact that you keep the dough stored in the fridge for up to two weeks is just a God-send on busy days.  You can turn this dough into a beautiful boule that is remarkably easy to do, but my preference is to use it for pizza crust.  I've been making my own pizza for 25 years, and we've always loved it, but this crust is quicker, easier, better and always at the ready!  The bin I use to store my dough is a little too big, but it has worked anyway.
Cook's notes:  The recipe calls for 6 1/2 cups of unbleached white flour, but I used 5 cups white flour and 1 1/2 cups of wheat pastry flour.  You may be tempted to use more wheat flour, but be careful, it effects the way it rises and you may end up with very heavy, flat dough.  Consider yourself warned.  About 1/3 of the recipe of dough will spread nicely in a standard cookie sheet, for a pizza that will serve 3 or 4.  If you have a pizza stone you can use that instead.  Crisco is my preference to grease the pan, then I sprinkle it with cornmeal.  I found when I oiled the pan with olive oil, the dough slid around too much, and I prefer it to behave.  My daughter suggested dusting the edge of the crust with garlic powder, GREAT we're hooked on it that way.  Use a quality pizza sauce, spread evenly, then sprinkle about 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan or Percorino Romano cheese over the sauce.  Sprinkle a light even layer of grated mozzarella over this (about 1 1/2 cups), then grated sharp cheddar (about 1 cup).  Mozzarella cheese is pretty bland on it's own, using 3 cheeses really makes it.  After that, additional toppings are up to you.  Our favorite combo is pepperoni, onions and peppers on 2/3 of the pizza, and the last 1/3 left plain.
Here is the beauty of this dough recipe; at the end of the two weeks, remove whatever dough you have left from your bin.  Without washing bin, stir together new dough ingredients, replace old dough right on top of the new.  Cover bin and leave out overnight or 24 hours.  This new batch is now good for 2 more weeks.  This works, I've done it several times and plan on keeping this dough going, it just gets better!  I'm sending you over to the The Italian Dish blog for the recipe, because the post was just so darn great that you should check out the original!  Now I'll finish packing for our trip to South Bend to proudly see our son graduate from college.  Since the airline dropped us from the last leg of our flight, we are now taking the train, which will take longer, but be WAY more relaxing...and hey! we got a sleeper car.  We've never traveled this way before so we're pretty excited about it!  Hope to be back here in a week or two.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Marble Crunch Pound Cake

"I ate a pound cake today, but I gained two."
~Jarod Kintz

So what do you do when your favorite breakfast joint (where you also happen to work) is out of the muffin you're craving?  If you are crazy, like me, you go home and embark on a creation journey that takes you down a rabbit trail of recipes and morphs into a wild desire to create the perfect marble crunch pound cake.  After four attempts (two large loaf-cakes each), 2 pounds of butter and 2 dozen eggs later you have a freezer full of individually wrapped thick slices of pretty good pound cake, a trash bin with two loaves (forgot salt-bleh) and FINALLY, craving averted, challenge met... a flavor and texture combo that was just what you were shooting for.
This was the winner!
For the first attempt, I tried a sour cream batter, but got called to work in the middle of batter making.  Luckily,  my son Keith was home fixing his car, so I employed him to remove cake from oven etc, but had to estimate times.  That one became a bit overdone and I was disappointed with the crumb (more like coffee-cake than pound cake).  Keith loved it though, and ate every bit of a loaf and 4 Texas-sized muffins (not all in one sitting).  
This is what happen when you leave your cake in the oven and go to work  -  OVERDONE!
The second attempt was using Chef Scott Peacock's recipe, but adding almond extract, and the chocolate and crumb topping elements, plus the baking soda, as I did not trust it to rise without it.
This one came out really good,  although I was a tiny bit disappointed that it did not mound up in the pan while it baked.
For the third try, I followed the Chef's recipe to the tee (except for chocolate elements), including no baking soda and instead of melting chocolate, I used Dutch process cocoa in the batter, as in Martha Stewart's recipe.  As soon as I put these in the oven, I realized I forgot to add salt to the batter :-/ doh!  The crumb was ok, it rose a little and was slightly mounded, but it was really dense and I preferred the crumb of the previous try.  Was not happy with the taste without salt, and tossed it in the bin.  I may have cursed.
No baking soda method and Dutch process cocoa.  Nope.
Fourth try was very much like the second, but I lightened up on the chocolate, both in the batter and the topping.  Although it tasted great, I preferred the darker look and taste of #2.  We have a winner, folks!
A little lighter.  Delicious,  but I like the look of  #2 better.
Marble Crunch Pound Cake
Adapted from an American Classics Pound Cake recipe by Chef Scott Peacock, published in Better Homes and Gardens May, 2009.

Crumb Topping:
3 ½ tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
½ cup flour
3 teaspoons cocoa powder

Pound Cake:
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 eggs
1 cup butter
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
2 ¾ cups sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups sifted cake flour

Set out butter, cream cheese and eggs for half an hour.  In the meantime, melt 3 ounces  unsweetened chocolate over a double boiler.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease and flour  two loaf pans, approx. 9x5x3 inches.
Mix topping ingredients together in a small bowl, and then smash together with your fingers until crumbs form.  Set aside.

Sift and measure flour into a medium bowl.  Stir in salt and baking soda.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter for two minutes.  Add cream cheese and cream for 2 more minutes. 
Continue beating and slowly add sugar, pouring in a constant stream.  This should take 1 ½ to 2 minutes.
Beat in almond extract.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each egg.   Add dry ingredients slowly while beating and using rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl until just combined.  Divide 1/2 of the white batter between the two prepared loaf pans.  Beat melted chocolate into remaining white batter to create the chocolate batter.
Spoon dollops of chocolate batter over white batter, dividing equally between the two loaf pans.  Rap pans on counter to remove air pockets.  Using a run a butter knife thru batter about 3 or 4 times in each direction to create the marble effect.

Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over the top of the batter in each pan, dividing equally.
Place in center of preheated oven and bake for one hour without opening the oven door.
Test for doneness by inserting a cake tester into middle of cake.  If you remove it and it's clean, the cake is done.  If there is batter on it, continue to bake cake, testing at 10 minute intervals.
Remove cakes from oven and place on cooling racks.  Cool for ten minutes, then carefully remove from pans.  Serve warm or  cold.  Freezes well.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Favorite Fall-Apart Tender, Slow-Roast Pork and Cole Slaw

"Noncooks think it's silly to invest two hours' work in two minutes' enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, than so is the ballet."
~Julia Child
I've made this a few times, using differing methods, but this is my favorite, by miles.  Many people make pulled pork in the crock pot with a bottle of barbeque sauce, and I like it (you can hardly ruin pulled pork!), but I LOVE this particular preparation.  I first had it this way at a restaurant in Tampa, Florida called Marlin Darlin's.  After that experience I only ever wanted my pulled pork done in the oven so you get those dark ends.  Slow cooking the rubbed roast in the oven allows for an amazing crust to form.    That's my favorite part and it cannot be duplicated in a crock pot. You may think it would dry it out, but in my experience, it hasn't at all.  You can FINISH it in the crock pot, or heat up the leftovers in there with some extra barbecue sauce, but starting it in the oven is imperative to creating that wonderful dark, spicy, crust.  This is great served on a bun with cole slaw and pickles, or plated with a side of Cuban black beans and Sriracha sauce on the side, JUST like I had it at Marlin Darlin's.  Ah, I love recreating a memorable meal at home!

The barbecue sauce was originally from my sister-in-law, Noreen.  Given to me many years ago, it has become the most beloved home-made barbecue sauce of our family.  Over the years I've tweaked it here and there, but minimally, and the taste is true to the original.

The cole slaw recipe is from my mother and is the one I grew up on.  The Mister and I are addicted to it and make it at least once a week, often topping a plate-full with a piece of fish for a low-carb meal.  It keeps great for 3 days.

My Favorite Fall-Apart Tender, Slow-Roast Pork and Cole Slaw
Serves 6-8
An Irish Mother original recipe

Dry Rub:
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 4-5 pound pork shoulder

My Favorite Barbecue Sauce:
2/3 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons onion powder
1/4 cup butter
1  cup ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
dash cayenne pepper

Cole Slaw: 
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery seed

4 cups shredded cabbage (I cut by hand)
3/4 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup sliced green onion (or diced red onion)
1/2 cup diced green pepper

It is best to apply the rub the night before and let the roast sit (refrigerated) overnight, but it will still come out good if you apply it up to one hour before you cook it.

In a small bowl, stir together all rub ingredients.  
Apply rub very liberally all over roast, massaging in as much of it as you can.  
Allow roast to come to room temperature for a half hour.  Place on a roasting pan and bake in a 300 degree (F) oven for about 7 hours, basting occasionally, until it is fall-apart tender (usually when it reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees.)

NOTE:  At this point you have a lot of leeway.  I have started it in the morning in the oven for 6 hours to form a crust and then transferred it to a crock-pot with a small amount (about one-fourth) of the barbecue sauce to keep it warm until dinner time (even for several hours).  You could also choose to slow roast it at 275 degrees overnight, pull it, store it and heat it up later when you get home from work.  It's very versatile and you can easily adapt the recipe to what works for your lifestyle.  Gotta love that!

While the pork is roasting, make the barbecue sauce:
In a medium saucepan, combine the listed ingredients and bring to a simmer, stirring now and then for about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the cole slaw dressing ingredients, cover and refrigerate so the flavors can marry for at least an hour.

When the pork is done, transfer to a platter, cover with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  While the pork is still warm, you need to "pull" the meat.  
Using two forks, pull hunks of meat off the roast and shred them with the forks, discarding fat and bones.   Put the shredded pork into a crockpot, pour half of the barbecue sauce over, stir together and keep warm on a low setting until you're ready for dinner. 

To make cole slaw:
In a large bowl, mix together the shredded green cabbage, carrot, onion and pepper.  Toss with the dressing you made earlier.

Serve the pulled pork on a sturdy bun with cole slaw on top, or on the side.  Hope you enjoy this as much as we do!!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Shaved Asparagus and White Bean Salad

"Keep bees and grow asparagus, watch the tides and and listen to the wind instead of the politicians.  Make up your own stories and believe them if you want to live the good life."
~Miriam Waddington
Driving Home: Poems New and Selected; Advice to the Young

This is the first recipe I'm sharing originally found on Pinterest.  It was linked to Clean Eating and you can check it out there.   It looked so fresh and inviting.  Apologies for the impromptu photo that does not do it justice!   The lighting is less than ideal, and I completely forgot to add the toasted walnuts, but you know how it goes when you're in the middle of hosting a party!  It was a side dish for Easter dinner yesterday and everyone enjoyed it.

Despite that, I have mixed feelings about sharing this recipe.  It was pretty.  It was healthful.  Everyone liked it.  But it was also a bit persnickety, and I see more than a few pitfalls that any given reader may come up against if they decide to try it.   If I post a recipe here, it's because I got excited about it and want to share it to be easily duplicated in your home for the enjoyment of you and YOUR family.  That said, YES, we loved this and will make it again!  BUT, be duly warned, shaving asparagus is a fussy business.  

On the one hand, you can make this salad 4-6 hours ahead (and it doesn't suffer at all), which is fantastically convenient for company dinners.  The recipe needs 2 full pounds of asparagus.  There is quite a bit of waste amounting to about 50% (I hate that).  You can turn these scraps into asparagus soup if you like (but I don't).  Choose young, medium stalks.  The tiny stalks will break, and the big fat ones will be woody on the outside.  The medium ones will render about 4 shavings per.  NEXT, you must have a sharp peeler.  I have two.  An old one that I love for peeling potatoes that is easy to use and makes thick peels, and a newer, sharper one that makes paper thin peels, but sometimes clogs.  The old peeler was useless. The stalks basically broke at almost every attempt.  The sharp one worked  beautifully, but I had to stop and unclog it occasionally.  I'm just putting it all out there for you because I don't want anyone to get frustrated and start cursing me!!

The recipe called for lemon and orange juices, olive oil, salt and pepper.  I prepared the shavings early and tossed them with this, so the citrus would help preserve the fresh bright green color of the asparagus.  Before I served it though, I made a small amount of vinaigrette to toss it with and everyone liked that.  Orange zest was called for, but not my preference, so I used a shredded carrot to give the pop of orange color.  
I'll give you the recipe the way it worked for me, but you can access the original by clicking the link above!

Shaved Asparagus and White Bean Salad
A recipe by Clean Eating
Serves 6-8

2 bunches fresh, young, medium asparagus stalks (about 2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup slivered fresh basil (cut and added at last minute)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Dressing that I added:
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced

Lay asparagus on a cutting board and hold at thick end.  Using a sharp vegetable peeler, shave asparagus from thick to thin end, right thru floret, making long ribbons.
Place ribbons in a large bowl and discard ends (there will be about a pound of waste).
Drizzle one tablespoon olive oil, the lemon and orange juices over, and toss to coat.  At this point, you may store the asparagus covered, in the fridge for  4-6 hours.  Add beans, onions, carrot, basil and nuts at the last minute.

Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together, pour over all and toss together.  Withhold a few nuts and cheese shavings to sprinkle over plated salad.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cracklin' Oat Bran Muffins

"We load up on oat bran in the morning so we'll live forever.  Then we spend the rest of the day living like there's no tomorrow."
~Lee Iacocca
Our family has been fighting over the one-box-a-week ration of Cracklin' Oat Bran for twenty years.  No box had a chance of lasting more than 24 hours, unless I hid it of course, which I've been known to do.  By now, all the hiding spots are blown.  Sometimes I discover the hidden goodies, boxes open and half-eaten, still in their hiding spot and oddly, I find that hysterically funny because nobody mentions it.  But they know that I know that they know. Got it?
I came across this recipe in the online version of the Tampa Bay Times.  The recipe made 6 jumbo (Texas size) muffins.  We loved them.  The flavor of the cereal really came through.  They were moist and slightly heavy, as most bran muffins are, because these muffins are actually healthful and filling, not just naked cupcakes.  In addition to the vitamins from the fortified cereal, each muffin also has 4 grams of dietary fiber, which I find exciting (you young-uns will understand this as you get older).  Excellent for your heart, among other things.  Did you know it is estimated only 20% of the US poopulation, oops...I mean POPulation consumes the recommended amount of fiber daily?  Which, by the way, is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.
The flavor of these muffins reminded me of an oatmeal cookie.   We liked them so much I made another batch this morning.  At this stage of the game, our family no longer has sit-down-together breakfasts except possibly on holidays.  Everyone is on differing schedules and doesn't even want to pause long enough for breakfast.  A muffin to grab on the way out the door works great.  The freezer is always stocked with at least a few.  
Cook's notes: The original recipe said to soak the cereal in the milk and vanilla for 5 minutes.  I soaked it for 15 minutes and even then I had to go at it with a potato masher.  I substituted wheat pastry flour for half of the white flour to further boost the nutritional value.   Before baking, the muffins should be sprinkled with oats.  I had some homemade granola handy, so I used that instead.  I think coconut would be great, too!
Cracklin' Oat Bran Muffins
6 Jumbo or 12 standard muffins
From the Tampa Bay Times

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups Cracklin' Oat Bran cereal
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup raisins [or chopped prunes]
1/4 cup oats

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare muffin cups by greasing or adding muffin papers.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.
In a separate large bowl, combine cereal, milk and vanilla, stirring to combine.  Let stand for 5 (or longer)  minutes to soften.  Add egg and oil to cereal.  Beat well (use a potato masher if you have to).  Add the flour mixture, stirring just until combined.  Sprinkle with oats (or granola).  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned and toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.  Cool on rack.
Each jumbo muffin has about 4 grams of dietary fiber.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring Onion Tart with Puff Pastry Crust

"We would load up the yellow Cutlass Supreme station wagon and pick blackberries during blackberry season, or spring onions during spring onion season.  For us, food was part of the fabric of our day."
~Mario Batali

Sharing recipes that cause excitement around here is the reason I started this blog. You might be thinking, "spring onion tart - ho hum." Not so fast.  This is something I've thought about and been meaning to try for years.  When I served it to The Mister last night, after taking a bite, he exclaimed (with his mouth half-full, btw) "I am the luckiest man alive!"  (He is so much fun to cook for.) High praise for the humble onion tart.  It's just one of those things.  Sometimes simple is best.  

The smell of the onions slowly cooking with fresh thyme....oh really primes the appetite.  Even if you're not a fan of raw onion, you might like this.  The slow cooking takes the bite out and leaves you a creamy, savory filling.   It's good warm or at room temperature, and although we had it as part of a light dinner served with soup and salad, you could shape it as a rectangle on a cookie sheet, cut the tart into small squares and it would make a nice appetizer that would be elegant dressed up with a pinch of microgreens on each square.  I'm considering this for Easter.

I've seen enough onion tarts over the years to know the basic fillings and variations.  For mine, I started with 1/4 of  my favorite Fanny Farmer base quiche binder, and then added the spring onion filling. The puff pastry was a no-brainer for it's ease of preparation and the crispy, buttery results.  
Cooks notes: Pre-baking of the crust is important, so that it's crispy.  That really makes it. If you skip that step the bottom will be soggy and it may become misshapen as it bakes.  Take care to cook the onions very slowly on low.  You're goal is not to brown them, but to soften and very slightly caramelize them.  Adding the garlic at the very end is important because you just want to warm it up and bring out the fragrance.  If it browns it will be bitter.  Fresh thyme is best, but if you have to use dried, use very little, just a pinch, because the dried is much stronger and you don't want it to overpower.

Spring Onion Tart with Puff Pastry Crust
Serves 4

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (I prefer Pepperidge Farm)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced (Vidalia are best, but white is fine)
2 bunches spring onions (scallions) about 12-14
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 egg
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese (good stuff, not pre-shredded, bagged)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter tart pan.  Roll thawed sheet of  puff pastry to stretch it a bit to fit your tart pan, if necessary.  Pinch pastry up the sides of pan.  Cut away any pasty that overhangs.  Poke bottom of crust with a fork.  Cut a piece of foil or parchment paper that is bigger than your pan.   Lay this over the puff pastry crust, allowing plenty of overhang.   Fill with baking weights, dried beans or rice to weigh it down.  Bake for 25-30 mins.  Remove weights and cool.

Cut root end of scallions off, then slice from the white end, about 2/3 a way up the green part.  Discard the last 1/3 of the green part.  Set aside half of the greenest part of the sliced scallions.  The rest, place with your sliced onions.

In a large preferably nonstick saucepan, melt butter together with the olive oil on low-medium heat.  Add the sliced onions and scallions (except for the green ones you set aside).  Add salt, pepper and thyme.  Allow them to come to a very low simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook for about 15-20 minutes until they are very soft, and even slightly caramelized, but not browned.  Add garlic and cook for about 3 minutes more, stirring.  Set aside until mostly cooled off.  

In a medium bowl, whisk egg, stir in cream and shredded Swiss cheese.  Stir in the cooled cooked onion mixture and pour into the cooled crust, spreading evenly.  Sprinkle the reserved green part of the scallions evenly over the filling and press them down lightly.  Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the filling.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until filling is set and golden.  Cool for 5 minutes.  Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spinach Fettucine with Avocado Pesto

"As long as there's pasta and Chinese food in the world, I'm ok."
~Michael Chang
Soooo, I had a lonely old avocado a few weeks ago. Seriously hating to waste anything,  my thoughts began turning of something to do with it OTHER than make guacamole (as much as I love guac).  Then I recalled seeing an avocado pasta sauce on the blog "One Perfect Bite."  This was my inspiration.  Mary's avocado sauce is different, so head over there and check it out.  I decided to make the base of my favorite basil-almond pesto, loosen it with hot pasta water and whir in the avocado and Parmesan at the last minute before tossing with the hot pasta.  

 The dish leaves you feeling like you just had something rich and sinful, when in actuality it is a darn good and healthy meal.  Did you know that avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including potassium, B-vitamins, vitamin E, folic acid, and fiber?  Avocado  only has 100 calories per 1/4 cup, compared to 408 of the same amount of butter, but it gives the dish that same rich creamy texture that butter would, giving the sauce a really luxurious, silky feel to the palate.  I kept the sauce pretty sturdy and used it liberally, so it clings thickly to the pasta.   For success, you need to use a nice ripe avocado that, when cut, looks like the one above.  Choose one with dark flesh that gives a little when you press with your fingers.

Cooks notes:  Be sure to measure and set aside the hot pasta water before you drain the pasta.  I like to take it about 2 minutes before the pasta is done so the sauce can be hot and finished and ready to toss with the pasta immediately after it is strained.  Adding the Parmesan with avocado at the last moment is important so the cheese does not melt and clump.  I used a food processor to make this, but it can be done in a blender, if necessary.

Spinach Fettuccine with Avocado Pesto
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds, lightly browned
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 ripe avocado
1 cup boiling hot pasta cooking water
1 pound spinach fettuccine
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, start water for pasta.  In the meantime, make the pesto.  Pulse the first three ingredients in a food processor until combined.  With processor on, slowly add olive oil.  About two minutes before you need to drain the pasta, remove one cup of the boiling water.  Turn processor on and slowly add 1/2 of the reserved pasta water.  Add Parmesan and avocado and process until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add as much of the remaining pasta water as you need to loosen up the sauce enough.   It should be thick enough to loosely mound.
Drain pasta.  Do not rinse, and toss it immediately with the sauce.
Serve immediately with additional Parmesan for sprinkling.