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GETTIN’ CHEESY

(Yeah, that title is super cheesy. It was on purpose and also not because I am cheesy and I like it)

Happy post- daylight savings day and almost springtime time. Last Thursday we spent our meeting chatting and turning simple ingredients like flour and salt and water and milk into delicious food that is usually really expensive in the grocery store. Here are some pictures of us doing that and the recipes we followed!

Recipes:

Mozzarella
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1 1/2 tsp citric acid

1 1/4 cups cool water (filtered or boiled)

1 gallon whole milk (not ultra-pasturized)

1/3 teaspoon liquid rennet

4 tablespoons kosher salt
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  1. Ice a large, heavy pot. Combine the citric acid with one cup of the water in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Add the milk to the pot. Slowly pour the citric acid mixture into the milk, gently stirring with a slotted spoon for 15 seconds. Set the pot over medium heat, attach a cheese or candy thermometer to the pot, and heat the milk to 90F, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes. This will take about 10 minutes, and the milk with start to curdle. Remove the pot from heat.
  2. Combine the rennet with the remaining 1/4 cup water in the liquid measure. Pour the rennet mixture into the milk, and gently stir with a scooping motion for 30 seconds. Cover the pot and let sit for 5 minutes. The curds will solidify into on mass that looks like tofu or custard. Press your finger about 1/2 inch into the curd. If it comes out mostly clean, the curd is ready to cut. Otherwise, check again in two minutes.
  3. With the curd still in the pot, cut it into 2-inch cubes: place a long knife 2 inches from the left side of the pot and draw it through the curd toward you in a straight line, taking care to cut to the bottom of the curd. Continue with parallel lines to the first in 2-inch increments. Turn the pot 90 degrees, and repeat so you have a grid. Then, make 2-inch diagonal cuts at 45 degree angle to the side of the pot. Repeat from the other side. Cubes of curd will float in the whey.
  4. Return the pot to medium heat and stir the curds very gently with a slotted spoon as you heat the whey to 110F. Remove from heat. Set a metal colander over the mixing bowl and use the spon to gently transfer only the curds into the colander. Set the curds aside.
  5. Return the pot with whey to medium high heat. Add the salt and heat the whey until it reaches 170F, about 10 minutes. If there is any whey in the mixing bowl, add it to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium to keep the whey between 165F and 180F for the next step.
  6. Transfer half the curds to a medium mixing bowl and set them aside. Submerge the colander with the remaining curds into the hot whey until they get glossy, about 1 minute. Put on heatproof rubber gloves o pick up the curds and firmly squeeze them into a ball over the pot. The ball will release more whey as you squeeze. Put the ball back into the hot whey for 1 minute, then stretch between your hands, folding it back on itself. Put the cheese into the whey again and repeat the process up to three times, until the cheese is soft and glossy and holds together as you stretch it up to 12 inches. The surface of the cheese should be smooth. When you have reached this consistency, you can eat the mozzarella warm, dividing it into little balls if you’d like. Repeat the heating and stretching process with the second  half of the curd.
  7. If you would like to store the cheese, put the balls in a bowl, cover with cool water, and let sit for 5 minutes. Then add ice cubes and keep the mozzarella there for 30 minutes. Remove the cheese from the water and transfer into a covered container.

Wheat Crackers

Makes 50 to 60 crackers

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1 cup all purpose flour plus additional flour for the counter

1 cup spelt or whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup whole, uncooked millet

1/3 cup ground flax seeds

1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling

Optional: 5 medium garlic cloves, minced, and 1 tbs minced fresh rosemary

1/2 cup plus two tablespoons olive oil

Freshly ground pepper
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  1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, combine the two flours, baking powder, millet, flax, salt, and garlic and rosemary, if using. Add the olive oil and combine with a fork. Slowly add 1/2 cup water, mixing with your hands as you go. Continue to add more water (up to 1/4 additional water) to the dough until it holds together. Knead the dough with your hands in the bowl for 2 minutes until it is smooth and very workable.
  2. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface, press into a flat disc, and roll with a rolling pin until the dough is 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. For square crackers, use a pizza wheel or sharp knife and cut the dough into 2-inch squares, For round crackers, use a 2-inch biscuit cutter. Any leftover dough can be rerolled for more crackers.
  3. With a spatula, transfer the cut dough to ungreased baking sheets and sprinkle each cracker with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, switching the position of the sheets and rotating them midway through, until the crackers are hard to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack.

Storage: covered container, 7 days

Freezer: freezer-safe container or bag, 3 months (recrisp in a 375F oven for 3 minutes)

Cheese Crackers (like Cheez-its)!

Makes 40 to 45 crackers
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3 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, plus additional for baking sheets

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus additional for the counter

1 tsp dry mustard powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

2 tsp distilled white vinegar

1 ice cube
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  1. Combine the butter, flour, dry mustard, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until the mixture is crumbly and the butter starts to integrate into the mixture, about 30 seconds. Add the cheese and mix again on low speed for a few seconds.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup, combine 3/4 cup water, the vinegar, and the ice cube and let sit for a moment to get cold. Add 6 tablespoons of the vinegar mixture to the dough and mix on medium speed for 20 seconds. Continue to add liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clings in a ball to the beater. Then mix for an additional 30 seconds. Mound the dough into a ball, wrap it in waxed paper or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 3 days.
  3. Remove the dough from the fridge 15 minutes before you are ready to roll it out. Preheat the oven to 325F and grease two baking sheets. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface, press into a flat disc, and roll with a rolling pin until the dough is 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. For square crackers, use a pizza wheel or sharp knife to cut the dough into 2 inch squares. For round crackers, use a 2-inch biscuit cutter. Any leftover dough can be rerolled for more crackers.
  4. With a spatula, transfer crackers to greased baking sheets, allowing 1 inch between crackers. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating trays halfway through baking, or until the crackers are lightly golden. Turn off the oven, but leave the trays in the oven as it cools for at least one hour.

Storage: Room temp, covered container; 5-7 days.

Freezer: freezer bag, 4 months (recrisp in a 375F oven for 3 minutes)

**All recipes are from Alana Chernila’s The Homemade Pantry**

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by | March 12, 2013 · 8:35 pm

Root Vegetable Chips Recipe

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I’m not gonna lie, I did not expect these to turn out as well as they did.  The way the sugars in the root vegetables caramelize when you roast them is delicious.  They become entirely different tastes.  The harsh bitterness of the radish melts to a golden brown sweetness, the light sweetness of the beet explodes into an almost guilty seeming pleasure.  No worries though, guilt is not something you should worry about when eating these beauties.

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So this idea for roasted root vegetable chips all began with my refrigerator drawer full of slightly dangerous looking vegetables which I had received from my first CSA (community supported agriculture) delivery earlier this month.  I was so excited to for the CSA delivery having all these ideas in my head of what it would be like but then once I collected all my strange looking vegetables and got home I realized what am I going to do with these?  After ignoring them for too long I decided it was time to bring out the beasts.

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And little did I know, the little beasts hiding in my refrigerator were beautiful, sweet chips waiting to be roasted to crispy deliciousness.  It was a discovery up there with Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America.  And the best part is how simple it really is.  All the ingredients you have in your cupboard all you need is to hit up the closest farmer’s market or co-op and pick out all the ugly looking hairy, strange root vegetables you can find, slice em up thin and crisp them into delicacy.

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Ok quickly I am going to talk about CSAs and what they are all about for any of you who don’t know (I had never heard about them before just a few months ago!).  So a CSA, which again stands for community supported agriculture, is a way for farmers to directly connect to consumers.  The consumers pay a one time price, which supports the farm from which the consumer will receive fresh produce from the farm in return for the consumers support.  This could be a weekly, or a monthly delivery depending on the agreement between the farmer and the consumer.  CSAs are an amazing way to eat locally, seasonally and affordably.  I still have a drawer full of vegetables from a delivery in mid January, and since they are all winter vegetables they are holding up beautifully.  If you are interested in supporting sustainable living, local farms and experimenting with new, crazy foods I really suggest looking up where there is a CSA around you! Click on this link to look up CSAs across America, I wonder if they have these in other countries??

But back to the recipe!  Yummy roasted root veggie crisps just for you!

Roasted Root Vegetable Chips Recipe

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Ingredients

  • 2 fingerling potatoes, washed
  • 1 beet, washed and peeled
  • 1 radish, washed
  • 1 carrot, washed and peeled
  • 1 turnip, washed and peeled
  • 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F
  2. Slice all vegetables into very thin (1/8 inch) slices*
  3. Place beets and potatoes on one baking tray (lined with parchment paper if you have it) and all the rest of the veggies (carrots, turnip and radish) on another
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper, toss to cover all the vegetables
  5. Place both sheet pans in the oven, the tray with the carrots, turnips and radish should take about 45 minutes and the tray with the potatoes and beets no more than an hour.  Check regularly to ensure they are not burning

Notes

  • *Ok so you can use a mandolin for this step, yet, due to my recent mandolin injury I still can’t look at the tool without getting queasy. Knifes for me.  There were no mandolins used in the making of these chips.
  • When you take the chips out of the oven you may want to lay them on a paper towel to let the excess oil slide off of them. (I know we only used 2 Tbs of oil and there is excess, these are so much better than any fried chip!)
  • These are great by themselves or could be paired with some hummus (see my three homemade hummus recipes here!), or as a dramatic topping on a squash soup or an open faced sandwich (shout out to all you aspiring great chefs).

Well keep exploring and don’t let any of those beasts of root veggies scare you!

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Baking With Butternut

Well, I am officially on my fourth week back home in good ol’ Brattleboro, Vermont. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love this place. Vermont is truly a state like no other. This is, after all, where I cultivated my love and interest for food and all things related – in a tiny, eclectic town with a Coop that rivals the size of our Price Chopper (but, seriously check out their website, sometimes they post cool stuff, like this article ).

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However, fancy Coops aside, things have started to get a little dull. Vermont is beautiful during the winter, but if you aren’t willing to strap yourself into skis or don’t fancy ten degree weather it can be a little boring. And my favorite part of Vermont during the warmer months, my wonderful, luscious garden, is buried under three feet of not-so-fresh snow. Oh how life would be different if I could run into the garden, load up on wild blueberries and fresh thyme to roll into a flaky pie crust.

Whether you get your produce from the ground, a green market, or supermarket its much easier to feel culinary inspiration when the fruits and veggies are looking a little livelier. However, there are plenty of fun and creative ways to utilize winter produce – even in baking, as I’ve recently learned in some boredom induced, kitchen experimentation. Butternut squash may not be as popular as raspberries, but it makes a mean muffin and you can feel good that instead of paying four bucks for a pint of wilted berries shipped in from god-knows-where, you’re making a responsible, seasonally appropriate decision.

Anyway, I encourage you all to try out this recipe, which I’ve adapted from Heidi Swanson’s website (check it out if you haven’t – it rocks) and her Brown Butter Spice Cake Recipe. Basically, I made it a muffin because that’s more fun and tinkered with a few ingredients. Here you go!

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Butternut Squash Muffins Recipe

Ingredients

1/2 C melted coconut oil

1.5 C whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cardamon

1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp paprika

few grinds of black pepper

3/4 C cane sugar, plus more for topping

1/4 C brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 C butternut squash pureed together with raisins

1/4 C almond milk

½ C thin sliced almonds

chopped chili infused chocolate to taste

 ½ tsp molasses whisked with water and ½ tsp honey

 Start by preheating your oven 350 and oiling and flouring a muffin tin. Now, prepare the almonds. Measure out about ½ C of thin sliced almonds and toast them in your oven. Toast them well, within an inch of their life. Toast them so they are just burnt, but not to a charred mess. Combine flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk together the sugar, eggs, puree, milk, and coconut oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold in almonds and chocolate chunks to taste.

Whisk together molasses, honey, and water and use the back of the spoon to spread on top of muffins when batter is poured into pan. Top with cane sugar and more burnt almond slices. Bake for 25-30 mins, until a knife stuck in the middle comes out clean, but do not over cook – you want to retain the moistness the puree lends to this recipe.

Have more butternut squash than can fit into a muffin? Do not fear! The reason I made these in the first place was to use up some leftovers from this delicious recipe. Got even more leftover? I had even more leftover too (wow, squashes are big). I sautéed mine in a pan with some butter, raisins, salt, pepper, and shredded coconut than mixed it together with some carrots I roasted in olive oil with oregano, mint, and cilantro. Enjoy!

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