In some parts of the country, it might be a little late for this post; but here in Ohio, we’re still trying to find ways to enjoy fresh garden tomatoes before the first frost hits. Hopefully that first frost will not present itself as 2 inches of snow in the middle of October (like it decided to last year). After the infamous 2013-2014 winter, I’d be fine waiting until Christmas Day for snow, and then having winter be over. For now, I’m still revealing in the fact that it’s beautiful, a perfect 70 degrees, with the garden is still going strong.
I felt like being a bit adventurous (per usual) and made ricotta cheese from scratch for this recipe. It was pretty each- basically just heat milk, add lemon juice and vinegar, and then strain over cheese cloth for about 10 minutes. It was fun to try, but it did take this from being an easy weeknight meal to kind of a production with multiple things to clean up. I made the dough for the crust a day in advance, so this was pretty simple when it came to putting together. It really highlights the tomatoes, and lets you hang onto that last bit of summer. Better get on it before it becomes a winter wonderland around here!
Fresh Tomato and Ricotta Tarte with Garlic Herb Crust
For the crust:
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1¼ cups all purpose flour
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 3 tbsp. ice cold water
For the filling:
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 2 tbsp. minced fresh basil, plus more for garnish
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3-4 tbsp. milk, if needed
- 2 large ripe heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced
- Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1) To make the crust, combine the garlic and basil in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely minced, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add in the flour and salt and pepper to taste, and pulse again to combine. (If you don’t have a food processor, just mince the garlic and basil as well as you can and then stir into the flour mixture. It will work just fine.) Add in the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal and the largest butter pieces are the size of peas. Add in the water and pulse just until the dough comes together. Remove from the bowl, form into a disc and cover with plastic wrap. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill 1-2 hours, until firm. This can also be done in 1-2 days in advance.
2) Transfer the chilled dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out into a flat round sheet about 12 inches in diameter, or large enough to fully line a 9-inch pie plate. Transfer to the pie plate, trimming away any excess at the edges and crimping the dough to create a fluted edge. Transfer the pie plate to the freezer and chill 15-20 minutes, until firm.
3) Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Line the chilled pie shell with aluminum foil, making sure all edges of the crust are fully covered. Fill the pie shell with baking beads if available to weigh the crust down (dry beans or rice also work). Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and baking beads, return the pie shell to the oven and continue to bake until the crust is golden and fully set, about 10-12 minutes more. Transfer the pie plate to a wire rack and let the crust cool completely.
4) In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, garlic, and herbs. Stir together until evenly combined. To give the ricotta a smoother texture (if needed), stir in 3-4 tablespoons of milk until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the ricotta into the pie shell in an even layer. Layer the tomato slices on top of the ricotta, drizzle lightly with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with additional minced basil. Slice with a sharp knife and serve immediately.
Source: Annie’s Eats
Last weekend, John and I came back to b-ville to spend time with my Mom and brother who just returned from Alaska. We didn’t have any big plans for the weekend, but we all usually try to get together for dinner with family. Luckily both my grandparents, my cousin Johnny and his girlfriend Val were able to make it over. Of course I think of this as a great excuse to make a fancy meal I wouldn’t normally make for just the 2 of us and to have 8 guinea pigs to try it. It happens to help that my brother returned from Alaska with over 12 pounds of halibut for me to put to use!
While it got kind of late in the evening to try to photograph the whole meal, this appetizer was one of the first things we enjoyed on Saturday (of course this came after my grandparent’s favorite – Manhattans). I have to admit I overdid it on the garlic in this recipe – you would’ve thought we were trying to keep vampires away. Sometimes more is not better, so I would recommend sticking to the 1-2 cloves of garlic indicated in the recipe. I think my favorite thing about this dish was the presentation. It looks like art but truthfully takes less than 10 minutes to put together. In order to save time (and because I mis-read the recipe :-)), I skipped the step in which you blanch the basil. It still turned out beautifully but if you want a truly stunning green color, blanching would be the way to go. I also left the basil leaves in the oil but for a smoother texture you can strain them out with a fine mesh sieve. Pulsing the basil in the food processor should’ve flavored the oil sufficiently that they are not necessary in the final dish.
Parmesean Encrusted Goat Cheese with Basil Oil
– Makes a 4 or 8 oz goat cheese ball depending on your preference
For the goat cheese:
1/2 oz. Parmesan cheese
¼ cup panko
Freshly ground pepper
4 -8 oz. semi-firm plain goat cheese
1 clove garlic
¼ tsp. coarse salt, plus more to taste
For the basil oil:
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. In the bowl of a food processor add the block of parmesan cheese and pulse until finely grated. Add the panko and pulse to combine. Season with pepper. Transfer mixture to a separate bowl and wipe out the bowl of the food processor.
2. With a fork, smash the garlic and salt together. Add garlic/salt to the goat cheese and sir to combine. Form the goat cheese into a ball and roll in the parmesean-panko mixture. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3. If blanching the basil: Bring a few cups of water to a boil. Add the basil leaves to the saucepan and boil for 30 seconds. Drain and rinse immediately with cold water. Blot the basil leaves with a towel to remove all of the excess water.
4. Add basil and garlic to the food processor and pulse. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the food processor running add oil until texture is liquidly (you may need slightly more than 1/4 cup).
5. To serve, pour the bail oil onto a plate and top with goat cheese ball. Serve with baguette slices.
Source: Annie’s Eats
Usually I’m one of those people who remembers the 4th of July on the 3rd of July, but this year was different. Since we have some organized and adventurous friends, we had a camping trip planned about month in advance of the holiday weekend. This was a good lesson for me in the fact that “anticipation is half the fun”, because it really was exciting having something to look forward to. I even bought some red and blue marshmallow roasting sticks as well as color coordinating paper plates to take with us. And of course, I was excited to plan some of the menu. When I saw this smoked gouda pasta salad, I immediately bookmarked it as a must try, and I thought camping would be the perfect opportunity.
I’m very familiar with the Caprese type pasta salad, and while the tomatoes, basil and mozzarella are tasty, I often feel that they are not strong enough flavors to create an interesting pasta salad. I’ve made that type of salad many times, and usually end up picking out everything but the pasta. That’s what I think is so great about this recipe – the pasta itself has some great flavor. It’s also really easy to make and requires pretty basic ingredients. While you might not regularly buy chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, they add a lot of great flavor for a small cost. The thing that used to annoy me about them is that most recipes only call for 1-2 peppers and I would inevitably let the leftovers sit in the fridge until they looked so gross that I didn’t feel guilty throwing them away- but I have found the solution. Well, actually I should say that Sara over at Our Best Bites has found the solution: freeze the peppers in individual cubes of how much you might need. See her post here to see what I’m talking about. But seriously, don’t skip the chipotles- the adobo has very little spice but adds a smokey flavor that complements the gouda nicely. Then you can make this pasta salad and eat it out of individual ziplocs like we did on our picnic (classy I know). Or don’t do that, and eat it like a normal person, out of a bowl – I’m pretty sure it will taste good either way.
By the way, we went to Mackinac Island. You should totally make the trip if you live anywhere near Michigan, or even if you don’t. I did not remember such cool places existing in Michigan – it’s kind of making me change my view of the Midwest (at least until winter comes :-)).
Smoked Gouda Pasta Salad
Serves 10-12 as a side
- 1 lb (16 oz) Mostaccioli pasta
- 1/2 cup light Mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup Milk (I used part skim, part cream)
- 5 Tablespoons White Vinegar
- 1 T. Adobo Sauce From Chipotle Peppers
- Salt and Ground Black Pepper To Taste
- 2 pints Grape Tomatoes, Halved Lengthwise
- 1/2 pound Smoked Gouda Cheese, Cut Into Small Cubes
- 30 whole Basil Leaves, sliced thin (chiffonade)
1. Cook pasta according to pasta directions. Drain and rinse in cold water to prevent pasta from sticking.
2. In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, salt, pepper, and adobo sauce.
3. Add the pasta, halved tomatoes, cubed gouda and basil to the sauce in the large bowl. Stir to incorporate, and add more salt and pepper to taste. Chill before serving (or keep on ice in your camping cooler).
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman