Limes Optional: Shredded Beef Tacos with Cabbage Carrot Slaw

shredded beef tacos with cabbage-carrot slaw and cotija cheese

shredded beef tacos with cabbage-carrot slaw and cotija cheese

Has anyone noticed the tragedy of lime shortage that is upon us?!?! About 2 weeks ago I decided we should stop by Jon’s supermarket, our favorite store for produce, especially produce required for Mexican recipes. My husband commented something along the lines “okay, let’s go get you your $10 of produce”, but it turned out my bill instead of coming to slightly bellow $10, it came to $11!!! Which, of course you may say it’s not such a big difference and it’s still a low price for my big bag of grocery, the appalling thing was that more than $3 of the 11 were paid for 5 (!!!) limes. While I admit that I’ve been spoiled by rarely paying more than 10-20 cents a lime, $3 seemed quite steep at a store where cilantro goes for 5-7 bunches/$1. Not to mention we are in CA where Mexican produce is almost local! That’s when I remembered subtle references to a lime shortage in some recent recipes. A quick google search revealed that indeed there is a lime shortage and the culprits are bad weather, disease, and Mexican drug cartels. You can read a bit about it here. The lime shortage was also reflected in the tiny oddly shaped slices that got served at the Taco Madness festival in Los Angeles. If you love Mexican food and/or margaritas I probably don’t have to tell you what a tragedy this is! This past weekend there weren’t even any limes available at the store…sigh! I hope the drug cartels will at least sell some of the limes to the US so I can still buy them.

This recipe comes from the now very popular on this blog Cook’s Illustrated March-April 2014 issue. Other winning recipes from this issues are this massaman curry and these amazing scones. Instead of lime juice, this recipe uses cider vinegar as the acid source. I still added juice from one lime to the slaw, but the recipe doesn’t require it. I used less beef than the recipe suggests so the quantities are adjusted but not always proportional to the recipe. I made my own oddly shaped tortillas following this recipe. I made this recipe with both bone-in and boneless short ribs and both work well, although the bone-in had more fat and were slightly easier to shred. I debated using a chile spiced beer for this, but after our last experience with spicy beer (Punishment) I decided it’s best to avoid it. I felt truly punished tasting that beer, so punished that it will take me a while until I’ll sip another beer with chiles…except for the 5 Vultures, but so far I haven’t seen any in our stores.

Ingredients (serves 4 or more with additional sides):

  • 1 cup beer (I used a German lagger)
  • 1/3 cup cider
  • 1 dried ancho chile, stemmed, seeded, and broken in ~1 inch pieces
  • 2 Tb tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves crushed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large onion sliced in 1 inch rounds
  • 2 pounds beef short ribs cut in ~ 2 inch pieces
  • cabbage carrot slaw (3/4 cup cider vinegar, juice from 1 lime (or more cider vinegar), 1/2 cup water, 1 Tb sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 head cabbage sliced, 1/2 onion sliced thinly, 2 large carrots shredded, 1 serrano, 1 tsp dry oregano, 1 cup fresh cilantro)
  • 16 tortillas
  • cotija cheese

Preheat oven to 325 F. Place onion rounds on the bottom of a Dutch oven.

onion

onion

Whisk together the first 10 ingredients, salt (~1 tsp) and pepper (~1/2 tsp). Add the beef chunks and mix. Place beef chunks over the onion. Pour over the liquid.

beef on top of onion

beef on top of onion

Cover pot and place in the oven. Cook until meat gets very tender 2.5 – 3 hrs. Pardon the dirty pot ;-)

cooked beef

cooked beef

Meanwhile work on the slaw. I used my food processor to slice the cabbage, shred the carrots, and chop the cilantro and serrano pepper. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lime juice, water, sugar, salt, and oregano. Add the cabbage, carrots, onion, pepper, and cilantro. Mix, cover, and refrigerate for ~ 1 hour or overnight.

cabbage carrot slaw

cabbage carrot slaw

Shred beef. Place beef on top of warm tortillas. Top with the slaw and cotija cheese. Skip the lime wedges as the slaw is sour enough ;-)

 

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Tea-Time in Style: British Barberry Scones with Rum Peach Jam

British-Style Scones with Rum Peach Jam

British-Style Scones with Rum Peach Jam

After Sophie at dinnersforwinners mentioned Yotam Ottolenghi’s cardamom chicken quite a few times in her posts and comments, I decided to finally give it a try several weeks ago. The most time consuming task was finding barberries! I was almost ready to give up and just use currants (not that I could see any at the stores I went to), when I remembered a new mediterranean grocery store in our neighborhood. Thanks to wikipedia’s insightful knowledge, I was able to readily spot a box of barberries under their Persian name of zereshk. I don’t know how people used to find some of the trickier ethnic ingredients before wikipedia :-) I’ve made the cardamom chicken a few times now, but I barely made a dent in my supply of barberries. That’s when I decided I should try to find something to bake with them. As it happens, the March-April ’14 Cook’s Illustrated issue has a recipe for British-Style Currant Scones. Since currants were offered as an alternative to barberries in the chicken dish, I figured barberries could just as well replace currants in the scones. The barberries are quite tart, so the scones are best served with some sweet jam and/or butter. I decided to use some rum peach jam I made this past fall after we went fruit picking. These scones were amazing with a nice cup of tea ;-) I highly recommend the Japan Genmaicha tea from TeaGschwendner!

Ingredients (makes 7 scones):

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tb baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1 Tb chunks
  • 1/4 cup barberries
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (I always use whole milk when baking, but the recipe suggests low-fat milk can also be used)
  • 1 egg
  • jam for serving (8 peaches, 3/4-1 cup sugar, pinch of salt, 1 tsp lemon zest, 1 1/2 Tb lemon juice, 1 Tb rum – makes ~ 1 pint)

Place oven rack in the upper-middle position. Preheat oven to 500F. In a food processor pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until combined (a few pulses). Add butter and pulse until mix looks like fine crumbs (15-20 pulses). Place mix in a bowl and add your barberries.

barberries

barberries

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Save ~1 Tb of the mix to brush the scones later.

egg-milk mix

egg-milk mix

Fold egg-milk mix into the flour-barberry mix using a spatula. Knead until a crack-free ball can be formed (20-30 times). Press onto a floured surface into a disk shape. Roll until it is about 1 inch thick (9-10 inches in diameter). I was able to press mine into a 1 inch disk without using a rolling pin.

scone dough

scone dough

Using a 2 1/2 inch floured round cutter, or in my case a beer glass :-), cut out 4 scones. Gather the dough, press into a disk, and cut 2 more rounds. Use your hands to knead the remaining dough into a round scone…it won’t be as pretty, but it will still be tasty! Place scones on baking sheet rimmed with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

pretty little scones before baking

pretty little scones before baking

Brush scones with the reserved egg-milk wash and place into the oven. Reduce oven to 425F. Bake scones until risen and golden brown (recipe says 10-12 min, but it was more like 15-18 in my oven). Remove scones from oven, transfer to wire rack, and let cool.

pretty little scones baked

pretty little scones baked

Serve with jam/butter and a nice cup of tea/coffee.

If interested in making your own jam, keep reading on how to make rum peach jam. Directions adapted from here.

Peel, seed, and chop peaches. In order to make the peeling easier, I cut an X on top of the peaches, submerged them in boiling water for about a minute, then transferred them to an ice-water bath.

peeled peaches

peeled peaches

Chop peaches, combine them with ~ 1/2 cup sugar, cover and let macerate overnight in the fridge. 

peaches and sugar

peaches and sugar

Place macerated peaches in a large pan. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Cook until fruit softens.

peach jam in the making

peach jam in the making

Add lemon juice, zest, and salt, and continue cooking while breaking the peaches into smaller chunks. Cook until desired consistency. Taste and adjust sugar. Add rum and stir. 

peach jam!

peach jam!

At this point you are ready to either can it, or place it in a jar for refrigeration. I chose not to can it following the advice in this NYT column.

Spoon some on a nice barberry scone ;-)

rum peach jam on barberry scone

rum peach jam on barberry scone

These British-style scones turned out nice and flaky and they went very well with my peach jam. They will keep for a few days, or you can freeze them and then reheat them in the oven.

Now you are ready for tea time ;-)

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Massaman Chicken Curry

Massaman Chicken Curry with Potatoes

Massaman Chicken Curry with Potatoes

Here is another success story from “Andreea actually follows a recipe” series :-) While I cook almost everything from scratch, certain food projects do provide more satisfaction than others, and making this curry paste was definitely satisfying and worth the extra time. In my humble opinion, this is the best massaman chicken curry I’ve ever had, and I have the amazing chefs at Cook’s Illustrated (Mar-Apr 2014 issue) to thank for! When I first opened a CI magazine, I wondered why a thin, mostly black and white food magazine can cost so much. This question was quickly answered as I read through the recipes and advice columns…you don’t pay for pretty pictures, you pay for the research and testing that goes behind each published recipe! If however you don’t have the time to prepare the paste from scratch or do not own a food processor, Bon Appetit recommends Maesri Thai massaman curry paste which can be purchased from Amazon. Seriously, is there anything you cannot purchase from Amazon these days? :-)

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

  • ~ 1 cup massaman curry paste (6 dry New Mexican chiles, 4 shallots, 7 garlic cloves, 1/2 cup fresh ginger, 1/4 cup water, 41/2 tsps lime juice, 41/2 tsps vegetable oil, 1 Tb fish sauce, 1 tsp five-spice powder, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp pepper)
  • 1 Tb vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can coconut milk (I used the cream from TJs, do not use light versions)
  • 1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes cut into ~1 inch pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts
  • salt to taste (1/2-1 tsp, remember the paste has fish sauce!)
  • ~1 lb chicken chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tsps lime zest
  • cilantro for garnish
  • rice and sriracha sauce for serving

Preheat oven to 350 F. Roast chiles on a aluminum foil covered baking sheet for 5-10 min or until puffed and fragrant. Let cool.

roasted chiles

roasted chiles

Preheat broiler. Broil unpeeled shallots and garlic cloves until soft and slightly charred (~10 min). Let cool then peel.

broiled shallots and garlic

broiled shallots and garlic

Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles, break into 1-2 inch pieces, and place into the food processor. Process until ground (1-2 min). Add the peeled shallots and garlic, as well as the remaining ingredients. Process until a smooth paste forms (a few minutes). Marvel at your amazing curry paste ;-) Refrigerate until ready to use.

massaman curry paste from scratch!!!

massaman curry paste from scratch!!!

To make the curry, heat oil in a large skillet/saucepan over medium heat. Add curry paste and cook until it starts browning (a few minutes). If you look at the contact surface between the skillet and the paste you will see the change in color.

cooked curry paste

cooked curry paste

Add the coconut milk, broth, onion, potatoes, and peanuts. Stir until homogenous and let simmer until potatoes are starting to get tender (10-15 min).

curry sauce with potatoes

curry sauce with potatoes

Add chicken and continue simmering until chicken is cooked through and potatoes are tender (10-15 min). Turn off the stove and add lemon zest.

massaman chicken curry with potatoes

massaman chicken curry with potatoes

Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro. Sriracha can be used to add some spiciness to it.

massaman chicken curry read to eat

massaman chicken curry read to eat

This is a creamy and vibrant mild curry! The lime juice and zest make it taste very fresh, a quality I don’t usually encounter in the restaurant served massaman curry. Give this a try and most likely you are going to scratch massaman curry from your take out orders…unless you do have an amazing Thai restaurant in your neighborhood that can make it better, in which case consider tipping extra and/or sharing the name of the restaurant ;-)

 

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Fennel Crusted Pork Chops with Potatoes and Shallots

fennel crusted pork chops with potatoes and shallots

fennel crusted pork chops with potatoes and shallots

A few weeks ago, I made a commitment to actually using the cooking the magazines I currently subscribe to (Cook’s Illustrated and Bon Appetit) and singled out a few recipes to test out. I am very proud to say that I stuck to my plan and didn’t get distracted by random produce in the grocery stores :-) I decided to start with this recipe from the February issue of Bon Appetit because not only did it turn out amazing, it was also very easy to make and you can marinate the pork in advance to save some prep time. Unfortunately, this recipe also gave me the most painful cooking injury ever so I had to wait a bit before being able to look at the pictures without cringing from the painful memory. For the love of God, do not, under any circumstances, grab the handle of the cast iron pan after removing it from the 450F degree oven! I ended up spending 6 hours with my hand in an ice water bath and fell asleep with my palm on an ice packet! Miraculously, there were not blisters the next day so I got really lucky this time.

Recipe notes: the pork chops I found at the store were the thin kind, but you can also use thicker bone-in ones (~1″). I marinated 5 for two dinners for two. I didn’t really taste a difference between the chops marinated for 1 hr and the ones marinated overnight.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • marinade for the 5 chops: 2 Tb fennel seeds, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp chili powder, salt, pepper, 3 Tb oil
  • 1 Tb oil
  • 2 pork thin chops (or 1 big bone-in chop)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
  • 1 large shallot, cut into 8ths
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves
  • 2 tsps red wine vinegar

Toast fennel seeds in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant and starting to pop a bit (a few minutes). Stir or shake skillet often not to burn them. Prepare marinade by mixing the toasted fennel seeds with the oil, garlic, paprika, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Rub pork chops with the spice mix. You can marinate them in a ziploc bag, but I just placed them on a plate that I covered with plastic wrap. Let marinate for 30 min – overnight in the fridge.

pork chops marinating

pork chops marinating

Remove chops from the fridge. Preheat oven to 450 F. Heat oil in an ovenproof (cast-iron) skillet over medium heat. Cook pork chops until browned on one side (2 -4 min). Turn pork chops and add potatoes and shallots to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and stir.

chops with potatoes and shallots

chops with potatoes and shallots

Cook until pork is browned on the second side and the internal temperature reaches 135F (2-4 minutes). Remove pork from the skillet. Place skillet in the oven and cook until potatoes are tender (~15 minutes). Remove skillet from the oven, add back the pork chops (juices too), and mix in the parsley and vinegar. Serve with a nice glass of red wine ;-)

Bon Appetit delivered yet again a great “fast, easy, fresh” dish! Don’t be fooled by appearances, this is no ordinary meat and potatoes dinner, but a very flavorful dish that I will be definitely making again, even despite the traumatic injury.

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Mattar Paneer Masala (Green Peas with Homemade Paneer)

mattar paneer masala

mattar paneer masala

When making this dish, I thought the most time consuming step would be making the paneer, but actually coming up with a name for it took quite sometime as well :-) Basically it is a tomato-based curry with peas and homemade paneer, but that didn’t sound appealing enough so I tried to come up with an Indian name as best as I could. Following my successful attempt at making ricotta, I decided my next attempt at cheese making should be the Indian cheese paneer. The method is pretty much the same, using heat and acid (vinegar or lemon juice) to curdle the milk proteins, but unlike the ricotta, it requires more draining and pressing to make it into a solid block. All in all, not quite as difficult as I thought at the beginning, and all worth it in the end since this might have been the best paneer I’ve tasted, not that I am biased or anything :-) The curry uses a combination of spices that I sometimes don’t even bother measuring precisely, so it can be easily adjusted to individual preferences. You can use fresh tomatoes, but for this recipe I used canned diced ones. You can also choose to process the tomatoes first into a sauce for a smoother sauce. The peas are optional, and so is the cream, or you can replace the cream with yogurt. Frying the paneer can be skipped for a slightly healthier dish, but I find that the frying step improves the dish quite a bit. 

Ingredients (serves 2-4):

  • ~1/2 lb paneer (half gallon whole milk, 4 Tb vinegar or lemon juice), cubed
  • vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 1 serrano chile, sliced
  • 1 inch ginger, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • pinch of asafetida (found at Indian grocery stores)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tb ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (or a few fresh tomatoes chopped)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 – 1 cup green peas
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • chopped cilantro for garnish (a few Tbs)

To make the paneer, follow the first steps in the ricotta making (bring milk to almost boiling, add acid, stir). Upon adding the vinegar, stir the curdles in such a way that they can clump together. 

paneer post vinegar addition

paneer post vinegar addition

Strain the mixture. Wash the cheese with water to remove the residual vinegar. Let it drain for 5 minutes (you can hang it over the sink by the faucet). Place the paneer on a plate trying to move the cheesecloth to the side to avoid defects in shape. Cover it with another plate or a cutting board in my case, place weight on top and let it drain/compact for 1-2 hrs. 

pressing the paneer

pressing the paneer

Once the paneer is pressed into a compact mass and you’re ready to use it, slice it into cubes. For the record, mine weighed 250 grams. 

paneer!

paneer!

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, chile, garlic, ginger, and cook until the onion has softened (3 – 5 min). Add the cumin, asafetida, coriander, turmeric, chili powder, cardamom, and cook until fragrant (1 min). I somehow always manage to get turmeric everywhere, so be careful because it can stain! 

spices

spices

Add tomatoes and cook until they starts to leave some oil and are reduced by about half.

paneer5Meanwhile, fry the paneer. You can do this in a deep fryer, but since I do not have one, I just used a skillet and fried it until golden on both sides (3-4 minutes/side) over medium high heat.

fried paneer cubes

fried paneer cubes

Add paneer and green peas to the tomato sauce.

paneer and green peas

paneer and green peas

Add cream, garam masala, and cook for a few more minutes until the peas are tender and flavors are blended. Season with salt if necessary (depending on the sodium content of your canned tomatoes, this step can be optional). 

paneer and green peas curry

paneer and green peas curry

Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro!

paneer curry with rice

paneer curry with rice

While I am not sure how authentic my tweaked recipe is, this is one delicious curry and the paneer turned out amazing! Sometimes, when a dish requires lengthy prep-work, I almost don’t want to be impressed by the result :-) Now that I know how good homemade paneer can taste, I might not be able to settle for store bought easily. The good news is that the paneer can be made ahead and refrigerated! 

 

 

 

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Blood Orange Greek Yogurt Olive Oil Cake

blood orange greek yogurt olive oil cake

blood orange greek yogurt olive oil cake

Last week during a run I was just thinking about how I haven’t baked a dessert in a while and decided to remedy that. I believe my “I don’t bake it, I don’t eat it” policy is pretty sound, but I do love baking and I can always run longer to burn the extra calories :-) Since I had some blood oranges hanging out in the pantry, I decided to attempt a blood orange yogurt cake. I first read about yogurt cakes in the “Lunch in Paris” book and after baking one, I was in love! The cakes are pretty easy to make, they’re not overly sweet, and double as both breakfast and dessert pretty well. What’s not to love about them? :-) As it turns out, there is one famous blood orange cake that can use either buttermilk or yogurt, and I believe it’s been made famous because of the olive oil. I’ve seen a few olive oil cake recipes, and I’ve made some cakes using vegetable oil instead of butter before, so I decided to give this cake a try. I almost switched the olive oil for plain vegetable oil upon smelling it, but I decided to stick with it and as it turns out the flavor is pretty mild upon baking. I believe the recipe is originally from A Good Appetite, but I used the NYTimes article. The cake is also featured on the Smitten Kitchen blog.

Recipe notes: my blood oranges were on the small side so I used more than the recipe suggested. I used full fat greek yogurt, but regular yogurt or buttermilk should work as well.

Ingredients (~8 servings):

  • 4 blood oranges (plus 3 more for compote)
  • butter/oil for pan
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ~ 1/2 cup greek yogurt (details bellow)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • honey blood orange compote (3 oranges, 2-3 tsp honey)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a cake pan. I used a round pie pan, but you can also use a loaf pan.

Supreme 2 oranges. I have never done this before, but thanks to my good knife I managed pretty well in the end. Basically you have to cut off the ends, peel both the peel and the pith of the orange, then cut out the flesh from between the membranes.

supreme 2 blood oranges

supreming blood oranges

And here is the resulting ‘skeleton’:

supremed orange

supremed orange

Zest 2 blood oranges. Rub the zest with the sugar in a medium bowl.

blood orange zesty sugar

blood orange zesty sugar

Halve the 2 zested oranges and juice them in a 1/3 measuring cup. This should yield about 1/4 cup juice. Fill the 1/3 cup with yogurt. Add to the sugar, followed by a 1/3 cup yogurt and whisk together. You basically want 2/3 cup total of juice and yogurt.

"bloody" cake mix

“bloody” cake mix

Whisk in the eggs one at a time, followed by the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

cake batter post flour addition

cake batter post flour addition

Whisk in olive oil 1/3 cup at a time. Break the supremed blood orange pieces on top of the batter and fold in using a spatula.

cake batter done!

cake batter done!

Pour cake batter into the pan.

ready to be baked!

ready to be baked!

Bake for 50 minutes, or until cake it’s puffed up and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

baked blood orange cake

baked blood orange cake

While cake is cooling make the blood orange compote. Supreme 3 more oranges and place slices into a bowl. Cover with ~ 2 tsp honey. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then mix. Taste and add more honey if necessary.

Slice cake and serve with blood orange compote!

cake with blood orange compote

cake with blood orange compote

Don’t get spooked by the olive oil, this cake is famous for a reason! It is tasty, moist, and flavorful. Definitely a keeper in my book ;-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Homemade Ricotta and Feta Tart with Sun-dried Tomatoes

Ricotta Tart

Ricotta Tart

One of the labs in this online science cooking class I registered involved making homemade ricotta. I don’t cook very much with ricotta, and I wasn’t entirely convinced I should be making it so I decided to first look for a recipe to motivate my cheese making. Since the Ottolenghi eggplant was a success I decided to check out some of his ricotta recipes in the Guardian, and that’s when I came across this ricotta tart. The first time I attempted to make the ricotta, my yield was not that high, so I ended up making something else with it. The resulting whey was still milky, so I decided that one problem might be that the milk I had purchased for it was too homogenized and the milk proteins were harder to curdle. Thankfully, I was able to find non-homogenized milk at the store and when I gave that a try, I finally had a clear whey! Success! Of course, this milk is more expensive, but still cheaper than buying your own ricotta. As an added bonus, this homemade ricotta will only contain milk, salt, and no preservatives!

Ingredients (serves 4 with a side salad):

  • 1 pastry crust (from here or store bought)
  • 250 g of ricotta (1 cup) (1 L milk, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 Tb white vinegar)
  • 4 oz feta cheese
  • 1 Tb butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped, split in half
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 yolk
  • 15 g basil leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 100 g sun-dried tomatoes + some of the oil

To make the ricotta, first arrange some cheesecloth (2-4 single layers) over a strainer and place it over a bowl. Heat the milk and salt to 198 F.

milk - before

milk – before

Remove milk from heat, add the vinegar, and then stir a few times slowly. Let it sit without stirring. You want the milk to coagulate, but too much stirring can prevent that according to some recipes. I found that a few stirs sufficed.

milk - after

milk – after

Let it cool. Lab suggests to let it cool to 97 F using an ice bath, some recipes suggests to let it cool at room temperature for times ranging from 5 – 30 minutes. I used an ice bath the first time, didn’t use one the second time to prevent disturbing  the pot, and it worked just fine. When cool, strain the curds.

straining

straining

This allows for the whey and vinegar to get removed. After most of the liquid is gone, fold the cheesecloth over the curds and let it strain for about half an hour. Refrigerate the ricotta until ready to use.

For the tart, start by preheating the oven to 350 F. Roll out the dough and place it in a pie dish. You can either just cut a circle on the bottom, or I chose to leave ~ 1/2 inch edge. Pierce with a fork and par-bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool.

tart shell

tart shell

In the meantime, preheat butter over low-medium heat. Add onion and half the garlic and cook until softened, but haven’t started to brown (15 – 20 minutes). Let cool.

onions!

onions!

Using an electric mixer whisk the eggs and the yolk. Fold in the ricotta, feta, cooked onions, and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the ricotta mix over the tart shell.

tart ready to be baked

tart ready to be baked

Bake tart for 30 – 45 minutes or until set. Meanwhile, process/chop the sun-dried tomatoes, 2- 3 Tb of their oil, and the remaining garlic.

sun-dried tomato spread

sun-dried tomato spread

Spread the tomato paste over the tart when it comes out of the oven. Let cool for a bit, slice and serve warm with a side salad and a nice glass of wine!

Overall, I felt very accomplished making my own ricotta and I thought it tasted better than store-bought, but maybe I was subjective after the work I put in :-) The tart definitely made for a delicious vegetarian dinner!

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