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How To Fix Your Failed Yogurt

Have you tried to make yogurt and had it fail?  You’ve followed all the directions and heated and cooled it to the right temperatures, and yet its still a milky mess after the set incubation time.  Or worse yet, its somehow been over heated and has started to separate into curds and whey.  Well have no fear.  Here are a few tips of how to salvage your yogurt fail.

Draining Ricotta.  Photo courtesy of NewfInMySoup

How to save your unset milky mess: If, when your 5 hours incubation time is over, you go to check your yogurt and find it is still milky and has not set.  Do not fear.  It is probably because the temperature during the incubation dipped below the 100-110 degrees necessary to make the yogurt set.  Just restart the process, reheating the milk to 185 and then dropping it back to 110.  Stir in a fresh cup of premade yogurt and incubate again.  Here are some tips to maintain a more constant temperature.

How to save your curdled curds and whey:  If, when your 5 hours incubation time is over, you go to check your yogurt and find it has seperated into a curdled mess with a yellowish liquid, this is because it was overheated.  If the temperature during the incubation time goes above 120 degrees, your yogurt can overcook and seperate into curds and whey.  If this happens, the yogurt boat has sailed.  However, you can easily turn this mess into fresh ricotta!

To make ricotta simply pour your curds and whey into a strainer lined with a cheese cloth.  Allow to drain overnight in the refrigerator.  And the next day you will have a delicious ricotta.

Making Yogurt In the Winter: Troubleshooting

This summer I finally achieved my goal of making yogurt.  I found a method which worked well and so I posted Making Yogurt Is Easy.  It is easy…in the summer.  Once winter hit and the temperatures dropped, my “easy” yogurt became decidedly hard!

Winter= runny yogurt.  In other words, FAIL! I just could not get it to set.  I couldn’t figure out exactly what was going wrong!  After a few tries, I finally figured out what was going wrong.  Its the winter temperatures which are making my yogurt fail!  My original instructions said to preheat the oven to 200 degrees and then turn off.  Then incubate the yogurt in the warmed up oven until it sets.

In the winter, the oven cools too quickly to maintain a good temperature for incubation and the yogurt won’t set.  So here are a few things to do to help your yogurt set in the cooler temps.

1) Get an oven thermometer and maintain an even temp.

Yogurt needs to incubate at between 100-110 degrees F.  If it dips below, your yogurt won’t set, so you basically just have milk.  If it goes above 120 degrees your milk will get too warm and you’ll end up with separated curds and whey.  Get an oven thermometer and you can make sure to preheat the oven to just around 100 degrees.  If it starts to dip below you can quickly turn the oven on to its lowest setting for 2 minutes or so until you get enough heat to boost the temp back to 100.

2) Wrap your incuabting yogurt in a towel.

Wraping the milk mixture in a towel before placing in the oven will help insulate the heat and keep the yogurt warmer longer to help it set.

3) Leave the oven light on and use a candle to add a little heat.

Placing a small candle in the oven will help add a small amount of heat to keep up the temp without pushing it too much over the 100 degree mark. You can also leave the light on to keep the heat up.


Forkable Baby #2!

Our second baby has arrived!  Otto Rasmus was born last Thursday, February 16th at 6:30 a.m at our home in Chicago.  Although I am generally pretty strict about posting food only content, I am making an exception for the reasons of 85% excitement about my new boy and 15% excuse for the lack of posts lately.  But isn’t he worth it?  He’s such a cutie!

I hope to get back on the posting wagon again soon.  Stay tuned for an update on my yogurt making guide with some helpful winter incubation trouble shooting tips.

Freezing Food For When Baby Comes; Part 2

Well, its that time again.  My due date for our second baby is only two weeks away and this little nipper could arrive at any time!

via Flickr User Corgidusty

I’ve been cracking away daily at getting organized, house clean and food prepared so we’ll be as ready as we can be for our new family member.  I thought having a second baby would be easier since I’ve done it before.  But that’s not true! IT’S SCARIER!  Because I know what I’m in for this time.  AH! And we’ll have a 19 month old Thora to take care of as well.  I’m not really worried though, as we have a wonderful community of friends to help us along.

To ease our transition along, I’m trying to make sure my freezers are stocked with ready to eat food, as I did before Thora was born.  Here’s a list of what you’ll find in my freezer for when baby arrives.

1. Stuffed Cabbages I find the best kind of food for when your tired and not feeling well is comfort food.  Stuffed cabbages are definitely that.  This dish is easy to prepare ahead, just stuff some cabbage leaves with  your rice/meat filling, roll up and freeze in ziplock bags.  Then when you’re ready to eat, just take as many out of the bag as you need, place in a baking dish, cover in the tomato sauce of your choice and bake for 3o minutes (defrosted) to an hour if frozen.

2. Lasagna Speaking of comfort food, nothing is more satisfying on a cold night then a nice warm melty piece of lasagna.  It was one of the dishes I made and froze for when Thora was born and it was the first thing to be totally eaten up.  So I’m making agian.  Its easy to prepared ahead, slice into single servings and freeze in small containers.  Individual slices can be reheated in the microwave in 5 minutes and then eaten with relish (I’m refering to enjoyment, not a pickle sauce, but hey, to each his own).

3. Caldo Verde: This Portuguese soup with spicy sausage, kale and potatoes is probably one of my top favorites. Its also healthy in that it encourages me to eat kale.  I never eat enough greens!  Although potatoes are not the ideal food to freeze as they can get a bit mealy, it doesn’t bother me in this soup.  A few weeks ago, I made a few gallons and froze in single serving containers which will reheat in the microwave in 5 minutes. Yes!

Photo via the

4. Pasties: Yum!  I’m letting my Yooper out with this one.  Pronounced Paa-stee.  Be careful with this one.  If mispronounced it means something quite different!  This is a dish the Cornish miners brought to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where it has become their official food.  A pasty is traditionally made with ground beef and a mixture of diced carrots, potatoes and rutabagas.  However, there are some fancier recipes out there including vegetarian ones (oh, the sacralidge!)  My Mom filled up my freezer with a dozen traditional ones, with a cooked filling but raw dough.  All I need to do is bake for 30 minutes and I’ve got a meal.  I’ll let you guys fight it out whether you top yours with ketchup or gravy!


Ok, that’s all from here.  It may be a bit spotty posting over the next few weeks with the new baby, but I’ll check in as often as I can.  Be patient and I’ll get back to regular posting as soon as I’m able.



From The Vaults: Lime Glazed Cornmeal Cookies

Recently while digging through my cookie archives, I rediscovered this hidden gem! When I first made and posted this recipe 2008, I claimed I was going to make it every year after. But I didn’t. And then that which should not be forgotten was lost. (Do you like my Lord of the Rings quote?) Anyhow, I’m excited about this find. I AM going to make these again this year, and so should you!

Lime Glazed Cornmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (about 6 limes total)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest (2 medium oranges)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal, plus more for coating glass

Lime Glaze

  • 3 c. confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 c. fresh lime juice (6-8 limes)
  • 2 1/2 tsp. lime zest

Using a mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg mixing into creamed butter. Add citrus zests, lime juice, and almond extract. Mix until blended.

Mix together flour and cornmeal and slowly add to your batter while mixing, continue until well blended. Wrap dough in plastic and chill for 1 hour.

Remove dough from the refrigerator. Roll dough into 1″ balls. In a bowl, mix 3 parts cornmeal to 1 part sugar. Roll balls in cornmeal and sugar and lay out on a tray lined with parchment or a silicon mat a couple inches apart.

Using a glass press cookies into thin disks. Dip glass in cornmeal before pressing each cookie. Press and turn cookie to get it to release. Dip glass in milk on first press to get cornmeal to stick. Bake at 350 for 8 to 12 minutes or until cookies are light golden around the edges. Remove cookies from oven and place cookies on a wire rack to cool.

Mix lime glaze: mix conf. sugar with zest and add juice.  Stir until a nice smooth glaze forms.  Line surface under wire racks with newspaper. Spoon about a teaspoon of glaze on each cookie and place cookie back on wire rack to dry. Before glaze is hard, zest a lime above cookies so zest hardens into glaze. Store in a sealed container.

These cookies have a caramelized crispy texture and the sweet of the glaze contrasting with the tart citrus flavors is so wonderful, I could eat these all day!

Homemade Yogurt IS Easy!

I did it! I made yogurt!

I succeeded. After three or four tries that is. At first yogurt was getting me REALLY FRUSTRATED.

1st attempt: following an old Persian recipe- simmer the milk until almost boiling and then cool until still retaining a slight sting. Place in crock pot and let sit. 1st attempt: Fail.

2nd attempt: I assumed I had to do it according to strict temps. I got a candy thermometer. I tried heating it to exactly 185 and cooling until exactly 110 in a friggin double boiler which took FOREVER. Placed in a glass bowl in my rice cooker on the “warm” setting. 2nd attempt: FAIL

3rd attempt: I went out and bought the more expensive less pasteurized organic milk, hoping it would be a better quality. Heated it to the exact temps listed in 2nd attempt, and placed in a crock pot with a towel. 3rd attempt: FAIL

I was ready to quit, when Leonard, my Father-in-Law, sent me this video. The host seems very fastidious about the measurements and temperatures etc. I started following his method, when everything went wrong. I realized I had gotten Ultra-pasteurized milk, I accidentally brought the milk to a boil (which is a NO NO!) and then I cooled it lower then 110. I thought I had just another failed attempt on my hands as I put it into the oven to incubate. How surprised was I when 8 hours later, I had the most luxurious yogurt!

The secret to making yogurt is: Incubate it in the OVEN!

You don’t need to worry about the temp or the amounts. They’re not a huge deal. Just use a gas oven. Ok, enough of my rambling, here is my recipe. (I’m so excited to finally be posting again!)

Homemade Yogurt

  • 1 1/2 gallon of milk. (I found out ultra pasteurized works fine. But I suppose the less pasteurized the better.)
  • 1 c. pre-made yogurt
  • 3/4 c. powdered milk (if using ultra pasteurized, helps make a thicker yogurt)

To start, preheat the oven to 200 degrees. When oven comes to temp, turn off again.

Take your 1 c. of pre-made plain yogurt (not sweetened) you are using as a starter (I used the Stonyfield plain) and set on counter to bring to room temp.

Place milk in a saucepan and heat over medium/low heat until foaming, but not yet boiling. 185 degrees if you have a thermometer. However, if it starts to boil, although you’ve gone too far, it should still be ok. This should take 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep from burning.

Place pan in sink with cold/ice water and bring down to 110 degrees. As the old Persian recipe says, this is the temp where the milk still has a slight sting when you put your finger in it. While the milk is cooking, whisk in powdered milk.

When milk has cooled to right temp, whisk in pre-made yogurt until thoroughly mixed. Place pot in oven and let sit for at least 5 hours. And you should 2 quarts of delicious yogurt!

I’ve tried this recipe now a couple of times, and it has worked each time! The yogurt tastes even better then store bought. Its smooth, creamy and less tart. I’m so excited. Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post with suggestions. I really appreciate the support. Ok, lets go eat some yogurt!

And we’re back!

The Illusive Dream of Yogurt

As a few of you may have noticed, I’ve been oddly silent the past few weeks.  Am I quitting blogging?  The only thing I can tell you is I’ve been waging a war in my kitchen with some goddamn yogurt! I’ve always wanted to make my own yogurt and I made it a part of my 2010 New Years Resolution list (a carry over from 2009) that I wanted to do it this year come hell or high water.

Well the water is high in my kitchen which could be described as a yogurt hell. I’ve wasted a few gallons of milk and all I’ve had to show for my attempts is some very liquidy curdled mess which couldn’t be considered anything close to yogurt. I keep telling myself my next post is going to be How To Make Yogurt, so because of this, I don’t have any posts.

So to get back to my first question. Am I quitting blogging? The answer is, we’ll see.  I refuse to post again until I have succeeded in making some yogurt! So lets keep our fingers crossed and perhaps send a few prayers to the god of active cultures.

Gone In 60 Seconds: Mustang Cookies

You need some deliciousness FAST? A 200 horsepower V-8 engine in these vintage 66 fastback mustangs go from zero to chewy so fast and furious that they hit the vanishing point and are gone in 60 seconds. Lets hit the two lane table-top and get cookin!

Sugar Cookies
makes about 5 dozen

  • 1 c. butter
  • 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar

Royal Icing
makes about 3 cups

  • 3 oz. egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 c. powdered sugar

Mix Batter: Using a hand or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together.  Add egg and vanilla.  Mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet batter until well mixed.

Chill dough: Seperate dough ball into two balls and wrap each in cellophane. Chill for 2-3 hours.

Cut Cookies:  Working with one ball at a time, roll dough out about 1/4″ – 1/8″ thick and cut using cookie cutters.

Bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes.

Make Royal Icing: In large bowl of stand mixer combine the egg whites and vanilla and beat until frothy. Add confectioners’ sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn speed up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add food coloring, if desired.  Use immediately.

Decorate how you prefer.  I coated my cars with a nice candy apple red coat and then black lines for accent.

Eat! Gentlemen, start your engines.  On your mark, get set, GO!

2010 Christmas Cookie List

The first week of December is always a frenzied bake-a-thon as I try to get through my long list of holiday baking in time for our Xmas party, the second weekend in December. This year, in an attempt to be economic, I’ve edited my list to only 10 varieties. This should be a snap.

If you want to cook any of these cookies along with me, I can guarantee, YULE LOVE IT!

Jam Kolaches
Almond Crescents
Choco-Butter Nut Clusters
Anise Puffs
Peppermint Merangues
Double Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies
Sugar Cookies
Chocolate Crackles
Scotch Rosemary Biscuit Cookies

Happy Turkey Day!

Gobble gobble. Stuff your turkey and your belly!

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