Apple, Strawberry, Lettuce, Peppers, Red Onion, Cucumber Salad

This is a light, fresh, citrusy salad that’s great in any season.

  • a combination of romaine, green leaf, and baby spinach
  • peeled cucumber , cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
  • about 2 slices of red onion, cut into small pieces
  • about 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 5-7 sliced strawberries
  • 1 apple cut into bite sized pieces
  • a handful of broken by hand Whole Foods Sea Salt Pita Chips

citrus vinaigrette

  • 1 lemon juiced  (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons country Dijon mustard
  • pinch salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Easy Mac and Cheese

I had read a recipe in the NY Times for a Crusty Macaroni and Cheese.  I was having some company, and I decided to give it a try.  It’s very simple to make as you don’t make a white sauce or a roux.

The consensus was that it was very good, but not quite as creamy as my regular recipe.  But I liked it a lot, and I’ll definitely make it again.

Adapted from the New York Times Jan. 4, 2006

(The quantities are slightly changed from original recipe)

 

Recipe: Crusty Macaroni and Cheese

3 tablespoons butter (I used unsalted)

12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (I used an extra 3 oz. for the top)

16 ounces American cheese coarsely grated (mine was just sliced thin from the deli, and then broken into smallish pieces)

1 pound elbow pasta, boiled in salted water until just tender, drained, and rinsed under cold water
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional) (I used 1 teaspoon black pepper instead)
Salt (I used 2 light teaspoons of kosher salt)
2/3 cup whole milk

 

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Use one tablespoon butter to thickly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Combine grated cheeses and set aside three heaping cups for topping.

2. In a large bowl, toss together the cooked pasta, cheeses, pepper, and salt to taste. Place in prepared pan and evenly pour milk over surface. Sprinkle reserved cheese on top, dot with remaining butter and bake, uncovered, 45 minutes. Raise heat to 400 degrees and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, until crusty on top and bottom.

Yield: 8 to 12 servings.

Greek Pasta Salad

I took my homemade dressing which has a Greek vinaigrette taste, and I added some pasta, and some veggies to create a pasta salad that tastes similar to a Greek salad.

It’s a little heartier than just a salad, and it makes a great leftover lunch.

For the dressing:

  • juice from 1 large lemon (about ¼ cup)
  • ½ cup olive oil (I use a combination of light and extra virgin)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sun dried tomatoes (in oil) minced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated

In a mixing bowl, whisk the lemon juice, the oregano, the salt, the pepper, the red pepper flakes, the optional sun-dried tomatoes, the lemon zest, and the garlic. Then add the oil slowly as you continue to whisk. You can make this earlier in the day, and put it in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Then when you are ready to use it, give it a few good shakes, and pour it over the salad right before you serve the salad.

for the pasta salad:

12 oz. rotelle or penne

1 1/2 greenhouse cucumbers, cut into 1/2 in. chunks

about 12 kalamata pitted olives, cut in half

a few slices of red onion, diced

1-2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 in. chunks

1 pint of grape tomatoes, cut in half

about 1 lb. of good feta, cut into 1/2 in. chunks

Cook the pasta till al dente.  Run under cool water.  Place in large serving bowl, and add all the veggies.  Then pour vinaigrette over salad and mix.  Put in fridge until ready to serve.

Shirley’s Amazing Barbecued London Broil Dinner with French Fries

This was one of my favorite dishes growing up.  I loved it with a passion, and I actually cooked it for the family on the grill.  This was the steak we had at our annual Father’s Day Barbecue when I was growing up.  Those were the best times.  Like my mother said often in the last few years, “Where did the time go?”  Over the years, whenever I made this for my mother, Shirley, she would say, “This is the only food I can eat and eat and eat.” I cooked this often for my kids and for my parents when my kids  were growing up, and at family barbecues.  My father Murray always said that this was the only steak he really liked.  People were always shocked to hear that the steak was london broil, and how simple the marinade was.  I think my mom actually got the recipe for this from our neighbors, Lenore and Arthur Velinsky.

So this past weekend, my son Danny requested that I make this for dinner for his friend Stephanie.  He wanted it to be the standard steak dinner I had growing up and I cooked for my kids all the time:  steak, french fries, salad, and LeSeur peas. I added buttermilk biscuits and homemade chocolate chip ice cream with my homemade hot fudge for dessert to the menu. Then Danny’s other great friend Mindy joined us.  Okay, this steak came out beyond beyond.  It was like butter, and so, so juicy.  Stephanie couldn’t believe it was london broil as she ordinarily hates that cut of steak.

All I can say about the steak is wow.

all you need is:

top round london broil- Look for an oyster cut if you see it. Look for a piece about 1 1/4 in. thick.  I bought this steak at Costco and it was phenomenal!  In the package came 2 steaks, and I made both.

The night before:  Place steak(s) in baking pan.  Pierce all over with fork.  Sprinkle  very lightly with Adolph’s unseasoned Meat Tenderizer.  Pour about 1/2 bottle of original Catalina dressing over the steak(s), and spread over with a spoon to cover- even the sides.  Flip steak(s).  Pierce with fork.  Sprinkle lightly with the Adolph’s.  Pour remaining dressing over steak(s) and spread nicely.  Cover pan with saran and put in fridge.

Next day – Take steaks out of fridge maybe 30-45 min. before you are ready to grill them.  Heat up grill on high.  Place steaks on grill. Here’s where it gets a little tricky.  You want the steaks to form a crust on the bottom, because that’s where the amazing flavor will come from.  I place the cover down on my grill after the steaks are on.  But if there aren’t a lot of flames, you won’t get that crust. There isn’t that much fat in the london broil, so you may not get enough flames.  So this is what I do.  But you have to be careful- and an expert griller to use this technique.  And you have to be an adult to do it.  I take the cap of my bottle of corn oil, and I fill it with oil.  I drizzle some oil on the top of the steaks.  This oil drips down and causes very large flames to form.  Then I put the top down for a few minutes, and repeat if necessary till the bottom of the steak is nicely charred.  I flip the steak and repeat.  Once both sides are charred, using the oil isn’t necessary any more.  Now, I have a really crummy propane grill, but if you have a much better grill, you might not need to use this technique with the oil.

I’m pretty good at being able to tell when my meat is done.  But if you can’t tell, just slice one slice off an end to see how it’s going.  We like our meat medium rare.

When meat is done, take off grill, and place on clean cutting board.  Cover with aluminum foil for about 5-7 min.  Then slice meat sort of on the diagonal about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick using a good knife, depending on how thick you like it.  Place on serving platter and drizzle with juices from cutting board and serve.

for my amazing -not homemade- french fries:

Heat corn or canola (I prefer corn) oil up in a large saucepan- you will need at least 32 oz. of oil.  Watch the oil.  If it gets too hot, it will start to catch fire.  I’m guessing it’s about 350 degrees or so.  Take about 20-24 oz. of Nathan’s Frozen French Fries out of the freezer and place carefully in the hot oil.  I guess alternately you could use a deep fat fryer, which I don’t have and I don’t need.  Cook over medium high heat till crisp and brown- about 20 minutes or so, and wrap in paper towels for a minute.  I just line the serving bowl I’ll be using with paper towels. Then when everything is ready to go on the table to be served, I just dump the fries out of the paper towels into the bowl.  Sprinkle nicely with kosher salt and serve.

Amazing Chocolate Cake

It was my daughter’s anniversary today, so I decided to make a yummy dinner for her and her husband (and kids).  For dessert, I decided last night that I’d make a chocolate cake that I’d been eying the recipe for.  It is known as “That Chocolate Cake” and I found it on the Scharffen Berger web site and on Tastespotting. This cake was everything I was looking for, and it was super simple to make.  I believe this recipe is almost exactly the same as the recipe I’ve made for chocolate cupcakes (Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe) except that it calls for no vanilla. I followed it pretty much exactly as it appears on the web site listed above, except that I added vanilla.  The finished product was magnificent.  The cake was really dark, moist, but light at the same time.  The icing was bittersweet and creamy, but I prefer to use my own recipe you will find on this site under “Judy’s Famous Birthday Cake.”

Recipe is adapted from the Scharffen Berger recipe – “That Chocolate Cake.”


for the cake:

  • unsalted butter (for greasing pans)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup SCHARFFEN BERGER Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder (I used this brand of cocoa and after tasting the cake, I’m a huge fan of it! But I also use Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa and it’s great)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (I used aluminum free- Rumsford)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup  oil (I used light olive oil or canola)
  • 1 cup whole milk (I used organic)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 This is one recipe, but I prefer the chocolate icing from Judy’s Famous Birthday Cake  for the frosting which can also be found on this site:

  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (I used a heavy 1 1/4 cups since I did not use the 99% unsweetened chocolate the original recipe calls for, but totally unsweetened chocolate)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (I used organic)
  • 5 ounces  (squares) Baker’s unsweetened chocolate
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter (I used organic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon, but I feel that is too much)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon  kosher salt (the original recipe does not call for salt)

make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter the bottom of  a 9 by 13 inch rectangular pan or two 9-inch round cake pans. My cake pans are amazing- they have a bottom that comes off the sides so I never have to worry about getting my layers out of the pans.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand held mixer or with a whisk, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, mixing on low speed just to combine. Mix in the eggs, oil, and milk and vanilla.

Increase the speed to medium and beat for a minute or two, scraping the bottom a few times. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the boiling water. The batter will be soupy, but if you mix it on low for a minute, it will thicken up a little.

Pour into greased rectangular pan or divide the batter evenly between the 2 round cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the cake starts to separate from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for 15-30 minutes.  Then you can frost.  If using round pans, then run a knife around the edges of the pans turn the layers out onto the rack and cool completely. I just take the sides off my pans to finish the cooling, because the cake is a little fragile at this point.

 Start making the frosting while cake is baking or at end of baking, because it will require about 15 or 20 min. to firm up enough to use.

see Judy’s famous birthday cake recipe for favorite chocolate frosting.

make the frosting:

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and cream and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce the heat and simmer for 6 minutes, stirring almost constantly.  Turn flame off and add the chocolate.  When almost completely melted, add the butter and stir until melted. Pour into a large bowl and stir in the vanilla. Immediately place in the fridge to start firming up.  Every 15 min. or so, mix the frosting with a rubber spatula and place back in fridge.


to frost the cake:

Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread the frosting with a palette knife or icing spatula. Spread about 3/4 cup of the frosting over the top of the first layer. Top with the second layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.  Cover with a good quality of plastic wrap that won’t stick to the icing and take any off the cake, and refrigerate cake until you serve it.

Judy’s Newest Cheesecake

I tried a new cheesecake and it came out beautifully.  The water bath worked amazingly.

Beating the egg whites separately insures a very light texture.  The next time I make

this, I want to add a thin layer of whipped cream on top and then top that with sliced

strawberries.  If I do that I may substitute chocolate wafer crumbs in my crust.

for the crust:

  • 2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter (I used salted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Chocolate cookie crumb crust

  • 3 cups Oreo cookie crumbs (don’t use the crème filling) (use food processor to make crumbs
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

I did not pre-bake this crust; I put it in the freezer for about 20 min. prior to putting the filling in.

    for the filling:

    3 8 oz. blocks of Philadelphia brand cream cheese, at room temperature. (for a 10 in. springform,

    I used 4 blocks of cream cheese (1 was neuf.)

    1 pint whole fat sour cream (I like Daisy brand as it has nothing artificial in it)

    5 extra large eggs (separated)

    1 1/3 cups sugar

    pinch of kosher salt

    1 tablespoos fresh lemon juice (I use either fresh or Minute Maid frozen concentrate)

    1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    make the crust:  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

    Put graham cracker crumbs in a mixing bowl.    Melt butter in bowl in microwave.  Add it to bowl with

    crumbs,  add the sugar and cinnamon, and mix.  Grease a 9 inch springform and

    then press the crumbs mostly on the bottom and a little up the sides of the pan.  Bake

    at 325 degrees for about 8 minutes.  Let cool on counter.

    make the filling:

    Separate eggs and set aside. In large bowl of mixer using the paddle attachment, mix the

    cream cheese till smooth and a little fluffy. Add the sugar and mix well.  Add the yolks and

    mix just till smooth.  Add lemon juice and vanilla, blend a few seconds.  Add pinch of salt.

     Add the sour cream,and mix on very low speed or even by hand till blended.  In a second

    bowl, whip the egg whites with whisk attachment till stiff

    peaks form.  Fold egg whites into batter gently. Pour batter into crust lined pan and smooth top

    gently.

     

    Change:  instead of wrapping pan in foil and baking in water bath, I did something

    much easier that had equally good result.  Place roasting pan filled 2/3 to the top

    with water.  Place this pan on a rack just below the rack you’ll be baking

    cheesecake on.  The steam has same effect as water bath.

     

     

    Bake in middle of oven at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 10 min.  Turn oven off and open door

     slightly, keeping it open with a wooden spoon.  Let sit in oven for a few hours until the cake

    is almost totally cool.  Let sit out on the counter for another hour or so.  Then cover with plastic

    wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    I recommend making this at least 1 day in advance.

    Note: I’d like to try whipping up about a half pint of whipped cream with some sugar and

    spreading it on top, then topping with some thinly sliced strawberries the next time.

    Or just slice up some fresh strawberries or a mixture of berries and serve on the side.

     

    Raspberry Swirl Variation :  Tried on Mother’s Day 2014 with excellent results

      For the raspberry sauce:

    • 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 12 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed

    In a small saucepan, combine the cornstarch, sugar and water. Add the raspberries

    and cook over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture boils. Once boiling, cook

    and stir for one additional minute. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve placed

    over a bowl to remove seeds. Cool to room temperature or chill in refrigerator.

    Pour half of batter in crust.  Put little baby spoons of the sauce all over the batter.

    Then take a wooden skewer and swirl the sauce through,being careful not to touch

    crust when you do this.

    Then pour rest of batter on top and repeat with raspberry sauce in baby spoons over

    top; then swirl through.

     

    Shepherd’s Pie

    These days most of my desire to cook revolves around cooking for my daughter and her family, and for my sons Danny and Benji.  My daughter had gone to Whole Foods and she and her family had eaten the shepherd’s pie from the hot food bar.  She told me it was the best thing she’d ever eaten and that I had to make it for her family.  I found a recipe on the Food Network site which looked pretty good.  I made it last week, and everybody loved it, but my daughter said it still wasn’t quite as good as Whole Food’s.  So I made it again this week, and basically added a  little more seasoning.  This time, my daughter said it  was just as good as Whole Food’s version. And my son Danny went totally crazy for it.  Yesterday, watching my two grandsons eating this and loving it was so gratifying.  I was “kvelling” from their reaction!

    adapted from Food Network “Mummy Boome’s Traditional Shepherd Pie”

    meat filling:

    • 2 3/4 lb. 85% chopped meat (I used Nature’s Promise or Whole Food’s grass fed beef)
    • 5 organic carrots, small dice
    • 3 organic celery stalks, small dice
    • 1 large onion, small dice
    • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
    • kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
    • almost all of a small can of organic tomato paste
    • 1/2 cup organic beef broth or stock
    • 3 tablespoons organic worcesteshire  sauce (Annie’s)
    • 2-3 cups organic frozen peas

    mashed potatoes topping:

    • 5 lbs. organic russet, idaho, or yukon gold potatoes
    • 1 1/2 to 2 sticks organic salted butter
    • about 1/2 cup  organic whole milk
    • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    Pour a few tablespoons of  organic olive oil (you can find organic extra virgin olive oil at Costco) in large sauté pan.  Add salt and pepper.  Sauté  onion, carrot, celery till soft and just starting to brown.  Add garlic, and sauté a few minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix in.  Add the meat, salt and pepper, and break up with fork as you brown. Add the worcesteshire sauce and the beef broth.  Mix and add the peas.  Taste for seasoning. Transfer meat mixture to large baking dish- at least a 9 x 13 (I have one which is a little larger). Refrigerate.

    Make your mashed potatoes.  I peel 5 lbs. and cut them into medium pieces, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Boil over medium heat until soft.  Drain in colander and then put back in pot over low flame for a minute to get rid of excess water in potatoes.  Turn flame off.  Add butter, kosher salt, and a little fresh cracked pepper.  Mash, and start adding the whole milk until nice and fluffy.

    Spoon the potatoes over the top of the meat.  You should have a hefty amount of potatoes topping the meat.  Refrigerate until dinner time.  Then preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 35-45 min. until hot.

    Note:  If you are not baking this right away, and you don’t have time to make the mashed potatoes right away, refrigerate the meat mixture  until you have your mashed potatoes.  I have refrigerated this for up to a day before I made the potatoes.  When I make the potatoes, I let them cool to warm and then I put them on top of the meat (which is cold from being in the fridge).  Then I put the dish back in the fridge till I’m ready to bake it. If you are baking it right away, then just it won’t matter if the potatoes are still hot when you put them on the meat.

    Croissant Bread Pudding With Chocolate Chips

    I recently watched an old episode of Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello, and he made a luscious looking bread pudding.  I made a few changes to his recipe, and I really loved the results.  What is remarkable about this recipe is that it is so easy to make. Below is my version of his recipe.

    • 12 plain croissants (I bought mine at Costco) (let sit unwrapped for a few hours before you use them)
    • about 15 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 1 stick butter
    • 7 large eggs
    • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
    • 1 cup sugar

    Directions:

    Generously grease a large 10 by 13 pan- sides and bottom- with butter.  Tear croissants into 1 inch pieces- maybe about 4 or 5 pieces for each croissant.  Put all pieces in prepared dish.  Then sprinkle the chips all over.  Toss lightly with your hands or move the some of the top pieces so that some of the chips slip through. 

    Prepare the custard by melted the stick of butter in the microwave in a mixing bowl large enough to eventually fit all the custard ingredients.  Let cool a few minutes or stick in the fridge to cool for about 5 minutes.  Then, add the sugar and mix.  Add the cream, and then the eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Whisk till  blended well. 

    Ladle the custard mixture over the croissants and chocolate chips.  Push the croissants down lightly with your hands to submerge as best as possible in the custard.  Cover with aluminum foil.  Refrigerate until ready to bake. 

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake (still covered in foil) in center of oven for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.   Uncover and let cool for a few minutes and serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 

    ***If you are baking this at home and then bringing it with you, put it on a half sheet pan after it comes out of the oven, keep it covered with the foil until you serve it. 

    Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Icing

    My grandson Noah’s third birthday was coming up, and my daughter Randi asked me if I wanted to make the cupcakes.  I think she knew what my answer would be.  I just needed to find the perfect recipe.  After reading many blogs about cupcakes, I couldn’t decide between a recipe from the Hershey’s website which Hershey’s calls, “Perfectly Chocolate Cake” and a recipe called “that Chocolate Cake” on the Scharffen Berger web site.  It was then that it dawned on me that they were literally the same, except that on the Hershey’s site, the recipe calls for 2 tsp. of vanilla, and on the Scharffen Berger web site, their recipe calls for no vanilla.  I compromised and settled on using 1 tsp. of vanilla.  I also changed the recipe by using extra large eggs and corn oil rather than canola oil.  No reason- I just grew up in a house where corn oil was used.  I used Hershey’s cocoa as that’s what I’ve got in my pantry-  I have both Hershey’s natural cocoa and Hershey’s special dark cocoa, so I used a combination of both- using a bit more of the natural than the dark.  I was “perfectly” happy with this recipe for the “Perfectly Chocolate Cake.”  This is so easy to make- I think just as easy as a mix- because you are doing it all in one bowl- practically just dumping the ingredients in.  The batter is very thin, so I ladled it into my muffin cups.  The result was very dark chocolate cupcakes, and very light- which was exactly what I was looking or.  My daughter compared the experience of eating these to eating Hostess chocolate cupcakes- only much better!  I used a standard recipe for vanilla icing which I adapted from The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.  These cupcakes are amazing!

     Ingredients:

    2 cups sugar1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa (I used a mixture of natural and dark)1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda1 teaspoon kosher salt

    2 eggs (I used extra large) 

    1 cup whole milk

    1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used corn oil)

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract (original recipe called for 2)

    1 cup boiling water

    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 12 muffin pans with muffin cups.

    Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl of standing mixer.   Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans (I used a ladle, but I think next time, I will pour the batter into a large bowl I have which has a spout, so that I can just pour the batter right into the muffin cups.Bake 22-25 min. or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with vanilla frosting (which will  follow shortly).   Vanilla Frosting:1 stick butter, softened4 cups confectioners sugar1/4 cup regular milk 1 teaspoon pure vanillapinch of salt if using unsalted butterDirections:  Put softened butter in mixer.  Mix with paddle.  Add 10x sugar, and mix, add milk, vanilla, and salt, and mix till smooth.  This makes enough for 24 cupcakes.

    Homemade Ricotta Cheese with Fresh Herbs and Lemon

    Over the last few months, I’ve been wanting to make my own ricotta cheese.  I read a few recipes for this delicate and delicious cheese, I took a some ideas from a few sources and came up with my own version.  I served mine this weekend at my grandson’s third birthday party, and it was a hit.  It’s super easy to make and as fresh tasting as you can imagine.

    Ingredients:

    2 quarts whole milk

    1 pint heavy cream

    1 teaspoon kosher salt

    4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

    for seasoning later:

    kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

    2 scallions, both green and white part, minced

    about 2 tablespoons minced  fresh chives

    1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced

    the zest of one lemon, and its juice, too

    Instructions:

    In a heavy six quart pot, pour the milk, the cream, and the 1 teaspoon salt.  Over medium heat, bring to a full boil, stirring every few minutes to prevent scorching.  When it comes to a boil and bubbles all over, add the lemon juice and turn off the flame.  Let sit for a minute until the mixture curdles and the curds separate from the whey (the liquid).  Set a sieve over a deep bowl and line the sieve with 2 layers of cheesecloth.  Pour the mixture through the sieve.  Let sit for 20 minutes.  Then turn the cheese in the cheesecloth into a bowl.  Cover and put in fridge to cool.  After about 30 minutes, take out and add all the seasonings above:  the dill, scallion, chive, salt, pepper, lemon zest, and lemon juice.  Mix gently with rubber spatula, and refrigerate until you serve with crackers or on toasted slices of baguette.