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Pecorino Toscano & Pecorino Sardo

Yesterday I wrote about Pecorino Romano, today Pecorino Toscano and Pecorino Sardo, two other kinds of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Pecorino you are likely to find in the US.

Pecorino Toscano
I ate the fresh version of Pecorino Toscano practically daily when I lived in Tuscany. In Florence, fresh Pecorino Toscano was like the Italian version of Monterey Jack, the cheese I grew up eating in California.It’s mild, slightly herbal, sweet, approachable, easy to love. It’s really great in a sandwich–either cold or grilled.

Pecorino Toscano is made from milk produced in Tuscany, Lazio and Umbria. As with all cheeses, it gets harder and drier as it ages. In the US it used to be much easier to the find the aged versions than the really fresh soft ones. The fresher version is particularly mild and creamy. The aged version is buttery, sometimes nutty with a peppery finish It’s just a great table cheese, perfect for an antipasto platter. Even aged it tends to be much milder than the Pecorinos from Lazio and Sardinia. 

Pecorino Sardo Maturo & Pecorino Fiore Sardo
Pecorino Sardo 
This is the Pecorino I know the least about, so I turned to cheesemonger and author Gordon Edgar to help me get a better understanding of it. Here’s what he had to say: 
“The tricky thing about Pecorino Sardo is the variation contained within the name. Whereas Pecorino Romano means hard, aged, grating cheese and “Fresco” means semi-soft and young, Pecorino Sardo just means sheep cheese from Sardinia which is where a lot of Italian sheep cheese comes from, labeled as Sardo or not.
There is a name-controlled version “Fiore Sardo DOP” which is raw milk and slightly smoked and one of the most amazingly complex sheep cheeses available anywhere.  Rich, milky, nutty, mutli-layered, briney, and, yes, a touch smokey in a complimentary way, not the way smoke is often used to cover defects in cheese.  Personally I mostly use this as a table cheese to eat with cold cuts or other cheeses.  If you dislike “pecorino,” this cheese may well change your mind.  Make sure it says DOP though, because some importers  and retailers can be a little loose with the American naming of their Italian cheese
Most Sardo sold in the US fits the middle-ground, age-wise between fresco (from whatever region) and the hard, crumbly Romano. If not name-controlled, the Sardo Maturo is my favorite one to buy.  It can work as a less intense and salty alternative to grating than a Romano, but also works as a table cheese, often lending a grassy, potato-y flavor absent from many pecorinos. The aging (maturo) lets flavor develop and my favorite brand is Central Formaggi (though this is often not labeled at point of sale). You can kind of tell how strong Sardo will be based on the texture, so — if you can — try and squeeze it a little before purchase.”
Curious about Pecorino Romano? Read about in yesterday’s post. 

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Sourdough Sunday: Perfect Buttermilk Sourdough Pancakes

These perfect buttermilk sourdough pancakes are mixed up the night before and ready to be cooked in the morning for a lazy weekend breakfast. They are very easy to make once you have your sourdough starter going and I believe they are the most delicious pancakes you’ll ever taste.

Easy overnight buttermilk sourdough pancakes | pinchmysalt.com

Even if you aren’t interested in baking sourdough bread from scratch, these pancakes and the sourdough biscuits that I shared last week are more than enough reason to keep a sourdough starter in the refrigerator.

Whether you get some from a friend, buy it online, or make your own (it’s really not that hard!), maintaining a sourdough starter is easy. And once you have a jar of starter bubbling away on the counter or tucked away in the refrigerator, you can use it to start making these delicious pancakes that everyone will love. In my experience, even people who don’t normally care much about pancakes will rave about these!

Mixing overnight sourdough pancakes batter | pinchmysalt.com

Making the batter is simple. The night before, stir together flour, buttermilk, and sourdough starter. Cover the bowl and let it sit out at cool room temperature overnight. By the way, if you don’t have buttermilk, regular milk works just fine in this recipe.

Mixing overnight sourdough pancakes batter | pinchmysalt.com

The next morning, the batter will be nice and bubbly and ready for the rest of the ingredients.

Mixing overnight sourdough pancakes batter | pinchmysalt.com

Stir in an egg that has been beaten with salt and baking soda. I mix the soda and salt into the egg just to help everything get distributed into the thick batter a little easier.

Mixing overnight sourdough pancakes batter | pinchmysalt.com

Stir it all together until the egg is completely mixed in.

Mixing overnight sourdough pancakes batter | pinchmysalt.com

Next, stir in the melted butter. I add the butter separately so that the melted butter doesn’t doesn’t harden from being mixed with the cold egg.

Mixing overnight sourdough pancakes batter | pinchmysalt.com

That’s it! Your pancake batter is ready to go.

How to grease a cast iron griddle | pinchmysalt.com

I cook my pancakes on a cast iron griddle that came with my stove. Because it’s cast iron and takes a while to heat, I turn it on before the final mixing of the batter. Then when I’m ready to cook, I brush it lightly with either butter or oil using a silicone pastry brush. This time I used coconut oil.

Sourdough pancakes on the griddle | pinchmysalt.com

Sometimes I make big pancakes, sometimes I make small ones. It just depends on my mood and who I’m feeding. These were for my husband, so they are on the large side.

This is a pretty thick batter so the pancakes will cook up thick and fluffy. Because of that, you want to make sure your griddle isn’t too hot or the pancakes will burn before they are cooked through. You’ll know it’s time to flip them when edges of the pancakes are starting to look dry.

Easy overnight buttermilk sourdough pancakes | pinchmysalt.com

Easy overnight buttermilk sourdough pancakes | pinchmysalt.com

It may take a little trial and error to get the griddle to the perfect temperature, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be rewarded with perfect, golden, fluffy sourdough pancakes.

Easy overnight buttermilk sourdough pancakes | pinchmysalt.com

Don’t forget the butter and maple syrup!

Easy overnight buttermilk sourdough pancakes | pinchmysalt.com

This pancake recipe is adapted from the recipe that came with the original sourdough starter I purchased from King Arthur Flour about 10 years ago.

Yields 10–12 4-inch pancakes, about 3 servings.

Perfect Sourdough Pancakes

Save Recipe

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Ingredients

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup sourdough starter

1 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

Instructions

The night before you want to make pancakes:

Combine the flours and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add buttermilk and sourdough starter and stir to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let sit out at cool room temperature overnight (up to 12 hours is fine).

The following morning:

Melt butter and set aside to cool a bit. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, baking soda, and salt. Stir egg mixture into the pancake batter until well combined then stir in melted butter.

Drop by spoonful (as large or small as you want) onto a moderately hot, lightly greased skillet or griddle. Cook pancakes until bubbly and starting to dry out on the edges then flip and and continue cooking until browned to your liking on the other side.

Notes

This recipe feeds about 3 people. Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a larger family.

You can use all purpose flour in place of whole wheat if desired, but the whole flour tastes great in this recipe.

Regular milk can be used in place of buttermilk if that’s all you have. I do this quite often and the pancakes still have a great flavor because of the sourdough starter.

If the batter seems way too thick, you can thin it with a bit more buttermilk or milk. Just be careful not to add too much or your pancakes will turn out very thin.

7.5
53

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Easy overnight buttermilk sourdough pancakes | pinchmysalt.com


Cooking With Cats: Coloring Book

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Granted, COOKING WITH CATS is a pretty crazy combination, but it makes for some delightful and delicious coloring pages, and never fails to put a smile on people’s faces. It’s fun to color, fun to share with friends. And those friends will definitely want to see every single color filled masterpiece you create.

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Veggie-Stuffed Fried Rice by Erica


Dorie’s Cookies

Over the years, I have posted more than 350 cookie recipes on Baking Bites. Based on that number alone, you can probably guess that I am a big cookie fan. I imagine that I must like cookies about as much as Dorie Greenspan, author of many wonderful cookbooks including Dorie’s Cookies, her most recent volume.

The book is substantial, clocking in at around 500 pages. Every cookie recipe is accompanied by a photo that shows the finished product in all its glory. Not all cookie books are as jam-packed with colorful photos and I find that it really makes a difference in how much I want to try the various recipes, as there are times when cookie recipes can be difficult to tell apart just from the list of ingredients. Seeing the array of cookies as you flip the pages will make you realize how different all these treats are, and tempt you to pick out a few and start baking right away.

The book is divided into chapters, following in introduction that covers cookie techniques, ingredients and baking equipment, and it covers everything from everyday drop cookies and elaborate holiday cookies to brownies and biscotti. There is something for everyone and every baking mood.  Every recipe is clearly written, with detailed instructions that carefully walk you through the process of making the cookies from start to finish. Many of the recipes have suggestions for variations, as well as for storing the cookies to keep them fresh until they’ve all been eaten. The Vanilla Macadamia Nut Snacklettes that I posted last week are a variation on one of the cookies in this book. It’s a volume well worth picking up and adding to your collection and it makes a fantastic gift for any and every cookie-lover.


Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

When I see a recipe repeatedly I sometimes feel compelled to give it a try. Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies from Danielle Oron’s Modern Israeli Cooking is one of those recipes. It was published in the New York Times a little over a year ago, then Food52 got in on the act and reprinted it as well. 

Just recently David Lebovitz published his version of the recipe, which he had adapted and then raved that they were “some of the best chocolate chip cookies to ever come out of my oven.” His goal was to make the cookies a bit more chewy and to increase the chocolate. Those are goals I thoroughly support. While I pretty much used his recipe, I took it a bit further. Instead of using one half cup of light brown sugar in place of one half cup of white sugar as he did, I used one half cup dark brown sugar. I also increased the chocolate. While Lebovitz uses chocolate chunks, I used chocolate chips and the whole bag, why not? It’s 12 ounces and 340 grams of semisweet chocolate chips. Next time I might try 3/4 of a cup dark brown sugar and just one quarter cup white sugar for even chewier cookies. 
So the name really gives it away—the key to what makes these cookies so irresistable is the dusting of salt on the top and the tahini in the cookies which adds a particular richness. The cookies are chewiest on day one, but still delicious on day two. If you have any left. Speaking of which, I recommend portioning some of the dough into a zip top bag and freezing it so you can bake fresh “cookies on demand.” Simply heat the oven and put the frozen blobs of dough directly on a parchment lined baking sheet and minutes later you have fresh cookies.

Note: If you have a scale, I implore you to use it instead of measuring cups especially for the sugar and flour. It makes a big difference. 

Salty Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from David Lebovitz and Danielle Oron

Ingredients
8 Tablespoons (115g, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (120ml) tahini, stirred
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (90g) packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150g) flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 package 12 ounces (340g) semisweet chocolate chips
Flaky salt
Instructions
Beat the butter, tahini, granulated sugar and brown sugar with an eletric mixer, until fluffy. Add the egg, the yolk, and vanilla, and continue to mix just until the eggs are incorporated. Add the dry ingredients until just combined, then stir in the chocolate chips. Do not over mix. Cover the dough and refrigerate overnight.
Heat the oven to 325ºF. Form the cookies using a scoop or spoon about 2 tablespoons in size (a #30 disher is perfect). Place them evenly spaced on a parchment lined baking sheets about 3-inches apart. Bake the cookies, turning the baking sheet in the oven midway during baking, until the cookies are golden brown around the edges but still pale in the center, about 13 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle cookies with flaky sea salt, and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet. Store in a tin or air tight container. 
Enjoy! 

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Mandoline Slicer with Vegetable Spiralizer – 5-IN-1 with Food Catch Tray- Julienne Spiral Zucchini Noodle Maker & Cheese Grater for Veggie Spaghetti Pasta – Best Spiralizers Mandolin Slicers & Cutters

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Southwest Chicken Soup by Meseidy