What if I couldn’t buy lemons at the store? Where would I get that wonderful lemony flavoring from? The answer is Lemon Balm. It has an amazing citrus-like smell – the trick is to get the same citrus taste to come out in cooking. This Lemon Balm Pudding is flavorful and lemony. There’s only the slightest hint that the source of the flavor isn’t fruit; its an herb.
I had a few unsuccessful attempts last year at cooking with lemon balm. Nothing came out very flavorful. But for this dessert, I wanted lots of lemony flavor. At the same time, I wanted to avoid turning the pudding green. So I simmered the milk separately, and then allowed the lemon balm to steep in the milk for about fourty minutes. That let the milk soak up all the flavor, and then I was able to strain the lemon balm out.
When the pudding was done, the lemon flavor was pronounced. The next day, it was amazing. Success!
Lemony Lemon Balm Pudding
A very flavorful lemony pudding, without lemons. The secret ingredient? Lemon Balm.
Pour milk into a medium sauce pan, and slowly bring to a simmer. Once the milk is just starting to get frothy, take it off the heat. Add the lemon balm, and stir.
Allow the lemon balm to steep in the milk for about 40 minutes.
While the milk mixture is cooling off, combine the sugar and flour.
Strain the lemon balm out of the milk. Whisk together the milk and sugar and flour in a medium saucepan. Cook the milk-flour mixture on low heat.
Add the egg yolks and salt, and allow the pudding to cook. Keep an eye on the pan, stirring occasionally, to keep the pudding from burning. The pudding will start to thicken, stirring more frequently as it gets thicker.
Once the mixture is of about pudding consistency, take it off the heat. Pour it into serving dishes, and let it cool before serving.
Top with fruit (if desired) before serving.
Lemony Lemon Balm Pudding is great the first day, but it is even more flavorful after it has had a chance to cool in the refrigerator over night. It also perfectly compliments seasonal fruit, like strawberries and mulberries.
I try to keep my fridge stocked with the basics – eggs, milk, and butter. The jar of white flour should be full, and there should be extra whole wheat flour stashed away somewhere. I keep sour cream or yogurt around because I tend to cook with it, but I try not to keep multiple packages of cream cheese around. Its dangerous!
So what to do when I just have to have cheesecake? (these are the important questions)
Yes, cheesecake. Very dangerous. Very rich.
It turns out, you don’t need to use cream cheese. There are recipes for cheesecake which use a variety of other cheeses – like ricotta, or farmer’s cheese. The beauty of using Farmer’s Cheese, of course, is that you can make it yourself, and flavor it however you like while making it.
I tried this recipe using cheese made from apple cider vinegar and sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with applesauce. Awesome.
Cheesecake made from Farmer's Cheese - delicious, rich, and made from ingredients already in your fridge!
Pour your milk into a large pot, and gently warm until it is frothy. Use the apple cider vinegar to separate the curds from the whey and drain. Add cinnamon if desired.
(this is just the standard Farmer's Cheese recipe adapted; you can find more details here.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Cut in butter, as if you were making pie crust dough.
Beat 3 egg yolks and 3 tablespoons of sour cream together, and then add to the flour mixture. Mix until it forms dough (again, resembling pie crust dough). Roll out and place in pie plate.
Beat the 4 eggs and one egg white at high speed until frothy. You will probably want to use an electric beater!
Put farmer's cheese, granulated sugar, 1/2 cup sour cream, and vanilla extract in a blender. Blend well. The Farmer's Cheese will be naturally rather granular when first made; it should be chopped up until very fine and liquid. Add some of the egg mixture if necessary.
Fold together the farmer's cheese mixture and egg mixtures. Pour into the pie plate.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes. The cake will rise in the oven, turn golden, and set.
Cool for a few hours in the refrigerator before serving. Enjoy!
One thing I like about this recipe is that it does have instructions on making its own crust. You could definitely still do a typical graham cracker crust with this, but if you don't keep graham crackers around either, this makes it simpler.
Cream pies are amazing creamy goodness. There is, granted, probably not much redeeming benefit health-wise (unlike fruit pies – those are totally healthy, right?), but they are delicious.
You can add as much or as little cinnamon to this recipe as you like to give it some flavor. Otherwise, its all cream – and its very very important that you make it with cream! I’ve tried a lot of variations with less cream, more milk, or buttermilk, and its just not worth it. If you are horrified at the thought of a pie with cups and cups of cream and then some butter added for good measure, this pie is not for you. Just. . . don’t make a cream pie. Make some other kind of pie.
In other news, I realize that I’ve missed a few weeks here. Christmas bustle got to me. I will be resuming regular scheduling as of. . .now!
The Ultimate Cinnamon Cream Pie
Cream pie made with heavy cream, cinnamon, and butter.
Mix together your dry ingredients - sugar, flour, and salt - in a medium sized bowl. Make sure they're well combined.
Add two (2) cups of heavy cream. Mix well.
In another bowl, mix together egg yolks, 1/2 cup of cream, the 1/2 cup of milk, and vanilla extract. Add to original cream and sugar mixture. Again, mix well, but don't beat it! You don't want whipped cream.
Pour the cream mixture into your prepared pie crust. Dot with butter. Sprinkle Cinnamon across the top.
Bake for about 1 hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll know the pie is done when its bubbling ALL the way across the top. Let it do this for about 10 minutes before taking it out of the oven.
Let the pie cool completely in the fridge for optimal creaminess.
You can also use half and half instead of 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup milk, but then you will be buying 3 dairy products instead of 2. This seems silly to me, unless you already buy half and half.
If you really can't get enough cinnamon, you can add cinnamon to the cream mixture as well as sprinkling it across the top. Nutmeg and Ginger also taste good. Add as much or as little spice as you like.
With the holidays coming around, it seems the right time of year to consider making Moctobabucta, or poppyseed bread. Now, I’m not really sure I’m spelling its name right, or pronouncing its name right. I can’t find mention of anything called “moctobabucta” on the internet, anyway. I just know that its a family recipe, and its good!
The key to getting a pretty braid is in portioning out the poppyseed filling evenly, and then securely folding the dough over it. It is so easy to overfill one part, or not seal it properly, and then have poppyseed going everywhere. It still tastes good, its just not as impressive!
And really, with the red icing and pretty braided presentation, the finished loaf is pretty impressive looking. . .
Braided poppyseed bread - pretty, sweet, and perfect for the holidays!
Scald milk, then add butter and stir until melted. Let cool to lukewarm.
Mix together sugar and yeast.
Add milk to yeast mixture, and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Then add eggs, vanilla and stir until blended
Turn onto floured board. Knead to elastic. Place in greased bowl & clover with a slightly damp cloth. Let rise to double (1- 1.5 hours approx.)
Roll into 1 rectangle 12”x18”. Cut into 3 parts. Divine filling equal parts on the 3 dough sections. Roll each section around the filling. Then braid the rolled sections and place on the pan. Let rise to double (around 1.5 hours).
Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Cover with glaze after it comes out of the oven (while its still warm).
Cheese is mysterious. You buy it at the store. Maybe you’ve even seen some sort of demonstration where cheese was made. But you can’t do that at home, right? Who makes their own cheese?
Well there’s no real reason not to make your own cheese. Especially when it comes to Farmer’s Cheese, which is amazingly easy. There’s no curing, no rennet, nothing but milk and something acidic. You don’t even need special milk – though milk with more fat seems to yield more cheese.
Fill a medium saucepan with the milk, and place on the stove at medium-low heat. You want to heat the milk until its frothy and just at the edge of boiling.
Add the lemon juice or vinegar. It should take you about 2 tablespoons, or the juice of two lemons (fresh squeezed lemon juice makes the final cheese taste wonderfully lemony), but the exact amount is not as important as getting the correct effect. Keep adding your acidic liquid until the curds separate from the whey.
Separate the curds from the whey. You can use cheese cloth or paper towels over a collander (and a bowl underneath to catch the whey), or a very fine sieve.
Allow the curds to drain. If you're using cheese cloth, gather all the curds into the cloth, and hang it over the sink. It will drip drain. If you're using the sieve method, shake it until the curds hang together in one solid mass. Add a small amount of salt while draining the cheese, and make sure to mix it in well.
Eat your cheese immediately, or store it in the fridge for later (or another recipe!).
You'll want to save the whey. Whey is not only good for you, but a great substitute for milk or water in baking.
Also, the milk to cheese yield ratio is a bit low. I usually use 2% milk (because that's what I have in the house), and am lucky to get a cup out of 5 cups of milk. That's a lot of milk for very little cheese! Put the whey to good use.
A soul cake, a soul cake, a penny for a soul cake!
In honor of All Souls Day
These sweet biscuity-cakes are a traditional food for Halloween, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day; the cakes were given out to beggars and children who went door to door on All Hallow’s Eve. There’s not really one “official recipe” for soul cakes; I imagine that people used different combinations of sweet spices and dried fruit over the years. But this recipe is nice!
A slightly sweet and spicey biscuit, traditionally given out on Halloween.
These scones are the result of several failed attempts at pumpkin bready things – including pancakes (they didn’t cook properly), and an overly hard set of biscuits. At last, I think I have found the correct ratio of pumpkin to scone ingredients!
Please note – I always think of scones as sweet due to the “scones” for sale at grocery stores, and some bakeries. These are not particularly sweet.
Peel and chop up your sweet potato. Put it in a saucepan with a bit of water and cook until tender.
If you processed your own pumpkin and were keeping it frozen like I do, you probably want to defrost it now. Better yet, throw the frozen chunks in with the sweet potatos and kill two birds with one stone.
Once your sweet potato is soft, mash it up and combine it with the pumpkin puree.
Add sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir well.
Beat your egg(s) and add to the mixture, along with your milk. If your sweet potato / pumpkin mix is still warm enough, you can chop up the 1/4 cup of butter and melt it in with everything. If not, then melt the butter in the microwave, then add it to the mixture.
Add the rum! Mix everything together well.
Pour your mixture into 1-2 casserole dishes. I use varying amounts of sweet potato and pumpkin, so it often exceeds one 8x8 dish.