winter preserving

I recently took a soft cheese making class at The Pantry here in Seattle. Making cheese has been on my bucket list every year for about 15 years so I thought it was about time I’d get to it. This was a great introduction and gave me the confidence to do something with the gallons of milk I have in the fridge since my kids suddenly decided they “do not like” milk the day after we got our weekly delivery. Fine. They better like ricotta.

My local market also had a load of Meyer lemons calling out to me the other day and my stash of preserved lemons ran out about 6 months ago so perfect!

These are two staples I always have in my kitchen. Ricotta is so versatile…..sweet, savory, creamy….I eat it on toast, in gnocchi, pasta, salad, topped with honey & nuts for desert…. and preserved lemons add life to any dish….stews, fish, grains, salad dressings, roast veggies….as well as a little sunshine to these endless cold, wet, dark days. (Which this California girl only two winters in to the PNW really needs right about now). I’ll post some recipes using these lemons when they are finished. Believe me, once you get used to having that intense lemony goodness handy year round, it will be hard to live without them.

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fresh porcini pizza

My go to “I don’t know what to make for dinner” is always pizza. The kids love making their own which usually turns into a giant cheesy doughball mess but they have fun and always happily eat it. Pizza is so versatile so get inspired at the farmers market. ANYTHING can go on a pizza but I’m a big believer in less is more. Choose really fresh, great quality ingredients in simple combinations. One of my favorites is this buffalo mozzarella and fresh porcini mushroom with thyme, parsley, lemon & parmesan. Others are crushed San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and arugula, or spicy sausage & roasted rapini, or pancetta, potato & red onion….you get the idea.

I usually make my own crust with my sourdough starter but there are plenty of good recipes using active dry yeast (which I’m including here). Whole Foods or Trader Joes also sell pretty good fresh dough. A pizza stone is pretty much essential here and a pizza peel comes in very handy.


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