Friday, March 27, 2009

Ricotta revisited: pancakes

Since my first shot at ricotta didn't turn out quite how I wanted I went back did a little research and tried again. The great recipes my fellow Recipes to Rival members submitted had nothing to do with it, honest. As it turns out I was overcooking the stuff, apparently 185 is not boiling, it is should in fact never boil. All I can say is oops and look what I did this time.

8 cups whole milk
2 cups dry white wine

1. Place buttermilk and milk in a pot, heat on med-low heat until it reaches 185 degrees.
2. It will begin to separate into curds and whey. Be sure to stir occasionally to make sure no curds stick to the bottom and burn. You will see that as the temperature approaches 185, the whey becomes clearer as the curds coagulate more.
3. Pour the curds into a cheesecloth lined colander. Tie the ends of the cheesecloth together and hang for 10-15 minutes. Remove from cheesecloth and place in an airtight container.

With it I made Ricotta Pancakes as featured on A Good Appetite by Kat. Also just in time for bbd #18 - Quick Breads hosted by Fun & Food Blog.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
(from Bobby Flay) Makes 10 pancakes.
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t salt
2 T sugar (we used 3)
1 c ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/2 c milk
1 lemon, zested & juiced
black and blue jelly
powdered sugar
butter for the griddle

Whisk together the cheese, eggs, lemon zest & juice. Stir in the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, salt & sugar just until combined. Melt a little butter on a hot griddle. Pour 1/4 c of batter on the griddle for each pancake. Cook until brown on both sides, flipping once.

Top pancakes with black and blue jelly & a little powdered sugar.

Temper's Take:
I used my thermometer and low and behold at 180 had clear whey and curds. no boiling no scorching and the end result was not dry. I still over cooked it a tad (wasn't patient enough reading the thermometer) but much better, and the wine added a nice subtle fruity element.

Which made it perfect for the pancake. the dough was thick, almost muffiny, which got me thinking and I may be experimenting in the future. I ate the first several straight and they were wonderful, tangy and light, just great. I wasn't as impressed once I added the powdered sugar and black and blue jelly. Next time I think fresh fruit is the way to go or something lighter like whipped cream. And there will definitely be a next time for these.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cream of Mushroom soup

Ever since I had this a year ago I have wanted to make it for myself. I was stopped in this pursuit because I was sure it came from Alton Brown. I still swear the recipe I printed out back then said Alton Brown on it, it certainly is Good Eats. On the other hand The Barefoot Contessa's recipe is pretty much what I remember.

Cream of Mushroom Soup
5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
5 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms
5 ounces fresh cremini (or porcini) mushrooms
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 carrot, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don't wash them! Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if there are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot. (I like it with toasted bits of nice crusty bread.)

Temper's Take:
MMMMmmmm Good! I left out the flour so it was a little thinner than I preferred. Still good though. I think sourdough makes the best bread to go with it, the tang of the bread offsets the richness of the soup nicely. I used plain ol baby portabellas for the mushroom, but I think I would really like to try it with some other varieties. I also learned that homemade veggie broth is the way to go.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Birthday Pie

Yesterday was my birthday, and as buirthdays go it wasn't half bad. A friend got me a rice cooker and I got myself an icecream maker (and recipe book). I had the day off work so I slept in and had french toast made with french bread and real maple syrup for brunch. for supper it was the freezer section, cheese enchiladas and apple pie.

I like pie, I like pie alot and since I was not going to cook on my birthday that ment no chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting or rhubarb cake, no rhubarb either :(, so my second choice is pie, I like almost all of them, but fruit pies are my favorites, berries, cherries and apples (but not blueberry) are all good.

The highlight of my day is discovering you can make a wishlist on, I spent alot of time windows shopping and marking all the things I plan on getting. Oh how I drooled over the Kitchen Aides, and I was seriously eyeing the pasta maker before I decided the ice cream maker would be a better deal.

So happy birthday to me and I hope you had a good day as well.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ginger Pear Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

I received some lovely Ginger Pear Balsamic vinegar from a friend who had purchased it at Target and then discovered it had to many carbs for her diet. So I got lucky and have a new toy to play with. My first thought was wouldn't that be good with pork (I might have been influenced by the pork loin in the freezer). So off to google to find recipes. I found alot of inspiration but one recipe really jumped out at me. So with out further ado, here it is.

Based off Raspberry Vinegar Pork Chops Recipe from Taste of Home. I had to make a few changes based on what I had available but it is basically the same recipe.

Ginger Pear Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pork tenderloins (1-inch thick)
1/4 cup Ginger Pear Balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
fresh Sage
Fresh Rosemary

Melt butter in a large skillet, add oil. Brown the pork on each side over high heat. Pour off oil; reduce heat to medium-low. Add 1 tablespoons vinegar and garlic. Cover; simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove pork to heated container; cover to keep warm. Add remaining vinegar; stir up browned bits from bottom of skillet. Raise heat and boil until the vinegar is reduced to a thick glaze. Add the sage, rosemary and chicken stock. Boil until liquid is reduced to half of the original volume.
Strain sauce; season with the salt and pepper. Spoon over chops.

I paired this with roasted sweet potato fries that had been tossed in the vinegar and a little oil, then sprinkled with sea salt. I set them to roast while I did the pork (I actually gave it a 15 minute head start).

Temper's Take:
This was so good I did my happy food dance (so named by the Frogman). Who knew vinegar could be so good when reduced, and why didn't they tell me? I literally licked the pan clean (and then my fingers), so uncouth I know but it was that good.

Indra, said it was good, but she missed the Lowery's seasoning salt I usually use, and why do I have to cook so fancy. She also said the sauce tasted like a Christmas tree (the rosemary and balsamic reduction was to blame I am sure, next time I will use something besides rosemary) and the roasted sweet potato fries reminded her of apples (she was right. the vinegar and sweet potatoes combined to taste like apples). so I have permission to do it again if I do some with Lowery's first, I call that a success.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

R2R, Ricotta

This months Recipe to Rival challenge was Ricotta. I was very excited about it. The figuring out what to make with it was a bit of a stumper as it is not an ingredient I usually use. I have made Maybelle's Mom's Great (and I do mean great) Gnocchi and Lasagna and even Cheese cake, but that really is the extent of my experience. So this was a real learning experience for me.

Fresh Ricotta
you'll need:
5 cups 2% milk
1 tbsp vinegar

Place vinegar and milk in a pot, heat on med-low heat until it reaches 185 degrees.

It will begin to separate into curds and whey. Be sure to stir occasionally to make sure no curds stick to the bottom and burn. You will see that as the temperature approaches 185, the whey becomes clearer as the curds coagulate more.

Pour the curds into a cheesecloth lined colander. Tie the ends of the chesecloth together and hang for 10-15 minutes. Remove from cheesecloth and place in an airtight container.

I paired my ricotta with cornmeal crepes and pork loin in a blackberry wine reduction. Overall a success, but there is plenty of room for improvement.

Cornmeal Crepes
5 crepes
1/2 batch cornmeal pancakes
2 well beaten eggs

add the eggs to the cornmeal pancake mix.
then add milk til you reach the desired consistency
pour a portion into a hot skillet and swirl to coat.
cook on med low heat until they are done (do not turn)
gently peel from the pan and set aside to cool (they are delicate so be careful)

Ricotta Stuffing
1 cup ricotta
1 well beaten egg
1 tbsp Honey
Salt and pepper

mix well and wrap in crepes.

Pork with Wine Reduction
Salt and Pepper
Garlic Salt
1 tbsp Butter
2 Garlic cloves sliced
fresh Rosemary
fresh Thyme
Blackberry Wine
1 tbsp Plum preserves

Use salt, pepper and garlic salt on the pork loins and sear both sides
put ricotta stuffed cornmeal crepes in 350 oven while making the sauce.
melt butter and add herbs and garlic, saute gently for 3 minutes
add wine (twice as much wine as you want finished sauce) and reduce by half
add plum preserves and gently stir until it is melted.
remove chunky bits from sauce and serve.

Temper's Take:
The ricotta turned out drier then I expected and I had some problems with scorching and temperature control (next time I am going to try it in the crock pot) But it was good and it was cheese. :) I didn't use buttermilk because I made the mistake of looking at the ingredient list, tapioca starch was one of the more recognizable things on it. I think I would like to try substituting a dry white wine for the butter milk once, it has the potential to be quite good.

The crepes turned out wonderfully and were so much easier then I thought they would be. The stuffing was a good match but my proportions were off (less ricotta more crepe next time) and I really think some parmesan in the crepes and some herbs in the stuffing would be even better.

The pork was lovely and the wine reduction paired perfectly with it. Unfortunately the wine reduction didn't go as well with the crepes. It was too sweet, next time I think I want to try a sauce with a bit of bite to it.