Showing posts with label recipe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recipe. Show all posts

Easy Homemade Ricotta: 5 Simple Steps

06 July 2015

Easy Homemade Ricotta

Homemade ricotta is kind of a game changer.  It is much better than anything you can get in the store and it is really easy to addictively easy.  There is no need for super fancy special equipment and ingredients - you probably have all of it in your kitchen already!  If you've ever dreamed of making your very own homemade cheese, this is the perfect place to start!

What you need:
1/2 gallon of milk (I prefer organic. Pasteurized milk is fine, but be sure avoid UHT ultra-pasteurized because it will not allow the curds to set up)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/3 cup distilled white vinegar, OR 1/2 teaspoon citric acid (all of these will work just fine, so whatever you have on hand)
1 teaspoon salt

A large stockpot
candy thermometer
slotted spoon
cheese cloth
large mixing bowl

Here are the 5 simple steps to making perfect ricotta cheese:
Easy Homemade Ricotta

  1. Warm the milk to 200°F : Try not to let it boil, but just get a foamy heat going. 
  2. Add acid: Remove the milk from heat and add your acid of choice (lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid) + salt.  Stir to combine.

    Easy Homemade Ricotta

  3. Sit for 10 minutes: After about 10 minutes of sitting undisturbed (no stirring!), the milk will start to separate into curds (the white chunks) and whey (thin, yellow, watery liquid).  Use your slotted spoon to lift a bit of the curd and if you still see a lot of unseparated milk, you can add an a bit more acid (1 T lemon, 1 T vinegar, OR 1/4 t critic acid) and give it a few more minutes.
    Easy Homemade Ricotta
  4. Strain: Set up a strainer over a bowl and line it with cheese cloth.  Carefully scoop the large curds out with the slotted spoon and into the strainer and then pour the rest of the contents of the pot through the strainer.
    Easy Homemade Ricotta
  5. Drain: Let the ricotta sit and drain out the whey for 10 minutes to an hour - depending on how dry you like your ricotta.
Easy Homemade Ricotta

That's it! You've made beautiful homemade ricotta! Add to pasta, make a dip, or just serve it on toast with a bit of honey!

You can also very easily take one more step to make your ricotta into a more sturdy farmers cheese or paneer. All you need to do is twist up the cheese cloth and add weight and give it a few more hours to fully dry out and solidify a bit.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Egg Nog Frosting

16 December 2014


Who doesn't love baking around the holidays?!  Cold days warmed by a hot oven and the smell of treats wafting through the house - that is my kind of day.  These cupcakes are a lovely burst of all my favorite flavors of the holidays - moist, spiced cupcake with creamy, rich eggnog short -perfection.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Egg Nog Frosting
makes about 12 full sized cupcakes or 24 minis

Gingerbread Cupcakes:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup softened butter 
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup water

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  With an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, molasses and eggs on medium speed.  Slowly stir in flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, the allspice.  Finally, mix in the water to thin the batter a bit. Spoon the cups about 3/4 full. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Egg Nog Frosting:
1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick)
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup eggnog
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Whisk butter in an electric mixer and add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time until full combined.  Keep whisking while adding egg nog and spices.

gingerbread cupcakes with egg nog frostingServe the cupcakes with a little sprinkle of nutmeg and a whole lot of holiday cheer!

Seasonal Eating : Raspberries

03 July 2014

July means that strawberry season is coming to an end in Oregon, but raspberries are in full force and soon will be followed by blueberries and blackberries.  These are the simple pleasures of summer for me.

Here is a little roundup of some exciting recipes for raspberries to try this season...

I'm always looking for more ideas for this beautiful harvest, so please tell me about your favorite thing to do with raspberries!

A Simple Summer Raspberry Crostata

24 June 2014

One of my favorite parts of the summer is berry season.  Something about the soft, sweet flavor really brings me to a place of happy childhood summertime bliss.   Our yard has a small raspberry bush in the back and I always look forward to the perfect moment to harvest the sweet vibrant ruby red gems from it.  This year, I decided to make a beautiful and simple rustic summer crostata with my harvest.

The favor of the berries are still really bold and fresh and this dessert could not be easier to whip together.  This is the kind of recipe that just feels like home to me.

Summer Raspberry Crostata

Crust: (you could also sub with store bought for even quicker prep)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or shortening, chilled
3 tablespoons ice water

Mix the flour and salt together in a medium size bowl.  Using a pastry blender, cut in the cold shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water over flour. Toss mixture with a fork to moisten, adding more water a few drops at a time until the dough comes together. Gently gather dough particles together into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling.

2 cups fresh raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg white for brushing

Preheat a 400 degree oven.
Mix the raspberries, sugar, and cornstarch.  Be gentle with your mixing to keep some of the berries whole.
Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat. Roll the dough to a 12 circle or rectangle.Fill the center with a layer of raspberry, leaving a 2" boarder around the edge.
Fold the boarder  crust over the berries and pleat the edges along the way.
Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.   If you have left over pieces of crust, you can cut them into shapes with a cookie cutter and use the egg white between layers to adhere them.
Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.

What is your favorite berry recipe?

Learning to Cook in Thailand & Cashew Chicken Recipe!

27 May 2014

I've been in love with the flavors of Thai food from the moment I tasted it. There's so much complexity, but yet it's simple, good food. It's affordable recipes made for working people. Large part of my travel to Thailand would of course be the food. I wanted to stop at every single street vendor and everything I saw. I was so excited to be able to take a cooking class and learn more about what goes into my favorite exotic flavored dishes.

I choose Thai Farm Cooking school in part from Melyssa's recommendation and also because I loved the idea of not only learning the act of cooking, but getting a better understanding of the ingredients by visiting a local market and a small family farm. At the market, we learned to identify different types of rice and how to find the essentials of Thai cooking - sweet, sour, spicy, and salty.

After the market, we piled into the truck with our ingredients and drove out to a beautiful rural farm outside of Chiang Mai. Our instructor, Liam, was amazingly knowledgeable and so full of energy that she made the day so incredibly fun. She took us through the farm and showed us all the different plants and let us smell and taste the freshest ingredients. It got me really inspired and excited for my garden this year! She talked about age old companion planting to keep bugs at bay and make the flavors better and it was really inspirational for my own little garden at home!

Learning the difference between different types of basil
Sampling fresh tumeric from the garden

I was lucky to have an amazing class full of people that were just so sweet and so fun. We bonded at the market by eating bugs together, shared our food and travel stories, and it was like a wonderful little family with these 8 other strangers I had just met! That is one of the great, unexpected things about travel.

Ingredients for yellow curry ready to be diced and crushed to a paste

Just hanging out in my farm attire and making some curry paste!
The final result of my hammering away with the mortar and pedstal!

And the yummy finished product of yellow coconut curry!
The farm was a gorgeous place to explore and relax during our breaks.  There was lots of eating during the class and we were all super full at the end of the day!

During the class, we each choose 5 dishes to make. I made a yellow curry, Tom yum soup, pad thai, cashew chicken, and mango sticky rice. the curry was ground the old fashioned way with fresh ingredients and a mortar and pedestal.  I loved that we were given options and even through I didn't make the other dishes that were an option, I got to learn a little about them by watching by classmates and we all shared our creations, so it was a pretty fantastic Thai feast!

At the end of class, we got a cookbook with all the recipes. I'm so excited to try these things out at home!

And in case you are interested in giving it a try, here's an amazing and simple cashew chicken recipe from the Thai Farm Cooking School website!  It's super fun to make and comes together in a jiffy!

Chicken with Cashew Nuts (Gai Phad Met Mamuang Him Mapaan)
Makes about 1-2 servings

1/4 pound of sliced chicken or tofu
1/4 cup of roasted cashew nuts
1/4 cup of sliced carrots
1/4 cup of sliced onions
2 sliced roasted and dried chillis, without seeds
1/4 cup of chopped spring onions
1/4 cup of mushrooms
2 tbsp. of soybean oil
a pinch of salt
1 tsp. of fish sauce
1/2 tsp. of sugar
1 tbsp. of oyster sauce
2 tbsp. of water

Heat the oil in the wok. Fry the chicken until golden brown. Add carrots, onions, mushrooms and water. Stir fry until almost cooked. Add oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, salt and spring onions. Stir fry again until mixed well. When done, turn off the heat and add cashew nuts and roasted chilli. Serve with rice.

What is your favorite Thai dish? Have you even taken a cooking class in a foreign country?  I definitely hope I can make cooking classes part of my travel experiences as much as I can!

Mango Sticky Rice Inspired Tart with Coconut & Cashew Crust!

05 May 2014

Mango Sticky Rice Inspired Tart with Coconut & Cashew Crust

I love, love, love mango & sticky rice.  It is so simple, but it's absolutely my favorite dessert of all time.  Something about sweet, fresh, ripe mango with the chewy rice and sublime sweet coconut's just such a magical and perfect combination and I can't get enough of it.  When in Thailand, my goal was pretty much to order it every single time I could and it was glorious.

Once I got home, I had a late night, jet lag fueled stroke of genius - what if I put my perfect dessert into a tart?!  YES!  So I obsessively write myself a note on my phone to remember when I woke up and I spent a few days thinking about the best way to make my dream a reality.

The result was beautiful and amazing.  Maybe one of my favorite things I've ever made.

I decided to go for a basic cookie crust with an addition of coconut and cashew for a little extra crunch.  Crunch is the one thing that I thing could elevate the perfect dessert, so this crust was perfect and the flavors match really well without taking anything away from the beauty of the simple mango and coconut flavor combination.  The filling is like a nice, thick rice pudding and it doesn't require specially steamed sticky rice to get a nice flavor and texture.  It can also very easily be made vegan or not by just using a non-dairy butter in the crust!

This tart looks beautiful and impressive, but it's not very hard to make and the parts can be made ahead of a time and assembled before a big event.

Mango Sticky Rice Inspired Tart with Coconut & Cashew Crust

2 1/2 cups graham crackers or vanilla wafer cookies *
1/2 cup toasted coconut
1/2 cup toasted cashews
5 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes *

*for a vegan tart, just use graham crackers and non-dairy butter or coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine graham crackers, coconut, & cashews in a food processor.  Pulse until ground to a thick powder texture.  Add butter and blend until the mixture comes together and starts to stick to the sides. Use your fingers to pinch the mixture and make sure it is sticking together, if not you need to add a bit more butter.  Lay the mixture out on a tart pan or springform pan and use your fingers press a thin, even layer along the bottom and sides.  Bake the crust for about 15 minutes until browned.   Let cool before filling.

1 14oz can coconut cream (not coconut milk, make sure it's cream)
3 cups cooked jasmine rice
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon salt

Whisk together the coconut cream, rice, and sugar.  Mix the cornstarch and water well to make a slurry and add.  In a large pot, heat over medium high heat for about 10-15 minutes to thicken.  Stir constantly.  Remove from heat and chill in the fridge for about an hour until fully cooled and thickened.

Assemble to tart by spreading the filling over the crust.  Cover with the mango and serve.

Mango Sticky Rice Inspired Tart with Coconut & Cashew Crust

The pretty rose effect is super simple to do, just lay your mango slices in a circular pattern, starting with the outside and working your way inward, layering the previous layer slightly until you get to the center.  Cut a few smaller petal shapes for the center circle and finish by rolling up a slice.  I used two varieties of mango which is why I have this gradient color and I liked that effect, but you don't need to get all fancy - just use whatever variety is available and ripe.

Mango Sticky Rice Inspired Tart with Coconut & Cashew Crust

Whether you are a mango sticky rice fanatic like me, or you just want to give it a try - this is a perfect crowd pleaser with beautiful presentation!

What is your favorite dessert of all time?

Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Bruschetta

28 April 2014

I love goat cheese. It's always in my fridge and I always excited to find new ways to highlight it. Beets are a perfect pair for goat cheese because they have a nice earthy bite to them and the textures are sublime together. This recipe feels fancy, but it's easy to make and is perfect for your next party because the visual impact is amazing! I brought these to canning club and they got great reviews, so I hope you will give them a try!

Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Bruschetta
makes about 24+ slices

3 medium sized beets
5 diced radish or 1/4 cup diced shallots
2 tablespoons fresh diced dill + springs for garnish
1 tablespoon fresh diced parsley
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 baguette, cut into 1/2" slices
olive oil for brushing
4 oz goat cheese
4 oz cream cheese - room temperature
1 tablespoon milk

Start by roasting your beets in the oven at 400 degrees for about an hour. Make a foil packet and poke some holes to allow the steam to vent and put on a baking sheet. Cook until you can easily pierce the beets with a fork. Roast with the skins on and once they cool a bit, you can just use a paper towel to rub the skins off.

While the beets are roasting, lay bread slices out on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Bake in the 400 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes until toasted.

Dice the beets and put into a large bowl. Add radish or onion (for texture), dill, parsley, vinegar, salt, and pepper and stir. Cover and place it the fridge for at least 1/2 hour or more to let the flavors marry.

Combine goat cheese, cream cheese, and milk in a mixer and blend until soft and spreadable.

Assemble by spreading goat cheese mixture over the bread and leave a bit of a trench in the middle to help your brushetta stay in place. Add beet brushetta mixture (about a heaping teaspoon each) and top with a sprig of dill.

Beet & Goat Cheese Bruschetta with Fresh Herbs

Mandarin & Green Tea Hot Toddy Warm Up!

07 February 2014

 It's a pretty rare sight to see my beloved city covered in a blanket of snow, but I guess those winter storms finally caught up with Portland.  Today is a beautiful day for a snow day!  The pup and I ventured out for a little snow play date, but mostly I've been really enjoying just cozying up inside and watching the snow fall

This is the perfect perfect day for a nice warm drink.  I whipped up a little special version of the classic hot toddy and it is divine comfort.

This is a really easy cocktail to make and it's really a nice fresh, sweet take on the classic - a mandarin & green tea hot toddy!  I used my yummy new Celestial Seasonings Green Tea (compliments of the fine folks at Influencer) combined with these beautiful seasonal mandarin oranges and a bit of spice and honey.  It takes the classic toddy to a smoother, sweeter place while still having all the comfort and warmth of the classic.  It also has all the great benefits of green tea!

Mandarin & Green Tea Hot Toddy
2 cups water
3 slices of mandarin
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon whole cloves plus additional to pierce orange and lemon wheels
2-3 thinly sliced pieces of ginger
2 ounces of spiced rum
1 bag of green tea*
1 tablespoon honey (or more for taste)
Combine water, orange, and spices in a small pot and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes to extract the spice flavor and then strain liquid into a mug. Steep green tea for 2-3 minutes. Add honey and rum and give it a stir. Garnish with half of a mandarin slice and cozy up to enjoy!
*Celestial Seasonings also makes a Mandarin Orchard Tea that I am excited to try with this recipe!

You can make this drink with or without the alcohol, either way, it's a sweet warm way to enjoy the snow.

What are your favorite snow day activities?

Celebrating the Chinese New Year with Pork Goyza!

31 January 2014

Today is the Chinese New Year! Welcome the Year of the Horse!

To celebrate, I made one of my new favorite recipes - pork pot stickers (goyza)! Jiaozi dumplings are a traditional Chinese New Year dish in northern China and are often shaped into an ingot coin shape because eating them is said to bring prosperity in the new year.  Mine might not be as pretty as traditional dumplings, but they are just as delicious and I am excited to make them again and get better at my folding skills!

This may seem like a daunting recipe because there are a lot steps, but they are all super easy and the results are fantastic. The dumplings are wonderfully filling these would make a real WOW for an party appetizer, or you could just make them for dinner as a fun way to switch things up for your family. My husband and I made these with a stirfry, but they were so good that we ended up just filling up on dumplings and just saved the stirfry for a massive left-overs the next night!

You can use premade wontons, or just make this 3 ingredient dough yourself. It is super easy to put together and really rewarding and I'm sure you already have all these ingredients on hand! The dough is nice and tender and a little thicker than the usual wonton wrappers. My husband & I both just loved them!

Chinese Pork Dumplings
makes about 30 dumplings

To make the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3/4 cup boiling water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Using a dough hook on your stand mixer, combine ingredients and mix until a smooth ball forms. Mix on medium-high speed to kneed the dough for about 5 minutes. If you don't have a stand mixer, you can mix the ingredients using a chopstick and let them sit for a few moments until cool enough to kneed by hand for 5 minutes. Cover dough and let rest for one hour.

Divide the dough into 4 sections and the roll each section into about 1" logs. Cut into 3" pieces. You should end up with about 20-30 peices. Roll into balls, flatten, and roll out to about 1/8" with a rolling pin. Be sure to flour your surface to avoid sticking. As you work, cover your pieces with a wet paper towel to keep them from drying out.

1 cup ground pork
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup green onion, finely minced
1 1/2 cups finely diced Napa cabbage
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger (or powdered ginger is fine)

Mix all ingredients by hand until fully combined.

Assemble the dumplings by adding about a teaspoon of filling to the center of each. Wet the edge of one side, fold over, and seal by pinching the tops.

You have several options when it comes to cooking, you could steam, fry, or boil them. I really love the traditional goyza option of frying & gives a really great crunchy bottom and a soft pillowy top. To do that, put about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet, heat to medium-high heat until the oil is hot and glistens. Add dumplings and cook for about 3-5 minutes until the bottoms are browned. Add about 1/3 cup of water to the pan and quickly cover with a lid. Turn down to medium and allow the dumplings to steam for about 20 minutes.

Dipping sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sweet soy
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger

Whisk all ingredients together and serve along with your dumplings.

Enjoy and happy new year!
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