Friday, March 29, 2013

Italian Easter Rice and Ricotta Pie

To finish off the 2 lbs of whole milk ricotta I made, it was time to make the last of the special Easter pies.  The sweet ricotta and rice pie was a favorite of ours at Easter.  The grownups liked the savory Easter pie with lots of deli meats and cheeses, but we kids liked the sweet ricotta pie. 

I found a recipe on which was absolutely perfect in every way, resplendent with orange zest, orange juice, cinnamon and vanilla flavors.  I chose to make the pie using wheat berries as opposed to rice, since I always have some of those on hand and I wanted to mix things up a bit.  Here's the pie when it was removed from the springform pan, cooling on a rack.  Can't wait to taste it with a cup of tea this evening after dinner..

Monday, March 25, 2013

Savory Italian Easter Pie

Every year at Easter time, my mom, grandma and aunts would make Easter pies, along with taralli and other Italian goodies.  There were two types of Easter pies.  The first was a savory pie made with ricotta, eggs, proscuitto, grated parmesan cheese and seasoned with black pepper.  This was all put into a pie shell that had eggs in it as well.  The second type of pie was a sweet ricotta and rice pie.  Both were a must for celebrating Easter Sunday.  The first pie was often served with a glass of wine.  The second one was for the end of the meal along with a some dark rich coffee.  Each was good in their own way.  As children, we much preferred the sweet pie, but as we got older the savory pie was more appreciated. 

I found a recipe for the savory pie in the book, "In Nonna's Kitchen" by Carol Field.  Here she calls it Pizza Rustica Napolitan.  The pastry for the pie was made using olive oil in place of butter.  I'd never tried this before and found the dough somewhat difficult to work, but it did go well with the filling.  I started by making some whole milk ricotta and then added in mortadella and salami along with 3 eggs, parmesan and romano cheeses, black pepper and ground nutmeg. Here's the pie-

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Eatwell Farm Box for 3/27/2013

Oh boy, lots of good stuff coming our way next week from Eatwell Farm -

Green garlic
Red cabbage
Sugar snap peas

Yay, carrots - love Eatwell carrots they are so sweet and tasty, I think I'll just have these for snacks, dipping in some olive oil or a yogurt dip.  Time to make another quiche, love quiche, with spinach, chard and green garlic.  It's so nice to have some snap peas, stir fry them with some chicken and a bit of bok choy.  Arugula salad with orange slices, pine nuts and pickled watermelon daikon for dinner along with some grilled lamb chops.  Dandelion and leek salad with raisins and pine nuts as well would make a tasty salad too, maybe just wilt the dandelions a bit and add the raisins and pine nuts.  Fish tacos with shredded red cabbage, yum.  Maybe make up some lemon curd cupcakes this week, there's a recipe on that I am itching to try.   Bon Appetit.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

What's coming in next week's box from Eatwell Farm

I'm diligently working on using up what is in each week's box from Eatwell Farm.  It is quite a task(but a pleasant one) as there are so many good things in each week's box.  Here's what's on deck for the upcoming week -

Spinach.. Amazing bunch
Green garlic
Chard... back again after a long break

Oh good, arugula is back - love it in a salad with green garlic, tangerines, pickled watermelon daikon radish and toasted pine nuts, dress that salad with a splash of balsamic vinegar and some EVOO and we are good to go.  Maybe some oven roasted whole chicken stuffed with fresh lemons and rosemary and roasted herbed potatoes will complete the meal.

Turnips, leeks and chard will go in a lamb stew. 

Navel oranges and tangerines make great snacks and good lunch time fruits for Michael's lunch box. 

I'm going to dry and save any dill that is leftover from making a dill sauce for some grilled salmon.  Serve that salmon with some spinach and top it with the dill sauce too, add some brown rice to complete the meal. 

Lidia Bastianich has a killer recipe for cauliflower and pasta that will make a great evening dinner along with a salad of the freshest lettuce.

Great food from Eatwell Farm - enjoy!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Brie to Go with all that Bread

Saturday, Michael and I took 2 gallons of milk and made 2 lbs. of brie cheese, 4 small ones and 1 large wheel.  After their long overnight rest at 74F, I salted them this morning and put them into their plastic containers.  They are resting on the counter in the kitchen, so they can dry out some more before going into the 'cheese cave'. 

This was our first go at brie cheese and it went well, I think.  We will know better in 10-15 days.  The only problem we had, per se, was the fact that there were not enough holes in the small brie molds that we made so the whey didn't drain quickly.  Thus, we ended up with 4 rather flat mini-bries and one regular sized 7 inch wheel (oh boo-hoo!).  Michael will add more holes to the molds for the next go around in a 2 weeks or so.

Without further ado (drum roll, please) - here they are resting comfortably--

Friday, March 8, 2013

Whole Lotta Baking Going On!

The past two days, I have been baking bread like a maniac, getting ready for next week. 

Wednesday, I baked our usual weekly loaf of Peter Reinhart's 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread.  This has become our go-to bread for breakfast toast. We like the wheaty flavor and the hearty texture of this bread.  It holds up well against the peanut butter and homemade orange marmalade.

Yesterday, I prepared a sourdough starter for San Joaquin Sourdough Bread (recipe on  I also set up a starter for some Sourdough Oat Bread, a recipe a friend gave to me that I recently converted to weight measures in grams.  Here's the recipe for the Sourdough Oat Bread, makes two nice loaves of bread.  You will see I made several changes after baking this bread.  I didn't like the pronounced flavor of baking soda in the bread and am going to eliminate it from the mix in my next batch.  It made the bread taste like biscuits.  That's not a bad flavor but not one I like for an oat bread - I'd rather taste the oats than biscuit.

Sourdough Orange Oat Bread(weights)

300 g sourdough starter at 100% hydration (4-6 hours before making bread, mix 50g starter with 125g water and 125g bread flour, leave at room temp 4-6 hours)

478g warm milk

336g warm water

8g active dry yeast

21g salt

8g diastatic malt powder  85g  (1/4 cup) honey

68g vegetable oil

18g baking soda butter, melted

176g whole wheat flour

160g 260g rolled oats (not instant)

900g   800g bread flour

zest of one large orange

1 egg + 1 TBSP water (eggwash)

extra rolled oats for the top of the bread

Prep: Mix all but white flour in a large bowl. Will foam up - allow to sit in covered bowl for 1 hr.
Stir down, and begin adding white flour, 1c at a time, and beat in well.
When stiff enough to handle, knead 6-10 min until smooth & elastic. Place in oiled bowl, cover with cotton towel. Allow to rise until doubled(about 1 hour at 74F).
{punch down, rise to double again}--I skipped this step
Grease 8” loaf pans - shape and make 2 loaves, allow to rise final time (about 1 hour) until nearly doubled. Top w/beaten egg + 1tbsp water, brush on loaf, sprinkle with oats
Bake in preheated 350F oven 50-60 minutes, turn after 20 if hot spot/oven warrants.
Turn out of pan, cool 30-40 min on rack.

Here are the loaves -

The crumb of the bread was light and fluffy -

I'll make this again, but I'm going to eliminate the baking soda, add more oats, and add honey and some orange zest to jazz up the flavor.

Today, I finally got to bake the San Joaquin Sourdough Bread that had been hibernating in the fridge overnight.  I shaped the loaf and allowed it to rise about 1 hour before baking.  The loaf is half Sonora White Wheat flour from Eatwell Farm in Dixon, California and half home-milled hard red winter wheat flour (wheatberries from Walton Mills).  The bread had great oven spring.  I can't wait to cut into it and see what the crumb is like.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Need More Bread!

After being away from home for a week, it's good to be back, even if I did have a great time at my niece's wedding and had a long and relaxing visit with my sister in New Jersey. 

Now it's time to make more bread.  We were almost completely out of bread.  Yesterday, I made some whole wheat bread for toasting.  Today, I'm working on sourdough bread for soups.  The recipe I use for sourdough is from the website The Fresh Loaf, and is called San Joaquin Sourdough.  I played with the recipe somewhat, using 200g whole wheat flour and 250g of Eatwell Sonora wheat along with the 50g of rye flour.  It will be a hearty loaf for sure. 

It was also time to refresh the sourdough starter I keep in the fridge.  I did that and also used a bit of the starter leftover from the San Joaquin bread to make more starter for a sourdough oat breakfast bread recipe that was given to me by a friend.  I want to try this bread recipe out and see if I can weigh my ingredients as I go to get a more reliable recipe. 

All fun bread games and tasty too!