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What Ya' Got Cookin'?: John Shields on How Our Food Choices Affect The Vitality of the Chesapeake

Photo Courtesy John Shields

It's time now for What Ya' Got Cookin', where we talk about recipes, food trends, traditions and good eats. 

Today, Toms speaks with chefJohn Shields. He is an author and owner of Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art. He’s also the host of Coastal Cooking and Chesapeake Bay Cooking on MD Public Television and PBS, and he’s got a new book: 

The New Chesapeake Kitchen.

 A Baltimore native, John Shields' latest epicurean manuscript, pays reverence to the culinary traditions of the past, and shares how those traditions have influenced a new generation, of watermen, farmers, artisans and environmentalist. 

 Watercress and Fresh Ricotta Salad with Apples, Walnuts, and Cider Vinaigrette

 Serves 4

  • 2 small tart apples, cored, peeled, and cut into slices
  • 2 cups fresh ricotta (recipe below)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 bunches watercress
  • 2 tablespoons toasted walnuts
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare the vinaigrette (recipe follows). Dip the apple slices into the vinaigrette and set aside. Place the ricotta into a bowl and add the thyme, parsley, and garlic. Mix well.
Divide the ricotta between 4 plates. Remove the bottom stems of the watercress and discard. Toss the remaining watercress with vinaigrette and arrange around the herbed ricotta. Arrange apple slices on the plates. Garnish with toasted walnuts and freshly ground black pepper.

Honey & Apple Cider Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons local honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt, to taste

Place the cider in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the cider until about 3 or 4 tablespoons remain. Set aside and cool before using.
In a mixing bowl, combine the reduced cider, vinegar, honey, and mustard and whisk together well. Add the olive oil gradually, whisking all the while to make an emulsified dressing. Salt to taste.\

Nice Farms Creamery Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Makes about 4 cups

  • 1 gallon Nice Farms Creamery creamline milk (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice or vinegar, or combo of juice and vinegar

Pour milk into a non-reactive pot (glass, enamel, ceramic, or stainless—no aluminum!). Add the salt and stir until dissolved. Heat milk, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, to 190°F.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the lemon juice or vinegar. Turn off the heat.

Cover and allow to sit for 15 to 30 minutes. The greenish whey will separate from the curds. Strain through cheesecloth. The longer you allow the cheese to strain, the drier the cheese will be. Place into storage containers, cover, and refrigerate. Can be kept chilled for up to 3 to 5 days.

Note: “Creamline” designates milk that has not been homogenized. It has a higher fat content. For most people making this recipe at home, whole pasteurized milk will work beautifully. Do not use lowfat or nonfat milk to make the cheese.


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