Thursday, January 13, 2011


Last, but not least, in the recipe installments today, is a recipe for ricotta.
it changed my life and the way i look at buttermilk.
try it, you won't be sorry (but don't forget you made it- when it goes bad, it SMELLS really bad)

1 gallon good-quality whole milk
1 quart good-quality buttermilk

Combine both milks into a large nonreactive saucepan over medium high heat, preferably a thick-bottomed pan if you have one. You will need to stir occasionally, scraping the pan bottom, to avoid scorching. Once the milk is hot, stop stirring. You will start to see curds rise and come to the surface. Run a spoon or spatula along the bottom of the pan occasionally to free up any stuck curds.

While the milk is heating, select a sieve or colander with a wide surface area. This will help your curds cook more quickly. Line the colander with a large piece of cheesecloth that has been folded numerous times - until you have about 5 or six layers. Place the lined colander over a large bowl or sink.

When the mixture reaches about 175F degrees, you will see the curds and whey seperate. The curds are the clumpy white mass. Now, remove the pan from heat, and gently begin to ladle curds into the prepared sieve. Pull up on the sides of the cheesecloth to drain off any extra liquid, but resist pressing on the curds. Gather the edges of the cloth, tie or fasten them into a knot and allow them to drain for another 15 minutes minimum. Move to an airtight container and refrigerate if you aren't going to use it immediately. Try to use or eat it within a few days, it really is best that way.

Makes about 4 cups.

Rustic Cabbage Soup

I've found this recipe and made this recipe several times, each time forgetting that i've already made it before. it's sooo good and simple, and totally tasty.


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
a big pinch of salt
1/2 pound potatoes, skin on, cut 1/4-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 cups stock (see head notes)
1 1/2 cups white beans, precooked or canned (drained & rinsed well)
1/2 medium cabbage, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch ribbons

more good-quality extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated


Warm the olive oil in a large thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the salt and potatoes. Cover and cook until they are a bit tender and starting to brown a bit, about 5 minutes - it's o.k. to uncover to stir a couple times. Stir in the garlic and onion and cook for another minute or two. Add the stock and the beans and bring the pot to a simmer. Stir in the cabbage and cook for a couple more minutes, until the cabbage softens up a bit. Now adjust the seasoning - getting the seasoning right is important or your soup will taste flat and uninteresting. Taste and add more salt if needed, the amount of salt you will need to add will depend on how salty your stock is (varying widely between brands, homemade, etc)...

Serve drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a generous dusting of cheese.

Serves 4.

Spanish fig & almond balls

I found this recipe on the internets on a cool site called BBC Good Food and you can find the recipe's post here.

Ingredients: (all the nuts/fruits i bought had gram weights on the bags, so i kindof faked the quantities)

* 100g whole almonds , toasted
* 500g pack dried whole figs , hard stalk and centre of base removed
* 85g dried apricots , chopped into small pieces
* 50g dried cranberries
* 1 tbsp brandy
* 1 tbsp clear honey
* 1 tsp ground cloves
* 100g sesame seeds , toasted


1. Whizz the almonds in a food processor until most are finely chopped, then tip into a large bowl. Roughly chop the figs, then whizz to a smooth sticky paste. Scrape onto the almonds then, using your hands, mix together well with the dried fruit, brandy, honey and cloves.
2. Divide the mixture into 6 and roll into balls. Tip the sesame seeds onto a tray, then roll the balls in them until covered. Cover the tray loosely with a clean tea towel, then leave the fig balls to dry for a week before packaging. Will keep in a cool place for 2 months.

Leek Bread Pudding

this is the start of a couple posts about recipes i'd like to remember.
this one is from smitten kitchen and you can find the recipe's post here.

Leek Bread Pudding

Makes one loaf. Double the recipe to fit in a 9×13 baking dish.

Serves 6 as a side dish

1 cup leeks in 1/2-inch thick slices, white and light green parts only, cleaned and rinsed
Kosher or coarse salt
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups 1-inch-cubed crustless brioche or Pullman loaf (I used a little less than one loaf)
2 teaspoons finely chopped chives (I forgot to buy these; it made me sad)
1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3 cups whole milk, heavy cream or half-and-half or a combination thereof
Freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded Comté, Emmanthaler or Swiss cheese

Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, drain excess water from leeks, and add to pan. Season with salt, and sauté until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in butter. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft, about 20 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While leeks are cooking, spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until dry and pale gold, about 15 to 20 minutes (my already-stale brioche took less time to brown), turning pan about halfway through. Transfer to a large bowl, leaving the oven on.

Add leeks, chives and thyme to the bowl of bread; toss well. In another large bowl, lightly whisk the egg and egg yolks, then whisk in milk or cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste and a pinch of nutmeg.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons shredded cheese in bottom of a buttered 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Spread 1/2 of bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another 2 tablespoons cheese. Spread remaining bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in enough milk mixture to cover bread, and gently press on bread so milk soaks in. Let rest 15 minutes.

Add remaining milk mixture, letting some bread cubes protrude. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until pudding is set and top is brown and bubbling, about 55 to 65 minutes. Serve hot or cold (because I’m weird and enjoy bread pudding cold).


we had a very unique opportunity to have a behind-the-scenes date with a very rare seal. one of my brother's former students is a trainer at the aquarium, so we got to watch this endangered fur seal eat his lunchies! it was so awesome.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

new year week

since mauricio was in spain, my parents were in maine, that left z-dog and i all alone.
we were really, really lazy and boring for the longest 12 days of my life, and we rang in the new year weekend with a pile of dvds, homemade pumpkin muffins for brekkie and some homemade chinese for dinner. we were in bed by 1130, but got a nice surprise call from allygirl after the clock struck 12.

to fill my time, i worked on finally finishing some tarp bags that have been cut out and sitting in a box of fabric for a couple years. they're being added to the collection of bags being sold at massart this spring. they look great, and coordinate with our Flor tiles too!

my only other creative outlet on my stay-cation was cooking. i remembered this yummy baked cauliflower/pasta dish that was in my mother's top 20 dinner menu rotation as a child, so i looked up the recipe at her house and made it. sooo good, and simple. i need to remember to make it again for mauricio.

(all assembled, ready to bake)

(cheesy goodness)

baked pasta with cauliflower
1 lb pasta, boiled with 1 small head of cauliflower (chopped up into flowerets, of course)
4 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup grated romano (i think i used aged asiago or parmesan. it doesnt matter)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup shredded mozz. cheese (i used tiny mozz. balls)

cook pasta and cauli together. pour in a shallow baking dish. pour the melted butter on top, sprinkle with romano and spices. toss well, then sprinkle with mozzerella. baked at 375 for 10 min, or until mozz looks nice and melty.

**note: since it was just me eating, i halved the recipe (just the pasta, cauli, and butter amounts)

I did one last project, to surprise mauricio for when he got home.
I've been meaning to re-do the inside of our medicine cabinet for months now. i think some shaving cream exploded, and the paint was all worn away. since it was a holiday weekend, everything was closed (trust me, i tried three different places) on new years day, i dug around in my archives for some appropriate paper for this project. i ended up with a huge IKEA paper tablecloth. it was on a roll, getting smooshed in the closet.
remove cabinet from wall, cut paper to size, adhere with papersource's bookbinding glue, viola! instant makeover, boy-friendly colors, and our new bathroom penquin loves that it coordinates with his birthday suit.




holiday baking, part 3

this year, since i am finally cooking in my own kitchen, i went a little cookie crazy. not in the amount, per se, but in the labor-intensive department. i started off with an easy enough pumpkin biscotti for our pre-christmas party with the family.
but the week of christmas, right before mauricio left for two weeks, we spent about six hours making Gingerbread Gnomes.
That's right- gnomes.
they were in honor of my father, the gnome-obsessed. mauricio bought me a cookie cutter making kit (woah!) and i made my own cutter. a double batch of dough, six royal icing colors, and six hours later, viola! the cutest cooking men in town.

the after photos are coming soon...

panettone, cont'd

well, here is what the most labor-intensive, crazy ingredient list- bread turned out looking like! first is a shot of it raw, double raised, in the paper liners from sur la table. second is the final product, fresh from the oven, ready to eat sliced and toasted! i gave two loaves away and we ate the other two over the next week and a half.
so worth all the effort, and surely has become a new xmas baking tradition!