Sunday, August 17, 2014

Making Fresh Ricotta

I love cheese, and it all starts there. Ricotta is one of my favorites, it's so versatile and when you make it at home it is absolutely divine. I particularly like serving it with with peaches, berries or tomatoes.  I made grilled peaches with a honey glaze and lemon-thyme for the food truck and they flew out the window.  The food truck has been such a great adventure, I am having so much fun creating menus with what is in season and fresh every day.  I don't think I've repeated myself yet, there's just so much I want to make and this is giving me the opportunity to do so.  It is certainly a lot more work than setting a menu and repeating it, and I'm sure more cost effective too.  But that's not what this is about for me right now.  I am reveling in having to be creative enough to come up with three inventive quality menus every week.  I guess at some point I'll have to pick my favorites and go with those, but it seems that by the time that happens, it will be a whole new season with a whole different crop of fruits and veggies to work with.  Lets just say I am not likely to become bored with it, boredom is my greatest enemy.  I hate to admit it, but I'd rather do things the hard way in order to produce something I am excited about.  

You won't need any fancy cheese making ingredients to make this, but you will need a good candy making thermometer and some cheesecloth.  I used whole milk and buttermilk for this recipe, next time I will experiment by adding cream for a silkier and richer consistency.  With what I had leftover, I made roast tomato and ricotta tartines- pretty scrumptious!  The cheese will keep for about a week in the refrigerator, obviously mine didn't make it that long. 

Home-Made Ricotta

Deep-Fry or Candy thermometer

Stainless steel pot

8 cups whole milk
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Stack several squares of cheesecloth in a colander and set the colander over a large bowl.

2. Combine the milk and buttermilk in a large pot and attach the thermometer to the side.
Place the pot over high heat .  Stir constantly as curds form and when thermometer reaches 175-180 degrees, curds will separate and float.  Turn off the heat.

3.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer curds to prepared colander and sprinkle with salt.  Gather the cheesecloth around the ricotta pressing gently to release some of the liquid.  Let the ricotta rest about 20 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Fresh Fig Galette with Mascarpone

It's fig season in Louisiana, they start coming in around the beginning of July.  I usually have enough to harvest for about a month and it never seems quite long enough. I took advantage of the bounty and made these little fig happies for the food truck last week.   Oh yes, new project...In a collaboration with another restaurant owner, we opened a food truck called PRONTO.  The truck is parked in front of my shop, I open it as often as I can and let people know by posting the menu on Instagram and Facebook, (@gourmetgirls).  I'm doing most of the cooking so things have been have been extra hectic, but have gone remarkably well.  It's amazing how many familiar faces I've seen from my days at The Silver Spoon.  People have come out of the woodwork, it's been so nice to see so many loyal customers,  I feel really blessed.  The truck has proven to be a lot of fun, I've sold out every day so far which is extremely rewarding since I feel like I'm filling a need for fresh healthy food.  The best part is I get to make the food I love to eat and prepare.  With the truck it's basically whatever is in season, fresh, mostly local and organic if possible. I'm officially in foodie heaven! 

I made the galettes for PRONTO on it's opening day and they've been a hit since, selling out pretty early the days I've had them.  I guess I'm not the only one who likes dessert first! The dough is from my mincemeat pie recipe, it uses whole wheat pastry flour which holds up really well while still being super flaky. I used the food processor since I was (am always) short on time. If the food processor is your method of choice, just be sure to pulse in short bursts and only until the shortening is incorporated.  I added the liquid mixture to the dough in a large bowl and only enough liquid to pull the dough together.  I rolled the dough into a 3" diameter roll, wrapped it and then sliced it into 12 disks to make the galettes.  

Fig Galettes

1 recipe pie dough

2 pints figs, stemmed and sliced in half
1/2 cup fig jam
1- 8oz. container marscapone
1 egg, lightly beaten
granulated sugar for sprinkling tops

Preheat Oven to 375

1. Make pie dough according to direction in link, refrigerate an hour or overnight.  Once the dough is chilled, slice into 3" wide and 1/4" tall disks, (see note above).  

2. On a lightly floured surface roll out disks to about 5" in diameter.  Place about a tablespoon of mascarpone in center and gently spread just in the center of disk an inch from the edges with an off-set spatula.

3. Place a small amount of fig preserves on top of cheese and top with about 6 fig halves.  Gently fold the edges of the tarts toward the center- some will overlap.  Brush some of the beaten egg over dough and sprinkle the whole galette generously with sugar.

4. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

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