Posts tagged ‘ricotta’

November 23, 2010

Pumpkin Tiramisu

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January 1, 2009

Kiwi Lime Cheesecake

This was my final fling of summer.  I caught a great deal on kiwi fruit at the grocer and kind of needed a means of getting rid of them all.  So I present to you a kiwi lime cheesecake.  It turned out a bit bland in colour, so you might want to add a drop of green food colouring to yours to liven it up, but I thought about that a bit late in the game.  This turned out with the citrus tang of a key lime pie but the kiwi mellowed it out slightly.

One of the biggest problems with baked cheesecakes is the cracking.  There are a few tricks to prevent this.  Firstly, the most critical part is beating.  You want to smooth out the creams very well before adding the eggs.  Use the back of a spatula after beating with a mixer, pulling the cream from the centre and then pressing against the sides of the bowl.  When you add the eggs, they should be your final step and blend them in by hand.  If you beat them with the mixer you run the risk of bringing too much air in and then you get air pockets.  Also, make certain you really prepare your springform pan with plenty of grease or butter or spray.  If the sides of the cake while cooking are able to pull away from the pan, that will reduce the risk of it cracking in the centre.  Lastly, I use two different sized springform pans.  The larger one I fill with water once my batter is in the smaller pan.  The water helps keep the oven humid and makes the cake cook evenly.

Ingredientskiwicheesecake 19

2 cups (16 ounces) cream cheese, softened (not the whipped kind, it is too airy)

2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese

1 cup sour cream

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup flour, unsifted

5 eggs, room temperature

4 kiwis

1 lime

1 Tablespoon vanilla

 

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sour cream and ricotta until well blended.
  • Add flour and sugar and beat at a medium speed until mixed thoroughly.
  • Cut kiwis in half and set one halve aside.
  • Juice remaining halves, allowing for pulp, but no skin.*
  • Halve the lime and juice one half.  Set aside the remaining halve.
  • Add vanilla and lime to kiwi puree and fold into cream mixture using a spatula.
  • Break eggs into a separate bowl and beat with a fork only enough to blend yolks.
  • Fold eggs into cream batter.
  • Heavily butter the walls of a springform pan or round cake dish.
  • Pour in batter.
  • Set springform pan or cake dish into a larger dish.  Fill larger dish halfway with water.
  • Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.  The centre will be slightly jiggly, but remaining cake will be firm when ready.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool at room temperature for at least one hour before chilling.
  • Slice remaining lime and kiwi for decoration.
  • Serve chilled.

 

*I used the juicer for the kiwi puree as it worked better than trying to skin them and then puree the meat of the fruit.

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January 1, 2009

Cannoli Filling

CANNOLI SHELL RECIPE

I am posting this recipe in two parts for a few reasons, primary because with the shells recipe and the filling, this becomes a grossu entry.  Also, if you are using store purchased cannoli shells, you won’t need to weed through the shell recipe to make filling.

The filling for cannoli has a very simple base recipe that allows you to get very creative.  After you create the base, you can fold in diced dried candied fruit – such as you would use for fruit cakes, chocolate chips, shaved candy bars – I prefer Andes mint shavings, minced nuts – like pistachio, spices – like cinnamon or nutmeg, liquor – such as Kahlua or brandy or rum, citrus zest – oranges work well, marachino cherries, or you can leave it plain.  Keep in mind that a cannolo is about five inches long and so your filling is four inches long by one inch diameter – in other words, a little goes a long way.

When filling cannoli, only do it right before serving, as the filling can make the shell soggy.  It is also best if you chill the filling in your pastry bag (or as you will see me use, a zip loc baggie) for about 20 minutes in the freezer before filling, so that it is very firm.

Ricotta should be whole milk, not even reduced fat.  The skim or low fat ricotta tends to have more run off which will cause the filling to be more runny – not a good thing at all.

You can dress up your serving plate with a powdered sugar dusted paper doily, drizzled melted chocolate, or powdered sugar.  I serve mine with a fork, but that is more for just scooping up any filling that falls out.  Cannoli was meant to be picked up and eaten as it is a carnival treat in Sicily.

IngredientsCIMG2860

1     15 oz. container of whole milk ricotta

3/4 cup powdered sugar

  • In a large mixing bowl, blend both ingredients throughly on low speed with an electric mixer.
  • Do not over beat, only beat until mixed.
  • Using a spatula, fold in any selected add ins.
  • Pack filling into an air tight container or pastry bag.
  • Chill before using to fill cannoli tubes.

If using add ins, I have listed below the measuring amount that you want to use.  Remember for all solid add ins, to reduce the amount of each if you are adding in more than one:

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon*
  • 1 teaspoon liquor
  • 1 tablespoon dried candied fruit, diced
  • 1 tablespoon citrus zest
  • 1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon coconut, shaved
  • 1 tablespoon pistachio nuts, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ice cream sprinkles
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate candy bar, shaved or grated

*McCormick makes a cinnamon spice with a built in grater that is awesome for grinding fresh cinnamon.  Each bottle is less than $2 and I absolutely love this!

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January 1, 2009

Campanelle Casserole

This casserole has an Italian inspiration, but is purely a Tia creation.  I love ricotta cheese and like finding new ways to use it.  The flavour of ricotta is rich and the texture is very thick, but it doesn’t become a greasy mess that will stay with you for the next three days.  Campenelle pasta is also called riccioli and is basically an elbow style macaroni that is fluted at one end.  In Italian, it means literally bell tower.  This dish turns out a lot like a typical lasagne dish, excepting that it has no layers and is easy to throw together after a long day at work.

Ingredientscampanelle14

1 pound campanelle pasta, boiled til firm

1 pound ground sausage or ground beef

16 ounces ricotta cheese

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, shredded

16 ounce can stewed tomatoes

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 teaspoon fresh ground Oregano

1 teaspoon ground rosemary

1 teaspoon ground thyme

Directions

  • Over medium heat, crumble and brown sausage or ground beef, add in seasonings while cooking.
  • Add in onion and garlic and remove from heat.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add one half of mozzarella to ricotta and stir until blended.
  • Stir cheese and meat mixture together thoroughly.
  • In large casserole dish, blend meat and cheese mixture with cooked pasta.
  • Top with tomatoes, do not strain.
  • Stir well and cover with remaining mozzarella.
  • Bake at 250 degrees F for thirty minutes.

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January 1, 2009

Crespelle

Often when we think of crepes, we think of lacy thin pancakes with fruit syrups and whipped cream toppings.  This delicious appetizer puts an end to these thoughts.  This is a classic Italian dish server during Lent, when meat is to be avoided.

As with a lot of Florentine dishes, it includes the standard of spinach, though I prefer to kick it up a notch with Arugula leaves mixed in as well as a few sprigs of Italian parsley.  Arugula is a Roman spinach leaf and isn’t always easily found in your local grocery store.  Often you will have to scour the organic section to locate a nice bag.  If your climate allows, you might give growing it a try, as once you start, it takes hold and is rather reproductive.

This dish also includes ricotta cheese and I suggest not using a low fat one as there tends to be a good deal of liquid run off and can make your crepes soggy.

Typically I segregate the recipes when we are stuffing a separate component, but this crepe recipe is unique to this recipe and not the same you would want to use for your Sunday morning sweet tooth.

Ingredients

3 eggs

1 3/4 cup milk

2 Tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup flour, unsifted

1/2 teaspoon iodized salt

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

~

1 pound fresh spinach leaves, washed and finely chopped

1/2 pound fresh Arugula leaves, washed and finely chopped

1/4 pound fresh Italian parsley, washed and finely chopped

1 cup boiling water

1 egg

1/2 cup fresh Romano cheese, grated

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/ teaspoon ionized salt

1 15 ounce container ricotta

  • In a medium mixing bowl, blend 3 eggs, milk, melted butter, and flour until well blended.  Mixture should be rather thin, like a pancake batter.
  • In a non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  • Pour in batter by 1/4 cup ladles at a time, cooking each until lightly tanned.
  • Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 150 degrees F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine green leaves.  Pour boiling water over leaves and drain into a collander promptly.
  • In a dry large bowl, beat egg, ricotta, Romano, salt and nutmeg until well blended.
  • Stir in leaves.  Blend well.
  • Drop 1 – 2 spoonfuls of filling onto each crepe and roll up.  Secure with a toothpick.
  • In a large baking dish, prepared with non-stick spray or a little olive oil, arrange filled crepes.
  • Bake for fifteen minutes or until crepes are crisped.
  • Remove toothpicks and serve warm.
January 1, 2009

Pollo Florentine

Ask anyone what Florentine means and they’ll say it means spinach; except Italians.  The association of spinach and Florence, Italy actually originated in England.  When Catherine de Medici introduced spinach to English cuisine, since she was from Florence, spinach and egg or cheese mixtures became known as Florentine.  Actual Florentine dishes usually are seafood rich with olives and squashes and potatoes.

This dish uses prosciutto, which is an uncooked Italian ham, chicken and a spinach and cheese blend.  Even though prosciutto is salt cured, I guess I am a bit of a worry wart in that I always cook it anyhow.  I also use fresh mozzarella for this recipe, it blends much better with the ricotta than the shredded type that has drying agents applied.  The extra spinach mixture I bake for twenty minutes in a separate dish and serve with the chicken.

Ingredientspollo florentine 16

3 cloves garlic

1/4 pound Italian parsley

1 pound fresh spinach

1/4 pound fresh mozzarella

1 egg

1 cup ricotta

4 slices prosciutto

4 boneless chicken breasts

2 Tablespoons bread crumbs

Directions

  • Chop parsley and spinach, combine into medium mixing bowl.
  • Press garlic cloves into spinach blend.
  • Use a cheese slicer to loosen shreds from mozzarella ball.
  • Add egg, ricotta and mozzarella to spinach blend.
  • Beat thoroughly until well blended.
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  • Slice chicken breasts open.
  • Spoon two heaping spoonfuls of spinach blend into chicken breast pocket.
  • Close and wrap prosciutto around chicken.
  • Sprinkle with bread crumbs.
  • Bake for 45 minutes.
  • Serve.

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January 1, 2009

Cassata Arance

If you are accustomed to cream cheese based cheesecakes, this may take an adjustment for your tastebuds.  Sicilian cheesecakes, or cassatas, are made with ricotta cheese and are not as sweet and unlike American cheesecakes, they are lighter and have almost a baked custard texture.

And as for oranges, forget Florida.  It doesn’t get any better than a Sicilian blood orange or arance.  Their centers are blood red like a pink grapefruit.  If your local grocer doesn’t carry blood oranges, which there is a good bet that they don’t, you can substitue with mandarins for this recipe.  The key is finding a sharp tart orange, the smaller the better the concentrated flavour.

It is critical that you have a springform pan for this recipe, a round cake pan just will not suffice.  The water used in the glass dish allows for the cake to remain moist while baking.  This will reduce the chance of the cake cracking or separating.

I hope you like this dessert as much as I do, it displays beautifully and is just so tasty!

Ingredientscheesecake

2 16 oz. containers of ricotta cheese (typically found near cottage cheese in the grocery)

1/2 cup sugar

6 large eggs

1/3 cup flour, sifted

2 blood oranges

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 275 F.
  • Grease and lightly flour springform pan.*
  • Using aluminium foil, wrap the base of the springform pan to prevent seapage.
  • Set pan in a glass baking dish, 13 x 9.
  • Fill glass dish halfway with tap water.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat ricotta at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
  • With a whisk, stir in sugar and flour into ricotta until well blended.
  • One at a time, beat eggs into mixture.
  • Add spices and vanilla, blend thoroughly.
  • Using a zester or the rough side of a peeler, grate a few spoonfuls of orange peel into a bowl.
  • Peel oranges and segment.
  • Pour one half of batter into springform pan.
  • Gently lay orange segments onto the batter, do not stir.
  • Pour remaining batter over top.
  • Sprinkle orange peel zest over top.
  • Bake for 1 hour, or until knife comes out clean.
  • Remove springform pan from water and allow to cool for at least one hour before unhinging.
  • Serve after slightly cooled.

*If you can find them, there are aerosol sprays that have flour and oil combined and work perfectly for this purpose.  I prefer Baker’s Joy brand.

January 1, 2009

Budino al Cioccolato

Chocolate pudding, Italian style.  Bill Cosby’s peddling can’t even come close to competing with this stuff.  And coming from a gal that abhors chocolate, this is actually pretty tasty because the chocolate doesn’t overwhelm the taste and texture.  This is very thick, almost like a mousse.  It is very easy to screw up, believe me, I speak from experience.  Don’t microwave the chocolate, don’t use coffee that is over 70 degrees, don’t overbeat the eggs or the whipping cream.  One wrong move on any of these steps and you’ll curdle the pudding or it will be flat instead of airy.

Separating egg whites from egg yolks is a little step that I used to hate.  My grandmother helped me master it.  I’ve tried the little gadgets that will separate them for you – but they are a waste of effort.  Once I finally got the knack of this down, I felt like I was ready to be the next greatest chef in the world of food.  And I love the awe and amazement look I get from my girls when they watch me do it effortlessly.  The trick is in breaking the egg.  If you can break it in the middle with a sharp break, you can use the egg shells to capture the yolk in a little two handed juggling act until just the yolk is tossed back and forth.

I top mine with homemade whipped cream, which is miles better than anything you’ll find at the grocery store and so easy a caveman could make it.

Ingredientsbudino 25

6 squares (1 oz. each) semi-sweet baking chocolate

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon iodized salt

4 egg yolks

6 Tablespoons granulated sugar

8 ounces Ricotta

2 Tablespoons strong coffee, room temperature

Directions

  • Moisten the outside of a large mixing bowl and place into the freezer for fifteen minutes.  Place your electric beaters into the bowl and allow all to chill.
  • Use a double boiler to melt the baking chocolate over low heat.  If you don’t have a double boiler, use a set of mixing bowls.  Fill the larger bowl with boiling water.  Lower the smaller bowl in, making sure that it floats on the water and none overflows into it.  Lay the chocolate squares into the smaller bowl and cover with a dishtowel and set aside.
  • Remove your chilled mixing bowl and pour in whipping cream.  Toss in salt and beat at a low speed until it starts to form peaks.  Don’t over beat.
  • Place in the fridge to keep cold.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, blend egg yolks and sugar thoroughly.
  • Add in Ricotta and coffee.  (If your coffee is too hot it will cook the eggs and curdle the cheese.  It needs to be room temperature.)
  • Stirring continuously, scrape in chocolate.
  • Using a fork, fold in whipped cream mixture.  Only blend until well mixed.  If you over beat it, it will fall.
  • Pour into a mold or oven safe serving dishes, bake at 150 degrees F for 20 minutes.
  • Remove and chill for about 3 hours.
  • Serve.

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