Posts tagged Wandering Educators
Snowed in? Too cold to venture outside for more than a few minutes? Me, too. That’s why you might want to try this cooking technique and recipe from Jessie Voigts–the force behind Wandering Educators.
I’ve found the perfect way to cook in winter. It warms up our kitchen, is participatory, and encourages long conversations at the dinner table, while simultaneously feeding us. What is it?
A raclette grill!
Let me share the joys of this unique kitchen item with you.
Raclette is a cheese from Switzerland (a gooey, delicious, melty cheese that is well worth purchasing if you can find it). Traditionally, you’d purchase it as a large round, and melt the edges by the fire. But it is also a way of cooking food – presumably, from the herdsmen up in the Alps that put their food near the fire, melting cheese and cooking meat and veggies to go along with that melty, cheesy goodness.
And, of course, now you can buy an electric raclette grill. It comes with a non-stick griddle on top (ours is double-sided, more on that later), and 8 little pans for melting things underneath. It has a turn dial to control the heat.
Here’s how to use your raclette grill:
Chop up sausages, cooked potatoes, sliced onions, sliced peppers, and other vegetables you’d like to eat with your dinner. You can arrange them all on a central plate, or have people choose their own and keep them near to hand to facilitate the ease of cooking for each person.
Prepare some cheese. If you don’t have raclette, don’t worry. Use a melty cheese (jack, gouda, havarti) or even a sharp cheddar (although this does not melt as well). Shred the cheese or cut it into pieces.
Garlic butter is a good idea. Chop up some garlic and put a bit in the melting pan, and add a knob of butter. This is especially delicious over potatoes.
We’ve also made mini nachos, with just a few chips and some shredded Mexican cheese.
Heat up your grill, and then top with the things you’d like cooked. When they are almost done, you can do one of two things:
- Melt your cheese in pans underneath and pour it over the cooked items on your plate.
- Put some of the grilled items in the melting pans, and top with cheese. Let it melt for a bit.
To be honest, I prefer method #2. It results in gooier cheese to pour over your food items. That little tray of melted cheese is a beautiful sight.
The other side of our raclette grill has two large indentations to make pancakes – or crepes. We had chopped chicken that I mixed into a savory béchamel sauce, and put into the crepes. Of course, there were a few crepes left over, so the nutella jar also found its way to the table.
This way of cooking is similar to fondue, in that you sit around the table, watch your food cook, interact with it, eat slowly (those melting cheese pans are small), and laugh a lot. The kitchen warms up, time slows down, and winter seems to be held at bay by more than just the walls of your home. You can almost imagine being in the Alps, cooking your meals by the fire, and eating slowly, enjoying every bite.
What might you make on a raclette grill?
It’s Greek yogurt week here at MKES! Lately, I’ve been throwing it into just about everything. I even came up with a yummy banana chocolate chip Greek yogurt cake last night that my kids loved. (I’ll post that next.) But before you go out and buy tubs of Greek yogurt at Costco like me, why not make it yourself? Jessie Voigts, Ph.D., owner and creative force behind Wandering Educators (if you haven’t checked out the site yet, you should!), graciously passed along her method for making Greek yogurt at home and one of her recipes for Greek yogurt cheesecake.
We eat yogurt every day – cook with it, bake with it, make smoothies, eat it with rhubarb sauce, make dips…well, the list goes on and on. But do you know what is in some commercial yogurt? More than just milk and yogurt starter. Making your own yogurt is easy, economical, and you know exactly what goes into it – yogurt, and milk. Once you get started, you’ll never buy yogurt again!
It’s easiest if you have a yogurt incubator, available online or in thrift stores for a few dollars. If you don’t have one, that’s ok. You can still make yogurt easily.
Equipment you will need:
A large pyrex measuring cup (8 cups) or a pan
A glass candy thermometer
A yogurt incubator with jars, or 2 quart jars, a towel, and a small cooler.
Heat 2 quarts of milk to 175 degrees. I do this in the microwave. In my microwave, it is 19 minutes at 80% power. You can also heat it on medium low on your stove, but this requires careful tending. Once it is at 175, sit on the counter and cool until it is 110 degrees. You’ll see a film on the top of the milk. Remove it with a fork right before the next step.
When the milk is at 110 degrees, stir in 2 T of yogurt. This can be storebought yogurt or homemade yogurt. If you have Greek yogurt, even better. Whisk the milk and yogurt until the yogurt is dissolved. Pour into your containers and place in your yogurt incubator. Or, pour into your 2 quart jars, wrap in a towel, and put in a small cooler. The point is to keep it at a low temperature for 12 hours, so the yogurt cultures can grow. Once your twelve hours are up, put the jars into the refrigerator and let sit for another 12 hours, to firm up. Eat and enjoy! Be sure to make your next batch of yogurt before you run out – you’ll need 2 Tablespoons to start your next batch.
To Make Greek Yogurt:
Put a strainer over a bowl, and line your strainer with a coffee filter (or doubled up cheesecloth). Pour in your yogurt and let sit for a few hours. If it is warm out, or you need to let it sit overnight, place it in the fridge. The whey will drain out (you can use this for other purposes, but I just throw it out. No haters, please). You’ll be left with nice, thick Greek yogurt.
Recipe: Yogurt cheesecake
Here’s a delicious, easy, and healthy recipe using Greek yogurt.
2 c Greek yogurt
2 T sugar (or to taste. You might want 1/4 c or more)
1 t vanilla
2 beaten eggs
If desired, a graham cracker crust
Mix up the yogurt, sugar, vanilla, and eggs until smooth. Pour into a baking dish (pie plate, 8×8 glass dish) with or without a graham cracker crust. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until the middle stops jiggling. Cool and refrigerate for 4+ hours. Serve with fruit or jam.