This time I decided to make a batch of Ricotta using Rennet Tablets. It was my understanding that a quarter of a Rennet Tablet would be sufficient to curdle two quarts of milk. Unfortunately, this did not happen. When I used the Lemon Juice the heated Milk curdled within about 2 minutes. With the Rennet, I cooked and stirred with the Rennet added (after the milk came to a boil) for about 10 minutes. Getting frustrated I added Lemon Juice and it still did not look curdled so I added the rest of the Rennet Tablet. It finally curdled but did not yield as much Cheese as the Lemon Juice alone did and it was much looser and did not hold its shape. Fortunately I used the Cheese in Sweet Cheese Turnovers so the thickness did not matter as much. To add body to the Cheese I also used about half a carton of Mascarpone (thick Italian Cream Cheese). Next time I will go back to the Lemon Juice.
To make the Turnovers I placed the drained Ricotta in a medium-sized mixing bowl and added half a carton of Mascarpone, (about 4 oz.) along with 1 Egg, 2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar (this should be to your taste) and some Vanilla. A pinch or two of ground Cinnamon may also be added if desired. Combine the mixture and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Turnovers I used commercial Puff Pastry but you can use Pie Crust or any other type of Dough that you prefer.
Have a small bowl of cool water at hand to help seal the pastry edges along with a fork to crimp them.
Lay out the Pastry on a cutting board and cut into 6″ squares. If needed you can use a clean ruler to measure. I usually just eye-ball it. Use a long knife or Pizza Wheel. Keep your eye on the end point and you will end up cutting a straight line. If you try to guide the knife or wheel, it is likely that your pieces will end up crooked. (I learned this little trick from my Mother who used to make all our clothes – when she cut out fabric she always said, keep your eye on the place where you want to end – this will guide your hand and keep it straight) It works every time!
Arrange the squares so that they are facing you as a diamond. Place a scoop of the filling on each square. (I used a #30 food scoop – about 1 1/2 Tbsps.) The filling should be placed just below the mid-point which will give you enough room to fold over the pastry and seal the edges without the filling oozing out the sides.
Using your clean finger or a pastry brush lightly coat the edges of two adjacent sides with the water; fold over into a triangle and then crimp with the fork.
If you plan on baking the Turnovers right away preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Place the Turnovers on the lined baking sheet with at least 2 inches between each turnovers on all sides. Even though there is no leavening agent as such in Puff Pastry, the layers formed by the Butter will puff up tremendously. Once the baking pan is full brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with Turbinado Sugar. Bake in your preheated oven for 20 minutes (DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR UNTIL THE 20 MINUTES ARE UP). The Turnovers should be a golden brown when completely baked – if after 20 minutes they are still too pale then bake for another 5 minutes or until golden brown. The Baked Turnovers are the Feature Photo above.
If you plan on freezing all or part of the Turnovers before baking them you can place them as close together on the sheet that you can as long as they don’t touch each other. Once they are frozen wrap them in plastic wrap or the parchment and place in a freezer bag. You can remove and bake as many or as few at a time as you need.
September is ‘National Biscuit Month and today is the last day of September so we have to take last minute advantage and promote Biscuits. Biscuits are just one of those foods that provide comfort and joy – they are good for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner or even Snack Time. Most Biscuits are made from a Baking Powder or Baking Soda Recipe but there are some that are leavened with Yeast. There is one of each in the Baking Recipe Section of this Blog. Try them and then let me know how you like them or don’t.
Baking Powder Biscuits are more commonly made and served than Yeast Biscuits. Baking Powder Biscuits are made from a shortened Dough, which means that a Shortening Product either animal or vegetable is cut into the flour to shorten the wheat fibers which in turn helps to tenderize the product. A Flour and Water product would pretty much taste like hardtack whereas a product that has a fat in it will be tender and flaky, if made properly. The recipe referred to within this blog is a standard Baking Powder Biscuit and can be enhanced by adding other products to the mixture such as herbs or cheese. Try them in various ways and see what you can come up with. In addition to using them as a bread product for dinner or lunch, they can also be used as dessert. Strawberry Short Cake is called ‘Short Cake’ because a traditional Strawberry Shortcake is made from a shortened Dough which means that some type of fat has been cut into the flour to tenderize it. For Strawberry Shortcake you can make one large biscuit in a 9″ round pan and then cut it in half to make two layers. Fill the middle with Whipped Cream and sliced Strawberries and do the same to the top layer after you put it on the filled bottom layer. You can also make individual portions by making 4 or 5″ round Biscuits.
Pictured below are the ingredients needed to make Baking Powder Biscuits:
Ingredients Needed – Flour, Baking Powder, Salt, Butter & Buttermilk
Pumpkin Yeast Biscuits are unusual in that they contain Pumpkin, a product which is not usually found in Biscuits and they contain Yeast. Most Biscuit products are leavened with Baking Powder which is a chemical leavening agent.
Here we are again talking about Breakfasts. Since September is ‘National Breakfast Month’ this is a good format to use – Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – simply because you are breaking a long fast between the last meal of the day before and the first meal of the current day. Your body, like your car, needs fuel to run on and your brain especially needs that fuel to keep you thinking straight. In the last blog I talked about Western Style Breakfasts – that is the Breakfast as we know it in American and also in parts of Europe.
Pictured above is Pineapple and Pork Fried Rice – this would make a good and healthy breakfast for any culture so try having an Asian Style Breakfast sometime if you have leftovers.
Today I am going to be talking about Asian Breakfasts. People in Asia, for the most part, do not have special foods that they eat for Breakfast. Usually it is food left over from the day before. However, in China, Congee, a porridge made from Rice is the preferred Breakfast. Usually leftovers of vegetables, fruit or meat are added to the Congee. Interestingly, the last time we were in Thailand our Hotel served a Breakfast Buffet every morning. Since a considerable number of Chinese people visit Thailand, along with Westerners, the Hotel served a Chinese Breakfast. Congee with a large number of different items that could be added to it. They also served a Western Breakfast. I always have a habit of observing what other people are eating and I noticed that the Chinese guests were eating the Western Style Breakfast. I who always eat a Western Style Breakfast at home was eating the Congee or the Chinese Breakfast. I guess people all over the world do like a little variety in their food.
Japanese people usually eat whatever is left over from the night before as do the people of Thailand. Even though Breakfast Foods per se are not common among the Thai people there are plenty of restaurants in Thailand that do serve a Western Style Breakfast. That being said, if you are Thai you probably have Rice along with perhaps some Pork or whatever happens to be available. When my Sons and Daughter- in – Law were here visiting, my Thai Daughter – in – Law fell in love with Breakfast Jacks. She also loves to make a Thai Omelet which isn’t necessarily eaten for Breakfast. A Thai Omelet is similar to Egg Foo Young but is still different. It is quite delicious and can be eaten for any meal of the day.
More Fried Rice Photos just to the left. The top one is Chicken-Fried Rice – a good way to use up leftover Chicken and the one on the bottom is Fried Rice I made when we were in Kauai. There is a strong Asian influence in modern Hawaiian Food and Rice is frequently eaten for any meal.
For Western Breakfast Ideas please see the previous post ‘Breakfast’ in this Blog.
Do you love Cheeseburgers! Almost everyone does, so get ready to celebrate. Thursday, Sept. 18th is ‘National Cheeseburger Day’. Who makes your favorite? One of the Fast Food Outlets or Not so Fast Food Outlets or do you make the best one at home. My favorite is no longer around, so making the best one at home is the way to go.
Listed below are a few of the Burgers Places that are available not only in your hometown, but some are even available around the world.
Here Goes in alphabetical order.
Bob’s Big Boy – the original is still open in Toluca Lake.
Carl Jr’s – now available in Thailand
Fat Boy – Woodland Hills
Habit – started in Santa Barbara but has expanded to Ventura County and Beyond (our current favorite)
Hamburger Hamlet – anyone know where there is still one?
In and Out – currently most people’s favorite
The above are just a few. Try some and figure it out for yourself.
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September is ‘National Breakfast Month’ and this is a particularly good time for it. With the kids back in school, it is a good time for parents to emphasize the fact that Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The word Breakfast literally means to break a fast. That Fast is the time between when you eat your last meal of the day and the first meal of the next day. This usually is a period of 10-12 hours. This is the reason that your body needs to replenish its fuel supply to run and to feed your brain. Automobiles can’t run without fuel and neither can the human body. Therefore, skipping breakfast is not good for your body or your brain.
A healthy Breakfast should contain some Protein and some Carbohydrates. If you eat wholesome nutritious foods they will also contain the vitamins you need along with essential fatty acids.
All cultures have a breakfast menu, although some do not call it as such. Breakfast foods as we know them in the West are not necessarily what people in the Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures eat. The typical American Breakfast is actually based on the English Breakfast which traditionally consists of Eggs, some kind meat such as sausage or bacon and maybe potatoes plus fruit and a beverage. And don’t forget the toast!
In Asia most breakfasts include rice of some kind. In China, it is Congee, a porridge made with rice but in other Asian countries rice is just used as one of the ingredients for the breakfast.
Since we could elaborate for miles and miles on the different breakfasts around the world I am going to stick with the Western Variety. This would include, of course European Countries as well as North America.
In Spain and Germany, the first meal of the day is usually just a cup of coffee and a pastry and a larger more elaborate breakfast is eaten a couple of hours later.
In American, many families have opted to have dry cereal for breakfast along with milk poured onto it. This is certainly faster for people in a hurry, but it is not necessarily the best or tastiest way to go.
My favorite breakfast stems back to my childhood when my parents and my brother and I usually had eggs for breakfast. To this day, Eggs are still my favorite food for breakfast.
Since this is ‘National Breakfast Month’ we will devote one blog a week to Breakfasts around the world. This month will be American Breakfasts such as we know them. The traditional American Breakfast at least as I knew it was Fruit Juice or Fresh Fruit, Eggs, Toast and Milk or Coffee for the Adults. Of course, there are many other variations such as Pancakes, Waffles, Crepes (one of my favorite filled with fruit), cooked Oatmeal (with Raisins! or dried Apples!) and the proverbial dried Cereal with Milk and fruit such as Bananas added.
Whatever your favorite Breakfast, just don’t forget to eat it! Remember, Breakfast is the most important meal of the Day! Especially for children who go to school and need the fuel and brain power that a good breakfast provides!
To give you some ideas and recipes for Breakfast Items check out the Breakfast/Recipe section of this Blog: recipes/breakfast-items/