Monthly Archives: June 2012

Maple Mustard Brussels Sprouts

Even though I am dubious that there is a better recipe than my Tasty Brussels Sprouts, I decided to indulge Woody’s love of mustard with this recipe. It was pretty good, but I still think nothing beats our usual. Also, the mustard got too cooked when added during the process. I also added some afterwards to boost the flavors. It worked well.


  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons butter (preferably organic)
  • 3 cups Brussels sprouts, blemished or tough outer leaves removed, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon prepared dijon mustard [I added more mustard after cooking – I thought the mustard flavor was mellowed too much by cooking]
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Coarsely ground black pepper to taste


In a large, deep skillet, warm oil and butter. When the butter melts, add the Brussels sprouts. Saute for about 5 minutes, until the Brussels sprouts become tender and the outer leaves turn bright green.

Add the mustard, maple syrup, and lemon juice, and saute until the ingredients are well mixed and the Brussels sprouts are nicely glazed.

Season to taste with freshly cracked black pepper. Enjoy!

–Recipe Courtesy Miri Rotkovitz/

Mmmm, mustardy!


Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


Gypsy Pepper Romesco Sauce

Once again, I used too much garlic and ended up with breath from hell. I always exceed the garlic requirements for most recipes, and when something is cooked, it’s not so bad. I forget to be more careful when things are kept raw. This was still a great way to use up the gypsy peppers we so often get from FFTY though.


  • 2-3 Gypsy peppers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup of sliced almonds
  • Fresh herbs of your choosing
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  1. Cut off the tops and bottoms of the peppers and slice an edge to remove the seeds and white ribs.
  2. Lay the peppers flat on a foil-lines pan and put under the broiler until just blackened.
  3. Remove from oven and wrap peppers in foil for 10 minutes. Then, peel the peppers.
  4. In a food processor [or blender], add the peeled peppers, garlic, sliced almonds, herbs, salt, and pepper.
  5. Pulse until combined and stream in the olive oil until incorporated. Serve with grilled chicken, fish, or on grilled bread as bruschetta.

–Recipe courtesy FFTY newsletter/Melissa Germaine.

The garlicy sauce:


Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Uncategorized


Meyer Lemon Curd with Nutmeg

Woody asked me to make lemon curd, since he loves the kind we get from Trader Joe’s. Mine’s not very similar to theirs, but still really good. As usual, I used Meyer lemons and nutmeg. It turned out so well and it’s great on our toast in the morning. The hardest part was trying to photograph it!


  • 3 lemons
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • [Generous grating of nutmeg]


Using a carrot peeler, remove the zest of 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.

Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.

–Recipe Ina Garten/

Curd in a Jar!

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Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Uncategorized


Scalloped Turnips

I have to admit that I don’t generally enjoy turnips. I find them bitter and generally disappointing. Luckily, this recipe we received with them in the FFTY covered them in onions and cream, which helped with my opinion of them!


  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 4 cups peeled, thinly sliced turnips
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 1-quart casserole. Melt 1 Tbsp butter and lightly sauté onions until just wilted.
  2. Layer a third of the sliced turnips in the casserole dish; top with a third of the onion; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of flour, 1/3 teaspoon of salt, and one grind of pepper; pat with dollops from 1 tablespoon of butter. Repeat this layering twice.
  3. Mix milk and cream together and pour over the turnips. Cover and bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes, then remove cover and bake for another 30-45 minutes, or until tender and bubbly.
–Recipe courtesy FFTY newsletter.

The turnips:

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Posted by on June 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


Homemade Yogurt

I’ve always been curious about making yogurt, so I decided to try it as well as making some goat cheese. I bought some starter from Cultures for Health. Of the two experiments, the goat cheese was about 100 times easier than the yogurt. Yogurt is more particular than cheese about maintaining a pretty warm temperature (110F), but not going too high, either. I don’t have a low enough setting on my oven, no crock pot or yogurt maker, and since it was still kind of cool spring weather, insulating it at room temp wasn’t quite enough.

So it was a little frustrating. It took forever to set up (days) and then forever to drain (again, days), and it still wasn’t quite the greek yogurt consistency I was looking for. The taste was pretty good though (I used organic milk from Whole Foods and bulked it up with some dried milk per instructions). I think I’ll continue to make goat cheese, but unless I come across something to help me easily maintain the required temperature, I’ll skip the yogurt in the future.

Supplies for Making Greek Yogurt:

  • Greek Yogurt Starter or some Greek Yogurt from the store (plain, unsweetened)
  • Milk
  • Container for Culturing the Yogurt (glass canning jars work well)
  • Cover for the Container
  • Wooden or Plastic Spoon
  • Heating Method for Culturing the Yogurt, options include:
    • Yogurt Maker
    • Oven that can be set to 110 degrees (sometimes just turning the light on is enough, but be sure to double check the actual temperature)
    • Cube-shaped dehydrator (e.g. Excalibur, TSM or similar model)
    • Crock pot or slow cooker (double check that it’s not getting to warm!)
    • Cooler with warm water bottles and towels
    • Any appliance or method whereby the yogurt can be cultured at 110 degrees for 5-12 hours
  • Method for Straining Yogurt (if desired, to yield the thick consistency similar to store brands of Greek yogurt)
    • Tea towel
    • Multi-layered fine-weave cheese cloth or butter muslin
    • Paper coffee filter
    • Cotton bag
    • Jelly bag
    • Yogurt cheese maker

Making Greek Yogurt:

  • Heat one cup or more of milk to 160 degrees.  Allow the milk to cool to 110 degrees.
  • For each cup of milk, mix in 1.5 – 2 teaspoons of Greek yogurt from a previous batch in a glass or plastic container.  Add ½ of the cooled milk to the starter and mix well.
  • Add the second half of the cooled milk to the mixture and mix well.
  • Cover the yogurt and incubate at 110 degrees for 5-7 hours.
  • Once the yogurt is set (when the jar is tipped, the yogurt shouldn’t run up the side of the jar and should move away from the side of the jar as a single mass), allow the yogurt to cool for two hours.
  • Place the yogurt in the refrigerator for 6 hours to halt the culturing process.
  • When it’s time to make a new batch, place 1.5 – 2 teaspoons of yogurt from the previous batch in a cup of new milk and start again. Larger batches can be made (up to two quarts per container) by maintaining the same yogurt-to-milk ratio.  Yogurt from each batch can be used to make the next batch.  Yogurt from batch A is used to make batch B, yogurt from batch B is used to make batch C and so on.  To perpetuate the culture, be sure to make a new batch of yogurt at least once every seven days. Waiting longer than one week between culturing can weaken and eventually kill the culture.

Making Greek Yogurt with the Characteristic Thick Consistency:

Commercially available Greek Yogurt is often very thick.  There are two techniques which can help you achieve a similar texture:

  • Straining the yogurt to remove excess whey (clear liquid) greatly increases the thickness of the yogurt.  There are a number of ways to do this.  If you are using a tight-weave tea towel or multi-layered cheese cloth or butter muslin, place a colander in a bowl.  Lay a tea towel or cheese cloth in the bowl.  Add the yogurt and either let it drain as is or gather up the edges of the cloth and knot them over an upper kitchen cabinet handle so the towel hangs over the bowl to drain.  You can also use a cotton bag, jelly bag or even a pillow case.  Drain the yogurt for approximately 2 hours or until the desired thickness is obtained.  Continued straining will yield a soft spreadable cheese texture and eventually a firm cream cheese texture.  The excess whey can be used for soaking grains, for fermenting vegetables or condiments or as a replacement for water in recipes.
  • Culturing Greek yogurt with part cream instead of 100% milk will also yield a thicker texture and a richer tasting yogurt.

–Instructions courtesy Cultures for Health.

The yogurt (btw, Einstok beer is totally recommended, very tasty):


Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Uncategorized


The Goat Cheese Experiment

I love cheese, but I had never tried to make cheese myself. I decided I needed to try to make goat cheese, since it’s amazing. I bought the rennet/starter culture packets and French plastic cheese molds from and I also bought a oven-capable probe thermometer to help me with temps (too hot is bad, too cold won’t make anything happen). I bought my first quart of goat milk from Whole Foods, hoping to find one that wasn’t too pasteurized – apparently high pasteurization kills things needed for cheesemaking.

I heated the milk to the appropriate temperature and put it in a preheated (but not still heated) oven overnight. In the morning I was shocked to see:

A huge circle of cheese floating in my pot! Especially because the temperature in the oven wasn’t that high (more on this later). I scooped pieces of the cheese out and into my molds:

I put the mold on top of the cheesecloth over a bowl, and let gravity do its magic for another 12 hours. Eventually this is what I got:

I decided I wanted to go a little nuts and put a bunch of herbs in it. I mixed in rehydrated diced onion, garlic powder, salt, pepper, dill weed, basil, and caraway seed. Then I put it back in the mold to make it look pretty again:

(OK, so it didn’t look as pretty as before!) To gussy it up a bit I did some decorating:

That’s a chive flower from our garden (which are edible). The flavor of the cheese was lovely (though a bit more herby than goaty) spread on toast in the morning for breakfast.

Overall, it was a resounding success, and I’ve repeated it since. I pre-heated the oven higher (the cheese seemed more solid when I took it out in the morning), used a pyramid-shaped mold, goat milk from Trader Joe’s vs Whole Foods and rolled it in herbs instead of mixing them in. I can’t decide if mixing or rolling is better (I certainly wasted less with mixing) but the solidity was certainly better with my more aggressive oven pre-heating/different milk.

I’ve recently discovered that a local market has raw goat milk (for a premium). I have to decide if I’m willing to drop the dough to see if it imparts a more goaty flavor to my cheese!

Here’s the recipe, courtesy of

What you need:

  • 1 gallon Goat Milk (do not use UHT/UP milk) [I used a quart and it made quite a bit of cheese]
  • Butter Muslin (very fine weave cheese cloth) or a tight weave dish towel [I just used a cheesecloth from the supermarket]
  • A large pot with a lid (if metal, be sure it’s non-reactive such as stainless steel)
  • A wooden spoon
  • A Thermometer
  • A Chevre Shaping Mold (optional)
  • 1 packet Chevre Starter Culture (this product is a ready-to-use packet which includes both starter culture and rennet)

Step One: Culture the Milk

  • Heat your milk to 86°F (please note, if using raw milk, this process will not pasteurize the milk).
  • Remove the milk from the heat and thoroughly stir in the packet of Chevre culture (please note, these ready-to-use packets contain both starter culture and rennet).
  • Cover the pot and leave the mixture to culture for 12 hours at approximately 72°F (generally kitchen room temperature).
  • After 12 hours, the cheese should look like yogurt (solid if tipped but still relatively soft).  You may see some whey separating from the cheese.  The whey is a mostly clear liquid.

Step Two: Strain the Cheese

  • Place a piece of butter muslin (doubled) in a colander in a bowl.  Gently spoon the Chevre into the butter muslin.  Gather the corners of the muslin up and tie knots to secure.
  • Hang the butter muslin filled with the Chevre over a bowl so the whey can drain.  An easy way to do this is to tie the butter muslin around a cupboard handle so the bowl to catch the whey can rest on the counter underneath. [I just rubber-banded a cheesecloth to a bowl, and set the mold on top – this worked fine, though I couldn’t see how much had drained until I took it apart]
  • Allow the Chevre to drain for 6-12 hours to reach the desired consistency (see below).
  • Flavor Chevre with herbs if desired.  You can mix in fresh or dried herbs.  Alternatively you can mold the Chevre and then roll it in the herbs.
  • Generally speaking, Chevre will stay good in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Draining Options:

  • You can choose not to drain the Chevre at all which will leave you with a delicious and thick yogurt.  A small amount of draining (less than 6 hours) will yield an even thicker yogurt-type of food.
  • Drain the Chevre for approximately 6 hours for a soft, spreadable cheese.
  • Drain the Chevre for approximately 12 hours for a cream cheese consistency.
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Uncategorized


Avocado and Tortilla Sandwich

I’ve recently discovered this is the best quick lunch ever. I somehow ran across it on the internet as something someone’s grandma used to feed them when she wanted them to mellow out, and it sounded amazing.

This also coincided with my discovering that when I heard about people warming up tortillas on the grate over a bare gas flame they actually weren’t nuts (I figured it would be too prone to burning, but as long as you flip it a lot and stop when charred bits start forming, tortillas are actually quite moist and don’t burn). It’s a great way to enjoy tortillas and make them seem more fresh (especially if you’ve refrigerated them while storing).

I’ve tried adding things like sliced green onions, which was OK, but just plain avocado with salt, pepper, lime, and hot sauce is a great combo, and keeps the size down so it doesn’t explode too much when you cut it into manageable pieces. I do have a hankering to try putting bacon bits in though – that would probably be great.


  1. Heat and toast 2 tortillas (I use smallish corn ones from Trader Joe’s, they’re labeled “Handmade”) on a bare gas stove burner grate on high until they’ve got some brownish spots, flip often (every few seconds) with tongs to ensure they don’t burn.
  2. Take a small to medium size ripe avocado, slice it in half, remove pit, checkerboard score the flesh of both halves.
  3. Put one toasted tortilla in a pan over low flame (I use a small cast iron pan). Squeeze the skins of both avocado halves to extract the flesh onto the tortilla. Mash into relatively even layer with a fork.
  4. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, lime, and hot sauce. You could add other stuff but in order to keep it manageable and not explody when you cut it, minimalism is best.
  5. Put the other tortilla on top and flip it after a while – this step is just to warm everything up to a consistent temperature, especially if the avocado was refrigerated to prevent over-ripening. When everything is to the desired warmth, put it on a cutting board or plate and cut into quarters with a knife.
  6. Enjoy!

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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in Uncategorized