Saturday, December 3, 2016

Baked Ricotta Cheese

Ok.  Here is the problem.  You can certainly make baked cheese with any ricotta, but not like the Sicilian or island variety.
You can make a semblance of this cheese recipe with the plastic tub cheese, by placing a coffee filter(they are available pretty big for commercial coffee makers) in a strainer in the sink or over a bowl.  Do not let it drain liquid so that the bottom of the strainer sits in the whey.
You can put it in the refrigerator over night or even a couple of days  to end up with a very firm "loaf" of cheese.
Where available use fresh ricotta, already firm ricotta or make your own.  You can certainly do this with the cheese recipe found in this blog, though it is not "Properly" Ricotta cheese.
Again. the cheese, if soft must be firmed into a Loaf.
Oil the cheese with olive oil, spread all over the cheese by hand, salt it lightly(if desired) and place the loaf on a raised lip cookie sheet or on a parchment sheet in the cookie sheet.
You may get sticking onto the sheet.  This can be solved by laying the loaf on a bed of rosemary sprigs or bay leaves.  Fresh would be best as the dry may be overpowering, as they are concentrated.
The cheese may be rubbed with oregano, basil or other herbs or coarse or sea salt flakes.
Bake in a 350 degree oven till golden to dark brown all over.
Yes you can serve it warm with fruit, roasted vegetables, slabs of bread or drizzled with honey, but it is more usual to cool it first.
Drizzle honey and/or chopped nuts on the cheese in the last 20 minutes in the oven.
You can grate it into recipes, salsas, pesto and pasta.

You can also put drained ricotta into puff pastry cases like brie.

Try using fruit preserves or chopped nuts and honey in the pastry wrap.

Consider trying this with chopped candied fruit peel and a little powdered sugar in the ricotta after it is drained.  Reform into the loaf after putting them in.  

Tomato Sauce Italian Style

If you go to the islands there are two choices for tomato.  You will find San Marzano or cherry tomato.  In this country you will find cherry tomatoes easier than the San Marzano.  In general the tomatoes are better for company dishes of the elegant variety if they are seeded and skinned.  Just knick the tomato with the tip of a knife and plunge into boiling water for a few moments.  The skin will shrink and split.  Lift them out of the water with a slotted spoon and put in cold water.  Peel with your fingers.  Cut the tomato along the equator of the tomato and give each half a squeeze to release most of the seeds.
All dishes will benefit from this treatment, but I often go without when a country or rustic feel is wanted. The skins will also add to the flavor if used in something that will render them invisible such as pureeing through a food mill or a food processor.
So, here is a compromise canned or stored tomato recipe that is very common.  Prepare the tomatoes by seeding them as above first, but do not skin them.
To each two pounds of tomato that has been prepared, add one chopped onion, a half teaspoon of salt and a scant eighth cup of olive oil. 
Start the cooking at a very low temperature till the tomatoes have released their juices.  Raise the temperature to medium and bring to a boil.  Cook till the tomato begins to collapse.  Run the entire batch through a food mill to make a puree.  Can according to your normal custom.
In Italy they use recycled bottles like soda or beer bottles and sometimes wine bottles.  I love these stored in old fashioned Coke bottles which are also used for expensive wine.
You should not use garlic in this recipe or any herbs because you will then be limited in its uses.  You can always add them later.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Rosolio liqueur

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups (500 g) of the best wine spirits
  • 2 1/4 cups (500 f) powdered sugar -- the kind without vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups (1/2 liter) milk
  • A garden lemon, or an organically grown untreated lemon
  • A half a vanilla bean
  •          
                         
Preparation
In Artusi's day many people kept lemon trees in their gardens. Even if yours is not homegrown, make sure its skin is untreated. Grate the lemon rind, peel the lemon, discarding the white, remove the seeds, and mince the pulp. Chop the vanilla bean and mix all the ingredients together in a glass jar. Expect the milk to curdle. Cover the jar, put it in a spot that's not exposed to direct sunlight, and shake it once daily for eight days.
 
Then filter the liquor, first through a cloth and then a paper filter, and bottle it. Let it age for a couple of months and it'll be ready for use.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

About Preserved Meats



Where I do not have good refrigeration at present, I have been eating a lot of preserved meats.  We all remember Vienna sausages, Deviled Ham and Chicken.  There are a number of alternatives available including potted Corned Beef.
These and other canned meats(and fish) are excellent substitutes for fresh meat if, as I am now, it is distant from grocers or if there is limited refrigeration.  Where I am, the list includes Salsiccia Piccante(Pepperoni), Salamis in bewildering array and a number of salted, dried and smoked meats.   These are good until you cut into them, then they should be chilled.  In my case I often have to opt for ice chests for these, and locals often get away with hanging the sausages, even cut, in a cool dark room.  I suppose if you cover them with a cheese cloth to keep pests off, you may get away with it.  After all, it was done for centuries before the refrigerator was invented.
But you must avoid salting your food in any way when you are using these.  This is especially true if you are prone to hypertension.  The salt content is very high.
The other drawback is calories.   These meats tend to be high in fat as well, and you really should not be eating a meal that has more than 30 percent of calories from fat.
The idea then is to find some way to serve these with low fat and salt accompaniments.
Crackers are available without extra salt, but still, the calories are there and sometimes fat.
Some breads are fairly low in salt and fat, and the bread you make yourself can be made that way.

My thought for this post is however, to try something completely different.

Slice cucumbers, top with a dollop or piped mound of the meat, then top that with a black olive or a cherry tomato and or bell pepper.
Use cherry peppers by cutting the tops off and piping the meat or chunk of meat inside.
Stuff them with water, wine or balsamic vinegar dampened bread crumbs with a bit of meat inside.
Hollow out cherry tomatoes and fill.
Roasted pepper sheets rolled up around the meat is a good choice.  If you have a long roll, slice them into chunks.
If you are going to serve something in say an hour, you can freeze chunks of the potted meats in a shape that can be put into a vegetable, then stuff or wrap them up much more easily.
Hollow half a cucumber or split a long thin pepper, a spear of celery or tomato, stuff, chill and slice to make canapes or a lunch entree.
Sliced fruits make a good vehicle for many of the meats that might ordinarily appear on crackers...apple, pear, peach halves will all work well.  You could even stuff canned pears or peaches.

The way around calories, fat and salt is often just a little creativity.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Mary Burrill's Baked Doughnuts

Boil a scant cup of potato in plain water, mash smoothly as possible and reserve 1/4 cup water.
Scald 1 cup of milk, and melt 3/4 cup shortening, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon salt
Dissolve one Tablespoon of yeast in the warm potato water.  Allow to proof.
Combine all ingredients and add two beaten eggs.
(I add 1/2 t mace, nutmeg or cinnamon and 1 t vanilla, but the old recipe does not call for it.)
Add a cup of flour and beat till smooth.
Add more flour until you approach 3 1/2 additional cups maximum, beating it in and later kneading it in.  Use as little flour as possible to be able to handle the dough.
Knead the dough well...10 to 20 minutes.
Place in a covered bowl and allow to rise till at least double.

Roll to 1 inch thick and cut in rounds or doughnuts.
Place on buttered baking sheets not touching.
Allow to rise till double again.
Bake at 425 F till delicately brown...less than 12 minutes, but keep checking.  You know raised doughnut color!
Brush the doughnuts with melted butter and roll in sugar(I mix mace, nutmeg or other spice into the sugar.)

My sister has had this recipe for almost 50 years and this is the first time we tried it, just before I left for overseas.  They are ABSOLUTELY DIVINE!!!
Makes 2 dozen depending on your cutter, and they last well, covered for three days.  Try filling them with sweetened Moscarpone(or mixed with cocoa or liquor), jelly, pudding, lemon curd or cannoli filling.  You could also split them and fill them with VERY SOFT cream cheese mixed with maraschino cherries, whole berries, sweet ham/prosciutto or jams to make sweet sandwiches for a party or shower.  Vary the spices or omit depending on what you are filling them with.
Sorry I do not have a picture.  They are difficult to upload here and also...they were eaten too fast...light as air and a lovely taste.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Gougere's

Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 large eggs (not extra-large)
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped (or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 cup grated gruyere cheese, I think Trader Joe's is a great value
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
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  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: about 30 gougères
Preparation
Preheat oven to 425. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, bring the butter, water, and wine to a boil. Remove saucepan from heat. Add the flour, pepper, and salt, and stir to blend smoothly. Reheat pan over medium heat, and stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball, about 1 minute.
Transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer, and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes.
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Add the first egg and beat until fully incorporated.Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then repeat the process with 3 remaining eggs (it is important for each egg to be fully incorporated before the next is added). Add the cheese and thyme, then stir or beat at a low speed to combine.
Many recipes suggest using a pastry bag to make the puffs, but I find that it’s much easier to use a small spoon and my fingers to shape the gougères (the pastry bag is troublesome because the dough is so sticky). Create 1 inch rounds on prepared sheets, about 2 inches apart.Don’t worry about the shape at this point, just try to make them roughly the same size and don’t crowd them (if you need a third baking sheet, so be it).
Beat remaining egg with 1 teaspoon of water and brush over puffs, using the basting brush to perfect the shape of the gougères. Sprinkle each puff with parmesan, a pinch of sea salt, and a grind of black pepper.
Bake the gougères at 425 F for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 375 and bake for another 15-25 minutes, until the gougères are puffed, golden, and crisp-dry at the edges.
Serve warm or at room temperature, with another sprinkle of salt just before serving.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Very Easy Tart Pastry

1 1/3 cups flour
5 T sugar
1/2 t salt
Stir together with
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted,
press into tart pan, bake at 350 blind till brown or fill after partially baked and bake again.