Follow by Email

Friday, December 31, 2010

Homemade Ricotta

More cheese! I love ricotta and over the past couple of years I've been splurging on 'homemade' ricotta from the two Italian specialty shops here in Davis Sq. It makes such a difference - it's creamier, softer, and just has an overall marshmellowyness that the grocery store brands don't even come close to. The problem is - it's ridiculously expensive...and, it's not quite 'homemade' when it's made in someone else's home!

So, this is Barbara Lynch's recipe - it's incredibly easy, just takes a watchful eye.

**You need a candy thermometer for this - they're about five bucks at the grocery store or hardware store. You also need cheesecloth.

1 gallon of whole milk
3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tb salt

1. Line a footed colander with two layers of cheesecloth and put it in your kitchen sink.

2. In a pot (spaghetti/pasta pot is the right size), combine all three ingredients and clip the thermometer to the pot.

3. Heat over medium-low heat and stir *continuously* until the temperature climbs to 140 degrees. Don't rush this by turning up the heat! It takes about 20 minutes. Not much will happen, just keep stirring!

4. When temp reaches 140, stop stirring and let sit until it reaches 175 degrees. This will take another 10-20 minutes. When temp reaches 175, immediately take off the heat - and don't let it get above 180. At this point, the curds form.

5. Gently scoop off the curds with a large spoon and put in the colander. Let it drain in the sink for about an hour until it's soft and spreadable. The longer you let it sit, the thicker it will be.

Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate. It will keep for up to a week.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pear and Scallion Ravioli

I recently took a cooking class at the Elephant Walk in Cambridge. It was fabulous. Nyep, the owner, is an incredibly interesting woman with a remarkable story. She brought us back into their kitchen and let us loose with a few of her delicious recipes. This sweet and savory ravioli was particularly tasty as it's a great appetizer or party nibble.

2 medium pears, unpeeled, cored, and diced into 1/4 cubes
2 TB olive oil, plus 1/4 cup of olive oil for frying
3 scallions, white and green parts finely chopped
1 pack of wonton wrappers
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp water

1. Heat 2-3 TB of olive oil in a large sautee pan until hot. Add diced pear and a pinch of salt and sautee until soft - about 5 min. Add the scallion and sautee for another 10-15 min. until soft but not mushy. Remove from heat.

2. Beat the egg and the water to make an egg wash.

3. Put one small spoonful of the pear mixture onto each wonton and fold over, forming a triangle. Brush a bit of egg wash on the edges to seal.

3. Put the sautee pan back on the heat and coat with olive oil. Heat to medium high and fry each of the raviolis until they are crispy and golden on each side.

4. Place them on paper towels to drain the extra oil.

Prosciutto and Fontina Pinwheels

Yes, it's fontina again, my most beloved cheese. Now that it's the holiday season, it's always good to have a few very easy and quick nibbles on hand. These are good as a snack or as an appetizer, great for parties and totally addictive.

One package of puff pastry - thawed but still cold
About 6 slices of prosciutto
1 cup shredded fontina (you could use asiago, parmesan, romano...)
1 egg beaten with 1 1/2 tsp water

Heat oven to 375.

1. Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface to about 10 x 15in rectangle. Halve it lengthwise.

2. Top the pastry with prosciutto and then the fontina, leaving about 1/2 in. border on the far edge (you'll need this extra pastry edge to seal the roll).

3. Carefully roll up the pastry from the long side (you'll get about 2-3 times around (if you roll from the short edge, they'll be huge). Roll the dough as tightly as you can.

4. Brush the end border with the egg wash and seal.

5. Wrap in plastic and put in the freezer for a half hour so that it firms up.

6. Remove from fridge/freezer and plastic and slice 1/4 in. rounds. Place each spiral on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

Ooey Gooey BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

There are dozens of bbq sauces in the grocery store, but it's surprisingly easy to make! Use this recipe as a base and change it up according to what you're in the mood for - sometimes I use fresh ginger to brighten it up, more or less vinegar changes the zing factor, and additions such as Worcestershire or A1 are good too!

BBQ Sauce:
3 TB ketchup
1 TB cider vinegar
1 TB mustard
1 TB molasses
3/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/8 tsp ground ginger

Leftover roast chicken, pulled from the bone...amount depends on how monstrous you like your sandwiches. You can always save the leftover bbq sauce for something else.

Dill pickles - sandwich or round cut.
Bulky sandwich rolls
Cole slaw

1. Put the bbq sauce ingredients into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Throw in the chicken and let it bubble for about 10 minutes.

2. Assemble your sandwiches with the pickles on top.

BONUS FLAVOR: add cole slaw into your sandwich. Don't have any?? Mix 3 cups of shredded, bagged cabbage with 1/4 cup mayo, 1 TB cider vinegar, salt and pepper. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes, or until the cabbage softens and absorbs some of the juices. The creaminess of the cole slaw goes great with the bbq!