Monthly Archives: October 2015

Four days ago, Daniel and I moved into our new home for the next six months, therefore, we are now the proud renters of 76 sq meters of beautiful Parisian real estate. I’lll be completely honest, when Daniel and I first saw the apartment we thought it was too good to be true, but it just so turns out that we were in the right place at the right time. Every morning I wake up with a smile knowing that we get to live in a real home.

The incredibly chic lady who rents us the apartment is named Fabienne and we are repeatedly saying she is a “class act” and the “coolest”. HA! She even left us an amazing bottle of wine in the fridge. What a lady!

Here’s a few shots of our new domicile.


We’re also enjoying our vibrant new neighborhood. Just down the street is a very cool covered market, on the weekends bands are playing Jazz and Blues, and with every twist and turn of the streets we are finding new and exciting places.


Daniel’s mom is coming to visit us in a few days. Can’t wait to see you Susan!!

And to everyone else-come visit soon!

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Well folks, it’s finally everyone’s favorite season Autumn. So what did I do? I made butternut squash soup, duh! It’s incredibly easy and if you buy that boxed crap at the grocery store you are missing out!

Honestly, I was incredibly surprised when I walked through the covered market here in our new ‘hood (we moved yay!) and saw a huge pile of those funny looking squash! I thought they were an American thing..why, I don’t know? So I grabbed one and got the soup gears a’ turnin’. Soup is one of favorite things to make because it’s usually cheap, easy, and completely customizable.

I’ve been a recipe junkie as of late. I just can’t get enough great recipes because we now have an amazing kitchen complete with an oven! Our earlier apartment had a hot plate and a get the picture. I missed cooking proper meals. So when I came across a tutorial for making your own ricotta cheese I knew that yesterday was the day. I was going to be a cheese maker! Victoria, the cheese maker. I like it…anywho.. Ricotta’s my favorite cheese and the recipe said it was “easy” and “foolproof”-great my kind of you can’t screw up.

So here are my recipes for homemade ricotta and butternut squash soup!

By the way..if you like specific measurements for recipes..well..sorry. I just kinda made it and it was good. So I don’t have exact amounts, but feel free to customize yours! It’s just a guideline of sorts. Okay.. On y va! Let’s go.

DSC_0362Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1/2 of an onion diced
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube (you can use chicken stock if you wanna)
  • heavy cream
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • blender, food processor, or emulsifier

Preheat your oven to 400F. Our oven here is Celcius and I put it on 200, which is precisely 392F, but I think 400F will do just fine.

The hardest part of making butternut squash soup is cutting the butternut. They have really thick skins and require a bit of arm strength to cut through, but PUHLEASE be careful. Do not chop off your digits. You need those. Also you need a proper knife. One that has a somewhat thick blade that will not bend. This squash is a tough cookie!

To cut through my squash I cut off both the ends so that I have a flat surface to work with later. Then I cut it in half horizontally (that’s hamburger style for those of you who still don’t know, or short ways). So now you have two halves. Now lay them on their flat ends that you cut earlier. Now cut vertically (hotdog style or longways). So now you have four quarters-YOU DID IT. You have now cut a butternut.

Cover your quarters with olive oil and sprinkle some salt over those badboys! Now put them in the oven and roast until you poke the flesh with a fork and it’s nice and squishy. Make sure it’s cooked all the way through-not just on the edges.

When you’re thinking the squash almost done cook the onions in a bit of olive oil in the soup pot over medium heat. Make sure you don’t burn the onions. We’re creating art here, you can’t rush art. Cook until translucent. Now crumble the bouillon cube over the onions and cook for a few minutes until it’s smelly good. (If not using a bouillon cube just ignore that part).

You’re squash is done now? Great..take out of the oven and with a spoon scoop out the flesh into a bowl. If you put it straight in the pot it might get burnt. Toss out the seeds! Those are no good in the soup. Dump out the squash into the soup pot and add about a cup of water. If using chicken stock add it now. Stir it all around. Now add about 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Throw some salt and pepper in there and some dashes of paprika.

Now get out your blender appliance. If you want a thinner, more consistent consistency (see what I did there?) then throw all of the soup into your appliance and blend it until you like it. If it’s still a bit thick add water, or cream, or even left over chicken stock. But add it in small parts!!! You can always add to it, but you can’t take something out. If you like a thicker soup and want some bits of onion and squash in it, don’t blend all your soup.

Here’s the best tip of all-taste your soup often. If it needs a bit of this or a dash of that, add it. You’re a chef, remember?

Dish up your soup in some cute bowls and if you wanna be artsy fartsy dabble some heavy cream on top and dash some paprika! You just made butternut squash. Easy. DSC_0383IMG_1057

Still with me? I know, I’m the worst at recipes. But this is how I cook. Either I read lots of recipes for the same dish and add the parts I like, so that it’s one conglomerate recipe, or I just totally freestyle.

And here’s my favorite-DSC_0392Homemade Ricotta Cheese

If you cook often then there is a good chance that you’ll have these ingredients on hand already! Making ricotta is easy, cheap, and way more delicious than the store bought stuff! I got my tutorial here. I really like the lady in the video-she seems pretty sassy. You do need a candy (or deep fry) thermometer for this recipe. Cheese making is art AND science. You will also need cheese cloth or linen cloth. I read that someone didn’t have any so she just used a linen napkin. It took a lot longer, but it worked. They sell cheesecloth at the grocery store usually. Make sure to make this in a non reactive pot. No aluminum or copper (unless lined with tin)! It’ll make your cheese taste weird.

  • 1 gallon of whole milk-yes WHOLE milk
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1/2 cup of FRESH lemon juice
  • a colander
  • large bowl
  • cheesecloth
  • candy thermometer
  • ladle or large spoon

Here in Paris they don’t sell milk by the gallon. It’s sold by liters so I had to downsize and do some guestimating. This yields alotta cheese, so this is perfect if you’re having a party. Either serve it in a bowl fresh with some bread, crackers, or veg, or make some sort of h’or devour (pronounced “or derv”..ah now it makes sense :p).

To start off set up your cheese draining area. Put your colander over your large bowl. Layer your cheese cloth 3-4 times (I did three) over the colander. Done.

My cheese making station:DSC_0332In a pot heat the milk and heavy cream SLOWLY (I added the salt at this point even though it said to wait…I like to live dangerously) until it reaches 185F or 84C on your thermometer. It’s better to heat it on low and it take forever than to scorch your dairy. It’s very easy to do and is no fun-trust me. Stir it occasionally to prevent scorching.

Your dairy is getting frothy and smells like buttered popcorn (I think so anyways)? Good! You’re getting close. Keep checking that thermometer. Meanwhile juice your fresh lemons. I can not stress enough-do NOT use bottled lemon juice. It will not work.DSC_0333DSC_0337Once the dairy reaches the correct temperature take it off the heat (take it completely off the burner) and slowly add the lemon juice. With a wooden spoon or silicone spatula gently stir the pot to encourage curd development. Do this for a few minutes. Now you’re ready to drain your cheese!DSC_0339Slowly and gently ladle your cheese curds and whey (the clearish liquid left in the bottom of the pot) into the colander covered with cheese cloth. Do not dump it into the colander! It’ll squish the curds. Do this until all is in the cheesecloth. Depending on how firm you want the ricotta will correlate to draining time. I wanted mine a bit firm so I let mine drain for about an hour, but I think next time I’ll do less just to mix it up. Whatever you want. It’ll keep in the fridge for a couple days in a tupperware. If it gets a bit dry just add a tiny bit of milk.DSC_0343DSC_0347DSC_0349DSC_0357If you want you can also tie up the cheese cloth and hang it to drain from the kitchen faucet. It’s very rustic looking if you want to believe for a minute you live on a beautiful farm in the French countryside.

Voilá! You have now made your very own cheese.

Ricotta ideas-

Drizzle honey over the top and serve with fresh fruit and chopped almonds for a nice breakfast.

Serve over toasted bread with tomatoes and basil (what I did-tasted like a margherita pizza).

Mix into your next pasta for a creamy texture.DSC_0402DSC_0400DSC_0398

It was a wonderful and colorful dinner! Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad you survived that post. Have a glass of wine!DSC_0377

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