Tag Archives: ricotta cheese

Ricotta & Onion-Port Jam Flatbread

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When is pizza not pizza? When it is flatbread of course. Flat bread is one of my favorite go to foods. It can be served as part of a light dinner, as an appetizer or even a mid afternoon snack. All it takes is some flatbread—pre made or my preference of fresh homemade pizza dough– and the toppings of your choice. You can make them sweet, savory or a combination of the two. Top them with meat, cheese, fruits or vegetables. Really, anything can be a topping for flatbread so you can make individual ones to please your entire family or bake up a variety for a smorgasbord.

This flatbread is one of my favorites and is inspired by the Savory Simple food blog. I’ve used my own pizza dough and topped it with fresh ricotta cheese, crumbled bacon and homemade port infused onion jam. The jam is sweet, savory and decadent and the key to its success is cooking the onions slowly so they caramelize. You can make the jam earlier in the day if you prefer then top the flatbread with it when you are ready to cook. So go ahead and try this recipe then let your imagination decide which direction you go next. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

RICOTTA & ONION-PORT JAM FLATBREAD 

For the flatbread:

1 recipe of your favorite pizza dough

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup onion-port jam

1 cup crumbled bacon

1/4 cup green onions, minced

For the Onion-Port Jam:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large yellow onions, peeled, quartered and sliced thin

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup water (more if needed)

1/2  cup port wine

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • Melt the butter on low heat in a large skillet.
  • Add the onions, sugar and salt.
  • Sweat the onions, stirring, until they begin to caramelize.
  • Turn up the heat to medium-low. Once the onions have begun to brown, pour approximately 2-3 tablespoons of water into the pan to deglaze, using a spatula to scrape up the brown bits and stir them into the onions.
  • Repeat this glazing and deglazing process until the onions have been thoroughly caramelized and taste both sweet and bitter, approximately 25-35 minutes.
  • Add the port wine and balsamic vinegar to the onions and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring periodically, until all of the liquid has reduced and is coating the onions.
  • Taste and add a bit more salt if desired.

When you are ready to build your flatbreads:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. If your oven has a pizza setting, use that.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper then set aside.
  • Divide the pizza dough into four even portions and working one at a time on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a long oval.
  • Place each piece of dough on the prepared baking sheet taking care to make sure the edges are not touching.
  • Place 1/4 cup of the ricotta cheese on the top of each piece of dough and use a rubber spatula to evenly distribute it across the entire surface.
  • Divide the onion-port jam amongst the flatbreads, spreading it to cover as much of the surface area as possible.
  • Add the bacon and the green onions to each flatbread, evenly distributing them across the top of each one.
  • Bake flat breads for 15-17 minutes or until the crusts are browned and crisp and the toppings are beginning to bubble.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Yields: 4 flatbreads

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Ricotta & Spinach Dumplings

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Spaghetti and meatballs is a classic comfort dish but what about switching out the meatballs for ricotta and spinach dumplings instead? That is exactly what I did when I came across this recipe from Cooking Light and all I can say is oh my goodness are they tasty. They are so good I’m not sure that I will go back to old fashioned meatballs again.

Because the ricotta cheese is featured so prominently in this recipe be sure to use one you really like. Sometimes I make my own (it really is easy) but when I don’t have the time I buy fresh ricotta cheese at my local market. The same goes for the parmesan cheese. I like to grate my own as I need it since it tastes so much better this way. Combined with the spinach, these dumplings remind me of a spinach lasagne repackaged in a new form. They are simply delicious.

RICOTTA & SPINACH DUMPLINGS

1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed
1/3 cup plus 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3  ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce

 

  • Cook the spinach in the microwave according to package directions then allow it to cool slightly. Place spinach in a clean kitchen towel. Squeeze until very dry. You want to remove as much moisture as possible.
  • Combine the flour, spinach, ricotta cheese, salt, black pepper, nutmeg, parmesan cheese, egg yokes and egg in a medium bowl. Stir gently just until combined.
  • Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of the remaining flour on a baking sheet.
  • Drop the ricotta mixture by tablespoonfuls onto floured pan to make about 36 dumplings.
  • Sprinkle the dumplings with remaining 1 tablespoon flour, and very gently shape each into a ball; gently roll on pan to lightly coat with flour.
  • Place the marinara sauce in a large skillet over medium heat; cover and keep warm.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add 9 dumplings to water; cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the dumplings float to the surface of the water. Do not allow the water to boil.
  •  Remove dumplings from pan with a slotted spoon, and place in marinara; keep warm.
  • Repeat procedure 3 times with remaining dumplings.
  • Serve on top of your favorite pasta.

Serves 8

Pappardelle w/ Sausages, Fennel & Ricotta Cheese

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

I love this pasta dish from Williams Sonoma. Their version has you making homemade pasta which while not difficult, is too time consuming for a Fast Friday dish. I used fresh pasta from my local grocery store which when combined with ricotta cheese, fennel sausage and fresh sauteed fennel, produces a wonderfully satisfying dinner in a matter of minutes. I did, however, use my own fresh ricotta cheese (which I already had on hand). Not only is making your own ricotta easy, but when I use the wonderful fresh raw milk that I can buy from local Belgian farms, it simply tastes so good.

PAPPARDELLE w/ SAUSAGES, FENNEL & RICOTTA CHEESE

10 ounces fresh pappardelle or other long pasta

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound loose fennel sausage

2 fennel bulbs, cored and julienned

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup diced shallots

1/4 cup chopped garlic

2 teaspoons fresh minced thyme

1 cup fresh ricotta cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Drain the pasta and set aside.

Warm the olive oil in a large saute pan set over medium high heat.

When the oil shimmers, add the sausage and fennel to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to break the sausage into small pieces.

Saute, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the wine, shallots, garlic and thyme and cook until the the wine is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.

Add the chicken broth to the pan and continue to cook until the sauce is further reduced by three-quarters, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the cooked pappardelle to the pan along with the reserved cooking liquid. Toss well to coat.

Transfer the pasta to warmed serving dishes, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and top with dollops of the ricotta cheese. Diners can stir the warmed ricotta into their pasta making their own creamy sauce.

Serves 4

Turkey & Roasted Red Pepper Calzones

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Turkey leftovers…….after a big Thanksgiving dinner, they seem to haunt you for days on end.  In the immediate aftermath of the turkey coma sandwiches filled with turkey, stuffing, and gravy are on the menu.  Next you might simply reheat the original meal but after that what do you do with your mounds of turkey?  In reality, the possibilities are endless.

Right about now, after four full turkey dinners plus an assortment of leftovers, I’m just plain tired of turkey.  But I still have a lot of turkey in the refrigerator that needs to be eaten.  Last night’s solution was to use the turkey in a way that is decidedly un-Thanksgiving like. There wasn’t any mashed potatoes, bread stuffing, or Brussels spouts on the dinner table. Instead, I put a Mediterranean twist on the turkey and made calzones stuffed with red peppers, lots of gooey cheese, and yes, turkey.  The calzone crust is a Williams Sonoma flat bread recipe but the filling is all pantry and refrigerator leftovers.  I served it with a marinara dipping sauce but I think the calzones would be especially good accompanied by a roasted red pepper and eggplant avjar.

TURKEY & ROASTED RED PEPPER CALZONES

For the pastry:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 tablespoon salt

3/4 cup warm water

1 tablespoon olive oil

  • In a food processor, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt and pulse to blend.  Add the warm water and the olive oil and pulse until the dough comes together.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 to 2 minutes to form a smooth ball.
  • Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk and is very spongy, about 1 1/2 hours.
  • After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, punch it down, and knead it into a smooth cylinder.  Reshape the dough into a smooth ball and allow it to sit, covered with a dry kitchen towel, for 10 minutes.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough ball into a cylinder that is 10 inches long.  Cut into 10 even pieces and roll each piece into a smooth ball.  Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.

For the filling:

1 cup diced cooked turkey

1/3 cup ricotta cheese

2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup minced green onion

3/4 cup diced roasted red peppers

1 teaspoon fresh minced thyme

Salt & pepper to taste

1 egg, slightly beaten

  • Combine the turkey, cheese, green onion, red peppers and thyme in a small bowl and toss well to combine.  Season with salt and pepper
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough ball into a round that is 5 to 6 inches in diameter and 1/8 of an inch thick.
  • Divide the calzone filling evenly on the center of each round and brush the edges of the dough with water.
  • Life the edges, stretching and adjusting the dough and compacting the filling, so the edges meet in the center.  Firmly crimps the edges and transfer each calzone, seam side down, to the prepared baking sheet.
  • Cut a small steam vent into the top of each calzone.
  • Place the egg in a small bowl and add 2 teaspoons of water.  Brush the egg wash over the top of each calzone.
  • Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then serve.

Yields: 10 calzones

Tomato & Ricotta Tart

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Tomatoes are plentiful now and while it is tempting to eat them as is out of the garden sometimes you want a little more. And at the end of a hot day who wants to spend a lot of time in the kitchen fussing over dinner? (or any meal for that matter). So why not try this easy tomato and ricotta tart? With only a few ingredients, this tart is easy and as a added bonus, you can pre-bake the shell earlier in the day then put the dish together right before serving.

Choose the best tomatoes you can find, either a single type or go for a variety, since they really are the highlight of this dish. I’ve become a huge fan of making my own ricotta cheese but you can also use whichever brand you prefer. And for the crust? Either make your own or use a pre-made one. I like to make it even easier and make a free form crust rather than fussing with a tart plate. However you make it, this is a delicious and easy dish. Enjoy!

TOMATO & RICOTTA TART

1 single pie crust

1 cup fresh ricotta cheese, either purchased or homemade

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced

1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound heirloom tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick

For the crust:

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick and transfer to an un-greased baking sheet.
  • Using your fingers crimp the edges of the crust to form an outer ridge. You don’t have be to exact but try to keep the crust in a circle formation. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork.
  • Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until it is light brown on all sides. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

For the filling:

  • In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, basil and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Using a small spatula spread the cheese mixture over the top of the prepared tart shell.
  • Arrange the tomatoes over the top of the cheese.
  • Return the tart to the oven and bake for 3-5 minutes until the tomatoes and cheese are warm.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves 8

Ricotta & Onion-Port Jam Flatbread

IMG_5997

When is pizza not pizza? When it is flatbread of course. Flat bread is one of my favorite go to foods. It can be served as part of a light dinner, as an appetizer or even a mid afternoon snack. All it takes is some flatbread—pre made or my preference of fresh homemade pizza dough– and the toppings of your choice. You can make them sweet, savory or a combination of the two. Top them with meat, cheese, fruits or vegetables. Really, anything can be a topping for flatbread so you can make individual ones to please your entire family or bake up a variety for a smorgasbord.

This flatbread is one of my favorites and is inspired by the Savory Simple food blog. I’ve used my own pizza dough and topped it with fresh ricotta cheese, crumbled bacon and homemade port infused onion jam. The jam is sweet, savory and decadent and the key to its success is cooking the onions slowly so they caramelize. You can make the jam earlier in the day if you prefer then top the flatbread with it when you are ready to cook. So go ahead and try this recipe then let your imagination decide which direction you go next. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

RICOTTA & ONION-PORT JAM FLATBREAD 

For the flatbread:

1 recipe of your favorite pizza dough

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup onion-port jam

1 cup crumbled bacon

1/4 cup green onions, minced

For the Onion-Port Jam:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large yellow onions, peeled, quartered and sliced thin

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup water (more if needed)

1/2  cup port wine

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • Melt the butter on low heat in a large skillet.
  • Add the onions, sugar and salt.
  • Sweat the onions, stirring, until they begin to caramelize.
  • Turn up the heat to medium-low. Once the onions have begun to brown, pour approximately 2-3 tablespoons of water into the pan to deglaze, using a spatula to scrape up the brown bits and stir them into the onions.
  • Repeat this glazing and deglazing process until the onions have been thoroughly caramelized and taste both sweet and bitter, approximately 25-35 minutes.
  • Add the port wine and balsamic vinegar to the onions and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring periodically, until all of the liquid has reduced and is coating the onions.
  • Taste and add a bit more salt if desired.

When you are ready to build your flatbreads:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. If your oven has a pizza setting, use that.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper then set aside.
  • Divide the pizza dough into four even portions and working one at a time on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a long oval.
  • Place each piece of dough on the prepared baking sheet taking care to make sure the edges are not touching.
  • Place 1/4 cup of the ricotta cheese on the top of each piece of dough and use a rubber spatula to evenly distribute it across the entire surface.
  • Divide the onion-port jam amongst the flatbreads, spreading it to cover as much of the surface area as possible.
  • Add the bacon and the green onions to each flatbread, evenly distributing them across the top of each one.
  • Bake flat breads for 15-17 minutes or until the crusts are browned and crisp and the toppings are beginning to bubble.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Yields: 4 flatbreads

 

 

Cannoli French Toast

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French toast is a breakfast and brunch favorite in my house. There is something about the simple ingredients of bread, eggs and milk that turn what should be a basic meal into something special. But why stop there? These pantry staples are just the jumping off point for endless possibilities of morning culinary fun.

Case in point is this stuffed French toast, adapted from the Noble Pig website that brings a touch of dessert to your morning meal without being overly sweet. The recipe is inspired by classic Italian cream filled dessert of cannoli. I’ve used my own cannoli filling recipe, infused with lemon zest and a touch of Grand Marnier. And to complete the dish, and give you a serving of fruit, I’ve topped the French toast with some of the juicy fresh strawberries that are just beginning to appear in my local markets.

CANNOLI FRENCH TOAST

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar plus more for dusting

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Pinch nutmeg

3 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon Grand Marnier, other orange liqueur or vanilla extract

12 slices sandwich bread, crusts removed

1 cup sliced strawberries

  • Sift confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl, then stir in ricotta cheese, lemon zest and nutmeg.
  • In a shallow dish (a cake pan works well), beat the eggs, milk and Grand Marnier.
  • Trim the crusts off 12 slices of sandwich bread and using a rolling pin, roll out the bread to flatten.
  • Place 6 slices of bread on a flat surface then add 1 tablespoon of the ricotta cheese mixture to the center of each slice. Top with the remaining 6 slices of bread.
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat.
  • Working in batches, dip the stuffed bread slices in the egg mixture and transfer to the skillet.
  • Cook, turning once, until puffed and golden, about 3 minutes.
  • Dust with more confectioners’ sugar and top with the sliced strawberries before serving.

Serves 6

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