Sunday, March 3, 2013

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

Mmm... cheeeeesy. Decided to try making some cheese. Although un-pasturized milk is ideal for cheese, it is technically illegal to sell it in Colorado unless you are a part of a milk share during which case you actually "own" a share of the cow. Instead, I found some milk that was pasteurized at a low temperature which seemed to work fine. This was my first time making cheese so I definitely took longer than the "30 minutes" that the recipe suggested. I also realized that some sort of hand protection (probably thick gloves of some sort) is quite necessary as your hands are submerged in very hot water (70C). Gloves would have definitely prevented much pain in my hands. The recipe that I used (featured in the cheese kit that I used) produced about six golf-tennis ball size balls.

Final product.

The low-temperature pasteurized whole milk that I used.

Separating the curds and whey.

Finished cheese with (out of season) basil, EV olive oil, and a balsamic reduction.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Japanese Udon Noodle Soup

Japanese food is one of the many Asian cuisines that I salivate over. Last night I cooked a Japanese Miso Udon Soup. I have never cooked a Japanese soup before, but I love Japanese food so I did it. I first made a Dashi soup broth, then added vegetables and udon noodles to finalize the soup. I basically read through five or ten recipes to get an idea of what the soup is generally like, then I made my own version. Also, feel free to experiment with any vegetables and/or meats available. My friend and I discovered that this soup tastes even better when paired with Bristol Brewing Company's Compass IPA.

Miso Udon Soup:

- 1 carrot (sliced thinly at an angle)
- 1 bunch kale, chopped
- 20-30 spinach leaves
- 1 serrano pepper, sliced thinly
- 6 scallions, chopped into pea size
- 1 leek, chopped into pea size
- 1 1/2 cups thinly chopped cabbage
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 5 tablespoons soy, or tamari, sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 cup Japanese rice wine
- 1 1/2 tablespoons brown rice miso paste (any other miso paste would probably work too)
- 8 cups Dashi Broth (see below)
- 1 lb. udon noodles, cooked to very al dente, strained and reserved

Heat broth in large soup pot. Saute carrot, serrano pepper, scallions, leek and ginger until soft, about 6 minutes. Add kale and rice wine and continue cooking until kale begins to wilt, about 3 minutes. Add vegetables into broth and simmer for about 8 minutes.
Mix together soy sauce and miso paste, set aside.
Add cabbage and spinach. Once spinach begins to wilt add cooked udon noodles, sesame oil and miso-soy sauce. Continue to simmer for 1 more minute. Serve hot with a garnish of thinly chopped cabbage.

Dashi Broth:

- Several (2-4) sticks of dried Kombu (type of seaweed - buy it at Asian food markets or natural food stores)
- 1 cup dried Bonito flakes (once again, buy it at Asian food markets or natural food stores)
- 1-2 liters water, depending on desired potency of broth

Bring Kombu and water to boil. Immediately remove Kombu (set aside to use in other soup or freeze to use again for broth) once water comes to a boil. Add Bonito flakes. Once the flakes sink to bottom of pot (about 1-3 minutes), strain broth through cheese cloth or fine strainer to remove flakes. Discard flakes.
This broth will last up to a week in the refrigerator. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Salmon, Snapper, and Tuna Sushi

I have recently become inspired after watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi, my new favorite documentary film. I highly recommend this movie to everyone, especially if you are at all interested in food. It is about a 90-something year old sushi chef named Jiro who has been making sushi for 75 years. His restaurant is located in a subway station in Tokyo, Japan and has received three Michelin stars. Experimented with some sushi tonight. I bought salmon, tuna, and snapper at Whole Foods because they are good raw and arrived at Whole Foods this morning, so they were (probably) the freshest. The salmon actually tasted the best. I didn't do much thinking outside the box in terms of filling for the rolls mainly because I have only made sushi once before, and I remember having a frustrating time doing it, so I just stuck to simple stuff. With the help of my family, I used cucumber, carrot, avocado, and fish for the fillings.

It all tasted great and I am real excited to make it again.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Summer Squash and Chicken Penne with a Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce

I came up with this dish knowing that we had leftover chicken from last night and fresh summer squash from the garden. The sauce (Lemon Garlic Butter sauce) is very similar to the sauce that I use when making shrimp scampi, but without the shrimp. Not a very photogenic presentation, hence why I only uploaded one photo. 

Summer Squash and Chicken Penne with a Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce

3 summer squash, sliced into thin rounds
cooked chicken, torn by hand into bite size strips
1 lb penne
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
10 leaves fresh sage, minced
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced (should be equal amounts sage to rosemary)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
slightly less than 1/4 cup vermouth
juice of 2 lemons
kosher salt
ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Bring water to boil for pasta. Salt liberally with kosher salt. Cook penne until just al dente, about 10 minutes. In large frying pan sauté the squash until just translucent with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Remove from pan. In same pan cook the garlic over medium heat until just light brown. Add butter (cut into chunks). Once butter has melted add vermouth, lemon juice, and herbs and simmer for three minutes, stirring throughout. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drain penne and immediately transfer to pan with butter sauce. Add the torn  chicken and cooked squash and stir/toss to combine over medium heat for several minutes to allow everything to become hot. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Simple Tomato Salsa

This simple tomato salsa was one of the things that I was able to concoct while at a cabin in the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York this past week. Basically all you have to do is carefully mix together a small dice of fresh ripe tomatoes, onions, orange (or yellow/red) bell pepper, a little hot pepper (I used a jalapeño, but a serrano pepper would also work fine), minced garlic, some parsley or cilantro, and a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil. 
There is no strict "recipe" for salsa. There are endless combinations of different ingredients and proportions that you can use. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Some photos from last night's pizza. Tasty, but there are still many areas for improvement. There are still many things that I am learning.  
Pizza Margherita.
 Italian sausage (somehow got it for free, along with another sausage, from the butcher at Whole Foods).
Assortment of toppings.
Dairy free/vegan pizza.
Peach, caramelized onion, goat and mozzarella cheeses.
Pizza crust bottom-view. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Caprese Salad

This is salad in its simplest form. Caprese salad is quite easy to make. It is also a summer salad - don't even try making it anytime but the summer (unless you live somewhere very warm) because the tomatoes will not be great out of season, and great tomatoes are essential for a good caprese salad. Good mozzarella helps too. A balsamic reduction raises this caprese salad to the next level. 

Caprese Salad:

2 large, ripe tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
10 slices fresh mozzarella (about one mozzarella ball)
20 leaves fresh basil
1/4 cup balsamic reduction (see below)
freshly ground black pepper
kosher salt

To make this salad, simply assemble thinly sliced ripe tomatoes (about 1/4 inch thick), fresh mozzarella slices of about the same size, and several basil leaves. To make each stack, begin with a tomato slice. Place several basil leaves on top of tomato slice, followed by a slice of mozzarella. Then drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil and a liberal amount of balsamic reduction (see below) on top. Add some extra smaller basil leaves to the top as well. Season with freshly ground pepper and kosher salt (this depends on the salt content of your mozzarella. I barely added any salt this time because the mozzarella I used was very salty to begin with). Enjoy!

Balsamic Reduction:

3/4 cup good balsamic vinegar

Simply bring the vinegar to a slight simmer in a saucepan for 10-20 minutes allowing the liquid to reduce to a syrupy consistency. Any extra can be stored in the refrigerator.