Sunday, June 28, 2009

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

It's strawberry season in Northern Michigan and one of my favorite, and simple, desserts is fresh strawberries on top of ricotta cream. Ricotta cream is 2 c ricotta blended with 3/4 c powdered sugar and 1 t vanilla. It is oh, so tasty. And even better with homemade ricotta which is what I did today. It's so easy, so good and much less expensive than purchased ricotta.

To begin, put a large saucepan in the freezer for about 5 min. Chilling the pan keeps the milk from scalding. To the chilled pan, add 1 gallon milk and 1/4 t salt. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking and simmer until the milk reaches 180-185 degrees F or until steam rises from the milk and it just begins to bubble.

Remove the pan from the stove and add 1/3 c of white vinegar and stir for one minute. Immediately, curds will begin to form. If you've never seen curds and whey, you will as soon as you add the vinegar!

Cover the pan with a dish towel (this lets it air while keeping it covered) and let it sit for at least 2 hours.

Line a colander with dampened cheesecloth and using a slotted spoon, remove the curds from the pan into the colander. Let this drain (I just put the colander in the sink) for another 2 hours.

Gently squeeze the remaining whey out of the mixture by gathering the cheesecloth together. That's it!

One gallon milk, which today costs about $3, will make a quart of ricotta cheese. In my grocery store, 16 oz of ricotta is about $5 so with this recipe, you will make the about $10 worth with only about $3 in cost. Total time of actual effort is about 10 minutes. And worth it!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Grilled Kielbasa, Green Peppers & Onions--A Mixed Grill

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I love this simple 'supper' dish (my Indiana is showing)! When our Serbian 'son' lived with us, he loved this dish and once we visited Serbia, we realized why: it is very similar to mixed grill dishes in Serbia.

Kielbasa is a favorite of mine for this recipe although I can use other sausages with this like Smoked Polish Sausage. I use a grill basket on the grill during grilling season and a cast iron skillet on the cook top during the cold weather months.

For 2 of us, we use:
1 lb kielbasa cut into 2" chunks
1 large green pepper cut into 2" chunks
1 med sweet onion cut into 2" chunks

Toss with 3 T olive oil, salt and pepper and a splash of cayenne and grill, stirring frequently, until the sausage is brown and the veggies soft, about 15 minutes.

One variation: add a handful or two of cubed (large cubes) of potatoes but put the potatoes on first for about 5 min (making sure they are coated with olive oil so they don't stick) and then add the remaining ingredients.

Serve with a hot mustard and you've got dinner!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

Fresh strawberries are in season in Michigan and for today's Father's Day dessert, I made scones and topped with the strawberries that had been mixed with a bit of sugar, slightly crushed to bring out the juices and chilled.

These scones are simple and one of my favorites for topping with fresh fruit as well as cooked fruit like sauteed apples. I've been making these scones for more than 30 years and every time I bake them, I'm reminded of how easy a recipe it is to bake and how flavorful the scones are.

Preheat over to 425 degrees F.

2 c flour
1 T sugar
3 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 T grated orange peel
1/3 c butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1 egg beaten
1/2 c milk

Mix dry ingredients including orange peel. If you don't have orange peel, leave it out. It's not critical but adds a nice flavor. I used Penzey's dried peel that I soak in a bit of milk.

Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the beaten egg and milk and blend until the mixture just pulls together. If it is still dry, add 1 T of milk at a time until it just comes together.

Flour a cutting or pastry board. Turn the dough onto the board and knead--pull the top of the dough over the to bottom of the dough and press with the heel of your hand--8-10 times until the dough is somewhat smooth.

Roll out using a rolling pin to 1/2" thickness. Don't overwork this dough. Roll out quickly. Cut into rounds: I use a 1/2 pint canning jar dipped in flour. Place on a greased cookie sheet(I use a silpat baking sheet on top of my cookie sheet). Brush with milk and top with sugar.

Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

To serve with strawberries, either slice in half or break into small pieces and then top with the fruit and fruit juices.

Store the remaining scones in an air tight container. Great with fresh strawberry jam! This makes 12 scones.