Geek Chef

I cook, I talk, I geek

Ricotta Two Ways July 20, 2011

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 12:46 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I worked at Cafe Gratitude for a month doing their books. Like a chump, I didn’t take full advantage of my employee discount. I did use it once at their location on Harrison St and had an amazing polenta (I AM WARM-HEARTED) with faux-ricotta made with cashews. It was sooo damn good that I have been searching the web for recipes. In my searching I also noticed a few recipes for real ricotta and was surprised how easy it is. I think I’ll be making both kinds on a regular basis.

These are the recipes I tried out:


1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 lb extra firm tofu, drained
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or kosher salt
1/4 cup basil, parsley or herb of choice (optional)

Throw the first four ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth, crumble the tofu into the blender and add the remaining ingredients. Blend until desired consistency is reached.

Homemade Ricotta (dairy)

4 cups whole milk (1 quart)
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup buttermilk *optional – give you a creamier cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Slowly heat dairy in a nonreactive pot, be careful not to burn the milks. Just before boiling, add lemon juice and salt and stir. As it boils it should start to curdle, the longer you let it boil the firmer the ricotta will be. When it is the desired consistency,  drain the curds from the whey through a strainer lined with a few layers of cheese cloth. Set the strainer on top of a bowl and let it slowly drain and cool. Twist the cheesecloth and give it a little squeeze to shape the cheese and remove any extra liquid. Refrigerate and enjoy!


The eyes have it November 5, 2009

Filed under: Food,Geek — geekchef @ 1:05 pm
Tags: , , ,

This post is a little late, but still fun I hope.

We had a “scary food” potluck at the office for Halloween and instead of making another oddly colored food item, I made Monster Caprese Salad. I got the idea from a blog I like, Evil Mad Scientist. The idea is simple, but a little tedious.

monster caprese

Monster Caprese Salad

fresh mozzarella
tomato about the same diameter as the cheese
fresh/firm green olives, whole or pitted
firm black olives, pitted
olive oil
salt and pepper

Slice the tomato and mozzarella into rounds, about the same thickness and place in a stack on top of a few basil leaves. You can leave them whole or shred.

Now the tricky part. With a sharp paring knife, cut the bottoms off of the green olives. Cut about a half an inch down. Then, turn the olive piece upside down and punch a hole out of the middle using a drinking straw. You can get a pretty good guideline where to poke the hole from the indentation where the pit was. You now have the outside part of the eye!

For the inside part of the eye. Repeat the process with the black olive, but this time use the bit from inside the straw. You can poke several holes in the black olives and I recommend using a bamboo skewer to get the bits out of the straw.

Sprinkle some salt and pepper and you are set! Enjoy your ‘spooky’ snack.



Mangez comme le Français September 29, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 3:40 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Since I haven’t posted enough recipes lately, I figured I’d post a fancy one for you today. Now it sounds fancy and you should sell it that way, but it’s not that hard to make.

The version I’m posting is vegetarian. But the original recipe has ground meat, feel free to add if you like.


Aubergine au Gratin

1 large eggplant
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 can of chopped tomatoes  or one large tomato chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup white wine
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon Herbs du Provence (or a mix of Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano, Sage and Basil – or what you have on hand)
1 cup grated Swiss cheese

Slice eggplant into cubes or 1/4″ rounds. Heat a large skillet and cover the bottom with olive oil, add eggplant slices once the oil is hot, if you do it before it will suck up all the oil. Cook for about 10 min on each side. Do not crowd the pan too much, do a few rounds at a time if necessary. Remove eggplant and set aside.

In the same pan, add a little more oil and the mirepox (onion, carrot and celery) and cook until onions are translucent. Add crushed tomatoes, white wine, garlic and herbs. Cook for another 10 min then add cream and stir until incorporated.

Place half of the eggplant pieces into a greased baking dish, then place half of the sauce on top, add second layer of eggplant and remainder of sauce. Cover with grated cheese and bake at 350 for about a 30 min or until the cheese is brown and bubbly.


Bake Sale August 11, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 10:58 am
Tags: , , , , ,

A friend of mine is fundraising for Team in Training, I donated the baked goodies. I made 5 different kinds of fudge, cherry pie pops and pumpkin cream cheese muffins.

The muffins are not a far cry from the pumpkin spice cake roll I posted a while back, but in cupcake form. Here is the simplified recipe, enjoy!

pumpkin muffin

Pumpkin cream cheese muffins

2 cups flour
6 large eggs
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 can pumpkin pie mix (with spices)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

preheat the oven to 350. Mix flour, salt and baking soda, then add eggs and pie mix. In a large ziploc bag, incorporate the cream cheese and vanilla, kneading the bag from the outside (keeping your hands clean!). Line your cupcake pan and fill about half way with batter. Cut off a small corner from the bag and pipe a small amount of cheese into the batter.

Bake for about 18 min or until cupcakes look done and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake.

in process


Another fan favorite July 17, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 10:10 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

For my last housewarming (a year ago) I made a giant pot of black bean soup with chorizo meatballs. I promised for a year that I would write up the recipe and never got around to it.

Well here it is, sorry for the delay. I am not including the recipe for the meatballs, it is a variant of my albodigas using half chorizo and half ground meat. I made a vegan version and it was just as good. The entire meal can be made vegan easily without losing much taste.

Black Bean Soup

2 onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken broth or veggie stock
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
pinch of oregano
4 cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
Juice of one lime

Garnish options:

lime slices
chopped green onions
Sour cream
Grated cheddar
crumbled cojita cheese (or feta)
Chorizo pieces
tortilla chips or fried tortilla slices

Dump all ingredients into a large pot and let cook on a medium temperature for at least an hour. I let mine cook overnight on the lowest setting and added a lot more stock – it cooked down quite a bit. I you prefer a smooth consistency (I do) use a hand blender to bend ingredients in the pot and let cook for another 15 min at least, salt and pepper to taste.

I serve the soup plain and fill the table with toppings. You can end up with a whole meal in the bowl or just enjoy it simple… both tasty



Special Request July 14, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 10:03 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Twitter friend Nick has requested recipes with a Spanish flair and I aim to please. Tapas are great for parties, you can impress your guests with several small dishes without spending the whole day in the kitchen. These two recipes are pretty easy and one should be done ahead of time, allowing you to enjoy your guests.


1 lb shrimp, salmon, octopus, halibut or sea bass (or combination)
Juice of 2-3 limes
1-2 jalapenos, chopped fine
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 large firm tomatoes, diced
1 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro

Clean and roughly chop seafood and place in a large container with lid. If working with octopus, tenderize the meat before chopping. Juice limes, add oil and jalapenos and lightly mix with seafood. Let sit for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Before serving add chopped tomatoes, avocado and cilantro, season with salt and lemon juice as needed. Serve on a tostada or with corn chips.

Plantain and Black Bean Empanadillas

1 can refried (or whole) black beans
1 large ripe plantain (black or close to it)
1 package puff pastry
4 oz crumbled goat cheese
1 onion, chopped

Defrost puff pastry and preheat oven to 350.  Peel and slice plantain and saute in butter until soft, mix in beans and cheese and let cool. Roll out pastry dough and out cut circles, spoon some of the mixture on each circle, top with a little onion  and fold dough over. Be careful not to overfill the empanadillas, they will burst while cooking. Use fingers or a fork to seal the edges and place on a baking sheet, I like to line mine with parchment paper but you can grease the sheet if that’s easier for you. Bake until golden brown and lightly sprinkle with paprika.


Bacon is a vegetable April 20, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 10:37 am
Tags: , , , ,

No it’s not, but is has a special place on the food pyramid in my heart.

Saturday I participated in an “Iron Chef” type competition, with the secret ingredient being apple. I knew that the key to first place was bacon… Here is the appetizer I entered, enjoy

Bacon Wrapped Apples

2 Apples cored and sliced in wedges
1 cup rum
1/2 cup amaretto
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
1lb bacon
8 oz. feta cheese

Mix rum, amaretto, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla into a wide pot. Place apples in and let soak for a few min, then heat pot and cook off some of the alcohol. Cook for about 10 min. Remove apples and cool. Preheat over to 500.

Take an apple slice, press some feta along the side and wrap a slice of bacon around the apple, pinning the edge with a toothpick.

Place the wrapped bacon in a pan and bake for 15min or until bacon is cooked, then broil for 5 min to crisp the bacon.