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Homemade Quark from Slow Cook Modern

About a month ago, I wrote about Liana Krissoff’s most excellent book, Slow Cook Modern. In that blog post, I promised to share the recipe it contained for homemade quark. I finally here to make good on my promise (I’m only a bit later than intended).

I know that some of you are probably reading this and are thinking, what exactly is quark? Well, it’s a soft set cheese of European origin that is made with acid rather than rennet. It has a bright, tangy flavor and can be cooked, baked, or spread on toast.

It’s also one of those things that seems like it should be quite complicated to make, but is quite easy (particularly if you have a slow cooker or Instant Pot handy).

You start with half a gallon of cultured buttermilk (this is the nice, thick stuff you buy at the store, not the liquid leftover from making butter). Once you’ve procured your buttermilk, you pour it into the vessel of your choosing.

I opted for my Instant Pot set to run on the yogurt setting (I borrowed a tip I spotted on the internet and ran the pot at high pressure for 1 minute with a little water in it before adding the buttermilk, to sterilize the pot and ensure that the quark turned out well). Once the buttermilk was in the pot, I set the yogurt setting to run for 8 hours and walked away.

When the time was up, it was time to separate the cheese curds from the remaining liquid. I lined a fine mesh sieve with cheesecloth, perched it above a bowl, and used a slotted spoon to lift the solids out of the pot.

Once all the cheese solids were in the cheesecloth, I let it drain. It was evening when I started the draining process, so I ended up letting my quark sit and drain all night. I ended up with fairly dry cheese as a result. If you want something a bit more tender, shorten that draining process.

I ate the finished cheese on toasted rye bread, and heaped on slices of cucumber. It was a tasty treat that I will most certainly make again!

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Cookbooks: Modern Cider

We’re nearing the end of September, but it’s still blazingly hot and swampy here in Philadelphia. One way that I’m coping with the unseasonable weather is by pretending that it’s more like autumn outside than it actually is. To that end, I’ve been making pots of soup (though I’m choosing ones that can be eaten at room temperature for the sake of our sanity), knitting hats and hand warmers (while the air conditioning chugs), and diving into books that put me in the proper state of mind no matter how it actually feels outside.

One such book that I’ve been glancing at when the mercury soars is Emma Christensen’s new one, called Modern Cider. Emma is the queen of small batch home brewing and is also the author of True Brews and Brew Better Beer. You may know her work from her years as recipe editor at The Kitchn or her current gig as managing editor of Simply Recipes.

Emma is incredibly good at taking an intimidating concept or technique and making it feel approachable and appealing. I was still a novice home brewer (though my brews are still mostly confined to regular batches of kombucha), when I took a couple of the recipes from True Brews out for a test drive for Table Matters back in 2013. and she made it seem entirely doable.

If True Brews was Emma’s survey course, and Brew Better Beer was designed for the beer lover, Modern Cider is the book for anyone who has been intrigued by boozy fermentation but doesn’t consider themselves a big beer drinker. It’s for someone who wants a home brewing starting place that speaks to a wide range of experience levels. And it’s for anyone who wants to learn the science behind home brewing from a friendly, knowledgeable voice.

The first 60+ pages of the book feature cider lessons. In this initial section, you’ll learn about variations in ciders, choosing apples, crushing and sourcing (she gives you permission to use bottled juice from the store if that’s all you can manage), acidity, and the gear you’ll need to get started.

From there, the chapters are as follows: Beginner Ciders, The Cider Family, Modern Ciders, Ciders for Beer Lovers, Soft Ciders (some entirely free of alcohol!), Apple Wines, and Traditional Ciders. There’s also troubleshooting and resources sections, in case you need more guidance.

While it’s probably too early to start thinking about the holidays, if you have someone on your gift list who loves cider and has expressed interest in learning how to make it at home, this is the perfect book for them!

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Giveaway: Slow Cook Modern by Liana Krissoff

These days, electric pressure cookers are the hot culinary appliance. And while I love the ability to cook and braise quickly, slow cookers will forever be at the top of my kitchen helper hit parade (as I type this, I have two running in my kitchen).

Happily Liana Krissoff, one of my favorite cookbook authors, is also a devoted slow cooker fan. Her brand new book, Slow Cook Modern, is the most useful and practical take on making dinner in the slow cooker that I’ve ever seen. It’s also a ridiculously beautiful book.

There are a lot of things that are brilliant about this book. First is the fact that all the slow cooker recipes are designed to cook for 8 hours. That means, you can set up your slow cooker in the morning, go to work, and actually come home to a meal (if you have a long commute time, make sure to use a slow cooker that will switch to ‘Keep Warm’ after a pre-programmed amount of time). So many slow cooker recipes are written to cook for 3-4 hours, which is not at all useful for people who work outside their homes.

The second thing that’s really inspired about this book is that every soup, stew, braise, and roast comes paired with a side recipe, as well as suggestions for other sides in the book that would go nicely with that dish. These sides are worth the price of admission alone.

All the recipes are organized by what you need to do the in the morning and what you’ll do just before serving. There are pages with ideas for what to do with leftovers. There are a handful of recipes for slow cooker stock. There’s a chili base that I want to make this week. There’s even a recipe for slow cooker quark that I’ll be sharing on Friday! So much goodness!

I feel like this is a book that I could spend the next couple years work through and exploring. I can’t wait to dig in (and the two eggplants in my fridge mean that the Eggplant Tian on page 28 will be happening this week).

Thanks to the lovely folks at Abrams, I have a copy of this brilliant book to giveaway this week. Let’s do this one the old school method.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share your favorite slow cooker dish.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Sunday, September 17, 2017. Winners will be chosen at random and this post will be updated with the winner.
  3. Giveaway open to United States and Canadian residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

This giveaway is now closed. The winner is #66/MaryKay Lawrence. Congratulations MaryKay!

Disclosure: Abrams provided both review and giveaway copies at no cost to me. No additional compensation was provided. 

Cookbooks: Artisanal Preserves

In the last ten years or so, we (the cookbook consuming population) have become accustomed to cookbooks that burst with juicy images. However, there’s much to be said for quieter books that put the focus on the words and recipes rather than the art.

One such book that landed on my desk recently is Madelaine Bullwinkel‘s Artisanal Preserves. It’s a revised reissue of her Gourmet Preserves that was first published in 1987 and is unassumingly charming.

The book features traditional jams, jams without added sugar, jellies, marmalades, preserves, breads and muffins, and desserts. As you can see from that list, it’s a volume that focuses on the sweet side of preserving rather than trying to cover the entire spectrum.

There’s much in this book that intrigues me. Ones that are particularly triggering my interest are Tomato and Prune Jam (page 50), Rosemary Red Onion Jelly (page 103), Lime Zucchini Marmalade (126), Pear and Grape Preserves (page 158), and Marmalade Muffins (page 172).

If you like vintage cookbooks that burst with voice and personality, then the reissue of this canning classic is very much for you. If you can’t abide books without pictures, you should probably give this one a pass.

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Cookbooks: The Preservatory

Want a book with truly unique preserve recipes, along with good ideas to use them up? Then make sure to get a copy of The Preservatory!

Back in late June, I spent a day in New York at the summer Fancy Food Show. While there, I met Lee Murphy. She’s the owner and head jam maker at Vista D’Oro Farms and Winery in British Columbia and the author of The Preservatory, a lovely new preserves cookbook that was published this spring.

This gorgeous, hard cover book contains 80 recipes. Forty preserves and another 40 dishes, drinks, and baked goods that you can make with the contents of those glowing jars. The contents are organized by season, which is a structure I always appreciate.

I am so intrigued by the various preserves in this book. I’ve written a whole lot of recipes for jams, chutneys, butters, and spreads in my day and there are things in these pages that I’d never, ever thought of attempting. Three that particularly catch my attention are Sweet Corn with Espelette and Chardonnay (page 65), Spicy Sweet Charred Onion and Figs (page 86), and Olive with Orange and Lemon.

These recipes are all highly acidified with both lemon and apple juice and are given instruction for processing in a boiling water bath canner (though inexplicably, she gives a range of times for the boiling water bath). Still, that onion and fig jam speaks to me. I’m going to try and get my hands on some figs this week.

As far as the recipes designed to use up your preserves, there’s so much I want to make. I’ve bookmarked a number of them, and have my eye on the Savory Dutch Baby (page 130) for this weekend.

Bottom line on this book is that it contains some really interesting, creative recipes, unlike anything I’ve seen before. If you’re looking to bring some new inspiration into your homemade pantry, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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Cookbooks: The Essential Book of Homesteading

Before she was writing books about picnics, parties, and beverages, Ashley English wrote a series of books about homestead. Published in 2010 and 2011, these books focused on food preservation, chicken keeping, bee keeping, and the art of home dairy.

It was an endlessly useful quartet of books that I’ve had on my shelf for years and referenced with some regularity (though admittedly, I didn’t have quite as much use for the volumes on bees and chickens as I did for those on canning and dairy).

A year or so ago, I noticed that Ashley’s series was getting harder to come by and I was sad to see such a useful resource drop out of print. Happily, I learned a few months back that my concerns were entirely unfounded. Her four books have instead been gathered together into a single edition.

Called The Essential Book of Homesteading, this edition is now one of the most thorough reference points for 21st century homesteader. It opens with a section on chickens and then marches through canning and preserving, bees, and home dairy.

The photography is vivid, useful and in full color. The recipes are approachable and the instructional details are clear and easy to follow. If you’ve been meaning to add a homesteading-themed book to your library, the release of this one could not be more well-timed!

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