Look at these strawberries I picked up today!
Since I was up early for a ill-conceived McCarren run this morning, I figured I might as well make breakfast when I got home. I’ve made stuffed french toast in the past, most recently for last year’s Pre-Easter Brunch Dinner Party (what??) Usually I use cream cheese and jam, but I thought I’d experiment a bit this time. I had some leftover mint I’ve been needing to use, and with the discovery of some lovely strawberries, I came up with the following. Slaving over a hot stove in the summer is my specialty.
Lemon Ricotta Stuffed French Toast with Strawberry Mint Sauce
Lemon Ricotta Stuffing
1/2 container of skim ricotta (or you can make your own!)
1 1/2 lemons (juice and zest!)
Mix ricotta, zest and juice of lemon.
Strawberry Mint Sauce
2 cups of strawberries
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 mint, chopped
Chop up strawberries and pulse in food processor or blender. Add sugar and mint and pulse until smooth.
1 loaf good bread, sliced thick
1 tbls vanilla
1/2 cup milk
butter for pan
Whisk eggs, vanilla and milk together in a container (make sure it’s big enough to fit the bread!)
Take a slice of bread and spread lemon ricotta on one side. Make a sandwich! In a pan, melt butter. Dip stuffed bread in the egg mixture until well coated. Add to pan and cook until brown. Flip!
Remove from heat and top with several spoonfuls of strawberry mint sauce.
Make sure you’re prepare to be ridiculously full after eating this. The ricotta is a bit rich, but balances well with the fresh strawberry and mint.
Today is going to be a busy day. I’m headed over to Berry Park to watch the World Cup, and then to the park for a picnic prepared by Bergur, who generously offered to make lunch for everyone. I hear he’s an amazing cook, so I’m looking forward to it. Then tonight, I’m headed over to check out the Creators Project at Milk Studios. Whew!
The other day I was telling a friend about my food guilt complex. Let me explain: If I take shortcuts (i.e. using canned vegetables) I feel like a horrible person. Okay, not a horrible person, but a lazy cook. I like the idea of everything being made from scratch, even if it takes longer. Today I bought frozen peas for a soup I’m making tomorrow and had to tell myself that it was alright that I was not sitting and shelling fresh ones by hand. Perhaps it’s time I move to a farm… or become one of those Brooklyn crazies that keep chickens in the backyard for the fresh eggs (at least that’s why I think they have them.)
For tomorrow’s Sunday night dinner, I am doing a summery pasta that includes ricotta cheese, so I figured why not make it from scratch! I’ve never made cheese before, so it was a bit of an adventure (adventure in cheesecloth.) This experience also convinced me that I may be the messiest cook that has ever existed. My kitchen is a disaster.
I used the simplest recipe I could find. Two ingredients! Three if you add salt.
Homemade Ricotta (via 101cookbooks)
(Two things: I didn’t buy the right amounts of milk and buttermilk, so I did a quart of milk, 1/2 quart of buttermilk. Also, I added salt.)
1 gallon good-quality whole milk
1 quart good-quality buttermilk
Combine both milks into a large nonreactive saucepan over medium high heat, preferably a thick-bottomed pan if you have one. You will need to stir occasionally, scraping the pan bottom, to avoid scorching. Once the milk is hot, stop stirring. You will start to see curds rise and come to the surface. Run a spoon or spatula along the bottom of the pan occasionally to free up any stuck curds.
While the milk is heating, select a sieve or colander with a wide surface area. This will help your curds cook more quickly. Line the colander with a large piece of cheesecloth that has been folded numerous times - until you have about 5 or six layers. Place the lined colander over a large bowl or sink.
When the mixture reaches about 175F degrees, you will see the curds and whey seperate. The curds are the clumpy white mass. Now, remove the pan from heat, and gently begin to ladle curds into the prepared sieve. Pull up on the sides of the cheesecloth to drain off any extra liquid, but resist pressing on the curds. Gather the edges of the cloth, tie or fasten them into a knot and allow them to drain for another 15 minutes minimum. Move to an airtight container and refrigerate if you aren’t going to use it immediately. Try to use or eat it within a few days, it really is best that way.
Makes about 4 cups.
I’m not sure that making cheese is my forte, but I’m glad I gave it a go. I will make sure my dinner guests know all of the work that went into it so that they lavish me with praise.
I’m off to watch The Room on Bjorn’s rooftop, fresh hummus and truffled popcorn in hand… But that’s another post all together.