Cheese is awesome! For most, it may be a huge leap to think that you can actually make fresh cheese in your own home, but it is surprisingly simple. Ricotta is a fresh cheese and is made by heating milk and stirring in an acid (vinegar or lemon juice) to create curds. The curds are strained from the whey and there you have it, fresh ricotta cheese. This recipe for homemade ricotta cheese is so easy, tastes amazing and can be used for a variety of pasta dishes, salads and appetizers.
Now Get Crackin'!
How to Make Homemade Ricotta Cheese
1 Gal. Whole Milk
2 tsp. Salt
1/4 White Vinegar or Lemon Juice
You will need...
1. Place the milk in a large pot and heat until little bubbles form on the edge of the pot. The temp. should be about 180-190 F.
2. While the milk heats up, line the colander with a double layer of cheese cloth. Place the colander into the large bowl.
3. Stir the vinegar into the heated milk and stir. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. You will see the milk start to seperate into curds and whey immediately.
4. Carefully pour the milk mixture into the cheesecloth and let the whey drain into the bowl. Let this drain for 5 minutes and then pour off the first round of whey. After 20 minutes, you can start to pull the corners of the cheesecloth and squeeze more liquid out of the mix.
5. Place the cheese into a bowl and stir. At this point you can taste the cheese and season further with salt if you want.
You can repeat the process to the remaining whey to make a low fat cheese.
It is no secret that I LOVE TACOS! One day I was making a fresh batch when I looked in my cabinet to find no tortillas, hard or soft. This life problem gave forth to one of the greatest cooking discoveries of my career. The question was, how can I make homemade flour tortillas just like they do at the taco shops? With a little research and "real world experience", I have come up with a very easy recipe and method for making soft flour tortillas. This can be used for tacos, quesadillas, chimichangas, wraps, tortilla chips and more. Once you start making fresh tortillas, you will never go back!
Now Let's Get Cooking!
Homemade Flour Tortillas
2 C Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tbsp. Shortening or Butter
3/4 C Warm Water
Place the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and mix well with a fork. Add the shortening and then press it into the the flour with the fork tines until it is combined. Add the warm water and mix well until a ball of dough forms. Kneed the dough for 3 minutes with your hand then cover with plastic for 15 minutes. Cut the ball of dough into 8 pieces and let rest for another 5 minutes.
Place a ball of dough onto a floured surface and then flour a rolling pin. Lightly press down the rolling pin onto the center of the dough, turn a half turn and repeat. Flip the dough over, place the pin on the middle of the dough and roll outward, up and down. Lightly re-flour the surface, dough and pin. Turn and repeat this process until the tortilla is very flat.
Place a skillet (non stick, cast iron or steel) over medium high heat. Place the flattened dough into the pan and cook for one minute. The tortilla will puff up a bit, you can just press it down with your hand. Turn the tortilla and cook on the other side for about 20 seconds. Place the warm tortilla on a plate and cover with a moist towel while cooking the rest. Keep the tortillas wrapped in plastic until serving.
Pasta Cacio y Peppe is a classic Italian pasta dish from Rome. Pasta is cooked to "Al Dente" or "To the Tooth" and is then cooked in a light sauce made from starchy pasta water, butter, cheese and fresh pepper. This simple recipe is basically pasta tossed in cheese and pepper and can be made for a simple and inexpensive lunch or dinner. This is also a great recipe to bust out if you want to impress friend while on a budget.
Pasta Cacio e Peppe aka Pasta w. Cheese and Pepper
8 oz. Spaghetti
1 tbsp. Salt
3/4 C Pasta Water
3 tbsp. Butter
1/2 C Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/4-1/2 tsp. Fresh Pepper
1 pinch Salt
1. Bring 3 - 4 quarts of water to a rapid boil. Place the salt in the water, stir in the pasta and cook for 8 minutes. This will cook the pasta until it is "Al Dente" and will be slightly undercooked.
2. Remove 3/4 of a cup of the pasta water and then carefully drain the pasta well. The pasta water will be used to help make the sauce.
3. Place the pasta water and butter into the pot and stir together well over low heat. Add the hot pasta, cheese, pepper and salt to the pot and toss very well. The starchy pasta water, butter and cheese will melt together and form a cheesy and peppery sauce that will lightly coat every strand of pasta. The slightly undercooked pasta will finish cooking in the sauce while it soaks in more flavor.
Serve this immediately with fresh pepper and more cheese on top.
Roasted potatoes are one of my favorite sides and they go great with breakfast, lunch or dinner. This recipe is very basic, so you can use any kind of potato you have on hand (white, Idaho, yukon gold, red skin, sweet potato and yams). Feel free to switch up flavors to match your tastes, budget or whatever you have in the kitchen. I like roasted potatoes with roasted, grilled or baked meats like chicken, steak, fish and pork chops. You can also serve these on the side of some eggs and bacon or create a chilled roasted potato salad with the leftovers.
Now Let's Get Cooking!
Herb Roasted Potatoes
5 C Potatoes, diced
2 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Butter
2 tsp. Olive Oil
2 tsp. Dried Herbs - Italian Herbs or French Herbs aka Herbs D' Province
1/3 C Fresh Parsley
1/2 tsp. Salt and Pepper
1. Pre heat your oven to 450 F. Place the potatoes and salt into a medium pot then cover with water by one inch. The high heat is going to crisp up the potatoes quickly without drying them out too much and the salt in the water will help to season the potatoes on the inside.
2. Place the pot over medium/high heat and bring to a boil. Once it boils, cook for 7 minutes and then drain very well. Starting out with cold water and then bringing to a boil will help the diced potatoes cook evenly. Boiling before baking will help to make the potatoes fluffy when you eat them. Draining the potatoes well will keep then from getting mushy and help them to brown evenly.
3. Place the potatoes and the rest of the ingredients into a bowl and toss to coat well.
4. Place the potatoes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Turn the potatoes and continue to cook for 20 minute or until crispy and golden brown. The parchment paper is used to create non stick surface on your baking sheet, it is also biodegradable. It is a little more expense that aluminum foil, but is a great tool to use for everyday cooking.
Today we are going to make homemade spaghetti and meatballs. I am going to teach you how to cook your pasta perfectly so it soaks up flavor from the cooking water and the sauce. I am also going to show you how to make meatballs that will stay moist and burst with flavor. You can use homemade sauce or your favorite jarred marinara. I would say that this is something you do not want to skimp out on. A good sauce will make or break this dish.
Now let's get cracking! Chef Egg
Spaghetti and Meatballs
1/4 C Milk
1/3 C Bread Crumbs
1/4 C Parmesan Cheese, shredded
2 tsp. Dried Italian Herbs
1 tsp. Salt and Pepper
1 lb. Ground Beef
1/2 lb. Mild Italian Sausage - 2 links
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 qt. Marinara Sauce - homemade or from a jar
1 lb. Dry Spaghetti
1 tbsp. Salt
1. Place the first 6 ingredients into a medium bowl and mix well. Let this sit for 15 minutes. This mixture is going to season the meatballs and keep them light and moist while you simmer them.
2. Place the beef into the bowl, and then squeeze the sausage out of it's casing and into the bowl. Mix everything together until just incorporated. The beef adds beefy flavor and the sausage is going to give you pork flavor and add extra Italian seasoning to the meatballs. Do not over mix this mixture or you will have heavy meatballs.
3. Take a 1/3 cup scoops of the meat mixture, lightly roll into even balls and then place on a plate. The scoop size is up to you, but I like my meatballs to be manageable size while I brown them.
4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and when it smokes, gently place the meatballs into the skillet. Cook for 4 minutes and then turn the meatballs over and repeat. Browning the meatballs is very important and is a big step in adding huge layer of beefy flavor to the recipe. You are just browning the beef and it will not be cooked through.
5. Place the meatballs into a medium saucepan, add the marinara and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes on low heat. This will cook the meat balls though and incorporate the flavor of the meat ball to the sauce and vice versa.
6. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the salt. Add the pasta, stir well and cook for 9-10 minutes. Drain the pasta and save 1 cup of the pasta water. Do not rinse the pasta. The boiling, salted water will cook your pasta to exact doneness and season it well enough for your to actually taste the pasta goodness. The starchy pasta water will help thicken the sauce in the next step as well as the hot pasta.
7. Place the hot pasta water and 1.5 cups of the simmering marinara sauce back into the pot and bring to a simmer. Add the pasta to the light sauce and toss well, cook until the pasta soaks in the sauce. Finishing the pasta in the sauce helps to soak in further flavor.
8. Place the pasta into a bowl and top with meatballs and extra sauce. Top with parmesan cheese and fresh pepper.
Fried turkey is a great way to quickly cook your bird for the holidays. You will get crispy skin, moist meat and a free oven to cook your sides. All you need is some simple ingredients and a safe technique to get the best experience.
You will need the following items to safely fry your turkey.
22 - 30 qt. Pot
Long Heavy Duty Tongs or a Meat Hook
Medium Sized Cooler or Large Stockpot with Lid
Meat Thermometer - Stem Style
Brined and Fried Turkey Recipe
11 lb. Turkey
1 qt. Water
1.5 C Salt
1 C Sugar
1 C Apple Cider Vinegar
1 gal. Ice
Optional Flavor Enhancement
1/3 C Pepper Corns
10 Bay Leaves
1/4 C Dried Thyme
10 Garlic Cloves
2 gal Peanut Oil
1. Place your turkey while in the bag into your frying pot, then fill with water until the turkey is covered by one inch of water. Remove the turkey and mark where your water line is. That is how far up you should fill the pot with oil.
2. Place your brining ingredients into a saucepan, bring to a simmer and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove the brine from the heat and let cool.
3. Remove your turkey from the bag, drain any juices, remove any plastic and bag 'o' organs from the inside.
4. Place the turkey in a cooler or large stockpot with lid. Pour the brine over the turkey and then stir in the ice. The turkey should be totally under icy water. Brine for 12-16 hours, and it is important to keep ice cold during this process or your turkey will spoil. I like to keep it outside during this time.
5. Remove the turkey from the brine, drain and dry very well, then set out at room temp for 90 minutes to remove the chill from the bird.
6. Place the frying pot on your outdoor burner at least 10 feet from your house, preferably on concrete. Attach the candy thermometer and fill up with oil to the water mark you made earlier. Turn the heat on and heat the oil up to 350 F.
7. Tie the legs together with butchers twine and dry the turkey with paper towels one more time. Very slowly hook the turkey legs using long tongs or a meat hook and lower into the oil. Keep kids and pets away during this time.
8. Cook the turkey for about 25 minutes at 350 F. Adjust the fuel as needed to maintain the heat. With a friend carefully bring up the turkey halfway out of the oil and check the temperature of the bird using a stem thermometer. The deepest part of the thigh, not touching bone, should register at 175 F. If it needs more time, fry for another 5-10 minutes.
9. Remove the turkey from the oil and place on a clean platter. Let the turkey sit for 20 minutes before carving.
I am very happy to bring in the holiday season with you. The weather is getting cold and that means we can start cooking hearty meals like stews, meaty dishes, root vegetables and fresh baked goods with warm spices. The Chef Egg blog will cover great recipes to get you, your friends and family into the spirit of the season.
I also have fresh new vids, recipes and services at www.chefegg.com and www.cookingwithegg.com. I am offering holiday gift certificates for private cooking lessons and booking private and corporate events for the new year. You can also buy great Chef Egg gifts like Chef Egg's Chef Soap and my new E Book, "The Kitchen Comes to Life"!
This season gives us a great opportunity to learn new techniques and flavors for kitchen success. You can check out the blog, join me on Facebook and Instagram and come out to my next Chef Egg Live event.
Pumpkin pie is filled with warm spices that bring the Fall season into full effect. I like to make a batch of pumpkin pie spice to use for all types of recipes from pies, cookies and cakes to adding a couple of dashes to my morning coffee grinds for a dose of light pumpkin flavor. Check out the recipe below and experiment with the warm spices in your spice rack.
Now let's get crackin'!
Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice
3 tbsp. Cinnamon
2 tsp. Nutmeg
2 tsp. Ginger
1.5 tsp. Allspice
1.5 tsp Cloves
Place all ingredients into a bowl and stir to combine. Keep in an airtight container to keep fresh.
Hard boiled eggs are a great way to get your protein fix for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack. The method for cooking the eggs is very simple and can be done in no time at all. I like to boil about a dozen eggs at a time and keep them in the fridge for whatever comes my way during the week.
To store the eggs, peel them and dry well with a paper towel, then place in a airtight container. They should last about 4 days. You never know when you are going to have a craving of deviled eggs, egg salad or my favorite, breakfast guacamole!
You will need...
6 -12 Egg
1 Medium Pot
1 Slotted Spoon
1 qt. Ice
1. Place the eggs into the bottom of a pot and cover with cold water.
2. Bring the water to a full boil, cover, and turn off heat.
3. Let the eggs sit for 12 minutes.
4. Take the eggs out of the pot and place then into a bowl with ice water.
5. Let the eggs cool completely before peeling.
6. Dry the eggs week and store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days.