Any products made from Milk or Cream
Any products made from Milk or Cream
We have several fruit trees in our backyard and an Asian Pear is one of them. This year the branches were so laden with fruit that one of the branches actually broke forcing me to bring in the pears and use them. Some of them were rather small as this was early in the season. But since Asian Pears are usually pretty firm and even crunchy when ripe, I was able to use them. I actually let them sit in the house for about a week to ripen sufficiently. Fortunately, there are still many more pears on the tree that are reaching their potential in size and ripeness.
With this first batch I decided to make a Pear Tart. I love Pears and I love Pastry, especially that made with Puff Pastry. The Tart that I made is really fun to do in that when you place the fruit and filling on the pastry, it is flat. You place the filling on the dough and leave almost an inch of dough all the way around. When it bakes, the sides raise up to form a rim around the tart. The instructions and photos will be give below. Please be sure and try it yourself and see how good it can be.
The ingredients you will need for the Pear Tart is a sheet of Puff Pastry (or you can make your own pastry dough and fit it into a tart pan. The only kind of pastry dough that will raise up around the filling is the puff pastry. So Ingredients listed below.
Puff Pastry (This dough takes a long time to make but it can be purchased in large sheets at a restaurant supply such as Smart and Final.
Pears (peeled and quartered (Any fruit will do)
Tapioca or Corn Starch
Brown or Granulated Sugar
The Equipment you will need:
Silicon Sheet or Parchment Paper. (The Silicon Sheet works best)
Dough Docker or a fork
2 quart Saucepan to cook the Custard in
This Tart make a delicious dessert or can also be eaten for breakfast!
Update to Homemade Ricotta – In July and September I posted Blogs about making your own Ricotta Cheese. The first batch that was made used Lemon Juice to curdle it. The second batch I tried using Rennet Tables but that did not work so well, so here I am back using the Lemon Juice which works great! This batch of Ricotta like the first batch made was very delicious and on a par (if not better) than the expensive brand I usually buy. When I buy Ricotta I buy a whole milk product which has much more flavor and body than the lower fat one. I usually pay between $5 & $6 for it. The batch I made at home this time, cost:
Milk – $2.99
Cream – 75 cents
Lemon Juice – free (the lemons were given to me – if you have to purchase the lemons you will need 1-2 lemons depending on the size – also the price will vary from store to store and from State to State.
Cheese Cloth – about $2.00 worth (but I was able to wash it and will be able to reuse it again)
So, my fresh batch of Ricotta which tasted delicious and was made right in my own kitchen cost me about $4.00 to make, not counting the gas and the hot water for washing the pot. Maybe it was as much as I pay for the finished product but it was well worth it as it is delicious. For the directions for making the Ricotta, please visit Adventures in Cheese Making
Now, what did I do with this batch of Ricotta. I made Cannelloni for dinner tonight and was able to freeze half of them for another meal. If you have four or more eating dinner, the whole recipe will be sufficient for 4- 6 people, depending on appetites. If teenage boys are involved, then you will have dinner only for four. If like us, there are only 2 people at the meal, then you will have at least 2 meals out of it and maybe more.
While the Ricotta was draining I made the Crepe Batter for the Cannelloni Shells and then refrigerated it. Crepe batter needs to rest for at least one hour after being made. For the recipe see Crepe Batter
While the Crepe Batter was resting, I started the Meat Sauce that was to go over the top of the filled shells. Next, I shredded the Mozzarella Cheese that was to go over the Meat Sauce. If you need a recipe for the Meat Sauce you can just use my Fresh Tomato Sauce but start out by sauteing a pound of ground beef, chicken or veal before you add the other ingredients. Or you can use only Tomato Sauce.
After the Crepes are made and the Sauce is simmering, prepare your Ricotta Cheese by adding an Egg, some freshly shredded Parmesan, Basil and about 1/2 tsp. Salt and 1/4 tsp. White Pepper or whatever your taste buds decree. The Basil that I added was actually a combo of minced Basil and Garlic in Olive Oil.
Set the Crepe Shells out on a flat surface and place 2-3 Tablespoons of the Ricotta filling on each Crepe (depending on the size of the Crepe). Fold in the sides and then the top and bottom.
Place each filled and rolled Crepe in a baking dish that has been lightly oiled with Olive Oil. Place them close together. When all the shells are filled, wrapped and placed in the baking dish top with the Sauce and some shredded Mozzarella Cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until everything is hot and the Mozzarella Cheese has melted.
Serve immediately with a mixed Green Salad and fresh Italian Bread, if so desired.
This dish will serve from 4-6 people, depending on appetites. We had enough leftover for a second meal and half the Manicotti went in the freezer for a third meal. Of course, we are only two people and so we are lucky enough to have more than one meal out of this dish.
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.
Now that I had a batch of fresh homemade Ricotta Cheese the next step was to make something with it. I decided to make a batch of Cheese Blintz to serve for Sunday Brunch with fresh Strawberries. The crepes for the Blintz are easiest to work with if the Batter is made at least 1 hour ahead of time and then allowed to rest in the refrigerator. If you try to make the Crepes right after making the Batter there will be too much air in the batter for the pancakes to form properly. Now as far as I am concerned, the thinner the crepes the better, but of course you do need to have them thick enough to hold the filling without tearing. You can use the Sweet Crepe Batter Recipe under the Recipe/Dessert Section of this Blog. deserts/sweet-crepe-shells/ Just reduce the Sugar in the recipe from 1 Tbsp. to 1 tsp.
I made the Crepe Batter with the residual Whey from the production of the Ricotta. This reduces the waste that normally would result from making the Cheese. To make the Crepes, the Filling and the topping just follow the procedure below.
#1 – Make the Batter and refrigerate for at least one hour.
#2 – Rinse, dry, slice and sugar the Berries. If using Blackberries, Boysenberries or Raspberries eliminate the slicing procedure. Place the Berries in a bowl and squeeze the juice of 1/2 of a lime (for every pint of berries) over the Berries and then toss with 1/4 cup of Superfine Sugar. Taste and add more Lime Juice and/or Sugar as desired.
#3 – Make the Cheese Filling for the Blintz. /deserts/cheese-filling/
4. Make the Crepes –
Heat the crepe pan until a drop of water splashed on it sizzles; melt the Butter and stir into the Batter.
5. Filling the Blintz –
6. To Serve –
One of my sons who lives in a country where Cheese is not a commonly found product has experimented with making his own. His adventures have inspired me to try my hand at Cheese Making even though Cheese is readily available where we live. So the first Cheese that I tried making is Ricotta. Ricotta or Cottage Cheese is probably the simplest of all Cheese to make. It took about an hour and a quarter and that includes draining time.
The products you need are readily available at your local grocer and you probably have the cooking vessels and containers that you need at home. Listed below are the groceries that you need and the equipment you should have.
Let’s start with the Equipment so that when you go out to buy the groceries, if you don’t have all the equipment, you can purchase it at the same time you purchase your groceries.
5-6 Quart Cooking Vessel
Large Colander or Sieve (Strainer)
5-6 Quart Bowl
The Groceries that you will need are:
1/2 Gallon of Milk (preferably from a local dairy and is not over-pastureized
1 cup of Heavy Cream
1/2 tsp. Salt
3 Tbsps. Lemon Juice
Start by combining the Milk, Cream and Salt in your large cooking vessel. Place it over high heat and bring to a rapid boil, stirring continuously to prevent burning.
Once the mixture comes to a rapid boil, stir in the Lemon Juice, lower the heat and cook (again stirring continuously until the mixture curdles completely. (About 2 minutes)
Remove from the heat and pour into the Cheese Cloth lined colander. Allow to drain for one hour.
Wrap in the Cheese Cloth and plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. This Cheese will keep for only 2 days, so plan on using it as quickly as you can.
You can see that the drained Cheese has taken on the shape of the colander and is formed into a perfectly round parcel. This is not so important with Ricotta Cheese as it usually gets mixed with other ingredients to form a filling for Ravioli, Lasagna or Blilntz, but if you are making semi-hard or hard cheeses this is a bonus.
After the Ricotta had completely drained I had about a quart of the residual whey (the portion of milk that does not form the curd) Some people feed this to their chickens ( if you have them), their cats or dogs (again if you have them). I no longer have pets but I did find uses for the Whey. I made a loaf of Wheat Bread with some of it and used another portion to make Crepe Shells for Blintz which I will show in my next blog.
This was the best Ricotta Cheese I have ever eaten and I usually buy an expensive brand that is made from whole milk and is very good. This at least matched it, but I think it was better. It costs no less to make it at home than it does to buy, but it is good and it is fun.
Check my next blog to see what I did with this Ricotta.