elevating the status of the salad

Category Archives: cheese


The roof is exploding with spicy peppers. My tomatoes are not doing as well, so I have only been able to make small batches of salsa. What to do with excess jalapeños? Poppers! Thanks to my friend BC for introducing me to the site Skinnytaste, where I got this recipe. Skinnytaste has a variety of light recipes, beautiful step-by-step pictures, and clear directions. Of course, I have this bad habit of taking a low fat recipe and adding some more fat into it. However, the only real difference between her recipe and mine is that I used regular rather than light cream cheese. These poppers would make a great appetizer for a party because you can prepare them in advance. 


  • 12 jalapeño peppers, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 4.5 oz cream cheese
  • 5 medium scallions, green part only, sliced
  • 2 oz shredded low fat sharp cheddar (I used Cabot 50%)
  • 1/2 cup egg beaters or egg whites, beaten (I used 4 egg whites)
  • 3/4 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • spray oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Wearing rubber gloves, cut peppers in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and membrane.
  2. Combine cream cheese, cheddar and scallions in a medium bowl.
  3. Combine panko, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper in another bowl.
  4. Fill peppers with cheese filling with a small spoon or spatula.
  5. Dip peppers in egg beaters.
  6. Place pepper in panko mixture, using a spoon to make sure all the seasoning doesn’t fall to the bottom of the bowl.
  7. Spray a baking pan with oil spray. I lined my pan with parchment for easier cleanup. Lightly spray the peppers with a little more oil spray.
  8. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until golden and cheese oozes out.
  9. Remove from oven and serve immediately. Serve hot.

That is not a typo. This is Mexican Street Corn made with Indiana Sweet Corn. I had my first Mexican grilled street corn in Red Hook by the ball fields several years ago, and now I’m hooked.   Clearly not the healthiest of side dishes, it went really well with a lighter grilled tequila lime Amish chicken breasts. (Let me know if you want that Barefoot Contessa recipe)

To make it into a much-less-messy-salad-version, just follow all the directions below and then cut the corn off the cob once it is cool enough to handle. Otherwise be sure to have lots of napkins nearby. 

This recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated’s Summer Grilling 2011 issue. 


  • vegetable oil for cooking grate
  • 1/4 cup regular or light mayonaise
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 4 teaspoons juice from 1 lime
  • 1 ounce queso fresco or Cotija cheese , crumbled
  • 4 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 6 large ears corn, husks and silk removed


  1. Turn all gas grill burners to high and heat grill with lid down until very hot, about 15 minutes. Scrape and oil grate (Dip wad of paper towels in vegetable oil; holding wad with tongs, wipe cooking grate.)
  2. While grill is heating, combine mayonaise, sour cream, cilantro, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, black pepper, cayenne, lime juice, and cheese in large bowl; set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine oil, salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. Brush the oil mixture onto the corn.
  4. Grill corn over high heat, turning occasionally, until lightly charred on all sides, 7 to 12 minutes total. Remove from grill and place in bowl with mayonaise mixture; toss to coat evenly. Serve immediately.


There’s something I’ve been wanting to say: I am now over 50 posts into a food blog and have avoided using the word “yummy.” It is on my list of most hated words for adults to use. Now that I got that out of the way, I’m excited to share this ricotta technique with you.

Making fresh ricotta is so easy that it makes me wonder why EVERYONE isn’t making their own ricotta. So far, I’ve enjoyed it on fresh ciabatta with honey and on homemade pizza with eggplant. Other ways I plan on trying (recipes to follow throughout the season):

  • with mint and spring vegetables on pasta,
  • in pancakes,
  • in lasagna,
  • by the spoonful…

If you have an interesting way to prepare ricotta, please forward your recipe!

I learned this technique at Peter Berley’s cooking weekend in February, and the picture below is from his beautiful kitchen on the North Fork.

The milk and cream are from Ronnybrook Farm’s stand at the Grand Army Plaza farmer’s market on Saturday morning. It was exciting to see the market in full bloom. My lack of posts recently is a direct result of being less than inspired the past few weeks by what’s available in Brooklyn in March/early April. As Barbara Kingsolver puts it, we’re just “waiting for asparagus.” I guess I’ll just eat a whole lot of cheese until then.


1/2 gallon whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt


1. Bring milk and cream to a boil, stirring often to prevent scorching. Once it boils, it will get really big–so use a large pot.

2. Once boiling, add lemon and salt, and reduce heat to a simmer. Curds will form within 2-3 minutes (it’s magic, really).

3. Once the curds form, remove from heat and ladle the curds into the cheesecloth to strain. You should put the cheesecloth over a colander which is over a bowl. I learned that what’s dripping out is whey, and you can use it for watering the plants.


4. Allow the ricotta to strain for a while. Then, chill in the fridge.

Really, that’s all.