Monday, August 29, 2016

RECIPE: Tomatillo Huevos Rancheros

tomatillo in morning photo: mary nelen
What to do with these babies once they're harvested? A friend made me this dish one morning with a tortilla, can't remember if it was corn or flour, refried beans, the egg, avocado slices and cheese. This version is a variation on that theme using a local corn taco and some very bright and very fresh tomatillo salsa. Here is breakfast...

RECIPE: Tomatillo Huevos Rancheros
Serves two


Package of Corn tortilla (try to pick up some from Mi Terra sold at various places where you can buy local food in the Pioneer Valley)

Tomatillo Salsa Recipe

Cheese, whatever you have but home made fresh ricotta is great foil for the bright taste of the salsa

Cooking oil, any kind

Fry pan and lid


Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in frying pan. When it is smoking, add one tortilla and flip with fork when it is crisped. Heat the other side and within a minute crack an egg over it. Add several tablespoons of salsa round the egg but not in the yoke. Top with approximately 1/4 cup of cheese and put a lid on the pan. Remove from heat when egg is at desired consistency.

roasting to a crisp! tomatillo and peppers 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Ricotta Cheese How-To

How to make this Ricotta cheese :
New England Cheese Making Supply

Note: Ricotta uses no rennet in its production. Ignore the recipes that call for this. 
Ricotta from Whole Milk
  1. Use whole milk .. The fresher the better
  2. Make a Citric Acid solution.. Add 2 tsp of citric acid per gallon of milk used and dissolve this  in 1 cup cool water. Add 1/2 of this Citric Acid solution to the milk (save the rest of the citric acid). Stir briskly for 5-10 seconds.
  3. Add 1 tsp salt per gallon of milk
  4. Heat the milk slowly on low to med stirring well to prevent scorching
  5. At 165-170F watch for small flakes forming in the milk and the separation into small flaky curds.
    If after a few minutes you do not see the flakes forming, add more of the Citric acid until they form (do this in small 1 Tbsp increments to avoid over acid milk). At this point, when you see the curds, A slower stirring is essential to avoid breaking up the small  bits of curd that have formed. Excess stirring will cause smaller and very granular curds to form. I tend to just roll the milk slowly with a bottom to top stirring motion. 
  6. Continue heating to 190-195F then turn the heat off. The thermal mass of the whey will hold at this temp for quite some time. The higher temp is used here because of the additional proteins found in whole milk vs whey.
  7. As the curds rise, use a perforated ladle to gently move them from the sides to the center of the pot. These clumps of curd will begin to consolidate floating on top of the liquid.
    Let the curds rest for 10-15 min.
    *** This is very important because this is the point where the final Ricotta quality is assured
  8. Ladle the curds gently into draining forms (No cheese cloth should be needed if you were patient in the previous step). Let the curds drain for 15 min up to several hours.
    For a fresh light ricotta, drain it for a short while (until the free whey drainage slows) and chill to below 50F. For a rich, dense and buttery texture allow it to drain for an extended period of time (several hours). before chilling overnight
    Move to a refrigerator or cold room. Consume within 10 days

Thursday, August 25, 2016

RECIPE: Tomatilla Salsa

photo: Mary A. Nelen

Tomatilla Salsa
Yield: 3 cups


2 pounds fresh tomatillos
2 chili peppers, peeled and seeded
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup cilantro, fresh, with stems
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
sea salt, pepper, olive oil


1.    Remove tomatillo husks and rinse under warm water. Slice each tomatillo in half. In a medium sized bowl, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.

2.    Heat a grill or dry grill pan (with ridges) until smoking hot.

3.    Place the whole chilies, garlic and tomatillo slices, skin side down, on grill or grill pan.

4.    Using tongs, turn garlic and peppers until roasted on all sides. Remove from grill or grill pan.

5.    Flip tomatillo slices when charred, about 6 minutes. Roast cut side of tomatillo another 6 minutes and remove from grill or grill pan.

6.    Place roasted tomatillo slices, chilies, garlic, cilantro and onion in food processor and pulse until texture is roughly blended.  

Serve with chips or as a condiment for tacos.
Note: recipe is a work in progress. Feel free to comment on your results! 

Red Fire Farm Tomato Festival Recipe: Fresh Ricotta and Tomatoes

Ever had real ricotta made by hand? Your own hand for example? 

Join me Saturday at Red Fire Farm in Granby where I'll be making fresh ricotta cheese with raw milk. 2 PM in the barn.  

Heirloom Tomatoes meets Fresh Ricotta Cheese
Serves 2


3 cups fresh arugula
Juice of 1 lemon
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 medium ripe Red Fire tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup fresh handmade ricotta cheese
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar


Begin by arranging cleaned and stemmed arugula on two plates. Drizzle some lemon juice on the leaves. Then divide tomato slices between plates and add olive oil to each. Top with 1/4 cup of of fresh ricotta on top of each salad. Add more olive oil, salt and pepper and finally a teaspoon of balsamic to finish each dish. Serve immediately.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Save the Date: Fresh Ricotta and Tomatillo Salsa Workshop at Red Fire Farm Tomato Festival

Come join me.....

at Red Fire Farm's 16th Annual Tomato Festival on August 27th at Red Fire Farm, 7 Carver Street, Granby, MA.  At 2 pm I will be demonstrating how to make fresh, home made ricotta and tomato salad with basil and tomatillo salsa.    

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Basil Diaries Part 5

Wash, dry, save for later Photo by Mary A. Nelen

Got extra basil? Here’s how to freeze, or dry for use in the dead of winter. Or fall ….

NOTE: Pick basil before it flowers for best flavor. 

Passive Freeze

Remove leaves from stems, wash, dry and place on a baking sheet. Freeze over night (flash-freeze) and remove in the morning. Slip leaves in a plastic bag and keep in the freezer until ready for use later.

Pulsing Freeze  

Remove leaves from steams, wash and dry on a towel or a baking sheet. Begin by placing 1 cup of walnuts or pine nuts in blender or food processor and chop. Add three cups of basil leaves and 3 cloves of garlic.  
(Chopping nuts first and then adding basil maintains the color of the herb.) Pulse while adding 1/2 cup of olive oil until pureed. Pour pureed basil in ice cube tray. Freeze. When frozen, remove from ice cube tray and place basil cubes in a plastic bag for freezing and later use. For a pesto result, add cheese after thawing.

Drying Method

This is nice because its the prettiest method of preserving basil. Pick leaves from your plants and leave them on the stem. Clean and dry. Tie bunches of basil together with string or use a twist tie. Hang from rafters in a cool place that doesn’t get too much sun and is ventilated. In about 3 weeks you will have dried basil. Either leave it there until ready for use or remove leaves from bunch and crumple into a small jar for later use.