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I love making things that you wouldn’t necessarily think to make at home. Especially when they are dead simple, like this homemade ricotta. Super creamy, and perfect on pizza or in a dessert, this ricotta will definitely step up any dish. My next random homemade things just may be vanilla extract and ginger ale….so stay tuned.

Fresh Homemade Ricotta
via epicurious

1/2 gallon (2 quarts) whole milk
1 c. heavy cream
3 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. salt

Line a large sieve with a layer of heavy-duty (fine-mesh) cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl.

Slowly bring milk, cream, and salt to a rolling boil in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add lemon juice, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles, about 2 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain 1 hour. After discarding the liquid, chill the ricotta, covered; it will keep in the refrigerator 2 days.

pesto

I love pesto. I love it because of the flavor, because it is the easiest thing to make, and because it is so versatile. Traditional pesto is perhaps not a particularly budget-friendly dish, if only because of its reliance on pine nuts, which are absurdly expensive. Luckily, the definition of “pesto” is quite broad, at least these days, and can include other types of herbs and greens, different nuts, and totally different ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes. I love basil, but it usually comes in enormous quantities — perfect for pesto. Round out your basil with parsley, arugula, pea shoots, or other tender greens, and you’ve got yourself an incredibly versatile sauce. Here are a few ways to use your batch of pesto.

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photo by Amy Wang

Without further ado! Bread pudding recipe! Make at your own risk of butter-induced heart attack!!

The Breads*

3 c. self-rising flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. molasses or light corn syrup
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla (for light bread only)
12 oz. beer

* For the “black” bread, use molasses and a dark beer. I’ve used Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. For the “tan” bread, use corn syrup and a light beer. Nothing too hoppy. I’ve used Belhaven Scottish Ale.

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I have a massive amount of egg whites left over from Sunday, since my bread pudding custard called for 5 whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks. That adds up to 18 egg whites in a tupperware in my fridge. I was going to make a frittata, but I’m not sure how well frittata re-heats, and the whole point is to make something I could eat for dinner and for lunch. So I made a quiche. It only used up a fraction of the eggs, but I will have egg white omlettes for breakfast all week or something.

This is based on a quiche recipe I found on epicurious, which is made in a tart pan and thus has fewer filling ingredients than my typical deep dish pie-pan quiche. After all the beer and bread pudding, I’m ready for something lighter.

I also used this opportunity to draw down the troops in my cheese drawer. Too many stragglers, and you end up wasting perfectly good cheese. So here I used up a little chunk of fontina, because fontina tastes good and melts like no other cheese. And since there was only about 1/4 cup of it, I rounded it out to an even 1/2 cup with parmeggiano. You could use pretty much any cheese here — gruyere, chevre, smoked gouda — all would be delicious.

Recipe after the jump…

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Oh yeah, I promised the recipe, didn’t I!

The final version is in a document at work, where I will be tomorrow, and I will post it for you then.

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Yesterday was the First Annual Brooklyn Beer Experiment, and boy am I exhausted! There I am with my nerdy t-shirt and sign and recipe cards before the event started. I had a great time, met some awesome people, and the best part? I won 2nd place in the audience vote! So exciting!

That said, I never want to drink beer or eat bread pudding ever again.

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I frequently find myself with a selection of random ingredients in my fridge, just waiting to go bad. I also tend to forget when I have a lonely tomato, or half an onion in a plastic bag down there in the crisper drawer. I rediscover these sad specimens after they are long past edible, and usually quite pungent. This time, I knew I had a bunch of random things and thus tried to make a meal out of them.

At first I thought I was going to make a succotash, even though I don’t really know what a succotash is, nor do I know if I like it. I know it has corn in it, and I think beans or peas of some kind. Favas? I don’t know. But the more I thought about it the less that seemed like an entree, and I was trying to avoid buying meat or anything to go with it.

So I ditched the succotash idea and decided to make a bulgur salad. I had some spinach, frozen corn, carrots, a tomato, cilantro, half a can of chick peas, and half an onion. Oh, and two random chicken sausages. I would have preferred a proper dressing on it but out of laziness I splashed a bit of red wine vinegar and olive oil in there. Next time I would make a chipotle lime dressing. It needed a bit of kick. I toasted the chick peas with some spices (cumin and chili powder and cayenne) and then added them on top. It may not win me the title of Top Chef, but it was cheap, kept me from wasting produce, and made a LOT of salad to bring for lunch. It’s really not worth a recipe, since basically I just chopped the aforementioned produce, sauteed the onion, carrot, and corn for a few minutes, cooked the bulgur, and then threw it all in a bowl. I broiled the sausages and served them on the side.

Like I said, this week I’m lucky if I don’t live on Trader Joe’s entrees and leftover bread pudding, so there you have it!

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