Category: Dairy

Easy Peel Hard Boiled Eggs

Hard Boiled Egg

Hard boiled eggs are arriving at the stores more fresh than ever before, and because of this, you may have noticed that when they are hard boiled (or hard cooked as some say) the membrane in the egg tends to stick to the egg white, making the eggs difficult to peel. While fresh eggs are great, this annoyance can make breakfast (or an egg salad lunch) a distressing event. I have been known to lose half an egg just trying to remove the shell. There are, however two simple techniques that will allow you to easily peel hard boiled eggs in a flash, leaving you with perfect looking eggs. The first method makes peeling hard boiled eggs so unbelievably easy that they have become my staple breakfast, and is an incredible time saver

Method 1:
Add a tablespoon or two of baking soda to the water when you boil the eggs. This will increase the pH of the water, making it more alkaline, which will allow the membrane to slip off the cooked albumen (egg white) easily. You can pull the shell right off, or, if you want to make it interesting, crush both ends of the egg, hold it in your hand and blow. The egg will shoot right out of the shell and across the room.

Method 2:
Hard boil the eggs, remove from the water when cooked, and wait until they are room temperature. Do not put them in the refrigerator, just leave them on the counter. Room temperature cooked eggs are much easier to peel than hot or cold ones.

Personally, I prefer the baking soda method because I can’t wait and I like showing people the magic trick of the egg shooting out of its shell, but how you do it is your choice. Now hard boiled eggs are an easy meal!

Chai Tea, Simplicity and Substance in a Cup

chaiChai is the name for a spiced Indian tea that is generally served milky and sweet. I particularly like chai in the winter, as it is hearty and warming, but I find it quite satisfying as iced chai tea in the summer as well.

As with most food, there is no rule with chai, it is all about personal preference. Find the flavors you like. Experiment with them. Add more, add less of others. In India, chai, like curry, is no one mix. Different regions use different flavors, and even one particular family may make their curry or chai in a completely different manner than the family next door. Basically, find the flavors you like and play with them until you find your preferred taste.

What I do is simple, I take a black tea that I like (it can be a malty Assam, or a lighter Ceylon, or any thing in between. Using a tea bag from the store will work well too since a lot of flavor comes from the spices that steep with the tea, so heck, go ahead and use that bag that came with your Chinese food last night.

My chai ingredients:
Black tea
Green cardamom (crack the pods open)
Black peppercorns
Cinnamon (whole or small pieces, powdered will work, but won’t filter out easily)
Cloves
Ginger
Vanilla Extract (just a few drops)
Milk
Sugar

Directions:
Steep the mix in hot water for about 3 minutes. Add milk and sugar to your taste, it’s really that simple.

I find the best way to make chai is with an infuser basket. Place your selected ingredients in the basket in your cup, and remove when done. You could always toss all the items in a pot and pour the tea through a strainer, whatever is easiest for you.

Asparagus and Brie Soup

Asparagus and brie soup

Asparagus and brie soup

I love asparagus and I love brie. So why not combine the two? The mustiness if the brie combines very well with the vegetal nature of the asparagus and while this soup seems like it would be very rich… it is. But so worth it.

Ingredients:
1/2 pound fresh asparagus, cut into small pieces, lower portions removed
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup white wine
4 to 6 ounces Brie, rind removed and cubed
Dash salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Saute the asparagus in a saucepan with the butter until tender. Stir in the flour and mix until the flour absorbs the liquid. Cook the  flour for about 2 minutes or until golden brown, forming a roux. Add the broth slowly, then add cream and wine. Bring to a slow boil and reduce the heat, simmering for 10-15 minutes.

2. Blend the soup with a hand blender, or in small batches in a food processor. Return to soup the pan and add brie, stirring gently. Simmer at a low heat, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolateWinter is here (sort of) and that means hot chocolate (or hot cocoa if you prefer).  I always make my hot chocolate from scratch, and while there are plenty of mixes, it is neither hard nor time consuming to make hot chocolate yourself. While there is nothing wrong with hot chocolate from a mix (yes there is), if you want to make a memorable hot chocolate there is no better method than using the simplest of ingredients and taking the few minutes to mix it yourself. I like to one up everyone else by turning my hot chocolate into a liquid Reese’s peanut butter cup. It only takes a few minutes to make and you will not regret dirtying a pot for such a delicious treat.

Ingredients:
2 tsp cocoa powder (I prefer Droste, but any high quality cocoa powder will do)
2 heaping tsp sugar
1 cup +1 tsp milk
1 heaping tsp smooth peanut butter

Directions:
1. Heat 1 cup of milk in a pot until steaming .

2. Combine the cocoa powder and sugar in a cup.

3. Add 1 tsp of milk to the cup and stir the cocoa powder and sugar until you make a paste.

4. Add the warm milk to the cup, and stir until the paste has mixed well.

5. Add the peanut butter and stir slowly until it has melted into the hot chocolate.

6. Drink and think about how much better your hot chocolate is than your friends’.

N.B. There are a number of things that you can add instead of peanut butter to make a fantastic, warm winter drink. Try any of the following for something interesting: cinnamon, instant coffee, hazelnut liqueur (Frangelico), almond liqueur (Amaretto), peppermint schnapps, whipped cream, orange zest, vanilla, Nutella, or anything else that you like with your chocolate. Or do as the Aztecs did and add a bit of chili pepper, it is pretty interesting (while they didn’t use milk, who cares?)


French Hot Chocolate on Foodista

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Homemade ricotta cheese

Homemade ricotta cheese

Cheese is not something that people often think to make at home, but there is nothing in the world quite like fresh ricotta cheese. Surprisingly easy to make, this staple (in my house) is above and beyond store-bought ricotta. I often use this in our other staple, lasagna, and we even eat it plain in a bowl with a little salt and pepper, as we would eat cottage cheese. Ricotta is one of the easiest cheeses to make at home as it requires no rennet (special enzymes to curdle the milk) nor does it require any aging or care. It is the ‘lazy person’s’ cheese, so to speak, but there is nothing lazy about how fast I eat it.

Ingredients
1 gallon whole milk
1 pint heavy cream
1 quart buttermilk
4 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons lemon juice

You will also need a thermometer, sieve or colander, and some cheesecloth.

Directions
1. Combine the milk, buttermilk, cream, and salt in a non-reactive pan.

Forming curds

Forming curds

2. Prepare the colander for the draining process by moistening a few sheets of cheesecloth and layering them in the colander. This is where you will be placing the curds to drain excess whey. I place the colander in the sink to drain.

3. Attach the thermometer to the pan so that you may monitor the temperature.

4. Heat the mixture on high, stirring occasionally to prevent any milk from scorching on the bottom of the pan.

5. When the milk has reached about 175 degrees F, add the lemon juice and gently stir it in. You will see curds start to form immediately. Allow a few minutes for more curds to accumulate, stirring very gently on occasion.

Spooning curds

Spooning curds

6. Using a skimmer or sieve, remove curds from the pot and place them in the cheesecloth lined colander. The moisture level of the cheese will be determined by how long you let it drain. I like a moist ricotta, so I let it drain about five to ten minutes, but for a more firm cheese, let the curds drain longer.

7. When the curds have finished draining, remove them and eat immediately for the best ricotta you have ever tasted. The cheese will also last a few days in the refrigerator in a sealed container.