Month: July 2013

Magic, one drop at a time

What do cream cheese icing and strawberry jam have in common?

Normally, not much. But I have recently discovered Fiori di Sicilia! In English, the Italian “”fiori di Sicilia”” translates as flower of Sicily. While the flavor is pure creamsicle, it is actually a floral extract.  Added to either of the above-mentioned items (or sugar cookies, or pound cake, or, so my research has shown, soda water), my new discovery takes them to a new level. I found my little bottle of magic at King Arthur Flour, but it is available elsewhere.

A little dab will do you – I added too much to my batch of jam and have to recook it with another load of berries to dilute it.  But really, this bottle deserves a spot in every kitchen.


We had to try it. Not a fail, but it wasn’t as easy as it looked on TV!

A quick quiz for all of you fellow Food Network junkies:

What is the one food you keep seeing, and every once in a while think “Mmm. I should try making that.”

For me, the sight of a brisket on a bbq is intriguing.  Slightly scary, and very tempting.  Normally, I make my mom’s famous recipe:

1 brisket (lean part only, but that is a personal thing)

yellow mustard


Goodman’s onion soup mix (really, it is the best)

Dried prunes, pears and apricots.

Pickling spice and/or bay leaves if desired.


Smear the brisket with the ketchup and mustard. Sprinkle on the soup mix – be generous.  Cover the top with the dried fruit and carrots.

Cover the whole thing REALLY tightly. Cook at 350 for 30 minutes, then turn down to 275 or even 250 and let it cook… a really long time.  I’m talking 6 or 8 hours.

You can add potatoes around the outside, but in that case add a cup of water.

ANYHOW…back to my bbq brisket.

I braved it.  I gave it a rub (any dry rub will do – I used garlic, paprika, smoked paprika, pepper, brown sugar, dry mustard), let it sit in the fridge for a day, let it come to room temperature, then…

My husband (the grill-master) put it on a 225 degree BBQ for 10 hours, brushing it every few hours with some BBQ sauce (we are partial to Rufus Teagues).

an hour or so into cooking

an hour or so into cooking

getting there

getting there

10 hours later, it was gorgeous


But hard.

So we went to plan B. Had cheese and crackers for dinner, put the brisket in the fridge overnight, and the next day put it into a 250 degree oven for 6 hours.

Then it was awesome!  We pulled it apart and make mythical sandwiches.

Was it worth it?  Probably not.  Oh well, I guess there’s a reason to keep watching my foodie friends on TV.

It is THAT easy

After reading a post about Il Buco Alimentari’s easy way of making homemade ricotta, the kit for cheese-making I saw on the shelf at Willams Sonoma practically put itself into my cart.  Stupid price aside, it seemed an easy way to start. Citric acid, rennet, instructions for ricotta and mozarella…ok, let’s do it.  Or rather, let’s consider doing it, chicken out for a few months, finally buy 4 litres of whole milk, and… Make cheese!

All it takes

All it takes

The whole experiment took 20 minutes and a pot.

at the right temperature, the curds and whey separate!

at the right temperature, the curds and whey separate!

almost there....

almost there….

let it sit for a bit

let it sit for a bit

My first mozarella was…..delicious, and so easy that I am now hooked!

flip it on a plate, and dig in!

flip it on a plate, and dig in!

My next mozarella will have some goodies inside. I’m thinking a few chopped olives, sundried tomatoes and basil.  I will keep you all posted!

Making ricotta was so easy that it didn’t even merit a photo.  If you even LIKE regular ricotta, you will love eating it fresh, at home.