Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Conquering home made ricotta cheese!

Ricotta cheese is very versatile, but tends to be pricey at the store. It is an extremely easy cheese to make. The exponential taste difference makes it worth the extra time. Once you make ricotta cheese, you will never go back to the store brand. It keeps for a week or so in the fridge. Homemade ricotta will elevate strawberry bruschetta. It can also be used in:
  • ravioli
  • lasagna
  • ice cream
  • cannoli
  • cheesecake
  • crostini

Homemade ricotta

Yields: approximately 2 1/2 Cups
  • 8 cups whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt


Heat milk and salt to a boil over medium heat. Stir occasionally to prevent scalding. Once it starts boiling add the lemon juice and stir. You should see the milk curdle and separate from whey. Once it curdles remove from heat. The yellowish liquid is the whey and will be strained off. Remove from heat and strain the mixture through cheesecloth in a strainer. Let sit for 30 minutes to an hour.

1. Bring milk to a boil while stirring
2. Lemon juice to curdle
3. Ricotta formed
4. Cheesecloth placed in a strainer
5. Straining ricotta from whey

Monday, July 14, 2014

A quick and easy week night meal!

Cavatappi translates into corkscrew.Which is fitting for this hollow and spiral pasta. It often has ridges to hold the pasta sauce. The tube is great for allowing peas or herbs to slip inside. This shape can also be used to make a more elegant presentation for macaroni and cheese. If you cannot find this lovely pasta shape, use alternatives such as ziti, macaroni or penne. If you don't have goat cheese on hand use ricotta or mozzeralla. The herbs and protein can be substituted for what you have on hand.

Sizzling tomatoes in garlic and olive oil

Mixture of fresh chopped herbs

Spring Pasta with Roasted Garlic Herb Sauce

Serves: 8-10  Cook Time: 10 min      Prep Time:  45 min

Pasta mixed with all the vegetables
  • 1 lb pasta such as penne or cavatappi
  • 1/2 cup pasta water reserved
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 1/2 cup dill, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup basil, chiffonaded
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut a on 2" bias
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 bulb roasted garlic
  • 3.5 oz goat cheese
  • 1 cup small heirloom tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • salt and pepper to taste


Cook pasta according to package directions.In the last two minutes of cooking pasta,add asparagus. Cook asparagus 2 minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta and asparagus reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive or grape seed oil in a saute pan until smoking. Add shrimp to pan and cook on one side for 1-2 minutes and then turn over and repeat. This may take less or more time depending on the size of your shrimp. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons oil and add garlic and tomatoes. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Set aside. In the same pan of garlic and tomatoes add pasta, pasta water, asparagus, goat cheese, peas, lemon zest, and cook until combined. Toss in fresh herbs and shrimp. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Fabulous pasta dish for dinner tonight!

Monday, July 7, 2014

A sweet n' spicy chicken!

As I'm sure you know, I'm a huge advocate of roasting food to perfection. There are a plethora of ways to roast chicken, but this is my new favorite.This delicious chicken is perfect for entertaining.The skin of the chicken is crispy, caramelized and spicy. If you are not a fan of spice, substitute with paprika or chili powder. This chicken goes fast in my house and it will in yours as well. Its wonderful served with roasted potatoes and a light salad.
Trussed and Patted Dry Chicken
Spicy Cayenne and Honey

Honey Cayenne Mixture
Honey Cayenne Glazed Chicken

Honey Cayenne Chicken

    Serves: 4-6      Cook Time:  1 hour   Prep Time: 5 min

  • 1 whole 3-4 lb. roasting chicken, patted dry
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 11/2 Tablespoons cayenne
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Coating
  • salt and papper

Preheat oven to 450F. Loosen skin over the breast by placing your fingers underneath skin and separating skin from meat. Place some of the mixture underneath the skin. Season the skin with salt and pepper. Cover with a thin coat of olive oil. Use half of the honey cayenne mixture to coat the skin. Roast breast side up and baste every 30 minutes until the rest of the mixture is gone. Cook until a thermometer inserted in between the thigh and breast bone reaches 155F.  Approximately 1-1 1/2 hours. Let rest for a least 20-30 minutes before carving. While the chicken is resting it will continue to cook. This is called carryover cooking. The larger the piece of meat, the more carryover cooking will occur, because there is so much heat trapped inside. When the internal temperature reaches 165F the chicken is ready.
Delectable Roast Chicken

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Back to Basics: Vanilla Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is a exceptional sweetener.  It can be used in your morning coffee, afternoon iced tea or  add some sparkle to your dessert.  Flavor it with herbs such as basil, mint, lavender, sage or rosemary. You can add berries or other fruits to flavor your syrup, as shown in the rhubarb sangria! But let your imagination run wild and take your cocktails or desserts to a new level of flavor.

Vanilla syrup steeping


Serves: 6   Cook Time: 5 min      Prep Time: 0 min    Yield: 2 cups

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 vanilla beans


Combine all ingredients. Heat until sugar is dissolved.  Let vanilla steep for at least 40 minutes or longer if you want a stronger flavor.  When finished with the vanilla beans.  Let dry and add to sugar for an enticing flavor that is wonderful in cookies and pastries!

Finished syrup

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