Sunday, June 2, 2019

RECIPE: Fettuccine Alfredo with Chive Blossoms

Chive blossom season is a short one, so I use them every chance I get during the few weeks they're available.  The blossoms taste just like chives, only milder.  If you'd like to learn more about them, click HERE, and HERE, and HERE

Fettuccine Alfredo with Chive Blossoms
Serves 4

1 T. ghee
2 cloves garlic, minced, or 1 t. dried
1.5 cups heavy cream
2 egg yolks
1 pound fettuccine (I used tagliatelle)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
2 T. chopped chives (plus 1 T more for garnish)
2 T. fresh chive blossoms (plus 1 T. more for garnish)
salt and pepper

Whisk the egg yolks into the cream.  Set aside.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat.

Add the fettuccine and 2 T. salt to the water and return to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-high (water should continue to boil, but not vigorously) and stir pasta frequently to prevent sticking.  Cook for 10 minutes.  When you cut a strand in half, there should be no white in the center.  Don't overcook it, though, you want to drain it as soon as the last sliver of white disappears.  Any longer than that and it will be mushy.

While the pasta is cooking, in a small sauce pan heat the ghee on medium and saute the garlic until fragrant.  Pour in the cream mixture, reduce the heat to low, and stir frequently to insure the mixture doesn't get too hot, or the eggs will cook and the sauce will be ruined.   You just need to heat the sauce slightly.

When the pasta is cooked, remove 2 cups of the cooking water and set aside.  Drain the pasta and return it to the pot you cooked it in.  Add 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water.

Pour in the warm cream mixture, stir to combine with the pasta, then add the grated cheese.  Stir until the cheese melts and creates an unctuous sauce.

If the pasta absorbs too much of the sauce add some more of the reserved cooking water.  (If too much moisture leaves the cream, the sauce will become oily; adding moisture back in will restore the creaminess.)

Stir in the chopped chives and the chive blossoms.  If you like, garnish each serving with additional chives and blossoms.

I didn't think it needed any additional salt or pepper.

RECIPE: Chive Blossoms!

Our chives are starting to blossom!  Did you know that the blossoms are edible?

They taste like chives, but milder. 

And they make a beautiful lavender-colored garnish.

I've never seen chive blossoms in a grocery store, but the chives in our farm store now include the buds, and the chive buds in our garden have started to open.  I cut the flower stalks off at the soil line to prevent the plant from going to seed which encourages the plant to continue producing leaves. 

Their season is short, so take advantage of them NOW!  
Here's how to get the most out of them:

IF THE BUDS ARE OPEN when you bring them in, you will need to wash them - tiny bugs DO hide inside the florets.  Plunge them into water and swish them around several times.  Dry thoroughly.  

IF THE BUDS ARE STILL CLOSED you can keep them from opening by storing them in the fridge, wrapped in moist paper towels.  They will stay unopened for a week or two.  There won't be bugs inside the closed buds so you don't need to wash them before using unless there is dirt on the outside of the buds.

If you WANT THE BUDS TO OPEN, put them into a glass of tepid water and leave them on the counter.  They'll open in a day or two.

ONCE THE BUDS ARE OPEN, you need to use the flowers quickly or they will ferment.  I have kept them packed into a Weck jar for a week, tops.

To 'harvest' the florets, grasp the base of the flower in one hand, grasp the florets between your thumb and forefinger of the other hand, and pull gently.  Some of them will still have the tiny stem attached, but that's OK, the tiny stem is edible.  The stalk and the papery membrane covering the bud are not palatable.

Use them anywhere you would use chives: 

Sprinkle them over salad, soup, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, or sauteed vegetables.  

Stir them into softened butter, then freeze in ice cube trays to use later.

Stir them into softened cream cheese or sour cream.

Stir into risotto, or Alfredo sauce for pasta.

Stir them into deviled egg filling.

Preserve them in vinegar.

Pictured below is an asparagus soup with chive blossom garnish served at a local restaurant.

Asparagus cream soup with chive blossom garnish

Here are some of my favorite recipes:

Chive blossom Alfredo sauce for pasta
Pesto and Chive Blossom Aioli
Chive blossom mayonnaise
Almond and chive blossom pesto
Chive blossom vinegar (if you use ACV, it will not have that gorgeous lavender color)

Saturday, June 1, 2019

RECIPE: EASY Homemade RAW Yogurt WITHOUT Pasteruizing the Milk

I promised I would get this "recipe" on the blog today so I am publishing the basics.  I'll add better photos the next time I make it.

The best resource I've found for making RAW yogurt is here: How to Make Raw Yogurt

Here are my 'nutshell' comments:

There are two ways to introduce a starter culture to your milk:
(1) use yogurt (either purchased, like Stonyfield, or from your last batch)
(2) use a purchased granular starter (I store these in the freezer) 

If you use yogurt from your last batch you will need to make yogurt every 5-7 days or the culture will lose potency. 

There are two types of yogurt starter cultures:
(1) THERMOPHILIC (meaning needs heat) 
(2) MESOPHILIC (meaning doesn't need heat).

You can make raw yogurt with either of these starters but the easiest one, that doesn't require any special equipment, is the mesophilic culture.  Purchased yogurt (like Stonyfield) is thermophilic.

Within each of the above starter culture types, there are two sub-types:
(1) single use
(2) heirloom or re-culturable

I've always used re-culturable, and found that I could re-culture 5-6 times IF I made a fresh batch every 5-7 days.

I buy my starter cultures from or

The best advice on which culture to use, to achieve the taste and texture you prefer, is here: Choosing a yogurt starter culture

Because acidophilus is not good for my blood type, I use a Bulgarian culture.  It's thermophilic.  Here's how I do it:

Gently heat the milk to 105 degrees: Using a stock pot large enough to hold 3-4 quart jars, I put the cold milk into the jars and surround them with water.  I use an ANOVA sous vide wand to bring the water temperature to 118 degrees.  If you don't have an ANOVA, let the water from your tap run until it's 118 degrees and then fill your stockpot.  It helps to have an instant read thermometer for this.

Three quart jars of milk waiting to be inoculated (ANOVA is on the right)

Stir the milk inside the jars every 3-4 minutes until the temperature of the milk is 105 degrees.  As the milk heats up, the water will cool down.  When the milk is between 100 and 105 degrees, stir in your starter culture.  I use 1 heaping tablespoon of yogurt for each quart.  If you're making your first batch with grains, follow the directions on the packet for how much milk each packet will culture.

NOTE: YES, you can use your stovetop to heat the milk, but it's not easy to bring it to 105 degrees without overheating it, especially on the bottom.  This method works better for me.  

At this point, you need to keep the milk between 100 and 105 degrees for 8-10 hours.  I do this with the ANOVA.  If you don't have one, you have several options:

(1) transfer the inoculated milk to a thermos
(2) transfer the jars to a cooler and pour the 105 degree water around them, then cover the cooler
(3) transfer the jars to a gas oven with a pilot light

Start tasting the yogurt after 8 hours.  The longer  you allow it to culture, the thicker it will get, and the more sour it will become.  It will also have more active cultures.   I like it best after 8-9 hours, but I've left it as long as 12.

Because you're using raw milk, the yogurt will not be as stiff as that made with pasteurized milk.

If this bothers you, drain the yogurt for 1-2 hours: line a strainer with cheesecloth or muslin, set the strainer over a bowl, and dump the yogurt into the cheesecloth.  Whey will drip into the bowl (keep this, it's very healthy!) and the yogurt will become stiffer.  When it's the consistency you like, transfer it to a glass jar and refrigerate.

If you're using an heirloom starter, you will need to make a fresh batch every 5-7 days.  I've tried freezing the yogurt and then re-culturing it, but it didn't work.  If we go on vacation, I have to start with a new culture.

If you use a mesophilic culture, follow the directions on the packet.  You won't need to heat the milk but your room's temperature will need to be between 70-77 degrees, so you won't be able to make it during the winter.

If you have questions, shoot me a comment! 

ADDENDUM: If you want to ramp up the probiotics in your yogurt, you can add a few capsules of a probiotic supplement to the milk when you add your starter culture.  You will need to research which type it is - thermophilic or mesophilic - to insure it will live through the process.  In other words, don't add a mesophilic supplement to a thermophilic culture as the heat will kill it.  If you add a thermophilic supplement to a mesophilic culture, there won't be enough heat for the probiotic to grow.

This website Probiotic Yogurt lists the following as THERMOPHILIC:

B. breve, B. longum, L. acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. casei, L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus, S. boulardii, S. thermophilus.

In the photo below I've stirred several capsules of plantarum, rhamnosus, and boulardii into my starter culture which I then used to inoculate my milk.  The empty capsules are at the top of the photo, the plain yogurt in the center, and the yogurt with the additional probiotics at the bottom.