Saturday, July 16, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
I have to admit, I always get really jealous when I see pictures of people having a barbeque. I have worked weekends for the longest time and always got stuck with days off in the week. It has its advantages, I have to admit, but I have never been invited to a barbeque in the middle of the week. Now that I did have the chance to join a friend to their friends house for a house warming summer barbeque, I was all over the idea. Since I am still cleaning out cabinets and getting rid of random little jars I decided to take some things to the party. I stuffed a jar of harissa and and a jar of mango butter in my purse and I was on my way.
The friend I was going with suggested we pick up something to throw on the grill so we went to the supermarket together and ended up buying a batch of scallops. I decided to make a "BBQ-Sauce" by mixing the harissa and the mango butter, marinated the scallops in the sauce and crusted the scallops in crushed peanuts, which were already available at the party. The host made a delicious Thai treat. I decided there and then that, since Thai cuisine is undiscovered territory for me, I must experiment more with these flavors.
The scallop skewers took only a couple of minutes on either side. I had to be careful not to burn the peanuts so I chose a place on the grill were the flame was tempered. In hindsight, I could also have grilled them just seasoned with salt and pepper and then served them with harissa-mango sauce and crushed peanuts. They were delicious though, and it was wonderful to see complete strangers munch at them.
The afternoon went by too quickly with a never ending supply of chops, beer can-chicken, cabbage salad, potato salad, watermelon-vodka coolers, fireflies and eventually candle lit conversation. What a good way to forget about your troubles and meet new people.
Monday, July 11, 2011
I have been looking into homemade cheeses lately and ricotta is one of the easiest to do. There are no special additives that you need to order online like rennet, which is used in most cheeses, so its a perfect one to start the cheese making journey with.
8 Cups milk
1/2 C Cream
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp white vinegar
Bring the milk, cream and salt to just under a simmer, stirring all the while. If you have a thermometer, your are looking for 180-190F. When the desired temperature has been reached turn off the heat and stir in the acid. Let it sit for 15 minutes, you will see the solids starting the separate from the whey.
After 15 minutes or so, strain it through a colander lined with a tea towel and let it sit for at least an hour, up to two hours. The longer it sits, the more solid it will become. I use the why for many kinds of things, it makes a great oatmeal porridge, or in this case I used it in my pancakes. Just remember that it is salted and acidic, its fine to drink straight, so just taste for seasoning before you add it to anything.
For the pancakes, I like the use what I call the 3 bowl method. One for the dry ingredients, one for the wet ingredients and one for the egg whites. I beat the egg whites first, this way I don't have to worry about washing the whisk as thoroughly. (egg whites don't stiffen well with an oily whisk). But if you already have your favorite pancake recipe, you can just add ricotta to that. About half a cup of ricotta to 1 cup of flour.
Ingredients for the pancakes:
10 oz flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 oz raw sugar
2 eggs separated
1 C plus 2/3 C liquid (milk, buttermilk, whey, ...)
2 oz melted butter or oil
1 1/2 C homemade ricotta
In the wet ingredients I used, whey, milk, eggs and oil. But there is a lot of flexibility here, I always just use what I have, cream, butter and buttermilk make it in there often.
The ricotta goes in with the wet ingredients. It will look a bit curdled but wont affect the end product.
Then add the beaten whites and add the dry ingredients carefully without over mixing the batter. Be careful not to deflate the whites. To prevent lumps in the flour many recipes call for sifting the flour in. I think its too much trouble for what its worth and I just give the flour a good whisk and add it to the wet mix in 3 additions.
You know you need to turn your pancake when these small bubbles form on the surface, about 1 1/2 minutes. If it takes significantly longer or shorter, your heat needs to be adjusted accordingly.
I like to eat mine with maple syrup or jam.