fresh from the farmers market

wow, so this weekend saw a lot of seriously interesting cooking. after the tama rice on friday, i dedicated saturday to lasagna and cannoli ice cream. instead of using ricotta cheese in the lasagna, i wanted to try an idea i found on the stonyfield yogurt website after researching some uses for yogurt in cooking. so i took some low-fat yogurt, strained it, and made yogurt cheese, which i then subbed for the ricotta. i mostly used giada de laurentis’ recipe, with the bechamel sauce, but i took a page from my CIA cookbook and rolled some mixed mushrooms into it. then i rolled the noodles up and baked them like that. very tasty. the yogurt cheese--i think i liked it better than ricotta, because it was smoother, and didn’t combine with the egg to turn into a frittata, which is what happened the last time i tried lasagna. the mushrooms were just enough. i was quite pleased.

less pleasing was the ice cream. i feel pretty good about the custard part of it--i know i did that as best i could. the problem came while mixing. i hadn’t been careful enough attaching the mixing bowl, so i stopped the mix halfway through to re-lock the bowl. unforunately, this froze some of the mix in awkward places along the bowl, so the dasher wouldn’t churn. i had to empty the bowl, wash it, and start again. the results--honestly, i don’t know how much that may or may not have affected it. i know it didn’t change the taste, which was my major problem with the recipe. it called for anise, which i don’t like--it tasted like licorice-flavored ricotta cheese. the cheese was a bit overpowering, as well, although the bits that had a nice bit of chocolate in them were agreeable enough. so on top of everything else, i didn’t add enough chocolate chunks. it also froze VERY hard. next time, i need to take the container out a while before i plan on eating it so that it softens nicely.

today i hit up the farmers market. twice. i scoured and scoured and found one guy with fresh cherries, which were INCREDIBLE. i got a ton of strawberries, freezing most of them for smoothies this week. i got an extra pint to make ice cream with and also a pint for eating. i tried some sugar snap peas with dinner (more on that in a bit), and a quart of fresh yogurt (smoothies). i found a dairy and got some milk, chocolate milk, and cream. yum. it came in glass bottles. the sweet potatoes were all gone, so i took a detour to whole foods for sweet potatoes, bananas, and turkey meat. at the meat vendor, i got two chicken breasts and some ground beef. i also found a stand with a pack of burger patties, so i picked up some of those as well.

so, onto the meals--used up the last of my bread making a sandwich, which was tasty, and spent the afternoon making ice cream. first i hulled and cut 2 quarts of strawberries. then i pitted a pint of cherries. the cream was fresh, and incredible. i started with the strawberry ice cream, being careful to lock it this time. it was a little messy, but overall a success. i tried a totally different recipe from my williams-sonoma book, because the “ultimate” recipes were a little too complicated and used too many ingredients for my personal taste this afternoon. so it was just cream, milk, sugar, and strawberries. not even any eggs. simple and yummy. i’m going to try to finish the cherry ice cream late tonight. i want to give the bowl a chance to re-freeze, but i don’t want to wait until tomorrow because i think the cherries will be bad by then.

so, for dinner i took two of the patties, mixed in some ground dried shiitake, and marinated it in teriyaki sauce for an asian burger (topped with a slice of mozzarella, on a whole-wheat bun). it was great--so much flavor, so much moisture, no ketchup needed. really a treat. the snap peas were tasty, but not noticeably different from snow peas except that they were stringier and a little harder to eat. i made a grilled sweet potato salad with mangoes and onions. i didn’t actually eat the mangoes, but broiling it all together did give the potatoes an extra bit of tang. i think next time i should spice it a little bit more. topped it all off with a smirnoff ice. when else is that a great drink to enjoy than on a late sunday afternoon with a freshly grilled burger?

for snacks this week i want to do fresh fruit--especially to finish off the nectarines--with the yogurt cheese. i hope to do a smoothie every morning for breakfast, along with a slice of banana bread.

so far, i’ve been tryng to cook mostly off my ‘summer’ list and my ‘to-try’ list, so that i can really explore all of the new recipes i’ve collected recently. if neena and louis come this weekend, i want to do a wagamama menu (maybe the three mushroom soup? i did hit up the mushroom man today) and really enjoy some of the stuff from there. lunch this week is mostly going to be salad sandwiches and leftovers, since i am out of bread, and have no lunch meats (so it’s not really worth it to make another loaf).

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