For those of you not familiar, let me introduce you to the fritatta. A frittata is an Italian-style omelet and, in my opinion, is much easier to make than the traditional French version. Like omelets, frittatas can be made with endless combinations of cheeses, meats, and vegetables. The ease of preparation for the frittata is two fold. First of all, a fritatta is made in a skillet, and as long as the skillet is large enough, can feed a group. (Those of you who have ever tried to serve omelets to order for a crowd know its not the easiest or most efficient way to serve brunch to a group. And I certainly don’t recommend it!) Second of all, the frittata does not need the constant attention of an omelet, and finishes baking in the oven. You get the best of both worlds with frittatas – ease of preparation and it still tastes as great as its cousin, the omelet. (more…)
I was really tired and almost to the point of suggesting take-out, but I had to pick up some prescriptions, so off to the grocery store I went (I use my in-store grocery pharmacy). While I was waiting for my prescriptions, I started to peruse the produce section. I was pretty sure I was going the bagged salad route – a 5 minute, add some grilled chicken, call it a day meal. However, a large display of portobello mushrooms caught my eye (on sale of course) and I decided I would cook. Even the most tired of people could not have turned up these beauties. I turned around and spinach was buy-one-get-one and the meal began to take shape. I grabbed a tomato and headed to the cheese section. To my luck, my a log of my favorite brand of goat cheese was about to go out of code and was therefore 50% off. (This is a good shopping tip – when produce, meat or other perishable products get close to their sell-by date, many stores will discount the item. As long as you use the food that night, there is nothing wrong and you usually get a great deal.)
So I headed home with my prescirption, portobellos, spinach, a tomato and a small log of herb goat cheese. I knew the general dish I was going for, but wanted to see if there were any special ways to jazz up a simple mushroom. I found a great marinade on epicurious.com (this should be your culinary internet go-to, after the blog of course:) and allowed the whole portobellos to sit in a great blend of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, soy, marsala wine and some herbs and spices. The original recipe called for a 4 hour marinating time, but since I was originally thinking take-out, that simply wasn’t happening. I got the mushrooms soaking as soon as I got home, but by the time dinner rolled around they couldn’t have been marinating more than a hour and they turned our great. Portobellos are easy to marinate because you can use their cap shape to your advantage. When the marinade is poured over the mushrooms, a large amount collects in their cap and is allowed to soak. Portobellos on their own are always great, but the addition of a couple of key flavors really helps to make this a WOW dish. (more…)
This recipe is titled ricotta cheesecake, however I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a cheesecake. I admit that I was not anticipating the texture of cake that I ended up with. Instead of a smooth, creamy, somewhat dense cake, this ricotta cake lends itself to a light and fluffy texture. With more subtle flavors of ricotta and a touch of lemon zest, the cake is a nice clean canvas. I think this would be perfect to serve with tea or coffee in the afternoon – possibly an addition to a brunch. However, as a dessert, I think it could use a little jazzing up.
I wanted to create a dessert that mimicked the light, airiness of the cake; I did not want to weigh the cake down with the addition of heavy flavors. Trying to stay in season, I spread a thin layer of lemon curd (you can make your own, or buy good quality at the stores these days) and then topped the cake with an assortment of fresh berries. This way the topping did not detract from the cake, but helped to give it the little extra umph that made the cake a Dessert – not just a simple cake. (more…)
Yes, I am that crazy that I am now making my own cheese! Actually, making ricotta is supposedly very simple, so I decided that I would give it a try. (It was my day off, why not?) The recipe sounded simple enough…1/2 gallon of whole milk, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, and a teaspoon of salt. That’s it – all you need to make your own creamy ricotta cheese. If you have never had fresh ricotta, you are missing out. Unlike the processed brands found in grocery stores, fresh ricotta has a light airiness about it. Without sounding over-dramatic, it has the texture of what you would imagine a creamy cloud. The flavor is subtle, yet with a sweet tang, and with millions of uses and recipes, fresh ricotta is certainly a treat to cook and bake with.
With much anticipation, I set to work boiling a large pot of whole milk. And in this process, I certainly tested the “watched pot does not boil.” I stood there, in front of the stove, for what seemed like hours. I was excited to get to the curdling stage and so, like an impatient child, literally stood and watched milk boil. (I know you are thinking, what kind of time does this girl have to sit and watch milk boil? Unfortunately things like this just really intrigue me.) The recipe called for the salted milk to come to a slow boil. And so I watched as it began to simmer, thinking ok – just a few more minutes. And then it boiled lightly and I thought, “now?” To be sure, I let the milk come to a full rolling boil. I reached behind and grab the lemon juice, and by the time I turned back around, the milk formed a thick foam and almost appeared to begin curdling (picture on right). I dumped in the lemon juice quickly and gave a stir to find large curds already formed. (The recipe said that it would take 1-2 minutes after the addition of the lemon juice for the curds to form – clearly my curds were as impatient as I was.) To be on the safe side, I let the milk boil for an extra minute, and then fished out my curds using a small mesh sieve. The recipe directed the ricotta drain for 1 minute. Well, it took me about 5 minutes to remove all the curds, so by the time the last addition went into the colander, I was much past the original “draining” time. Oh well, I figured it would be fine. I was excited enough as it was that I had curds at all! (more…)