Sunday, May 29, 2016

LEMON RICOTTA CHEESECAKE

This delicious cheesecake is light because of the ricotta cheese and creamy because of the cream cheese. There is no need to bake it in a water bath and you can put all of the cake ingredients into a food processor, almost all at once. It comes out perfect every time. This is a wonderful dessert to serve after a Sunday dinner.


2 (15 oz/450 g) containers whole milk ricotta cheese, preferably organic
1 T (15 ml) unsalted butter, slightly softened             
1 T (15 ml) sugar
2 T (30 ml) unseasoned dry breadcrumbs or matzo meal
2 (8 oz/250 g) packages cream cheese, room temperature, cut into cubes
2 large eggs
1 cup (250 ml) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 ml) all-purpose flour 
3 T (45 ml) fresh lemon juice
Grated zest of one medium lemon
2 t (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt or kosher salt

Put ricotta in a large fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl and let drain for 30 minutes.
Every once in a while, gently press the ricotta with a large spoon to help release the 
liquid.

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C) degrees.

Butter an 8 to 9-inch (20 to 22.5 cm) spring form cake pan.

Mix the 1 tablespoon of sugar and breadcrumbs in a small bowl; sprinkle over
buttered pan bottom to coat. Tap out excess crumbs.

Spoon ricotta into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade and purée for a few 
seconds.
Add cream cheese and eggs and purée a few more seconds.
Add the remaining ingredients and purée, scraping down the sides occasionally, until
smooth. 

Scrape batter into the prepared pan.
Place on a baking sheet and bake cheesecake until golden brown and just set, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Transfer to a rack and let cool in pan.
Refrigerate uncovered until cool, about 4 hours.

Loosen cake by running a table knife around the edges.
Remove the cake pan sides and place on a serving plate.
You can also use a large thin spatula to remove the entire cake from the bottom of the cake pan and place on a serving plate.

Dust with powdered sugar and cut into wedges.

Serves 8


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

SPAGHETTI WITH TOMATOES, OLIVES, & CAPERS

This is a quick vegetarian pasta meal. I have been making this for years and we still love it and I haven't changed the recipe. Sometimes I just crave this simple dish. 


½ lb (250 g) spaghetti or pasta of choice
2 T (30 ml) extra-light olive oil
½ t (2 ml) red pepper flakes
½ onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 
½ pint (250 g) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
½ bottle Italian black olives, pits removed
½ bottle green olives, cut in half
½ bottle capers, drained
½ cup (125 ml) dry white wine
¼ cup (60 ml) chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 T (30 ml) chopped fresh basil
½ cup (125 ml) pasta cooking water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cook spaghetti for about 6 minutes, just before al dente.
Save ½ cup (125 ml) of the pasta water. Drain pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet that will hold the pasta sauce and pasta, sauté red pepper flakes and onion in oil for 5 to 6 minutes. 
Add garlic and sauté a couple more minutes.
Add tomatoes along with olives, capers, and wine and cook 2 more minutes. 
Add pasta and cook another minute.
Add parsley, basil and pasta cooking water and heat through.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Drizzle on a little extra-virgin olive oil and mix in.

Top with grated Parmigiano cheese and serve.

Serves 2





Tuesday, May 24, 2016

CROSTINI WITH WILD MUSHROOMS, SUN-DRIED TOMATOES, & GORGONZOLA

You can cook the mushroom mixture the morning or day before and refrigerate.
When you are ready to serve, heat it up in a skillet and make sure your gorgonzola cheese is room temperature. I love the addition of sun-dried tomatoes for that little bit of sweetness along with the woodsy flavor of the mushrooms, and the robust cheese.



12 thin slices Italian or French bread
2 T (30 ml) extra-light olive oil
2 cups (500 ml) diced wild mushrooms (shitake, oyster, and I also used cremini)
1 shallot, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ t (1 ml) red pepper flakes
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, diced
2 T (30 ml) chopped Italian parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

⅓ cup (75 ml) gorgonzola cheese, room temperature
8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C) degrees.

Place slices of bread on a baking sheet and bake in oven for about 3 minutes, until golden brown. 
Flip over and bake another 2 or 3 minutes. Don't let them burn, because they are thin.
Remove and set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat oil and add the mushrooms and cook until golden brown, stirring frequently. This can take up to 15 minutes.
Add the shallot and cook another 3 minutes.
Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and sun dried tomatoes. 
Continue to cook another minute or two.
Add the parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add lemon juice and stir to combine.

Spread about a teaspoons or a little more of the gorgonzola cheese on each crostini.
Top with about 2 teaspoons of the mushroom mixture.
Garnish with a little basil and serve warm.

Makes 12