Homemade Garlic-Chive Ricotta Spread

And by “homemade”, I mean that you’re making the ricotta as well.

It’s a Bit of a Family Reunion!

In that garlic and chives are both part of the allium family.

What You’ll Need

  • large saucepan
  • instant-read thermometer
  • colander
  • cheesecloth
  • knife
  • chopping board
  • bowl
  • measuring cup
  • measuring spoons
  • wooden spoon
  • garlic press (optional)


For the ricotta cheese

To make ricotta, all you need is whole milk, lemon juice1, and salt. And the salt is optional. Now, think about how impressed all your friends will be when you tell them that you made your own cheese. La-de-freaking-da!


  • 2 quarts (or liters) whole milk, raw or pasteurized (NOT ULTRA-PASTEURIZED!!!2
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the spread

  • 4 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or put through a press
  • salt and pepper to taste

How to Make the Garlic-Chive Ricotta Spread

Make the ricotta cheese and impress even yourself with how easy it is

  1. Line a colander with a triple thickness of cheesecloth and place it in the sink.
  2. In the saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat to approximately 195°F (90°C), stirring the whole time to avoid burning the milk. Remove from heat.
  3. HeatMilk

  4. Add the lemon juice and salt, then give the mixture a quick stir to distribute the juice. Let stand for 5 minutes or so.
  5. By this time, the curds should have coagulated or clotted; you should see white curds in a thin, milky whey. If you don’t see this, add a little more lemon juice and wait for another few minutes.
  6. CurdsWhey2

  7. Carefully pour the curds into the colander and let drain for 15-30 minutes (or longer, if you want a very firm and dry ricotta).
  8. DrainCurds

  9. When finished draining, you can transfer your ricotta to a different container. Place it in the fridge if you want to make the spread later—it’ll firm up a bit more. You should have about 2 cups of ricotta cheese.
  10. FinishedRicotta

  11. Post a picture to Facebook, so that you can show all of your 1794 friends that you just made some cheese.
  12. Place one cup of the ricotta in a bowl. Add the chives and garlic. Using a wooden spoon, stir together until well mixed. Salt and pepper to taste. If it’s too solid or thick, mix in a little cream or half-and-half until the spread reaches the consistency you like.
  13. MakingSpread2

  14. Be real Pinterest-y and garnish with some more chopped chives.
  15. GarnishedSpread

  16. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, so that the flavors can meld together.
  17. Serve with crackers or raw vegetables.

1Lemon juice is a coagulant that enables the cheese curds to separate from the whey. Other coagulants include certain kinds of vinegar (e.g. a good white wine vinegar) and citric acid. But I’m assuming that you probably don’t have any citric acid next to the boxed macaroni and the Cheetos.

2I’ve never used raw milk—I live in Indiana and unless I join a cow share, or buy my own cow, I can’t get any legally. But I CAN get pasteurized milk. Ultra-pasteurized is heat-treated to a higher temperature, which affects the proteins; thus, you can’t make ricotta with such milk.


For Leftover Candy–Presenting the Peeps-Nini!

So You’ve Eaten Your Share of Peeps, But Still Have Some Left Over

And you’re wondering–how do I use Peeps culinarily? Okay, maybe you’re saving some until they get nice and stale (hey, connoisseurs like the best this way!) Maybe you have some earmarked for a special meal (I usually eat a sleeve prior to running a half-marathon, because hey, carbo-loading!) Maybe you are keeping some for next year’s Washington Post Peeps Diorama contest. Still, you might have some Peeps that are waiting to be incorporated into some sort of gastronomic marvel. Well, Peep-le, look no further. Presenting the Peeps-nini! This molten version of a peanut butter and marshmallow creme sandwich is just the thing for your Easter leftovers.

And the Flyover Connection is…

None. None whatsoever, except that I first created it in Indiana (though I did subsequently share it on another website). Peeps are actually the product of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s Just Born candy company

Peeps-Nini–the Recipe!

This panino (yeah, panini is actually plural, but that “i” sounding like a long “e” just sounds kitschier) is just the ticket when you’re tired of savory dinner and, dagnabit, you just want something SWEET for dinner!

What You’ll Need

  • bowl(s)
  • panini press or heavy skillet (if using skillet, you’ll also need a pancake turner to press down on the sandwich)
  • cutting board
  • bread knife
  • knife for spreading butters



  • peanut butter (I like homemade or natural)
  • softened butter (about a tablespoon or two)
  • sturdy bread
  • 4 Marshmallow Peeps

How to Make the Peep-Nini

  1. Cut two slices of bread, if you are starting with a whole loaf (or take two slices from your presliced loaf
  2. Preheat your panini press [or skillet, if using, to medium or medium-high (if using a stainless steel skillet, you can wait on this step until right before you heat the sandwich, as they heat up fairly quickly)]
  3. Butter the outside of one slice of bread and place it on your board, butter side down.
  4. Spread peanut butter on top of that bread slice.
  5. Place the Peeps on top of the peanut butter. DON’T LOOK AT THEIR EYES! Otherwise, you may not have the heart to subject them to the intense heat.
  6. Peeps_2BGrilled

    I said not to look at their eyes!

  7. Put a thin schmear of peanut butter on the second bread slice.
  8. Place second slice of bread on top of the Peeps.
  9. PeepNini Before

  10. Butter the top of the second slice.
  11. Put the sandwich in the panini press and put the lid down. Cook until the Peeps start to melt and get gooey.
  12. If using a skillet, add some butter to the skillet, then add the sandwich and press down on it (and cook until the bread crisps up). Turn the sandwich over and cook, pressing down, until the Peeps get melty.
  13. GooeyGoodness

  14. Serve immediately.
  15. Share

A Liptauer-ish Cheese Spread

Lip-ity Do Dah

Liptauer is a type of fresh cheese from the picturesque Liptov region in Slovakia, which is, admittedly, far from Flyoverlandia. As in an ocean and much of a continent away. So why am I writing about it here? Because Liptov also gave its name to a delicious cheese spread featuring its famous cheese. Liptauer is the adjectival form of the Germanic name for Liptov: Liptau. The cheese, typically made from sheep’s milk, is mild and fresh and difficult to get in the United States. Liptauer cheese, however, has also come to refer to a spread with said cheese as its base, flavored with capers and caraway and such, and served with dark bread.

So, Are You Going to Get Around to the Flyover Part?

Cool your jets, hold your horses, relax-don’t do it. In a word, yes. Right now. Firstly, it turns out that you can make Liptauer cheese (the spread, not the fromage, unless you have a ewe in the backyard between the shed and the Weber grill). And secondly, it also turns out that you can use cottage cheese, specifically the more accessible Kalona Supernatural cottage cheese to make a reasonable (and quite delicious) facsimile of Liptauer cheese spread. And thirdly, it turns out that the recipe follows below.

Makes 1.5 cups


What You’ll Need

  • a hand blender, food processor, or fine strainer and bowl
  • chopping board and knife
  • two mixing bowls (preferably medium)
  • wooden spoon or hand mixer
  • small bowl of approximately 1.5 cup volume
  • mortar and pestle (optional)
  • a small plate
  • plastic wrap


  • 1 cup of full-fat cottage cheese, preferably Kalona Supernatural brand
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) softened butter—I used Organic Valley’s Pasture Butter, which is lightly salted
  • 1 Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1/4 tsp hot Hungarian paprika
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 2-3 Tbsp finely chopped cornichons, gherkins, or capers
  • 1 garlic clove, papery skin removed
  • 1 tsp anchovy paste (omit for vegetarian version)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp finely chopped parsley or chives
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp fine salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

How To Make Liptauer Cheese Spread

  1. Using your blender and mixing bowl or food processor, blend the cottage cheese until it is a smooth paste; alternately, go low tech and press the cottage cheese through a strainer into the mixing bowl. If the cottage cheese is watery, drain in a fine strainer lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter for 15 minutes
  2. Cream the butter in another mixing bowl. Add the cottage cheese and mix together well.
  3. Put the caraway seeds and garlic clove in a mortar and pestle. Grind into a paste. Alternately, mince the garlic finely and leave the caraway seeds whole.
  4. Add the paprikas, caraway seed-garlic mixture, mustard, cornichons or capers, onion, and anchovy paste (if using). Mix together well.
  5. Add the sour cream, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper, mixing thoroughly. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.
  6. Line the smaller bowl with plastic wrap. Put the entire mixture into the plastic-lined bowl and then place another sheet of plastic wrap on top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours; this gives the flavors a chance to meld.1
  7. Remove from refrigerator and unmold onto a plate. To do this, remove the top sheet of plastic wrap, then place a plate on top of the bowl. Invert the bowl onto the plate, remove bowl, and then remove the remaining plastic wrap.
  8. Sprinkle with the parsley or chives. Serve with dark bread (I’ve used cocktail rye).


All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close up.Click on the image to enlarge it.

I’ve adapted this from Sara Dickerman’s recipe found in the New York Times (which is itself an adaptation from Joseph Wechsberg’s recipe found in The Cooking of Vienna’s Empire)

1I’ve found that this doesn’t taste very good initially, but fabulous after the Refrigerator Tour of Duty. The flavors really come alive and work well together after sitting in the refrigerator for a few hours.


Gunthorp Farms and Leftover Cranberry Sauce: A Small Thanksgiving Post-Mortem

A Word about the Bird

This may have been my best turkey ever! Delicious flavor that didn’t NEED gravy (although gravy certainly wasn’t turned down!) This year’s bird was a Gunthorp Farms turkey, a fine-looking, pasture-raised 15-lb bird. Gunthorp Farms raises meat and poultry naturally, as opposed to an industrial model, and provides turkeys (and chicken, duck, lamb, and pork) to some of the best restaurants in the Midwest, including those of Rick Bayless. Starting out with quality poultry is one of the keys to a delicious Thanksgiving turkey.

I also roasted the turkey breast-side DOWN. The breast meat was unbelievably moist and the dark meat was perfectly cooked. Granted, you don’t get the Norman Rockwell picture-perfect bird, but I’d much rather have a good TASTING turkey than one that is dry, but photogenic. Which is why there’s no picture here.

Too Much Cranberry Sauce? Ideas for Using Up Leftovers

It happens. With your cranberry bounty from Wisconsin, you made plenty of cranberry sauce, like this one. But there is plenty left over, too. So, what can you do with leftover cranberry sauce? Lots of things!

  • Stir it into yogurt or oatmeal
  • Thin it with a little juice (or even a little water) and use it as a topping for ice cream, pound cake, cheesecake, or waffles
  • Make thumprint cookies (here’s a classic recipe), replacing the jam with cranberry sauce (which is, basically, a jam).
  • PBandC_Sandwich

  • And here’s a personal favorite of mine—use some in a peanut or almond butter and jam sandwich. I especially like natural peanut butter (crunchy!) on good homemade or artisanal bread with cranberry sauce

Orange-Cranberry Sauce, Plus Variations

Making cranberry sauce is ridiculously easy. If you’ve always used canned sauce, why not switch to homemade? This recipe is simple and can be put together quite easily on the day of the Thanksgiving feast or it can be made ahead of time. Remember that cranberries have an enormous amount of pectin, so the sauce gels pretty quickly. If you like a looser sauce, cook it for a shorter period of time. If it’s gotten too thick for your tastes, thin with a bit of orange juice or brandy.

This recipe makes 1 cup, so it’s appropriate for Thanksgiving dinners with fewer people. Just double it if you want a larger amount.

What You’ll Need

  • a small saucepan
  • a zester
  • wooden spoon
  • measuring cup and measuring spoons
  • a jar or bowl


  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest (from half an orange)
  • pinch or two of ground cloves


How to make the sauce

  1. Put sugar, water, and orange juice into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and stir until sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally.
  2. CookingBerries2

  3. Add the cranberries and cook until they pop, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. You can always smash them against the side of the saucepan with your spoon.
  4. BerriesPopping

  5. Remove from heat and stir in the orange zest and the cloves.
  6. Place in a bowl and cool to room temperature. Serve or refrigerate for up to a week.



With Walnuts

Add 2-3 tablespoons of chopped toasted walnuts after removing the sauce from the heat. Be sure to toast first, so that the walnut flavor comes through the orange and sugar.

With Ginger

Omit the cloves. Add 2-3 tablespoons of chopped candied ginger after removing from the heat.