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Archive for the ‘goat cheese’ Tag


A world outside of mozzarella & pepperoni

A simple google search for kid-friendly recipes is scary. What shows up, in fact, is a harrowing slew of butter-saturated, sugar-filled recipes written with a complete disregard for health. I discovered this last week because I was looking for just that – simple recipes that I can make with kids.

My friend Beth invited me to cook in front of a class of kindergarten students. Her son is in the class and they were looking for someone to do a cooking demo for the kids’ end of the year party – I was flattered that they thought of me and happily accepted.

I took this as my tiny opportunity to make a difference in the way these kids looked at food. While this was not the time to introduce them to the delicate flavors of perfectly-seared scallops or steak tartare, I wanted to cook with them something they’re familiar with, but probably never had before. I decided to let them make their own pizzas. Instead of just mozzarella and pepperoni though, I brought with me a ton of different vegetables and all sorts of sauces for them to experiment with. Well-aware of the fact that the kids will have a short attention span that rivals mine, I also brought with me my pizza paddle and pizza stone so they could take turns sliding their pizzas into the oven.

flying food is always fun for kids

One of my favorite pizza combinations we made with the kids was a lemon-infused, goat ricotta, white pizza topped with thinly sliced zucchini. The flavors are light, refreshing, and clean — perfect for the hot summer days ahead.

mise en place

Count them – four ingredients; five if you include the extra virgin olive oil. This means no skimping on ingredients! I tried this same pizza with regular ricotta and it doesn’t work. The wow factor just wasn’t there. If you absolutely cannot find goat-milk ricotta, however, not to worry. Mix a semi-firm chevre (like Spanish Capricho de Cabra) with some good quality, fresh ricotta and you’ll get a similar result. Like I said, it won’t be spot-on, but it will get you pretty close.

lemon zest makes me happy

The lemon zest in the ricotta serves two purposes. Not only does it heighten the flavors of the goat cheese, but it also gives the pizza a clean, crisp flavor. I recommend using organic citrus whenever a dish calls for using the zest or rind.

almost paper thin, almost

Zucchini has lots of moisture and moisture is the kryptonite, so to speak, of pizza. To remove some of this excess moisture you’ll want to thinly slice the zucchini (preferably with a mandoline) and fan the slices out on a plate so they’re not on top of each other. Then season the slices with salt and pepper and the salt will start to break down the cell walls of the zucchini, and thus allowing it to give up some of that moisture. Soak it up with a paper towel and your ready to roll.

extra virgin olive oil

The kids were shocked when I hinted at the idea of a pizza without tomato sauce. Their facial expressions were absolutely priceless. And although not many chose to forgo the traditional red sauce, I feel like those that did may have a bright culinary future ahead of them!

Lemon-Infused Goat Ricotta White Pizza With Sliced Zucchini

Lemon, Goat Ricotta & Zucchini Pizza

makes 1 large pizza

Components

  • 24 oz. pizza dough
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lb goat milk ricotta
  • zest of 1-2 lemons
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Putting them all together

  1. Zest the lemon(s) and stir the zest into the goat ricotta
  2. Thinly slice the zucchini (preferably with a mandoline), fan out on a plate, season with salt and pepper, and cover with a paper towel to soak up some of the moisture.
  3. Stretch pizza dough to approx 1/8″ thickness – this pizza is better thin than thick – and brush a thin coat of olive oil over the top.
  4. Spread the goat cheese mixture over the top and top with the thin slices of zucchini.
  5. Preferably bake on a hot (550 degrees F) pizza stone for 5-7 minutes or until the crust gets golden brown.

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This is why everyone should invest in a pizza stone:

perfectly crispy crust

Molly’s Tomatoes

Yesterday, my Friday started out like a dreadful Monday in disguise. It was pouring, I was running late for work and I had a flat tire. In retrospect, this wasn’t too bad. I called in late, pulled up my sleeves and youtubed: how to change a tire. I was mildly amused by the number of videos there were for this topic. After watching a few I thought I was fully-trained, if not an expert, on how to put on those silly-looking donut wheels. To make a long, miserable story short – my spare also turned out to be flat, the tow truck took 3 hours to pick me up, and it took 2 hours to get my wheel changed  - never in my life had I felt so much relief in returning home and closing the door behind me.

Before going to bed last night, I finished Molly’s book: A Homemade Life. If you haven’t already bought it, you need to go and pick up a copy. In her book she has a chapter appropriately titled and dedicated to happiness, which apparently is achieved by slow-roasting tomatoes for six hours. I was convinced. After my miserable chain of events, I set out to make this recipe on Saturday morning, and ran errands while the tomatoes did their thing in the oven.

mise en place

Molly’s recipe calls for coriander, which I didn’t have, but I sprinkled some dried thyme instead, and added couple cloves of minced garlic for good measure. I cook under the illusion that anything roasted should have garlic in it. Ultimately though, I was happy that I found a recipe for the large bowl of tomatoes idly resting on the dining room table, just waiting to be used.

tossed in olive oil, thyme & garlic

The dish couldn’t have been easier to put together. I sneaked a taste of a couple the quartered tomatoes, put the rest in the oven at 200 degrees F, and went on with my errands. *I knew I wasn’t going to take long, but if you’re going to do this, I recommend using the cook-time feature in your oven so that it could turn itself off automatically.

ready to combine

After six hours, your entire house will take on the wonderful scent of the roasted tomatoes and lemony thyme. In order to make it a meal, I toasted a few slices of a day-old baguette, topped them with a healthy smear of fresh goat cheese, and a couple pieces of the slow-roasted tomatoes. Molly was right, this is happiness.

roasted tomato, goat cheese crostini

As she describes in her book, the possibilities for flavoring or using these tomatoes are virtually endless. Tomorrow, for instance, I can’t wait to wake up and throw a couple of these in with my scrambled eggs. I can then layer a few more pieces inside my sandwich for lunch, or toss them in with my salad – you get the idea.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

approx 1 cup of roasted tomatoes

Components

  • 2 lbs roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • thyme, to taste (approx 1 tsp)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Putting them all together

  1. Wash and dry tomatoes. Quarter them and scatter them on a large baking sheet.
  2. Gently, using your hands, toss the tomatoes with the oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.
  3. Bake at 200 degrees F for 4-6 hours or until tomatoes crinkle at the edges and shrink by about half.
  4. Pull them out of the oven, let them cool and eat as desired.

notes: Recipe adapted from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. Roma tomatoes are best for this recipe, but any tomato will work just as fine. You could go longer than 6 hrs if you’d like, I actually went 7hrs when I made these and they were excellent.

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deliciously wrinkly

According to the atmospheric noise generated by this random-number generator, these three commenters will be receiving a pack of mahlab in the mail.

Congratulations to Hélène, Katie and Hannah, respectively, and thank you to everyone who commented and e-mailed me with their support. 

healthy, happy cows

Hi. I’ll have 8 oz of the free-range-no-antibiotics-natural-no-artificial-growth-hormone-happy-cow steak. No; not that one, the one behind it and to the right, please. Sound familiar?

It’s sad that the barriers between industrialization and gastronomy have been breached, but it’s the truth. After reading Michael Pollen’s Omnivore’s Dilema, I’m scared, or rather disgusted, to buy any other meat. I’ll usually pass on the massaged cattle lavished with all-they-can-drink sake, unless the parents are paying, and simply go for the healthy, happy cow instead. Slightly more expensive than the hormone-injected alternative, but I make it stretch to fit the occasion. If it’s dinner for two, I’ll break open a bottle of wine and enjoy a nice steak perhaps alongside some pureed parsnips or celery root. If it’s for a party, I’ll serve it as an appetizer and share it with my guests.

mise en place

Steak crostini with parsley pesto and goat cheese is an appetizer I came up with while in college. I was invited to a dinner party and was expected to bring something grand – usually what happens when friends find out you like to cook. I had to strike a balance though: too fancy and I would’ve been thought of as showing off; too simple and I would’ve risked disappointment.

season like you mean it

A good quality steak can do wonders if executed properly. Once your meat leaves the butcher, it becomes your responsibility. Season it well, let it sit at room temperature before cooking, don’t over cook it, and allow it to rest before slicing. These four points along with some good judgement can go a long way when preparing meat.

pesto oil to good use

I originally made this dish with regular pesto because that was one of the things I had in my fridge before the party. In retrospect it was passable, but a bit too overpowering for the steak. I tried it again by pulsing parsley into my pesto and it was wonderful. You get a slight herbal note from the basil, but at the same time you’re greeted with a clean, crisp flavor from the parsley.

putting everything together

I used a whole wheat baguette when I made the appetizer last night and thought it was fantastic. This was also not part of the original dish, but I felt that it added an appealing nutty component to the crostini. On a side note, we’ve really come a long way in terms of whole wheat products – they don’t taste like cardboard anymore.

Steak Crostini

The reason why I added two thin slices of steak to each appetizer as opposed to one thicker slice is because it makes the crostini easier to eat. If you’re serving this at a party, you definitely don’t want your guests struggling with a big hunk of meat while they’re mingling and sipping on cocktails.

Steak Crostini

yields approx 18 crostini

Components

  • 1 8 oz steak
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup parsley pesto*
  • roasted peppers, garnish
  • 1 fresh baguette

Putting them all together

  1. Allow steak to sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Season with salt & pepper and sear for 3-4 minutes on each side, until medium rare.
  3. Allow meat to rest before slicing.
  4. Slice the baguette on a (~1/4 in slices), brush with some of the basil oil and broil until golden brown.
  5. Once all the components are ready start by smearing a little more pesto on the toasted baguette slices.
  6. Top with a little goat cheese and two thin slices of the steak.
  7. Garnish with diced roasted peppers.

note: To make your own parsley pesto simply replace some of the basil with parsley in your favorite pesto recipe or pulse some parsley into some high quality store bought pesto and call it a day.

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Witch Hat Pumpkin Ravioli

The past couple of days have been rough. I’ve been in curled up in bed with all the goodie pre-symptoms the common cold has to offer: sinus pressure, sneezing and I’ll spare you the phlegmy details. Today will be a short post since I’ve only got a couple of hours to prepare myself for the army of trick-or-treaters screaming for obscene amounts of sugary sweets. It’s my first Halloween in this neighborhood so we’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, I couldn’t pass up celebrating Halloween on my blog either. It seems like everywhere I click there are amazingly ghoulish culinary masterpieces on display. Keeping with the whole Mediterranean theme of my blog, I decided to go with an Italian inspired dish. The pretty pumpkin you see below was one of the many gifts I got while I was at the Beekman and it was perfect for what I had in mind. So without further ado, I present to you my Black Witch Hat Pumpkin Ravioli.

The recipe will come soon (depending on my cold and how many kids come pounding at my door). 

mise en place
a hint of nutmeg
halloween nonna-style
rolling the dough
Italian assembly line
ravioli workflow
Witch Hat Ravioli
Witch Hat Ravioli
Pumpkin Filled Squid Ink Ravioli
Pumpkin Filled Squid Ink Ravioli

UPDATE (11/1/2008)

There weren’t as many trick-or-treaters last night as I had expected, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I tended to my cold by drinking plenty warm chai and cozily reading in bed. Now I’m on my way out the door, but wanted to post the recipe for the ravioli before I left.

I also want to submit this entry to Jeanne from Cook Sister for this round of Waiter, There’s Something In My… Jeanne is calling for all bloggers to show their gourd love this season. I hope you all had a happy and safe Halloween! Ciao!

Witch Hat Pumpkin Ravioli

 makes approx 50 ravioli

Components

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 small pumpkin
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of cloves
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • squid ink (or black food coloring)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • egg wash, 1 egg and a little milk

Putting them all together

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut the pumpkin in half and clean out the cavity of the pumpkin. Cut side down, bake both pumpkin halves until they are tender and you can poke your knife with very little resistance (approx. 45 minutes).
  3. Make the pasta dough by creating a well with the flour and slowly incorporating the eggs and squid ink to form a dough.
  4. Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes, cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to use.
  5. Once the pumpkin has finished cooking, scoop out the flesh and process in the food processor along with the goat cheese and spices. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  6. In the same sheet tray, spread pumpkin mixture and return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes so that the excess liquid in the pumpkin puree is allowed to evaporate. 
  7. Refrigerate the mixture until cooled and ready to use.
  8. Using a pasta machine, roll out your dough into long sheets and scoop 1/2 tsp of the chilled filling in 1 inch intervals, giving you room to seal the edges. (see photo)
  9. Brush a little egg wash around the edges of the filling and cover with another sheet of pasta. Seal the ravioli sheets carefully, making sure no air bubbles get trapped inside.
  10. Boil the ravioli for 5-6 minutes, or until pasta is al dente.
  11. For the sauce, melt the butter and sage in a small saute pan. Brown the butter carefully, making sure it does not burn.
  12. Toss the ravioli in the sauce and enjoy!

note: If you can’t find squid ink or don’t particularly care for it, you can substitute it for black food coloring. If you don’t want or don’t have time to make your own ravioli, store bough butternut squash ravioli work great with this sauce and are perfect for any autumn dinner. 

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!