Geek Chef

I cook, I talk, I geek

Ricotta Two Ways July 20, 2011

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 12:46 pm
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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!


Dream Meal January 12, 2010

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 1:52 pm
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This might sound odd, but I had a dream that I was on Master Chef (a show I am planning to audition for later this month), Jason Mraz and the owners of Cafe Gratitude were the guest judges and the task was to create a vegan meal.

I was really excited to cook for Mr. A-Z, even though I am not a big fan of the vegans… I don’t like people who limit their food enjoyment. So I made vegan tamales and chocomole for dessert. The dream was so detailed that when I woke I felt the need to start cooking. Here is the tamale recipe I dreamed up, forgive the funky photo – my camera died and I’m using my iphone.

Sweet Corn Tamales with Soyrizo & Cactus

(Tamales de Elote con Soyrizo y Nopales)


1 cup masa harina
1/2 cup canned cream corn
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt


1/2 package of Soyrizo
1/2 cup of nopales, chopped

Other filling options:

slices of soy pepperjack cheese
chopped mild chiles

Tomatillo Sauce

1/2 lb. fresh tomatillos, husked
1 jalapeño, split and seeded (pulled from nopalitos jar)
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons vinegar (rice or white wine)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup cilantro, stems removed
2 teaspoon lime juice

In a medium bowl, mix filling and set aside. In another bowl, mix all dough ingredients together until the consistency of soft play dough. Spread a thin layer of dough on corn husks soaked overnight, leaving about an inch uncovered on the narrow part of the husk. Spoon some of the filling down the middle – careful not to overfill, fold the sides in and then fold the narrow bit down. Place tamales into a steamer basket and cook for about an hour or until firm.

While tamales are steaming, broil the tomatillos until the skin is lightly burned. Throw all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.


Black-Eyed Peas November 17, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 2:02 pm
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My humps, my humps… Oh wait, the other kind of black-eyed peas.

Last night I made b.e.p. with kale. A simple, healthy  and very tasty meal. I threw in some leftover steak, but this would also be very tasty with chicken. It stands up fine without meat, for the vegetarians out there not appalled by my excessive use of bacon.

Black-Eyed Peas and Kale

1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, diced
1 bunch kale
1 cup dried black eyed peas
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoon vinegar
2-3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt

1/2 lbs boneless chicken breast or lean steak, cubed

Rinse beans and remove any funky looking beans or stones. Place in a bowl or pot and fill with water, about an inch above the beans. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and a couple bay leaves and let sit for 4 hours or more. The beans are ready when you can cut one in half easily with your fingernail.

Rinse and chop kale, removing the hard stems and set aside to drain.

Start beans cooking on a medium heat, once boiling reduce to low and simmer while cooking the kale.

Sautee onions in a large pan with olive oil until soft and transparent, add garlic and sautee for another few minutes.

If you are adding meat, toss this in now. Sauteing for another few minutes.

Add kale and toss carefully. You might need to add kale in batches to prevent spillage. Add sprinkle with cumin and paprika and cover pan with a lid for a few minutes. The kale will cook down and release liquid into the pan, add the rest of the kale (if necessary).

Drain some of the liquid from the beans, but not all, and add to the kale. Add vinegar, tomatoes and parsley and toss well.

Add salt and pepper to taste and serve by itself or over rice.



Lunch July 28, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 3:12 pm
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Even though I love everything that goes into sandwiches, I’m not really a sandwich person. I like things that are a little less conventional. I also prefer to go with something light for lunch, unless I have the luxury of an afternoon nap.

Here are a couple of my favorite sandwich alternatives.

Salad Wrap

1 tortilla
handful of veggies
slice of cheese
protein of your choice
salad dressing

Throw everything into the tortilla and wrap it up, easy! This is a great way to eat something light but have it ‘feel’ a bit heavier. I imagine this would be a good kid meal as well.

Italian BLT

tomatoes (fresh and/or sundried)
fresh mozzarella
pesto mayo

I use thin slices of focaccia, usually cut one piece down the middle. Then pile on the pesto, mozzarella and tomatoes. Also adding a little oil and balsamic – basically making a caprese sandwich. Very nummy.

Unless I have pesto on hand, I make large batches a couple times a year and freeze it, I buy a small jar of premade pesto and mix in a little mayo. Not much, just a little to add a creamy tangy flavor. If the word mayo turns you off, then call it aioli.


Another fan favorite July 17, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 10:10 am
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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



Chocomole September 11, 2008

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 1:45 pm
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I haven’t tried this yet. But I am intrigued. I normally do not site my sources, but this is a Mraz inspired dish and I have to spread the love.

Taken from his entry directly


What you’ll need in the bowl:
2 Ripe (soft) Avocados
20 yummy dates
Some Coconut Oil, Agave Nectar, Vanilla Extract, and Raw Cacao

What you’ll need on the radio:
I prefer Italian, Flamenco, or Reggae. Funiculi, Funicula always puts a bounce over the cutting board. However, Bob Marley goes well with this tropical delicacy.

Halve the two Avocados and mush up all the green goodness. You may throw away the seed but save the skins as those will be used as serving cups later.
Chop chop chop the dates again and again and again. About 8-10 dates per avocado should do the sticky trick. A food processor makes this task super easy, but doing it by hand can be meditative. Careful you don’t zone out and add fingernail or blood to the recipe. There’s already plenty of calcium in the pudding.
Squirt/Pour/Drizzle in as much Agave Nectar as you’d like. I like to do a few tablespoons to start and then add more at the end if the mousse isn’t sweet enough. Just a drop of Vanilla will do.
Then throw on a Heaping spoonful of Coconut Oil. This is a must as it will really dress up the dessert and surprise the tastebuds with something more exotic that you’d anticipated. (on a side note, you can use cococut oil for cooking everything. it’s a super healthy alternative, especially for those who still cook with left over bacon grease.)
Add one spoonful of raw Cacao PER avocado. Too much cacao could make the goo bitter, so be modest.
Now stir it up… little darlin’ stir it up. If you have a kitchen mixer, try to harmonize with it. Otherwise mixing with a knife and fork will help you get those dates down to a smoother dimension.

The recipe should fit perfectly back into the Avocado Skins. Whatever’s left over you should eat with your fingers right then and there.


Thanks Mom! September 6, 2007

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 11:01 am
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There are a few things that my mom makes that is better than just about everything else in the world. One of which is her lentil curry. It’s served over brown rice, with a little yogurt and maybe some cilantro or parsley on top. It’s simple and easy but I never make it because Mom makes it best ☺

Here is the recipe, I expect a serving if you make something using my recipes.

Lentil Curry

1 1/2 cups cooked lentils – boiled with bay leaf in water
1/2 medium onion chopped
2-3 cloves garlic chopped
oil to cover bottom of pan
1 tbs curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin – optional
1/2 tsp ground cardamom – optional
1 can tomato paste

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil till onions are transparent and just starting to brown, stir in curry powder and add tomato paste,’burn’ the paste lightly. Pour in lentils with some of the water they were boiled in and let simmer over medium heat at least 20 minutes – longer is better – add more
water if necessary.

You can add more curry powder, salt and pepper or other spices to taste when you have it all together