Instant Pot cottage cheese! Awesome.

I’m one of those people who grew up with homemade cottage cheese and everything out of the grocery store is a real washout after that.  I’ve made it at home occasionally, on the stovetop, but that takes more attention than I’m sometimes ready to give to it.

I just got my email from Taste magazine and there was an article on cottage cheese. It’s from the point of view of a “life-long southerner” (which I’m definitely not) but even some northerners did the homemade cottage thing.  Somehow I missed the concept that with the Instant Pot yogurt cycle I could make cottage cheese easily until I saw this article and the recipe.

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Prime beef!

I did eat well over the Christmas-New Year holidays. Most of my fancy stuff was sale “finds” (pheasant and duck breasts), but I did have one splurge. The holiday season brings out USDA prime beef (without having to special order it) so I took advantage of that and treated myself to a steak. I guess you could call it a steak, but it was almost a young roast.

I’m enough of a carnivore that I like my meat rare to medium rare, it was cut thick enough that I could get a decent sear on the outside and still be rare inside. I cooked this marvellous hunk of beef in a combination of oven and stove-top as directed by Cook’s Illustrated. My first meal was a steak and potatoes meal (with the leftover cabbage and rutabaga from my Christmas dinner.

Obviously, there were some serious leftovers from a chunk of beef that big. Mostly I just enjoyed the leftover steak by making “roast” beef sandwiches of various sorts. After all, that’s a treat you don’t often get when you’re doing single-serving cooking.

In the process of eating up all that leftover beef I had lots of splendid sandwiches. But I did come up with one spectacular one. I love bleu cheese, and I think it’s excellent with beef. It’s not unusual for me to top a steak with gorgonzola dolce or even just Danish bleu.

Rummaging in the fridge, I realized that there was just enough beef to make one last sandwich–and it was time to use it or lose it. There was also a slice of Boar’s Head MarBleu cheese. MarBleu has (as you might guess) something to do with bleu cheese: it’s Monterey Jack with bleu marbeling. It’s got the bleu cheese tang, but not so strong that it is overwhelming, and it can be sliced (delicious grilled cheese sandwiches, too). A beef and bleu sandwich was just what I needed, but the real pièce de résistance was what I used for a condiment on this sandwich.

In the process of putting the finishing touches on my Christmas Eve and Christmas day dinner, I went to Bull City Olive Oil to get some balsamic vinegars to use with the duck breasts. While trying to decide what to do with leftover duck and pheasant, I made another trip to Bull City Olive Oil looking for inspiration. In a shop that allows tasting, I’m constitutionally unable to NOT taste. One of the oils that I tasted was a chipotle infused oil. That was just the thing to help me get rid of the leftover duck breast (later on that).

That bottle was sitting on the counter while I was making my beef and bleu sandwich. I passed on the mayonnaise, the butter, and the mustard that I had been considering. Instead, I drizzled some of the chipotle oil on my bread, stack on my thinly sliced beef, and the MarBleu cheese. Great combination–just a bit spicy, just a bit smokey. (I had the green stuff on the side as a salad.)

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(No pictures of that beautiful steak–they disppeared somewhere betwixt the smart phone and Google photo so all I have are the gustatory and olfactory memories.)

 

 

Labneh

I finally got around to making some yoghurt cheese or labneh! I don’t know why it has taken me this long to do something that simple–it’s practically effortless. After reading David Lebovitz’s post on Labneh I finally did it. Now that the weather is getting warmer I’ll be looking for lighter things to eat with fresh vegetables.

After googling “labneh recipes”, I had a plethora from which to choose. Variations include some calling for full-fat plain yoghurt, some for Greek, one for adding lemon juice, and others for herbs. All called for some salt.

Greek yoghurt cheese

Labneh

For my first trial, I used full-fat plain that was lingering in the fridge since I’ve found that I really prefer skyr (even to Greek yoghurt). I added a healthy pinch of salt, then set the yoghurt to drain for 15 hours.

Tasting the labneh I discovered that it wasn’t quite as tangy as I had hoped–I’ll try adding lemon juice next time.

I suspect that this is going to become a “fixture” in my fridge instead of the usual cream cheese. I am a fan of radishes so adding those and other vegetables to labneh sounds like a great summer treat, and I’ve many other interesting recipes for using it. Some found its way into my omelette with sautéed kale as an improvised breakfast with the Always Hungry? meal plan inside the omelette, rather than as a topping, or have berries without the skyr  or yoghurt.

It’s such fun to discover new foods!

omelette with labneh and kale

Salmon with asparagus in an Epoisses sauce

Epoisses is one of my most favorite cheeses–not necessarily easy to get. I don’t usually think of cheese with fish, but I want to give this a try. Now to find some Epoisses. . . .

From Alfredo's With Love

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What I want to prove here is how well you can pair a cheese sauce with fish. The EpoIsses sauce is lighter than the one I would normally have with meat – and the flavour really enhances the flavours of the salmon. I used 100gm of Epoisses cheese chopped up and melted slowly in a dry pan. Then sprinkle with a grind or two of black pepper, and then add 150 ml of single cream. Gently warm through – it will thicken a little but not too much.

I served it with poached salmon, asparagus and oven cubed potatoes roasted with thyme and garlic.

If you have never thought to try this – you must. Not an obvious pairing but …..IT WORKS!

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A strange coincidence this afternoon

I truly love technology, especially when it lets me find marvelous things. If you’ve been here before, you’ll note the change of format. Well, it’s entailed a LOT of editing, link checking, replacing photographs that somehow disappeared in the switch.  So, I’m likely a little squirrely side. (Frankie would probably flat-out bitchy since the last time he walked across the keyboard.) I was just editing a blog post on Roast Duck with Fresh Fig Sauce, thinking that since it’s summertime, there will be figs. . . .

My email popped up notification of a  “like”  from a blog that I just discovered and started following.   From Alfred’s with Love.  WordPress put this one up on my list of recommended blogs yesterday, and I went to check it out.  I liked, I followed.Thank you, WordPress!

I’m seriously addicted to good writing about food, eating, dining, or even just the occasional graze, or an excellent sandwich (See Bibliography page).  As usual, the WordPress email included some links–Sea Bass and eat it caught my eye, and I was just roaming around. Perhaps because I had just been looking at duck on my blog I pulled down the recipe index and clicked on duck.

What I found first was Duck à l’epoisses. Epoisses is one of my two favorite cheeses (the other being Brin d’Amour or Fleur de Maquis).  I’d never thought of combining it with duck until I saw this recipe, and it’s left me drooling on my keyboard, even if it is so hot right now that I’d not want duck for dinner. This is a keeper of a recipe–come some cooler days and I’ll be looking for Epoisses cheese to try this (unfortunately it’s not one that I can just walk into the cheese shop and get here in Durham).

You’ve got the links here; you really should go check out this blog because there delightful reading, and some great anticipation with the recipes.

Beet salad with feta

I’m in a work rush with a close deadline on a book that I’m indexing and that means that any heavy duty cooking (anything that requires turning on the stove, or pushing a button on the microwave) is out for the next few days. In need of lunch, I perused the fridge contents.

There was a package of Melissa’s Produce steamed, peeled, baby beets that I  brought home from the  supermarket produce section; toted home and put in the vegetable bin (sometime ago, and not yet used) so I made the easy beet salad from Chef Mimi’s blog this afternoon. This was a great light, quick,  warm-day lunch.

The beets are vacuum sealed in heavy plastic.  The texture is perfect–just like I’d steamed and peeled them myself–and they have a long shelf-life so I can always have them around without feeling that I absolutely HAVE to have beets today, or even tomorrow.

It’s not that cooking beets is difficult, but when there’s a really pressing deadline and I need lots of work time, I go for convenience and speed  but I don’t want to sacrifice taste. That usually rules out canned vegetables (except for beans and tomatoes) though I admit to not have checked out canned beets in ages because I really never liked the taste;  I can see that I need to revisit the canned ones again, too.

These vacuum packed ones just moved beets right up with canned beans as a convenience item in my pantry.

(Let me be clear about my comments on any products mentioned in my posts:  I have no connection (except as a consumer) with Melissa’s Produce, nor with Stahlbush Island Farms (mentioned below.  I get no remuneration for comments or use of these products.)

Now, I tasted the beets straight from the package and then made my salad.  I didn’t spiralize them, so my salad wasn’t as pretty as that pictured on Cher Mimi’s blog, but it was tasty.  I doubt that I could tell those vacuum-sealed, pre-cooked beets from ones that I had steamed and peeled myself (unless I looked at the color of my hands).  You could put those in a bowl and serve as a vegetable without anything except warming them and adding seasoning of your choice.

I have one more “convenience” product that I want to check out:  Stahlbush Island Farms sliced frozen beets that I found in the frozen food section at my local Harris Teeter.  I didn’t go to the frozen foods section expecting beets (probably the farthermost thing from my mind just then–I was looking for chopped kale) but right next to the Stahlbush Island Farms chopped curly kale, were sliced beets. As slicedbeetswebyou’ve probably gathered, I’m incapable of leaving something like that in the store.  So, I have those in the freezer to try next.

One of my other summer favorites is beet soup. I can certainly speed up making that if I use one of these products!  I can replace the beet greens with Swiss chard–maybe even find it frozen as well.

One of the appealing things about the frozen beets is that I can use some and put the remaining ones back in the freezer without having leftover veggies.  Since they are sliced, but uncooked, I have more flexibility. With the vacuum packed ones or a can, you have to do something with  the rest of the beets so that they don’t linger too long in the fridge and grow interesting colors of mold, and eventually find the way to the garbage.

My only “regret” with the Melissa’s beets was that I really like  beets roasted instead of steamed.  The first way I’ll try the frozen ones is roasted as suggested on the website.

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Until I found these products in the frozen food section, I’d never heard of Stahlbush Island Farms, but after looking at the website and the products, I’ll certainly follow up to check out some of the grains and legumes that are frozen, as well as fruits. (Again, no connection, except as a consumer, and picky at that.)

I noticed black raspberries on the product list. I’m a fanatic about black raspberries–there’s a big difference in flavor from the red ones that we see in the stores, not that those aren’t good, but black raspberries are what I grew up with, and thus my idea of what raspberries should be.

Baked Feta Cheese with whatever you are growing in your veggie patch

I love feta cheese–I’d never thought to do something so simple and easy for a summer lunch or supper.

Promenade Plantings

The allotment sorely needs my attention right now, it will be planting time soon and a) I haven’t done any preparation and b) and even more pressing is that until today I haven’t sown any seeds.

I have a To Do List in my head – clearing the winter debris, tidying jobs abound, a new path to be cleared between the greenhouse and shed and talking of the greenhouse it’s on my to do list too!  But I’m not going to dwell on the To Do List as there’s a tendency for it to all start feeling a bit overwhelming. I remind myself this is a hobby, a pleasure and an escape from TO DO lists. Instead I accept that a busy life means it’s a case of do what and when I can and while I’m there pick a few leaves of winter greens like Chard and Kale, dig…

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