“Stay at Home” orders are expiring today for the U.S., but not in Miami, considered a hot spot of corona virus cases. So, if you’re stuck at home, or simply choosing to stay at home for safety’s sake, here are some fun projects to do in your kitchen.
- Ricotta. This has been my favorite Pandemic project in my kitchen. You only need three ingredients to make the richest, lushest ricotta ever tasted. I’ve spread this on Banana Bread, on date nut bread with strawberries and on a rosemary cracker with a couple thin slices of Genoa salami. Fresh ricotta is also good as a dessert, with strawberries and balsamic, mandarin oranges and toasted almonds, or simply mixed with cocoa powder or cinnamon and sugar. Ironically, I wouldn’t recommend using it in lasagna, because the delicate and delicious taste will be lost in the mix. It’s really cool to watch how the milk immediately curdles when mixed with the vinegar, like an edible science experiment!
- 2 cups Milk (I used 2%)
- 1 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Place a large strainer over a deep bowl (I used a 6-cup measuring cup). Line with two layers of damp cheesecloth. This can be purchased online or at a grocery store.
Pour the milk and cream into a stainless steel pot. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for one minute.
Pour the mixture into the strainer and let the liquid drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer ricotta to a bowl and throw away the cheesecloth. I saved the liquid part (whey) to use for smoothies, but if not using it, discard. Use the ricotta right away or refrigerate for up to 5 days.
2. Schug Sauce. I ended up making this Middle Eastern hot sauce simply because I was missing the sauce served, in a small container, at Daily Bread, one of my go-to lunch spots. The advantage to this sauce is: it’s not hard to make and keeps for weeks in the fridge. I like to put it on sandwiches, in soups and on grilled meats, but it works anywhere you’d like to kick it up a notch. It’s also good with pita bread and yogurt. This recipe is from The Spruce Eats, http://www.thespruceeats.com./green-schug-sauce.
Schug Sauce from The Spruce Eats
- 4 Jalapeno peppers, de-stemmed and de-veined (use gloves for this)
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 cup olive oil
Put all ingredients, except olive oil, into food processor. Pulse machine a couple times to blend ingredients together. Slowly add olive oil into processor to create an emulsion.
3. Dukkah. I’d never heard of this nut and seed blend until I tried a recipe for Grilled Carrots with Yogurt, Carrot Top Oil and Dukka by Yotam Ottolenghi in the New York Times. Grilling the carrots (after steaming them) was complicated and making the carrot top oil very complicated, but I liked the Dukkah, a blend of different nuts and spices. It’s good on vegetables, grilled meat and fish, but also adds crunch to soups and salads. I even tried it on my yogurt, although the cumin and salt was a little off-putting. I didn’t have pine nuts, so substituted almonds.
- 1/4 cup blanched hazelnuts, toasted
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 2 Tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons black and white sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Add all the ingredients to a food processor and pulse a few times until the nuts are roughly chopped. Makes 1 cup.
4. Sprouts. Honestly, this is a project I do on a regular basis, even without the pandemic. The hardest part is making sure you’re home during it, to soak the seeds and change the water, but now that most of us are all home… not so much of a problem. There are different kind of seeds you can sprout, from alfalfa, broccoli, wheat or radish. It all depends on what you like; I used a Salad mixture of alfalfa, clover, broccoli, kale and amaranth this time. You can order the sprouting kit and seeds online, or use a large Ball canning jar with an attachment at the top. It takes about three to five days to get sprouts to use; I use them on sandwiches, in soups, salads and on Asian dishes.
Soak your seeds in water overnight (8 to 12 hours). Place them in your sprouting container and rinse twice daily until sprouts have reached the length you desire. Use or move the refrigerator.
5. Sprouting food scraps. At this time, when we’re all being careful not to waste food and make the most out of our grocery store purchases, this is a really fun project to do, especially if you have kids. You probably did a version of this as a kid yourself, growing potatoes or carrots in a water filled jar, propped up with toothpicks. This is even easier. Using the bottoms cut off of Romaine lettuce, carrots, leeks and scallions, place them in a container with water at the bottom. Change the water twice a day and put them in a spot where they will get sun. My Romaine lettuce sprouted, then died, but the green onions, were quite a revelation. I cut them off about halfway and THAT SAME DAY, the inside had sprouted up. Now I can snip some more off for dishes and they will keep growing. Supposedly, you can plant the other tops of veggies outside once the sprout grows big enough, but I haven’t gotten that far yet. And, as full disclosure, if my family was relying on what I’ve grown on from food scraps for survival, we’d all be starving by now.
Up Next: How to Grocery Shop Safely and Spring Dishes to Savor.