Ingredient of the Week: Ricotta

Ricotta (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

How did a byproduct of the Italian cheese making industry become a pantry staple? Ricotta, which comes from the Latin word recocta, meaning “recooked,” is made from whey, the milky liquid left behind when the curd is formed during cheese making. As The Cheese Lover’s Companion describes the process, whey is heated, allowing protein particles to rise to the surface, and the solids are skimmed off. These solids are strained and placed into a mold to drain off more liquid. In the book, Milk, Ann Mendelson writes that the best ricotta comes from sheep’s milk whey, and that cow’s milk is “the blandest and least interesting.” There is hope for those of us who don’t have access to sheep’s milk ricotta. For the most nuanced flavor, seek out full fat ricotta (cow’s milk is widely available), which is much thicker with a drier texture and a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. Avoid ricotta combined with whey (especially fat-free), with its wet, creamy texture and complete lack of flavor.

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Cook in the Moment: Coffee-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Chili Spice, Crème Fraîche, Lime & Cilantro

Coffee-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Chili Spice, Crème Fraîche, Lime & Cilantro (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

Each week I contribute a column to the Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder website expanding on one of the 10 Ways Tuesday ideas. Below is the original article from this week, and my recipe for Coffee-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Chili Spice, Crème Fraîche, Lime & Cilantro.

This week at La Domestique is dedicated to the coffee bean. Good for more than your morning cup of joe, coffee can be used in cooking and baking in both savory and sweet applications. One of my favorite ways to cook with coffee beans is a technique for coffee-baked vegetables I came across in the January issue of Food & Wine magazine. Reading the article, An Intimate Look at the Creative Life of Chefs, I was intrigued by a recipe for Coffee-Baked Squash with Crème Fraîche. Chef René Redzepi of Noma and Daniel Patterson of Coi (whom the magazine refers to as “two of the world’s best chefs”) spend a weekend developing new recipes with seasonal ingredients. While brewing his morning espresso, Chef Daniel Patterson gets the idea to roast delicata squash buried in coffee beans for a deep, earthy flavor and subtle hint of freshly brewed coffee.

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10 Ways Tuesday: Coffee




I’ve got creative ideas for cooking with coffee during winter:



1.  Café au Lait

My absolute favorite coffee ritual during winter is the French café au lait. I’ve got fond memories of working as a late night/early morning baker, enjoying my breakfast after pulling the last of the pastries from the oven. During that moment of peaceful quiet, just before sunrise and before the bakery opened to customers, I would dip a freshly baked croissant from the oven and dip it into a steaming bowl of café au lait. As I understand it, the French traditionally pour strong brewed coffee into a small bowl and top it off with an equal measure of hot milk (no foam). It’s a satisfying breakfast that warms me to the core on frigid winter mornings.

2.  Candied Espresso Walnuts

It was love at first site. Something different. Something special. This recipe for Candied Espresso Walnuts over at Bon Appétit took me by surprise. Walnut pieces are coated in a mixture of sugar, ground espresso, espresso powder, cinnamon, and salt, then baked for just 5 minutes. You could get creative and add chocolate or do a savory version with spicy, smokey chile. Party food, most definitely.

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Ingredient of the Week: Coffee

Coffee (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

Coffee, it’s a pantry staple. The coffee plant is a small tree cultivated on plantations across tropical areas of the globe: Hawaii, Cuba, Jamaica, Indonesia, Africa, and South America (the largest producer). Bringing coffee from the tree to the cup is a labour intensive process that starts with harvesting the ripe coffee cherry, the fruit surrounding green coffee beans. It’s a seasonal ingredient, and lucky for us all, as one harvest ends (north of the Equator) another begins (south of the equator). Most coffee is painstakingly harvested by hand, since machines cannot discriminate between an underripe coffee cherry and a perfectly ripe one. Also, machine harvests require flat terrain and trees planted in straight rows, which can be a challenge, especially in higher altitude plantations. After harvest, coffee beans must be prepared for roasting, another long process. I won’t go into detail here, but basically the coffee cherry is dried out and every bit of casing is removed, leaving just the green beans.

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Cook in the Moment: Winter Grapefruit Salad with Citrus-Ginger Vinaigrette

Winter Grapefruit Salad with Citrus-Ginger Vinaigrette (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

Each week I contribute a column to the Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder website expanding on one of the 10 Ways Tuesday ideas. Below is the original article from this week, my recipe for Winter Grapefruit Salad with Citrus-Ginger Vinaigrette.

During the dead of winter, citrus season brings a bit of sunshine into the kitchen. The ingredient of the week at La Domestique is grapefruit, a bitter-sweet offspring of the pomelo and sweet orange. Though there are many ways to enjoy grapefruit, it really shines in a winter salad. Most often you will find grapefruit paired with Haas avocado in a salad this time of year, but I’ve decided to go a different route with my recipe for Winter Grapefruit Salad with Citrus-Ginger Vinaigrette.

I’m craving fresh produce in the form of leafy, refreshing salads right now. Inspired by the chicories in season, I picked up a couple heads of Belgian endive. Their leaves, tightly closed like tulips, have a delicate flavor and firm texture. Red leaf lettuce provides a dramatic, dark background to the ruby red grapefruit segments. Balance is important in making a good salad. I like pickled hearts of palm for their subtle tang, pine nuts for crunch, and feta for its soft texture and salty bite. Pomegranates are still lingering at the market, and the seeds make for a celebratory garnish. Spicy ginger in my orange vinaigrette is a zippy partner to the tropical grapefruit. A touch of honey is the final note to balance the bitter flavors of grapefruit and winter greens. It’s a generous salad that makes for a healthy yet filling lunch.

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