I was having coffee with my friend Cristy yesterday and trying to figure out what to make next for the blog. When I was lamenting about what homemade item I could make next, she immediately asked if I had ever made butter before.
How have I never made butter before?
Now that I have made it, it is so easy and SOOOOOO good! I keep trying to find things I can slather it on just to eat more of it! What’s even better, when you make butter you are also making buttermilk. Biscuits and Butter anyone?
For this month’s theme, I’d originally planned on making a different recipe, and was trying to figure out when I’d have time to do it. I was getting stressed realizing how limited my time was this week… which, you know, is a bit opposite of the purpose of the “it’s better to make it yourself!” theme. I just don’t think it’s really great to make things yourself if the making leads to anxiety.
Oddly, though, at the same time as I was fussing over when the hell I’d find time for this week’s post, I realized that (duh) I was plotting to make homemade ricotta cheese for a dinner party we were having on Saturday night. I’d made it once before – many years ago – and remembered homemade ricotta is wildly easy and crazy delicious – creamy, rich, and the slightest bit tangy. There’s a ton of recipes online, but I went with my tried, true and very favorite blog, Smitten Kitchen.
Once I made the ricotta, I used it two ways – one in a recipe for zucchini stuffed with ricotta and a few veggies, and another for a delicious dip for veggies. Both are SO GOOD and were perfect appetizers!
Here’s the zucchini:
And the dip:
Strudel had the brilliant idea of making August, “Foods you usually buy but can make yourself” Month! The first thing that came to my mind was mayonnaise. I learned to make my own mayonnaise about 2 years ago and since then I have certainly made it more than I have bought it. It’s hard for me to buy mayonnaise now that I know how easy it is to make.
Have you seen the ingredients in store-bought mayo?
It’s a lot of unnecessary stuff. I think you’ll agree once you start making it yourself that the store-bought variety just isn’t worth it. The only downside to homemade mayo is that it doesn’t have the shelf life of store-bought because it is all natural. If you don’t think you can eat a cup of mayo in a week or two then throw half in a small jar and give it to a friend!
My favorite kind of mayo is Chipotle Mayo! I love adding a little kick to my tuna fish or egg salad sandwich. It also tasted great drizzled over my tortilla crusted tilapia.
Shalom from Sacramento! For the third year in a row, I’ve made my annual pilgrimage to the International Food Bloggers Conference, during which I pal around with my ladyblogger friends, stuff myself with tasty foods, an attempt to restrain myself in the gift suite. I’m sadly Streusel-less again this year (she couldn’t make it anyway, and then there was some emergency with her* hamster, which apparently cost $100 in vet bills and I still haven’t heard the whole story). But I’m thrilled, as always, to get a weekend with my lovely Erica.
Anyway, let me fill you in on what I’ve been up to while I’m here (other than sweating like a mother, but you knew that anyway since I’m in Sacramento at the end of July…)
* important note: the hamster actually belongs to Streusel’s daughter, not Streusel herself. Or so she claims.
What could be more classic and more summer than Strawberry Shortcakes! I found a wonderfully easy recipe in a great cookbook that I have been wanting to share with all of you so now is the perfect time!
A friend of mine knows the author, a Seattle Restaurateur, and knows how much I love food so she gave me the beautiful cookbook, A Boat, a Whale and a Walrus by Renee Erickson.
This dessert was *not* inspired by a long-standing desire to make baklava – I do love it, but we’ve already got a lovely recipe on our blog – but then we had an incident in our home that put honey on my brain. For a few days, we’d been hearing a weird sort of scratching noise coming from the corner of the dining room. We tried ignoring it, but when that didn’t make the problem magically go away, Brandon did a brief inspection and quickly figured out that some yellow jackets had discovered how awesome our house is and decided to move in themselves. The scratching noise was (as I later learned) the yellow jackets chewing up the drywall in the ceiling.
After a frantic email to Dan the Bee Man (linked here because if you live in Seattle and have a bee problem, call him so that he can save the day for you, as he did for us – seriously, he’s a reminder of the good, hardworking, and extremely competent people in the world), and an in-home consultation a few days later, we were horrified to learn that we were less than a week away from a yellow jacket swarm entering our house (and that 700-1000 yellow jackets live in a nest – gaaaahhhh). However, yellow jackets made me think of bees, bees make honey, and honey is delicious. Therefore, in honor of living in a stinging insect-free home (as I do now), I should make something for S&S that involves honey. Baklava, it is!
Streusel’s recipe – which I admit I haven’t made but will acknowledge looks amazing – uses homemade phyllo dough (again, amazing!). As we’ve discussed before, I’m pretty lazy, so I decided to whip a batch that’s a little more accessible for us idle folks, one that uses store-bought phyllo. Start to finish, the recipe was the oven in about 45 minutes, baked for 50 minutes, and it was ready to eat for dessert that night. And, it’s important to mention that it’s sweet, buttery, citrusy, sticky, and a bit salty – everything I’m looking for in a baklava.
When Strudel and I decided to make Classic Desserts this month, I struggled with what to make first. I knew I wanted it to be something I had never made before but always wanted to…Boston Cream Pie came to mind.
This pie, or cake, was first made at the Parker House Hotel in Boston, the longest continuously operating hotel in the US! The way I see it, that makes this dessert a true classic! This delight dates back to the mid 1800s. It is even the official dessert of Massachusetts.
This July brings “classic desserts” month here to S&S – meaning that Streusel and I have every excuse we’ve ever needed to spend the month baking our favorite desserts. This was perfect for me, as I was gifted this recipe a few years ago, and have been meaning to bake it forever, but have somehow never gotten around to it.
This Apple Tart was came to me by way of my dad, but it originates from his wife’s (hi Jacqueline!) mother, Arlene. The way dad described the tart was that “the look is very impressive and the taste is sweet tart. Which means you can’t stop eating it.” He also mentioned it is quite simple to make, and since I don’t have a ton of experience with tarts, it seemed like a great time to try it out for the blog. Also, Brandon is sleeping off the night shift today, so I needed to bake something quietly – while I understand that silent baking isn’t every baker’s demand, this was an extra “pro” for this recipe, as far as I’m concerned. With the exception of some food processing in the basement (grating butter in the cuisinart is quite loud), I can attest to the delicious simplicity of this lovely dessert!
(ps. we’re right on the cusp of the 4th of July holiday – this is a *perfect* dessert to bring to an event!)
I couldn’t let cherry month end without sharing a dessert that I grew up eating. One of my fondest memories of my grandma is her cherry pudding. She lived in Ohio and whenever we would visit she would always make this dessert. As soon as we would walk into her little kitchen, there on the stove top would be a hot dish of cherry pudding that she had just pulled out of the oven. It’s a super simple recipe that only gets one bowl dirty!
I modified the recipe a little because I always found my grandma’s recipe to be a little too sweet and I substituted some of the flour for almond flour because I just love how almonds and cherries go together. It’s a warm gooey dessert that tastes really great fresh from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
Truthfully, I should’ve titled this post “Boozy Ass Cherries” since these are some damn boozy cherries. They are not for people who don’t like bourbon, or for people who want boozy cherries today or tomorrow (they need time to soak). They ARE, however, for those of us that love bourbon, don’t like their drinks (or things in their drinks) that are too sweet, and willing to wait it out.