Tag Archives: ricotta

Mama D’s Fall Kitchen Adventures

There  is more than just a hint of fall in the air. Cool days and cooler breezes make it abundantly clear that the season has changed here. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m ready for Fall, at least I think I am. I enjoy the cooler days and the leaves changing colors. No longer having to rake them makes the whole process even more enjoyable. While I’m not anxious for Winter, I am ready for this change and the change in my cooking focus that it brings.

I want to share a few quick picks of what’s been happening in Mama D’s Kitchen. Many of these are Non-Recipe Recipes; that is they really are just musings on what’s in season and more importantly what’s in the house. So come join me as we a take a culinary walk back over the last couple of weeks.

I bought some Nan bread (the garlic variety) to go with a curry dish. The curry wound up being paired with some Brown Basmati Rice and the Nan was left to fend for itself. In case you’ve never thought of it, Nan makes a great quick pizza crust. It’s the perfect shape and size for personal pizza and works in the oven or on the grill.

I opted for a version of White Pizza using some of my Homemade Ricotta (thanks, Ina Garten) and Pesto. I mixed the two together to create the “sauce” I drizzled the Nan with some olive oil and toasted it in the oven briefly before adding said sauce. The toppings were Italian Sausage and Mini Heirloom Tomatoes both of which were on hand and waiting for their moment to shine. The cheese was a marinated mozzarella that was purchased on speculation, but perfectly suited to the pizza.2015-09-29 19.07.46 Once baked it was topped with some basil, olive oil, and served with baby greens dressed lightly with lemon juice and olive oil. Now, that was a delightful and very easy supper.2015-09-29 19.17.31

I found some lovely beets at the store and since they are one of Papa D’s favorites I had to bring some home. My preferred method of cooking is to roast them. This also is the most stain proof way, in my opinion. Wash them off and remove the greens leaving a little of the stem. Lay them on a couple of sheets of heavy foil, drizzle with a little olive oil and wrap them up tightly. Let them roast at 375 – 400 degrees until they are easily pierced with a knife and the kitchen has the earthy aroma of beets. This can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes depending on the beets.2015-09-27 19.45.11 Let them cool long enough to make them handle-able. I love beets, but beet red is not my color, so I opt to wear gloves to rub the skins off. If you enjoy red fingers go ahead and use bare hands and paper towels. Once peeled, I cut them into chunky chunks and dressed them lightly with a Balsamic Vinaigrette that was laced with some orange peel. Any dressing that you love would work here. I set them on top of some baby greens (left from guess what?) and garnished them with some goat cheese. Wonderful!2015-09-28 19.34.01

Finally I have to share another “Pork Love” dish, Stuffed Pork Chops. I have recently re-fallen in love with pork chops, particularly the thick cut, bone in, center variety. They are eating perfection. The thin ribbon of fat on the edge and the succulent bone along the side create a depth of flavor that is divine. They are wonderful simply prepared on the grill or in the oven, but I knew they were just begging to be stuffed.

This stuffing was inspired by what I had on hand and included some frozen chopped spinach, red bell peppers, and whole grain bread. Honestly anything could go into the stuffing. Leave out the bread and go all veggie, or use rice, quinoa or any other grain you have within easy reach. I started my stuffing with onion and garlic that I sautéed in a little olive oil (Is there any other way to begin?). The spinach and bell pepper jumped in and got very friendly with them. I put the bread in the toaster and then crumbled it into the veggies. I added a little chicken stock to moisten everything and packed it generously, albeit lightly, into the pockets that I had cut. I added a little wine to the pan and salt and pepper to the chops. For a crowning flavor boost I topped them with some sliced onions.2015-09-28 18.42.53

I let them bake covered for 20 minutes or so then I lifted their foil blanket and let them roast another few minutes to get lightly golden. I opted for 350 degrees because that seemed right. Baking time depends on the thickness of the chops and what’s inside…use your best guess, but do not overcook them.2015-09-28 19.38.31

The chops were scrumptious; moist and tender and positively dripping with flavor. I’ve started a mental list of what to add the next time; herbs, sausage, cheese, the ideas are endless.

So there you have it, three quick and easy kitchen adventures. Now it’s your turn to take my ideas and run with them.

 

Rock, Roll (Up) and W(rap)

Call it a wrap, call it a pin wheel, heck, you could even call it a burrito or Stromboli. When a filling is wrapped in a bread product of one kind or another, and eaten out of hand it is, pinwheel_sandwichbesides being convenient, a delicious and versatile food. I remember when wraps first came on the scene. As I recall, it was sometime in the 80’s and pin wheel slices of ham and turkey sandwiches graced appetizer platters everywhere. The fillings were simple at first, but then cooks got more adventurous and even the wraps themselves went gourmet, adding vegetables and herbs to the basic recipe.

9-spinach-pita-wrapThe wrap is now a standard item on many casual lunch menus and every grocery store carries a variety of wraps. In my heart I know many of these are just fancy tortillas, but they do add flare to sandwich fixings. Recently they have had to share space with a new kid on the shelf, Flatbread.

The Flatbread, as a wrap vessel was probably founded in the fact that a rectangular shape wrapped better than a round one. It’s main claim to fame however, is that it’s great just laying there begging to be topped with whatever the imagination can think of. This is my current darling for sandwiches and pizza. DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve found a brand called “Flat Out” that comes in lots of flavors and even low carb/high fiber varieties. As I continue my healthier adventures, this seems like a marriage made in heaven. They are thin, pliable and quite tasty. I found them at Meijer with the breads at the deli counter. The company is located in Michigan and Flat Outs seem to be available at various stores across the country. 

The recipes that follow are my musings…a basic plan if you will, that you are invited to elaborate on and make your own. Cream cheese or another creamy spread helps cold fillings stay together. Once formed, wrapping the wrap in plastic and refrigerating it for a while also helps. For hot fillings a bit of cheese can melt and act as glue to hold things together. Don’t be tempted to overfill, it will come out (in) the end.

I love Breakfast burritos. Sadly, my favorite haunt for this meal just closed, but with Flat Outs I can do it myself and so can you.  Just scramble some eggs with the meats, veggies and cheeses of your choice, wrap it up and eat it up.

DIGITAL CAMERA

Breakfast Wrap Sandwich
Print Recipe
This is how I made mine...use the vegetables you love or have on hand. Add meat or not, but add some cheese, it tastes good and helps glue things together.
Servings
1
Servings
1
Breakfast Wrap Sandwich
Print Recipe
This is how I made mine...use the vegetables you love or have on hand. Add meat or not, but add some cheese, it tastes good and helps glue things together.
Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium fry pan. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften. Add the peppers and cook for 2-3 minutes until the peppers begin to soften.
  2. Add the spinach and garlic to the pan and cook stirring frequently until the spinach is wilted and the garlic is fragrant.
  3. Scramble the eggs and add to the pan. Cook and stir over medium low, adding half of the cheese. Heat until the eggs are set to your liking.
  4. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the flat bread and top with the eggs. Roll up carefully and let sit for 1 minute. Cut in half and enjoy.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

DIGITAL CAMERA

Leave out the eggs and ramp up the vegetables and it’s time for lunch. This wrap gives a nod to the pin wheels of the old days by using light cream cheese of the chives and green onion variety for the base and glue. Any vegetables would work. I opted for colored peppers, zucchini, and onion sautéed with a little olive oil and garlic.DIGITAL CAMERA

Veggie Wrap Sandwich
Print Recipe
This is how i made mine. You can choose the veggies you love and use any flavor of cream cheese spread.
Servings
1
Servings
1
Veggie Wrap Sandwich
Print Recipe
This is how i made mine. You can choose the veggies you love and use any flavor of cream cheese spread.
Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium fry pan. Add the onions and the peppers. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until they begin to soften. 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the zucchini ribbons and garlic to the pan and cook for 3 minutes more.
  3. Spread the cream cheese on the flat bread within a 1/4 inch of the edges. Top with the cooked vegetables and roll up.
  4. This is good warm or at room temperature.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe
DIGITAL CAMERA

Let’s not forget about the Flatbread Pizza. These Flat Outs make a terrific pizza crust. They are a perfect size to feed one lavishly, but can be cut into smaller pieces for an appetizer. This pizza used herbed ricotta, fresh mozzarella, and mini gourmet tomatoes. Topped with some Italian Herbs and a splash of olive oil it was indulgent without breaking the carb bank.DIGITAL CAMERA

Flatbread Pizza
Print Recipe
This is my favorite combination for a meal for one. Choose the toppings you like, make more and share them with friends as an appetizer.
Servings
1
Servings
1
Flatbread Pizza
Print Recipe
This is my favorite combination for a meal for one. Choose the toppings you like, make more and share them with friends as an appetizer.
Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray. Lay the flatbread on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 2-3 minutes. remove from oven.
  2. Spread the ricotta on the flatbread leaving a 1/4 inch edge. Lay the mozzarella on top of the ricotta.
  3. Lay the tomatoes on top of the cheeses. Drizzle with olive oil and top with the herb blend.
  4. Return the pan to the oven and bake 5 - 8 minutes or until the cheeses are melted and bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes before cutting.
  5. Cut in strips and enjoy. Make more than one, cut it in smaller pieces, and serve as an appetizer.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

DIGITAL CAMERAThese handy bread canvases are now a staple in my refrigerator. As warm weather approaches, I can see them making appearances on the grill both flat and wrapped. I can see them with sweet fillings laced with fruit and so many other ways. Flatbread is here to stay in general and in Mama D’s Kitchen in particular. I for one, couldn’t be happier.

 

Homemade Ricotta

Ricotta, that creamy cheese in lasagna and ravioli is a staple in many kitchens Italian or otherwise. You can buy it in any grocery store, but it is so easy to make that it seems silly to do so. The biggest reason to make homemade ricotta is that it just tastes better.

Ricotta may be the easiest cheese to make. It takes 3 or 4 easily available ingredients. A large DIGITAL CAMERAnon-reactive pan. cheese cloth, and a strainer are the only tools you need. Time wise you’ll DIGITAL CAMERAhave cheese in a little over half an hour. Small investment for such a delicious indulgence.

I used to buy ricotta. It worked well in recipes and it tasted pretty good. Then one day I tasted homemade. The difference was night and day. Homemade was light and creamy. The taste was sweet with tart cheesy undertones. It made the pre-packaged grocery store ricotta taste heavy and bland.

Once I tasted the difference I set out to find a recipe for ricotta. For the simple ingredients needed there were lots of variations. Some used just milk, others used lots of milk and a little cream, I tried them all and the one I like the best comes from Ina Garten, the Barefoot ContessaThis recipe uses milk and cream in a 2:1 ratio. The resulting cheese is creamy and sweet with a light almost fluffy texture.

The original recipe uses White Wine Vinegar, I’ve substituted Lemon Juice and the taste is light and refreshing perfect for cheesecake and other sweet recipes. Champagne Vinegar imparts elegant yet fruity flavors perfect for spreads and as a garnish for pastas and soups. The current batch that I used in these recipes was made with Sherry Vinegar. This imparted a toasty oak flavor that was quite unique. It tasted like fall .DIGITAL CAMERA

 

The following recipe lets the ricotta shine and makes a versatile appetizer.

Homemade Ricotta with Fresh Herbs
Print Recipe
This creamy spread is wonderful on crostini and works well in savory recipes like Canneloni. This basic recipe has endless variations. Make it your own...
Prep Time
30 minutes
Prep Time
30 minutes
Homemade Ricotta with Fresh Herbs
Print Recipe
This creamy spread is wonderful on crostini and works well in savory recipes like Canneloni. This basic recipe has endless variations. Make it your own...
Prep Time
30 minutes
Prep Time
30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: Approximately 2 Cups
Instructions
  1. Place ricotta in medium size bowl and add the ingredients of your choice. Stir gently to blend everything together.
  2. Store in a covered container in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. The longer it gets happy, the better it tastes.
  3. Serve with Bruchetta as part of a Crostini Bar Use in your favorite filled pasta recipe. Just eat it with a spoon. Any leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

While I love this ricotta as it is, I wanted to use it in a recipe but one that would showcase the lovely ricotta not hide it under a rich tomato blanket or smother it in a silky layer of cheese. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

And so I embarked on cannelloni. Currently being a stay at home cook, I opted to make the pasta from scratch. Being super old school, I made the flour nest and kneaded the dough by hand. (My favorite pasta recipe is Ann Burell’s.) Then using my trusty Atlas Pasta Machine, I made the pasta strips.DIGITAL CAMERA

The filling begins with Pancetta, Onion and Garlic sautéed in Olive Oil. Baby Spinach joins the party in the pan. The party then moves to a mixing bowl where it gets friendly with Ricotta, Eggs, and Parmigiano – Reggiano.

The cannelloni is assembled and is covered with a Besciamella. Just a light sprinkling of Parmigiano and a bake in the oven, a quick stint in the broiler and it’s ready to eat.

You can use your favorite pasta recipe. You will only be using about half of the dough, so either cut your recipe in half or save the rest for something else. The recipe that follows is for the filing. This would be good in any filled pasta recipe.

A Lovely Filling for Canneloni
Print Recipe
This filling features homemade ricotta. It can be used for any filled pasta, but it's delicious in canneloni.
Servings Prep Time
8 Canneloni 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 Canneloni 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
A Lovely Filling for Canneloni
Print Recipe
This filling features homemade ricotta. It can be used for any filled pasta, but it's delicious in canneloni.
Servings Prep Time
8 Canneloni 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 Canneloni 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: Canneloni
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in large pan. Add Pancetta and saute until it is slightly brown. Add the onions and garlic and continue to cook stirring occasionally until the onion begins to turn translucent and the garlic is fragrent.
  2. Add Spinach to pan and toss and cook until the spinach is just wilted. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  3. Mix Egg, Ricotta, and Parmigiano in a medium bowl. Add the cooled Spinach mixture and stir to combine. Set aside
  4. Use this filling to stuff your favorite" stuffable" pasta. Canneloni, Manicotti, Ravioli or Lasagna all would love to have this filling between their sheets.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe