Louise Penny – Still Life

I’ve been reading Anna Karenina for weeks now, and it’s taking so long because I’ve discovered a new mystery writer after listening to VPR’s Vermont Edition.

Louise Penny seemed so nice on the interview, I picked up her first book the next day. It was a wonderful read. Three Pines, the village where the story takes place reminded me so much of Sharon, VT where we live. A small New England village.

The characters are fun and unique. They reminded me a lot of Fred Vargas’ characters, but less complicated. Adamsberg and Gamache (homicide detectives in Vargas and Penny’s novels) are very similar, they absorb information, very slowly.

I am now off to read the second book in the series: A Fatal Grace. Anna Karenina will have to wait a little bit longer.

Time for a harder cheese: Gouda

I said in the previous post that I was going to try a cheddar, but I didn’t have the correct culture for it. I had some MM100 culture which is good for a Gouda, and is very similar to making a cheddar.

I started with about 3 gallons of farm-fresh cow’s milk. img_0350

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I heated to 90F, at which point I added the culture (MM100 from Choozit, 1/8 tsp). After I let it ripe for 10 minutes, I added the rennet, about 3/4 tsp diluted in 1/2 cup of cold water.

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After waiting and cutting the curd, and cooking it, I scooped it out in my mold.

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Now, the fun part: pressing it overnight. Unfortunately, Ben’s press doesn’t come with a way to know how much pressure I am applying. img_03751

Undressing the cheese:img_0377img_0394

Now all we need to do is wait a few months…

Baklava

Middle eastern food is my favorite ethnic food. Anytime I want something out of the ordinary, I am never disappointed by a middle eastern dish. It mixes ingredients we usually don’t use, and can be very light (this recipe is not one of those though).

Serving : 25-30

Preparation : 30 minutes

Baking time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

1 roll of phyllo dough sheets (Athens foods sell them by two per package) ~ 1 lb

8 tbsp butter melted

2 cups of crushed walnut

1/2 cup sugar

For the syrup:

1 cup sugar diluted in 3/4cup water

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

2 tsp orange-flower water

1 tsp rose water

Instructions:

allow the phyllo dough sheets to reach room temperature before using.

Brush a large dish that fits the dough with a little bit of butter.

Place a sheet of phyllo on this greased dish.

Brush the sheet with butter. Add another sheet and repeat the process until half the sheets are used.

In a food processor, crush your sugar, walnut.

Place this mixture over your pastry.

Place a phyllo dough sheet on top, brush with butter, repeat the process until you don’t have any remaining sheet.

Brush the top with butter. Cut in square or diamond shape.

In a preheated oven, 375F, bake for 45 minutes, or until top is lightly colored.

In the meantime, make the syrup.

In a saucepan, simmer the water+sugar for 10 minutes, no stirring.

Just after removing from heat, stir in the lemon juice, orange- flower and rose waters. Let it cool down.

Pour the syrup over the hot pastry, and set aside to cool off.

You can store this for a few days in an airtight container.

Bon appetit.