Arsip Tag: homemade

homemade merguez with herby yogurt – smitten kitchen

This recipe is adapted, just barely, from Julia Turshen’s Small Victories. Merguez is a spicy fresh sausage in North African cuisine, and is also popular throughout the Middle East and Europe. It’s usually made with mutton or beef; we are going to use lamb. Harissa usually gives it its characteristic red color; Turshen calls for 2 tablespoons but because I have kids who would not appreciate it, I used just a little squeeze. You can adjust it to taste as well. Oh, and if you’re feeling extra-ambitious, you can also make your own very delicious harissa. But I was out and used this.

    To serve
  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) plain yogurt
  • A small handful finely chopped leafy fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, mint, chives, dill or a mix thereof) plus a few roughly chopped, to serve
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, or more to taste
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • A handful shredded red cabbage to serve (optional)
  • Lemon wedges, to serve
  • Sausage
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds or a heaped 1/2 teaspoon ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds or a heaped 1/2 teaspoon ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds or a heaped 1/2 teaspoon ground
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons harissa paste (I just used a small squeeze) or another hot sauce
  • 1 pound (455 grams) ground lamb, at room temperature

Make the herby yogurt: Mix the yogurt, finely chopped herbs and vinegar in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and extra vinegar, if desired. Set aside until needed.

Make the merguez: If using whole spices, toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant. Grind them in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

Combine lamb, spices, including paprika, harissa, garlic and 1 teaspoon (Turshen called for 1 1/2, which was very salty and we liked it but probably not for everyone) kosher salt and mix to combine. Form into 12 mounds.

[Do ahead: You can keep the mixed meat patties and herbed yogurt in the fridge for up to 3 days.]

Heat a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Coat with olive oil and once it is very hot, add a few sausage mounds. Once they hit the frying pan, flatten them with the back of your spatula. Cook until brown and crispy underneath, then flip and cook for another minute or two. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining meat.

Serve patties warm with herby yogurt and scattered with extra herbs and shredded cabbage, if desired, plus wedges of lemon to squeeze over.

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homemade irish cream – smitten kitchen

Look, we all have to draw the line somewhere. I have over the years insisted that making some things from scratch were just crazy, best left to others, and one by one come around and worse, as if I’d forgotten my repudiation of five minutes earlier like some sort of toddler, extolled the virtues of doing so. Cases in point: Graham crackers, marshmallows, bagels, dulce de leche, pop tarts, rainbow cookies, goldfish crackers, apple strudel, fully from-scratch hot fudge sundae cakes and Russian honey cakes but if you were to suggest I should make my own yogurt, croissants or sushi, despite the fact that I would be delighted if you made any of these things, doubly so if you brought some to me right now, I would probably rather unpack the last box from our last move (two-plus years ago), not even jokingly labeled “Unfiled Files.” Look, we all have to draw the line somewhere. I mean, what’s next if I cross these lines? Milling my own flours? Smoking my own pork belly? Making our own Bailey’s-style Irish cream?

what you'll need, minus the espresso powder

Well, actually: yes. And here I go again: But it was so easy! You could and totally should do this at home! I had heard over the years that you could make this at home easily but — and I think this is the fulcrum on which we balance our yup/nope choices to cook things that amply exist outside our kitchens — I wasn’t unhappy with what I could buy (Bailey’s) so why would I bother? Irish cream has always been a favorite cold-weather indulgence, in or outside coffee. I’ve even made french toast with it. We always have a bottle around. But in the last couple years, I’ve found it almost too sweet to drink and I guess you could say we were on a break.

make a paste with the cocoa
mix it up
homemade irish cream

But now we’re making up for lost time. Guess how long it took me to make this? 5 minutes, and that includes measuring. Guess how soon it is ready to drink? Instantly. Guess how long it keeps? I have read both 2 weeks and 2 months but I realize that we’re probably never going to find out the latter. Guess who controls how sweet or creamy or boozy it is? You! Guess how close of a match it is to the bottled stuff? With my eyes closed, I’d unquestionably take a sip and say “Wow, Bailey’s is even better than I remember it. Why don’t I drink it more often anymore?”

homemade irish cream
homemade irish cream

Here’s the plan for last-minute gifts for the Irish cream-lovers in your life:
1. Buy or order some bottles. The recipe below fills one of these carafes with enough leftover for a glass for you (you’re welcome). You could also fill 2 1/2 of these small jars which come in packs of 6, something you will not regret. (I plan to use them for milk and cream carafes for coffee when have people over for brunch, something I never have when I need.) I’m sure there are other lovely options out there too, these are just the two I used here.
2. Make this recipe, scaling it as needed.
3. Tie it up with a little ribbon (or thin fairy lights I cannot resist) and a little label and make everyone happy, including yourself, who is not waiting in line at a crowded, stressed-out store but at home on your sofa, holiday music playing and a warming drink in your glass.

Tell me, tell me: What are the dishes that you will never, ever cook? I don’t mean “Maybe if you convinced me I would…” I mean, Nope, Nada, Never Going To Happen, Deb dishes. I can’t wait to see where our lists line up.


One year ago: Tres Leches Cake and Eggnog Waffles
Two years ago: Gingerbread Biscotti and Jelly Doughnuts
Three years ago: Sugared Pretzel Cookies, Eggnog Florentines and My Favorite Linzer Torte
Four years ago: Cashew Butter Balls
Five years ago: Caesar Salad Deviled Eggs and Peppermint Hot Fudge Sauce
Six years ago: Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms and Iced Oatmeal Cookies
Seven years ago: Coffee Toffee, Vanilla Roasted Pears and Creamed Mushrooms on Butter-Chive Toast
Eight years ago: Dark Chocolate Tart with Gingersnap Crust, Veselka’s Cabbage Soup and Brown Butter Brown Sugar Shorties
Nine years ago: Latke Redux, Pear Crisps with Vanilla Brown Butter and The Best Chicken and Dumplings, Ever
Ten! years ago: Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake, Wild Mushroom Pirogies, Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake and Blondies

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Charred Eggplant and Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad and Strawberry Milk
1.5 Years Ago: Saltine Crack Ice Cream Sandwiches
2.5 Years Ago: Pasta and Fried Zucchini Salad
3.5 Years Ago: Bowties with Sugar Snaps, Lemon and Ricotta
4.5 Years Ago: Broccoli Parmesan Fritters

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homemade cream cheese – smitten kitchen

homemade cream cheese – smitten kitchen

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A few years ago, I figured out how to make cream cheese and didn’t quite know what to do with this information. What kind of crazy person makes their own cream cheese, no matter how delicious it is? Then again, you could use that reasoning to reject almost anything here (looking in particular at you, marshmallows) and you’re still here. But I suspected this would be a bridge too far. Even food blogging grandmothers have to stay relevant and who has looked around [gestures to all of these things in this world right now] and said “What really keeps me up at night is the stabilizers in store-bought cream cheese”?

what you'll need for homemade cream cheesecream for cream cheesesaltheat the milk, cream, and saltdrainbefore you blend itso creamyvegetable cream cheese

And then the pandemic happened, many of us had more free time than we knew what to do with, the grocery stores didn’t always have what they used to, and when they did, the prices were whack (whoops, so much for “relevance”) and I made it again and what I forgot to tell you, what I should have led with, is that it’s unbelievably easy. I made this in 25 minutes. The only hands-on portion was scraping the cream cheese out of the food processor, and in the case of veggie cream cheese, mincing some vegetables. It requires no fancy ingredients, just regular whole milk, heavy cream, salt, and white vinegar. And it tastes fantastic. Each time I’ve made it, we’ve been kind of shocked at what a match it is for store-bought cream cheese; I’m not sure I could tell them apart with my eyes closed. And in the case of the flavored cream cheeses, so much better. Come on; you should try it at least once.

plain homemade cream cheese



6 months ago: Carrot and White Bean Burgers
1 year ago: Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan
2 year ago: Flapjacks
3 years ago: Tomato Bread + A Bit About Spain
4 years ago: How to Julienne and Plum Squares with Marzipan Crumble
5 years ago: Caponata and Zucchini Rice and Cheese Gratin
6 years ago: Chocolate and Toasted Hazelnut Milk and Herbed Tomato and Roasted Garlic Tart
7 years ago: Baked Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
8 years ago: Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella and Fig Olive Oil and Sea Salt Challah
9 years ago: Peach Butter, Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Mint, and Red Wine Chocolate Cake
10 years ago: Grape Foccaccia with Rosemary and Linguine with Tomato-Almond Pesto
11 years ago: Cheesecake-Marbled Brownies
12 years ago: Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee, Bourbon Peach Hand Pies and Raspberry Breakfast Bars and Braised Romano Beans
13 years ago: Hoisin Barbecue Sauce and Lemon Layer Cake
14 years ago: Silky Cauliflower Soup and Summer Squash Soup

Homemade Cream Cheese

If you’ve ever made homemade ricotta, farmers cheese, paneer, or other fresh cheese, this process will be familiar. The primary difference with cream cheese is the addition of cream (I use it in my ricotta, but it’s not traditional), the higher level of salt (trust me, it does not taste like cream cheese without this level of salt), and the blending process. This recipe only makes 1 cup; I recommend doubling (using a 1/2 gallon of milk) or quadrupling (with a full gallon of milk) it if you’re serving more than a couple people.
  • 4 cups (945 ml) whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons (11 grams) fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) white vinegar
    Line a fine-mesh or other tiny-holed strainer with a layer or two of cheesecloth and set it over a large bowl with enough clearance that the bottom of the strainer won’t touch the bowl once it has 4 cups of liquid in it, or the cheese won’t drain. In a heavy medium-large saucepan, heat the milk, cream, and salt over medium-high heat until just below a simmer — it will look like it’s foaming and register about 200 to 205 degrees F. Remove from heat. Stir in vinegar and wait 4 minutes, then pour it through the cheesecloth. Drain for 10 to 20 minutes; it will still look pretty wet but will barely be dripping from the strainer. The amount of time it takes to drain has to do with the size of your cheesecloth holes. Don’t worry if it drains too much, however; you can always add back some whey if it’s not the right consistency. Transfer the contents of the cheesecloth to a food processor or blender and blend until very smooth, a few minutes, scraping down as needed. That’s it — you made cream cheese!

    The cream cheese will still be warm, so the texture should remind you of cream cheese that’s been softened on a toasted bagel. If it seems stiffer, you can add some whey back, 1 teaspoon at a time, blending it in. As the cream cheese cools, it will firm up, but you can use it right away. Save the whey for other good things, like a soup stock or as the water in a bread recipe.

  • To make vegetable cream cheese: Add 2 tablespoons minced carrot, 2 tablespoons minced scallion, white and green parts, 2 tablespoons minced red pepper, blotted with a paper towel to remove excess liquid, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, and a couple grinds of black pepper per 1 cup of plain cream cheese.
  • To make scallion-chive cream cheese: Add 4 tablespoons finely chopped scallions and/or chives per 1 cup plain cream cheese.
  • To make lox cream cheese: Add 4 tablespoons finely chopped lox, 1 tablespoon minced chives, and minced fresh dill, to taste, to 1 cup plain cream cheese.
  • To make strawberry cream cheese, my favorite non-canon flavor of cream cheese because it tastes like cheesecake and I don’t care how much it makes Real New Yorkers that are not me clutch their pearls: Add 2 tablespoons strawberry jam, drained off a little if it’s a looser jam, per 1 cup plain cream cheese.
  • Do ahead: This fresh cream cheese, as per generally accepted food safety advice, should keep for 1 week in the fridge, but I can also tell you that my plain cream cheese was perfectly fine at the 2-week mark. I would plan to keep the lox cream cheese for only a few days, however.

    Ingredient notes: You can use any milk you like to drink but you want to use a full-fat milk. A lower-fat milk will not have the same yield. For the cream, pasteurized is fine but ultra-pasteurized often has gellan gum in it for stability and I would avoid this. [I used Organic Valley for both my milk and heavy cream because they’re pretty accessible, not because this is sponsored.] This is my go-to fine sea salt brand. White vinegar is usually sold as plain vinegar in the UK. I’ve just started using this machine-washable brand of cheesecloth.


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