Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ricotta - Fresh

I wanted to bring a light, Spring appetizer to a dinner party we were invited to last weekend and bruschetta is always my go to appty.  Since I love fresh ricotta, but didn't feel like paying a fortune for it at the Italian Deli, I made it myself.  Yes, I know what you're thinking - sounds complicated and you think I'm out of my mind, but it sooo simple you will never buy it again.  All you need is whole milk, heavy cream, white wine vinegar, cheese cloth and a large mesh strainer.  It's unbelievable how fresh the flavor is and how people will be blown away by something so simple.  Add a spoonful of fresh ricotta to a toasted baguette rubbed with a clove of garlic, then drizzle with honey and olive oil,  then a final fine grating of lemon zest over the top.  You will be hooked.

Fresh Ricotta

4 cups of whole milk
2 cups of heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 baguette sliced 1/2 thick
1 clove of garlic, cut in half
Honey and olive oil

Slowly heat whole milk, heavy cream, and salt in a heavy bottomed sauce pan until liquid comes to a boil.  Immediately remove from heat and add three tablespoons of white wine vinegar.  Let set for 2 minutes until liquid is clotted.  Drape two layers of cheese cloth into a large mesh strainer positioned over a large mixing bowl.  Slowly pour liquid through strainer, emptying liquid from bowl when it reaches the strainer.  Let cheese sit in cloth for 25 minutes.  Gather cheese cloth and squeeze any excess moisture out.  Use cheese immediately or store in a container in the refrigerator for 4 days.

For Bruschetta:  Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Slice baguette into 1/2 inch slices.  Place on a rimmed sheet pan and brush with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Bake bread for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and rub bread with cut side of a clove of garlic.  Place a tablespoon of ricotta on bread, drizzle with honey and olive oil.  Finally grate the zest of lemon over top and serve warm or at room temperature.  Now how simple is that.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Since snow is still on the ground and it feels like winter, fresh cut flowers are a necessity this Spring.  This week's find at the market was Ranunculus, a long lasting cut flower.  Brilliantly colored flowers with multiple layers of paper-thin petals and squiggly stems make this one of my favorites.  Happy Spring!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Daffodils Revisited

This 8X10 oil still life on Gessobord was painted in class.  I got a pit in my stomach when I walked in class and saw the still life set up was daffodils.  My nemesis, the dreaded daffodil, was back to torture me.  Though happy with it's turn out,  I can wait another year before having to paint them again.  Taking a painting class definitely takes you out of your comfort zone.  This painting SOLD from my Esty Shop.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Irish Cream Brûlée with Cream De Menthe Whipped Cream

Cream brûlée  is my husband's favorite dessert.  For St. Patrick's Day I made him cream brûlée with Irish Cream and Creme De Menthe Whipped Cream.  My lucky man rated this recipe "lick the plate" creamy goodness.   

Irish Cream Brûlée with Creme DeMenthe Whipped Cream

Serves 6

3 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup Irish Cream
6 egg yokes
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean 
6 ramekins 
1/4 cup sugar

Creme DeMenthe Whipped Cream

1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Creme DeMenthe

Whip cream with one teaspoon of Creme DeMenthe and one teaspoon of sugar until soft peaks form.

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

For Cream Brûlée 

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. 

With a knife put a slit in the vanilla bean and scrape out seeds.  Place bean and seeds into a sauce pan with heavy cream and 1/2 cup of Irish Cream.  Bring to a boil, as soon as it comes to a boil remove from heat and cover for 15 minutes.

Put egg yokes in a mixing bowl and beat in 1/2 cup of sugar until yoke are lightened and sugar is incorporated.  When cream is cool remove bean and add 1/2 cup of cream to yolks.  Keep adding the rest of cream until blended with yokes.  Strain through a sieve into a large measuring cup to remove any lumps.

 Place ramekins into a large roasting pan and pour cream into ramekins.  Pour boiling water into roasting pan until water reaches half way up the sides of the ramekins.  Bake in a 325 degree oven for 40-45 minutes until centers are jiggly.  Remove ramekins from roasting pan and let cool.  Refrigerate for few hours or over night.

Remove from refrigerator when ready to serve and sprinkle sugar evenly over the ramekins.  Melt sugar with a torch until golden brown.  Cool for five minutes.  Add a dollop of Creme DeMenthe whipped cream and serve.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Short Rib Guinness Pie

This pie is truly rich and satisfying. The perfect St. Patrick's day dinner substitute for people who don't care for Corned Beef and Cabbage. You know who you are.   This recipe may be a two day process, but once completed all you have to do it place in oven and dinner is ready.

Short Rib Guinness Pie - Makes Six Pies

4 lbs. Beef Short Ribs
3 Carrots - cut into 1/4 inch slices - bite size
1 large onion - Chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen pearled onions
1 16 oz. bottle of Guinness (1 pint 6 oz.)
1/2 cup of beef both
1 package of Pillsbury Pie Crust
2 large Yukon Gold Potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes
Salt & Pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bay leaf
6 ramekins (4X2 large)
1 egg beaten (egg wash)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Salt & Pepper the beef short ribs and dust with flour.  Shake to remove excess flour.  In a dutch oven over medium heat add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and brown short ribs in several batches on all sides about 4 minutes total.  Remove short ribs from pot and set aside.  Add onion and saute until golden.  Place short ribs back in pot, add bottle of Guinness and beef broth, ribs should be just covered with broth and beer, add bay leaf.  Bring to a boil and then place in 325 oven for two hours with a tightly fitted lid.

Remove from oven after two hours, and add potatoes and carrots.  Return pot to oven with lid and continue to cook for an additional one hour.  Remove from oven and take out ribs, removing meat from bones and cutting into bite-size pieces.  Discard bones and bay leaf and return meat to pot and stir in peas and pearled onions.  Let cool and refrigerate over night.

The next day remove any fat from the top of stew.  Heat stew on top of stove until warm.  Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.  Fill the six ramekins to top with warmed stew.  Roll out dough and using ramekin as a guide cut six circles adding one inch for overhang.  Brush ramekins around edge with egg wash and place dough on top of ramekin.  With a knife cut a slit on top of pie to vent steam.  Brush with egg wash and salt and pepper tops of pie.  Place pies on a sheet pan and bake for 15-20 minutes until crust is golden and filling is bubbly.

Monday, March 4, 2013

False Roman Shade

I started my small kitchen facelift in November before Thanksgiving and it's finally complete with my false roman shade.  The walls and ceiling were wallpapered and I talked my husband and daughter into removing the paper.  I'm good.  The walls were then painted December Eve by Behr which is the perfect navy blue that looks great in any light and with my off white cabinets.

The false roman shade is really a valance and was fun the sew.  Since I'm a visual person I used this YouTube video for the sewing directions to make this shade.  The directions were very easy to follow and any beginner sewer could do it.    The fabric is Premier Prints Suzani Slub Yellow/White ordered online.  Love the pop it gives the whole room.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Shamrock - Green Oxalis

At the first signs of spring I love to buy Green Oxalis.  This houseplant is native to Chile and South Africa.  It has lovely white flowers and it's clover-like leaves are light sensitive and close on cloudy days and at night.  The urn was a garage sale find for $3.00.  Lucky me.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Irish Soda Bread

I'm very excited to post my Irish Soda Bread recipe early in the month of March so there will be plenty of time to try this recipe.  This is the best Irish Soda Bread recipe I have ever tasted, and I have tasted a lot of soda bread over the years.  This recipe is made in a large 11 3/4 inch cast iron skillet.  What makes this recipe stand above all the rest is its cake-like consistency. The bread is moist and flavorful and serves a crowd.  This recipe can also be frozen wrapped in quarters. Slathering a slice with butter makes me a happy lass. (20 servings)

Irish Soda Bread 

5 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cups of sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened
2 1/2 cups golden raisins
2 1/2 teaspoons of caraway seeds
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 egg

1.  Sift first five ingredients together.
2.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles course corn meal.
3.  Stir in raisins and caraway seeds.
4.  Add buttermilk and egg to dry mixture blending only until all flour is moistened.
5.  Generously butter a 11 3/4 heavy cast iron skillet.  Turn the batter into the skillet.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for one hour or until firm and browned.  Be careful not to over cook or bread will be dry.
Remove from skill and cool on a rack.