Making Cheese!

I made Cottage Cheese! Why? Just for the experience. I had been browsing through Bittman’s cookbook How To Cook Everything and there it was, easy cheese making. Hubby thought this was a fun idea so we did it.

Outcome: not as creamy as Daisy brand. In fact, a little dry and bland. But easy!

Cost: Daisy brand costs from $2-$3 a pint carton. To make this is a bit more expensive so it is not something to do regularly.

I made half the recipe which made about half a pint.

  • 1 quart of whole milk ($1.25)
  • 1/2 quart of buttermilk ($1.25, this was the more expensive brand because that is all the grocery store had on hand)
  • pinch of salt (should have used a tablespoon of salt)

Line a strainer with three layers of cheesecloth. I inadvertently used six layers or so!

Put milk in heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat and bring just to a boil. Bubbles will be seen on the side of the pan, not all over. Then add the buttermilk all at once and stir constantly until the mixture separates into curds and whey. This takes but a minute. Remove from heat and stir in a large pinch of salt if desired.

Carefully pour the mixture through the strainer so the curds collect and the whey drains off. This is a lot of whey. I had to look up uses for it since I do not like to waste food.

For Cottage Cheese let this drain for 30-60 minutes until it is a dry as you like. I let mine drain for 45 minutes but next time, if there is a next time, will only do so for 30 minutes.

We scooped this up and stored it in an empty Daisy container. We added a little bit of the whey back into it hoping to make it creamier.

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Hubby saved a link to how to make one’s own Cheddar Cheese. We will have to try that too.

 

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Your Standard Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Greetings! I am always so happy and surprised that you read what I write. I was going to be a poet when I was a teen, but I guess it was not my calling. I do love to write, so I am happy to have readers. Thank you! 🙂

So it was a gloomy summer day. And in my effort to suck all the joy out of life…oops! I mean in my renewed effort to breathe in all the joy that life has to offer…I thought I should make myself write a blog post weekly.

(Now that I have said “weekly” don’t hold me to it because…life happens, along with moods, and I don’t always like to make commitments!)

20170530_220846485_iOSA week or so ago I made a coffee cake for work. I did not have sour cream (or did not look for it in my fridge) so I browsed through cookbooks to come up with something. I made a blueberry buckle with blueberries and cranberries without the buckle. It had the fruit but it also had the streusel topping. I baked it in a tube pan so it really did not buckle. I think “buckle” is the way the fruit indents the top of the cake. The people at work loved it and here is a picture. This is basically 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 cups flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 cup milk, and one egg and 1 cup fruit.

So on this gloomy summer’s eve, I figure it is a good baking day. I will make a sour cream coffee cake because I recently spied sour cream in my fridge. Where’s the recipe? I go to my Settlement Cookbook because it is full of standard baking fare from kitchens of generations of women gone by.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup sour cream

preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or grease a 10 inch tube pan. Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla. Add eggs one at at time. Sift dry ingredients together and add to butter mixture alternately with the sour cream.

Topping: mix 6 Tab. of softened butter (I accidentally melted mine) with 1 cup packed brown sugar, 2 tsp. cinnamon, and 1 cup chopped nuts.

Put half the batter in the pan. Sprinkle (or glob) on 1/2 the topping, layer the other half of the batter and the rest of the topping. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes before removing.

So the cake is in the oven, Hubby is at the dentist, and I am putting the dog out in the yard, going out to un-loop him from the various patio furniture and bushes at least three times, and thinking that this is a standard sour cream coffee cake that is probably found in all those cookbook collections that various churches and other organizations put together as fundraisers. So I peruse a few of those.

The first one I look through has Sour Cream Coffee Cake and the streusel is just sugar, cinnamon, and nuts. Cool! Because I knew that the streusel topping for my first coffee cake has flour in it and I thought that was pretty standard. So I continue reading this recipe and get to the end and see who submitted it. My sister! Gave me a little joy to see her name at the bottom of the recipe!

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

So I made Barbecue Chicken Pizza!

As I had mentioned previously I was thinking of making a pizza in my cast iron skillet. Well, I made the pizza but not in the cast iron. And I got to use my handy-dandy pie circle gadget that I just bought. Silly item: a bag to roll out pie crust into a perfect circle.

I used my favorite pizza crust recipe. I found this years ago on allrecipes.com.  It is a yeast dough but there is no rising time. It is ready to go as soon as it comes together.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)

Combine the dry ingredients. Mix in the oil and water. When dough forms spread it on a large pizza pan. Top as desired. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.

I had Hubby take the meat off of 4 chicken thighs that had already been barbecued. He also sliced an onion. We made a bit more sauce with ketchup (1/4 cup), sriracha (1/8 cup), and Worcestershire sauce (1/8 cup). I had seen that combination somewhere on line, most likely one of those Facebook food videos. You can use more or less sriracha depending on how hot you like your sauce. I have also substituted apple cider vinegar for the Worcestershire sauce.

Spread the sauce on the dough, scatter the onion and the chicken pieces, top with cheese of your choice. This is one of those Monterrey jack and cheddar blends.

It was a very tasty pizza.

A dog fight of flavors!

Chimichurri. What is it? According to Wikipedia, chimichurri, it is loosely translated as “a mixture of several things in no particular order”. is that the best definition or what?! Anyway I came across a recipe from a magazine several years ago that I saved just because it was on a page with other interesting recipes to try. I am not sure which magazine this was. It was the sauce to serve with shrimp but with Hubby allergic to shrimp I did not think anything further about the recipe…until now!

20160621_222120506_iOSI have a thriving container garden of herbs hanging on the banister of my back porch. And I have all of the ones listed in this recipe! And I came across other recipes in my recent reading of food magazines while walking the treadmill that called for other combination of herbs. I thought it odd that mint was in here along with the others and the basil with dill. But I want to make this but with what? Steak? Pasta? Seafood?

I recently bought fish “burgers” at the store. Just for something different. Not Salmon burgers, but Alaskan Pollock. I don’t usually plan menus but I was writing a few ideas down and thought the chimichurri would compliment the fish. It would be different than the usual mayo with pickle relish tartar sauce.

Per usual I just go about harvesting the plants without really measuring. Then I chop everything into bits. I pour out a bit too much red pepper flakes but it works out well. A little after bite never hurt! I think I used about 3/4 cup of olive oil.

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Looks beautiful, even if I do say so myself! It really should be served in a small mason jar with a spoon, but it looks very nice in the cruet! Now to dinner…

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Sunday in my Kitchen

It’s a rainy Sunday and I feel inspired to do all sorts of things. First I started with my closet. I set up ten “outfits” so I could just grab something out of the closet first thing in the morning for work. I have too many clothes so sometimes the decision making stumps me. It’s just clothes! But still!

We are in need of more ketchup and the homemade stuff is so good. I pull out the crock pot and throw in the ingredients, Special Sauce. Here is the recipe that I posted earlier.

It occurs to me that I have a container of neglected Sourdough Starter in the fridge that needs feeding. I hope it is still good. What to do with the “pour off”? Ha! I saved a fellow blogger Kristina’s post on country bread, Classic Country Bread. Her recipe is made with a poolish; I’ll substitute the starter for the poolish. I also don’t have a bread machine so I’ll just knead it in my KitchenAid with the bread hook. I have more whole wheat flour than all-purpose so I use 1 cup wheat flour and 1/1/2 cups all-purpose and two teaspoons instant yeast.  I just mix it all in the mixer, knead it for 5 minutes and place in a greased bread pan to rise.Here’s hoping it turns out okay!

I have fresh herbs that are growing nicely. I was looking through a Food magazine last week while walking on the treadmill (I have got to lose some weight!) and saw a recipe for Green Goddess dressing. I remember that from way back. So I look around on the internet for a recipe. There are plenty. This is my modification of the one from Epicurious, Buttermilk Green Goddess Dressing. I do not have anchovy paste, nor fresh tarragon. I leave the former out and use 1 teaspoon dried tarragon. I mix it all in a blender instead of the food processor.

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Not everything has to be from scratch. I put together a tray of cheese and crackers to take to the Refugee Coalition reception. And I feel so honored, the wife wants me to show her how I made the Baharat spice mixture: Timman Z’affaran. Its not about me but I am so pleased that it was so well received!

So at the end of the day here’s what I have added to my kitchen:

A wonderful artisan bread that served as our supper!

Green goddess dressing and homemade ketchup. This means I need to eat more salads this week. And some of the ketchup will be taken on our next camping trip to have on or cheeseburgers. Good eating!

Pork Pies

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Pictured here are just pie dough and jam, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar: not the recipe below!

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a little while now. I have these in my freezer, we ate some for a supper, and even took some camping and toasted them up on the grill. The pastry is from a recipe that I copied out of a book The Make Ahead Cook. I don’t remember the author. I found this in my “want to make” recipe notebook.

I had some seasoned pork that my stepdaughters’ aunt puts together for pork pie. My youngest stepdaughter made pork pie for us one time and it is delicious! I found a recipe for pork pie in the Yankee magazine after the girls told me of it. I had never heard of it before. It is ground pork seasoned with onion, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. I think each family recipe is probably a variation on that. Hubby mentioned that I needed more puff pastry so I could use that with the seasoned pork which the family calls “gratin”.  I did not have any puff pastry so this recipe came in handy. And its a bit different than regular pie pastry. Here are the ingredients for the crusts:

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  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  •  8 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces (the original recipe called for shortening)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil

A food processor is a fabulous appliance for making pastry dough.

20160526_203351193_iOSProcess flour, salt, and baking powder in food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. (I did not cut the butter into small enough pieces so ended up with chunks that made the rolling out of the circles a little more difficult than should be).Add broth and eggs until dough comes together. This took more than the 5 pulses in the original recipe. Transfer dough to a lightly floured board. Knead by hand to form a smooth ball and then divide into 16 pieces.

Roll each piece into a circle of about 6 inches diameter. Place 1/4 cup filling on half, brush edges with water, fold over and seal. I have to admit my 6 inch circles were approximate and “circle-like”! Half way through I ran out of the prepared pork (already cooked) and made a quick extra filling by cooking some breakfast sausages and scrambled eggs with a touch of grated cheese. (The original recipe called for a meat mixture made with 1 1/2 pounds of meatloaf mix.)

These get baked on cookie sheets preheated in a 425 degree F oven. When the pans are heated drizzle 2 Tablespoons of oil on the pan before placing the pies on them. The original recipe said to brush the other Tablespoon of oil on the tops. I sprayed them with cooking spray and for the second pan I did not drizzle the oil. The oil drizzled pans did produce a browner, crisper crust. So it might be worth the effort to do so next time as well.

I sprinkled paprika on the scrambled egg ones to distinguish them from the pork. This is a recipe that I will use again. It made 14, not 16, but that was the extent of the filling available. The crust is flavorful, like a biscuit, but thin and crisp. They are definitely not just pie dough and filling. These will be handy for a grab and go lunch or super easy supper on a busy night, or when I am just too lazy to cook!

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What to do with egg whites?

20160504_214255930_iOSI have a cup of egg whites in my refrigerator taunting me to do something with them. I have these whites because Son made me a Parisien flan before he left for his job in Alaska. I showed him this  Parisien Flan from Nadia at Maison Travers and he made it for me! It was fabulous!

 

I’m thinking about a … (French word, meringue cake), it’ll come to me in a moment…Pavlova…Dacquoise! I describe this to Hubby and he looks at me with a blank face. I look through a few cookbooks for meringue recipes. Many of the recipes are for 2 egg whites with 2 cups of sugar, confectioners and granulated. That seems like a lot of sugar but sugar is important for the structure of a meringue. I have four egg whites so 2 cups of sugar will have to do. I suggest to Hubby that I could make espresso flavored meringue cookies and he says to go for it. I settle on adapting a recipe from Bakewise by Shirley Corriher. She explains the science behind the product. I do not have cream of tartar so must find a substitute: apparently 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice per egg white.

  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar; made by processing regular granulated sugar in the food processor for one minute
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar (I didn’t have a full cup!)
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon Hersheys Special Dark Cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon flour

First I beat the egg whites and lemon juice with all but two tablespoons of the superfine sugar until stiff peaks formed.

Mix the rest of the dry ingredients to sprinkle on top of the beaten egg whites and fold in until incorporated. I confess that I do not like folding. I always worry about mixing too hard and flattening the mixture.

This is to be piped or spooned onto parchment paper and baked in a 200 degree (F) oven for 1 hour and 45 minutes. My oven is too small. I have three pans of meringue cookies and enough to make a nine inch circle for a Pavlova. I made this planning to dump a can of canned cherries mixed with sweetened yogurt on top and have a fancy dessert.

I don’t like my pastry bag so I just put huge spoonfuls on the pans. I don’t get marks for prettiness! These are baking away forever in the oven and I am on the phone with my sister when the timer goes off. I have never made meringues before, yes meringue topping for pies but not meringues. Smart phones are wonderful. I show her the meringues as I take them out of the oven and she says they look perfect. Now to let them cool. But wait, Hubby went in and took one off the tray. Yumm! They have a nice coffee flavor. Now I am not sure if cherries on top of the circle is the best flavor combination.

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It is a bit squishy because it is not completely cool.

I still need to do something with the large circle. I serve wedges with ice cream and Hubby pours on a bit of Irish Cream liquor. Too much of this will make us fat and drunk!