Everything INCLUDING the Kitchen Sink…

My adventures in the kitchen

Quark and Lemons March 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Carey @ 12:18 am

No, this is not a Star Trek reference – at least as far as I know.  I was reading through recipes and found one for “Quark Lemon Squares”.  So I Googled “quark” and found out it’s a type of cheese made from buttermilk.  It’s kind of a cross between cottage cheese and cream cheese, and not readily available here in the States.  The recipe suggested substituting cream cheese, but I found a “recipe” for making it – and it’s a cinch, just be sure you have at least 24 hours before you need it!  But even if you use cream cheese, this is one of the easiest cheesecake recipes I’ve come across.

So yesterday I started the quark, and today I made the lemon squares, although it turns out that it’s more of a cheese cake.  I made lemon curd for the first time and discovered that it’s not that difficult to make, albeit TOTALLY unhealthy.  In fact, this is probably the most unhealthful dessert I’ve ever made, but it sure did taste good!  We also had some leftover raspberry coulis that I put on top – how can you go wrong with lemon and raspberry??!!

The recipe called for a square springform pan, but these are quite sliceable so any square baking dish should work.  If you want to be able to take the “cheese cake” out of the pan before slicing, just line the pan with aluminum foil or wax paper first. A round springform works too, if you aren’t looking for the little squares out of it.

1 day ahead:


1/2 gallon cultured whole buttermilk (makes 1 3/4 – 2 c. of cheese)

Pour into an oven proof glass dish with a lid.  Cover and put in the oven at 150F.  Leave for 12-14 hours – solids will have seperated from the whey (yellowish liquid).  Line a colander with 2-3 layers of cheesecloth and put it in the kitchen sink.  Pour the cheese and whey in.  Fold the cheesecloth over and put a saucer or some other heavy object on top and leave to drain over night.  Next morning turn the cheese onto a plate and use, or put in an air tight container in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

At least 6 hours ahead (this is really best if you can do it far enough ahead for the curd to have refrigerated long enough to really set):

Lemon Curd

Fresh lemon zest...

Fresh lemon zest...

Juice and zest of 4-5 lemons, depending on how juicy they are.  (If you use 5, reserve the zest from one and add to the lemon curd after you’ve strained it)

1 3/4 c sugar

4 eggs

2 TBS butter, melted

In a small saucepan, beat the eggs, sugar and lemon juice and zest.  Place the saucepan over medium heat and gently cook the mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon, until steaming. Make sure the curd does not boil. Stir frequently and continue to cook until the curd has thickened and the curd coats the back of the wooden spoon – approx 3-7 minutes.

Take the curd off the heat and then add the butter, stirring to incorporate it into the curd. Pour the curd mixture through the prepared strainer to make sure there are no lumps in the lemon curd. (You DEFINITELY want to do this to get any little bits of egg white out.)  Allow to cool to room temp and then store in refrigerator until ready to use.

And Finally:

Fresh lemon curd...WOW!!  My taste buds are forever spoiled!

Fresh lemon curd...WOW!! My taste buds are forever spoiled!

Quark Cheesecake

1 prepared graham cracker crust OR

1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs

3 TBS butter, melted

2 c. quark (or however much resulted from the cheese making) OR nonfat cream cheese

3/4 c sugar

1/8 tsp salt

Juice and zest of 2 lemons

2 eggs

1 c. lemon curd

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter.  Press firmly into the bottom of a 8 1/2 inch spring form pan (you can use a 9″ inch, the filling will just be a bit shorter). Or use an 8×8 pan.

In a food processor, mix the quark, sugar, lemon juice and zest and salt until well mixed (use a spatula once or twice to make sure it all gets mixed well).  Add the eggs and mix again until smooth.

Pour into crust and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until center is dry to touch and edges begin to puff.    Pour lemon curd onto cheese cake and spread evenly.  Refrigerate overnight (yeah, right!).  If you’re going to take the cheesecake out of the pan, wait until the cheesecake has cooled and the lemon curd has had a chance to resolidify, or it will all run off the cake.

Ready to eat...how can something so small pack so many calories??!!

Ready to eat...how can something so small pack so many calories??!!


Comfort Food March 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Carey @ 4:18 pm

The weather this week has been beautiful – highs in the upper 70’s, with an excursion into the 80’s for a day – not exactly the kind of weather that inspires comfort food.  However, the high today is forecast to be 76, tomorrows high is forecast to be 46.  Yes, you read that right, a drop of 30 degrees in one day!  This induced a great need in me for comfort food, and my favorite comfort food is macaroni and cheese – and there are fewer things that are higher in calories!

So I have started a quest for a good low-fat macaroni and cheese.  Unfortunately, most low fat cheeses don’t melt well and leave the dish with a less than familiar and pleasing consistency, so my task was to find a way to help compensate for that.  Cottage cheese and cream cheese were my first thoughts as a way to add flavor and creaminess back in, and are usually available in fat free options (although not at the grocery store I went to first!!) This is my first stab at it, and it was definitely better than usual, but I think still needs some work!

I had my pasta all cooked and most of the cheeses combined when I realized that I had used the last of the regular milk for the mornings chai.  I got buttermilk when I was grocery shopping to use in one of my favorite bread recipes, so I used that instead, and I must say I like the added tang!

Lower fat Mac ‘n Cheese

1 pkg pasta, cooked in salted water, rinsed and drained

1 cup fat free cottage cheese

1/2 pkg fat free cream cheese

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp dried mustard powder

1/8 tsp white pepper

2 c fat free sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (typically 1 package pre-shredded)

2 c fat free mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 TBS flour

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, mix the cottage cheese, cream cheese, buttermilk, flour, paprika, mustard and white pepper well.

Add pasta and shredded cheeses and mix “sauce” is evenly distributed.

Pour into a pan that has been sprayed with Pam.

Bake for 1/2 hour, or until top starts to brown.


Oven Roasted Zucchini March 8, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Carey @ 6:35 pm

Last week at the farmer’s market I got some zucchini, that ubiquitous vegetable of all seasons.  Turned out to be a little old and tough, so I wasn’t sure what to do with it.  Today, my little brain librarian said “why don’t you roast it in the oven?”.  So I did, and it’s a really simple way to cook it and it came out so juicy and tender you’d never know it wasn’t 1st class squash.

Oven Roasted Zucchini

4-6 medium to large zucchini, cut in half, then split in half

1 onion, cut in 1/8ths and pieces seperated

coarse sea salt

1 TBS dried basil

Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450.

Coat the bottom of a roasting pan lightly with olive oil (metal will give you a more “roasted” finish, but you can use glass also).

Place the squash in a single layer on the bottom of the pan.

Put the onion on top of the squash, sprinkle with the salt and basil and place pan on the bottom rack of the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes, then turn oven up to broil for 6-8 minutes (turn over a piece of squash after 5 minutes to see how it’s doing – you want it to brown).

Turn oven back down to 450 and bake for another 10 minutes.

Remove and enjoy!

Ready to eat!!

Ready to eat!!


Savory & Sweet March 6, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Carey @ 4:01 am

We had a bag of potatoes that were feeling spring – the sprouts were getting quite carried away.  There were a couple of onions on the sprout as well.  One of my favorite things is Twice Cooked Potatoes – bake the potatoes, then slice them and fry them.  It’s also a great way to use up extra baked potatoes.  I decided to throw the onions in the oven too, so I put them all in a roasting pan and baked them for about an hour.   So for breakfast this morning we had the potatoes and I chopped up half of one of the roasted onions and put it in also.  The onion was so sweet and mild I could have easily used the whole thing.

But that breakfast left a need for something sweet to balance it.  I was browsing through recipes and came across one for a Jam Crostada.  Now I’ve never made a crostada before, but it looked good.  Turns out it’s a bit sweet for my taste – I think next time I’ll do a cream cheese or sour cream layer also.  But the crust was absolutely fantastic.  It’s bit softer crust, but has great flavor and texture.  I even added some fresh fruit – a sliced plum and a blood orange and it was still too sweet.

Twice Cooked Potatoes

4-5 potatoes, baked

1 onion, baked whole with the potatoes

1 sprig fresh rosemary, cut into 3 pieces

1 sprig fresh sage

1-2 sprigs fresh thyme, cut into 2-3 pieces each

1 tsp minced roasted garlic (I used the stuff you get at the grocery store, in little jars)

Season salt to taste

Slice the potatoes and dice the onion.  Cover the bottom of a skillet with olive oil and heat the skillet.  Add the potatoes, onions, herbs and garlic.  Reduce heat to medium and fry potatoes, adding oil as needed.  Salt lightly before turning potatoes first 2-3 times while cooking.  Fry until they are as crispy as you like them (I like mine pretty crispy!!)  For a more complete meal, fry an egg for each person and put on top of the potatoes when serving.

I’ll do the crostada crust later – it’s time to go to bed now!


Evolution is Real… March 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Carey @ 5:02 pm

My dad didn’t do much cooking when I was growing up.  Part of that time, he had a 1.5 hour commute and would leave the house at 6:30 am and not get home until 7:00 pm.  Then he was building his own business – shorter commute, more hours!  I think this may have been a very sad thing, because the things that my dad does cook, are great!  Vegan cheesecakes, milkshakes, cookies (maybe it IS a good thing he doesn’t cook more!)

But my favorite is his waffles.  Unfortunately, the evolution of this recipe is lost in the mists of time, but the present day version is healthy and satisfying!  These are not light waffles, oh no!  These are stick-to-your-ribs “I KNOW I ate breakfast”, going-out-to-play-in-the-snow-all-morning waffles.  They were a Sunday morning tradition in our family during my teen and early adult years.  The first one never made it past getting buttered.  But there were the fresh figs spread on them in June, the homemade applesauce in December, almond butter and pear sauce in January…

I made them in my home for the first time today.  Why did it take me so long?  Well, for one thing, I just recently broke down and bought a waffle iron.  Now this wasn’t due to the scarcity of waffle irons in general, but the TYPE of waffle iron I wanted.  Growing up, we used a 4-square waffle iron that had small, shallow indentations (I’m sure there’s a technical term for it, but I don’t know what it is!).  All the waffle irons I have found recently have the more Belgian type of indentations – wider and deeper.  These just don’t work as well in my opinion – at least for this recipe.  And as far as I’m concerned, any others are simply frail imitations!  But I finally bought one.  It tends to steam the waffles more than bake them, it seems, so we didn’t get the nice crisp waffles of my memory, but they still tasted pretty dadgum good!

Evolutionary Waffles

2 c. warm water

1 1/2  c. rolled oats (old fashioned or quick)

1/3 c. nuts (my preference is cashews, because it’s a milder, sweeter flavor, but walnuts and almonds are excellent too)

1 TBS wheat or oat bran

1 TBS cornmeal or millet, uncooked (I like the millet best as it gives the waffles a little bit more texture)

1 tsp salt

2 tsp oil

1 TBS honey, sorghum or molasses (the darker the sweetener the more flavor it will impart to the waffles.  Sorghum is my new fetish!)

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until fairly smooth.  Let stand while waffle iron heats so that oats and bran will absorb water (let stand about 10 minutes if using old fashioned rolled oats).  Pour into preheated waffle iron and bake.  Because this is a fairly wet batter, leave a little room around the edges so it doesn’t ooze out.  I found that my waffle iron needed a minute or two after the “Ready” light came on for the waffles to be done enough.

Makes about 5 small waffles.


The Staff of Life March 1, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Carey @ 5:26 pm

So Friday was my last day at my old job.  No, I don’t have a new job yet, so in the next few days it is my intention to get a lot done towards having my cookbook ready to submit to a publisher.

And for some reason, bread has caught my fancy lately.  And now I have the time to really play with it.  Last week I found a recipe for Oat Bran Bread.  It’s time consuming because of the time it needs to rise, but it’s one of the easiest bread recipes I’ve ever come across.  It makes a nice, dense loaf of bread that tastes great toasted with some Honey Toasted Peanut Butter!

Oat Bran Bread

2 cups very warm water

3 TBS honey

1 3/4 tsp yeast

1 1/2 c oat bran (can also use wheat bran)

2 tsps salt

3 c. flour (I used white whole wheat, but bread flour will make the loaf a little lighter)

Put the water in a large bowl.  Add the honey and mix until dissolved.  Make sure the water isn’t too warm and add the yeast and oat bran and mix.  Let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Add flour 1 cup at a time and mix after each addition.  When dough is too stiff to mix empty onto a well floured board and knead remaining flour in.  Continue kneading dough (with just enough flour to prevent sticking) until smooth and elastic, 6-7 minutes.

Put dough into a bowl and cover.  Let rise until double in size, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Remove from bowl and knead lightly or a minute or two.  Form into a loaf and put in a greased bread pan.  Cover and allow to rise again, about 1 hour.

Brush top with oil and dust with oat bran.   Bake for 30 minutes, or until crust is hardened and loaf sounds hollow when thumped.