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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Berries And Ricotta Crostata-Updated

Berries And Ricotta Crostata-Updated (1)

I decided to update this recipe for two reasons. First, phone cameras are so much better now. Second, my baking skills have improved. Crostata is a rustic looking pie. It’s formed by folding the edges over the filling.

I think that my Homemade Pie Crust is perfect for this recipe. To get my Homemade Pie Crust recipe click on the link at the bottom of this post.

I made the dough the day before so all I really needed to do was to make the filling. Once the filling was made, I just rolled the dough out and baked.

Berries And Ricotta Crostata-Updated (4)

I think that Homemade Pie Crust is perfect for this recipe. I made the dough the day before so all I had to do really was to make the filling. Once I did that, I just rolled the dough out and baked. For my Homemade Pie Crust recipe, click the link at the bottom of this post.

Yields: 6 servings
Prep Time: Cooking the filling 7 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes
Note: This does not include the time for making the dough.

Ingredients For Filling:
1 pint of raspberries, reserve a 5 of them for garnish
1 pint of blackberries, for garnish
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon Chambord Liqueur (raspberry liqueur)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon *arrowroot (or cornstarch)

1-15 ounce container Ricotta cheese, cold
1 cup confectioner sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
zest of one lemon

egg wash= 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
2 tablespoons  Sanding sugar (or Turbinado sugar)
sprig of fresh mint for garnish

Directions:
Place the Ricotta into a large bowl. Add the vanilla extract, lemon zest, and powdered sugar, mix to combine. Place back into the refrigerator until needed.

The day before:
Make the dough for the pie crust. There is a link at the bottom of the page for my Homemade Pie Crust

Preheat oven to 425-degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
To make the filling:
In a small saucepan, on medium heat, place the raspberries (reserve 5 raspberries for garnish), add water, granulated sugar, and lemon juice. You will see the berries start to burst and release their juices, 3-5 minutes. Next, add the *arrowroot (or cornstarch), stir well and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer for 2 minutes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, until completely cooled.

Roll the pastry into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Ladle the thicken raspberry mixture onto the pastry, leaving a 1 1/2 inch border all around. Fold the border up over the filling pressing and pleating if needed. Place big dollops of the Ricotta mixture onto the filling, here and there. Brush the pastry edges with egg wash. Sprinkle just the edges with Sanding or Turbinado sugar. Using the parchment paper, carefully transfer the pie onto a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry, has browned and the filling has thickened. Cool for 30 minutes.

*arrowroot: a starch (similar to cornstarch) obtained from the rhizomes of several tropical plants.

Serve at warm or at room temperature.

 

Homemade Pie Crust

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Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna

Wid Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (2)

Wid Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (3)

Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (9)

Before I get into this post, a video at www.YouTube.com/LindaHamel is going to be posted on my  YouTube channel, for this recipe. There’s a couple of things I want to mention.
1). I take you through a shortened version of this recipe. No one wants to watch an entire video from start to finish on making a Lasagna. The video would run over an hour and a half long and with everyone having busy lives, I thought, that would be just a bad idea. to keep the video short and sweet, I decided to prepare all the components for the lasagna in advance. In the video, I generally go through the steps on how I made each one. The video really concentrates on the assembly and the cooking process.
2). Something else I decided not to mention is adding fresh and dried Thyme to my sautèed mushrooms.  I felt it’s an ingredient that’s a personal preference. Thyme has a slight lemony flavor that I think pairs really well with mushrooms. In my ingredient list below, I include both dried and fresh Thyme but made them optional.
3). It’s important that if you want to make this recipe the ingredients and directions are at the bottom of this post.

After coming out of the oven, lasagna needs to rest for at least 20 minutes before cutting. The reason for that is that lasagna needs time to set up.

The top picture is after it’s been done cooking and rested for 20 minutes. The picture below is after the entire casserole dish had been refrigerated overnight and then a piece was cut.  You can see a big difference in the presentation. Truth be told, I think lasagna is always better the second day.

Wid Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (1)

My Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna is loaded with flavor. I promise, you won’t miss the meat! Mushrooms are such a great substitute for meat. Their meaty texture and earthy flavor paired with spinach, fresh mozzarella, and creamy Béchamel sauce takes comfort food to a whole other level.

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Once the spinach has thawed completely, squeeze all the excess water from the spinach. You want the spinach to be as dry as possible.

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Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (10)

Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (9)

Ingredients:
2 boxes of dried oven ready lasagna noodles ( you may only need a little over 1 box)
2 sticks of unsalted butter, 1 stick for Bechamel sauce, 3 tablespoons for mushrooms, the remainder for greasing baking dish
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of freshly minced Thyme leaves (optional)
1 tablespoons of dried Thyme (optional)
4 cups whole milk
2 -10 ounce packages of thawed, drained spinach, squeeze out excess water
3/4 of 32 ounce container of Ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (for Ricotta mixture)
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (for Ricotta mixture)
3 large eggs
1 large package of fresh Mozzarella, slice into 14 rounds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon for freshly ground nutmeg (store- bought ground is fine)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (for Bechamel sauce)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (for sautéed mushrooms)
2 pounds of sliced sautéed wild mushrooms
4 large cloves garlic minced
1 cup of grated Parmesan
8 ounces (1 cup) store-bought shredded Mozzarella
1/4 cup of fresh and finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley for Ricotta mixture,
2 tablespoons dried parsley for top

Directions For Spinach:
Thaw both boxes of frozen spinach the day before. Once thawed, drain and squeeze dry any excess water. You want the spinach to be as free of any water as possible. Transfer to bowl and set aside.

Directions For Cheeses:
Place store bought shredded Mozzarella cheese in a bowl and set aside. Chop up the Parmesan cheese into small chunks and place them into a food processor. Pulse a few times until you have the consistency of ground cheese. For the fresh Mozzarella, slice the Mozzarella into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place all prepped cheeses in the frig until needed.

Directions For Ricotta:
In a large bowl add Ricotta, 3 beaten large eggs, 1/2 teaspoon each of Kosher salt, and pepper, and finely chopped fresh flat leave Italian parsley. Mix together until well combined and set aside.

Directions For The Bechamel Sauce:
Bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Set aside. Melt 8 tablespoons of butter (1 stick) in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute over low heat, whisking constantly until flour has cooked out and becomes blonde in color. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture all at once. Add 1 teaspoon each of Kosher salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg, and cook over med-low heat, whisking for 3-5 minutes, until thick. To double check on the thickness of the Bechamel sauce, dip a wooden spoon into the sauce. Take your finger and make a line down the back of the spoon, if the sauce stays separate and doesn’t run together, sauce is ready. Immediately transfer to a large bowl. Place plastic wrap directly over the sauce, preventing a skin from forming, and set aside.

Directions For Sautéed Mushrooms: click the link below for recipe

Sauteed Wild Mushrooms

YouTube Video for this recipe is at www.YouTube.com/LindaHamel

Assembling The Lasagna:
Spread some of the sauce in the bottom of the buttered 8 x 12 x 4 inch baking dish. Arrange a layer of oven-ready noodles on top, then ladle more Bechamel sauce. Sprinkle both grated Parmesan and shredded  Mozzarells cheeses. Next, add the half the spinach and mushrooms. To that, add the fresh Mozzarella slices.  Repeat this process once more. Next, add all of the Ricotta mixture and top with another layer of the noodles. Lightly press, with your hands, on the top to make sure all the ingredients are nice and level in the dish. Over that last layer of noodles top with the rest of the Bechamel sauce and a final sprinkle of both grated Parmesan and shredded Mozzarella cheeses. Add a sprinkle of dried parsley over the top for color.

Bake uncovered at 375 degrees F. for 45 minutes until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly and hot. Once out of the oven, let rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Directions For Reheating Refrigerated Lasagna:Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Pour between 2 tablespoons or 1/4 cup of water over the lasagna (depending on its size). Spray the dull side of the foil with non-stick cooking spray. Place the sprayed side down over the lasagna and seal tight around the edges of the baking dish.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until lasagna is hot and bubbly.

Directions For Freezing Fully Cooked Lasagna:
Make sure the lasagna has cooled completely, at least an hour and a half. Wrap the entire baking dish in freezer safe plastic wrap. This ensures there are no gaps in the wrap where air can get in and cause freezer burn. Then place foil over the top. Can keep up to three months.

Directions For Cooking Frozen Lasagna:
Transfer the frozen lasagna to refrigerator 24 hours in advance. Before going into the oven, remove the foil and plastic wrap from the baking dish and replace it with new foil that’s been sprayed with some non-stick cooking spray, on the dull side of the foil.  Add  2 tablespoons or 1/4 cup (depending on the size of the lasagna) of water over the top of the lasagna. Place the sprayed side down over the top, seal the edges tight. This will prevent any cheese from sticking to foil. Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

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A French Vanilla Birthday Cake With Raspberry Cream Filling And A Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting With White Chocolate

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Baking is not something I do often. When it comes to making someone feel special on their special day though, I try to pull out all the stops. This cake however; is kind of semi-homemade. I start out my favorite box mix and build from there. To not get overwhelmed in whole process, I take 3 days to make the cake. I do this in 4 stages. That way it become like a science project you had to do in school. When it’s finished and you present the cake well there’s nothing better than seeing the expression on their face.

Note: Make sure all the ingredients used for batter and frosting are at room temperature. Examples:  eggs, rictotta, mascarpone cheese, butter.

Equipment:  parchment paper, electric mixer, 3 graduating cake pans, 4″, 6″, and 8″, 3 round cardboard cake dividers matching the size of the cakes, ( these will be placed between each cake for support).A cake slicer, or a long serrated knife, offset spatula, a cake stand or a cardboard cake base, 2 bowls, 1 med size and 1 large, cooling racks.
Cook Temp: 350 degrees F.(when using metal pans)

Ingredients: For cake batter
3 boxes of Duncan Hines French vanilla box mix and ingredients needed to complete the mix ( eggs, water, and vegetable oil)
3/4’s cup of ricotta cheese
1 seeded vanilla bean ( 1/3 of the pod to each of the three prepared batters)

Ingredients: For raspberry cream filling
1 pint of fresh raspberries
1/4 cup of raspberry jam with seeds
2 tablespoons of Chambord (raspberry liqueur )
1 tablespoon of water
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1-8 ounce container of mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1 heaping tablespoon of cornstarch
1 tablespoon of water

Ingredients: For Mascarpone buttercream frosting with white chocolate
4 sticks of room temperature unsalted butter
3- 8 ounce container of room temperature butter
1-2 pound bag of powdered sugar minus the half of cup used in the filling
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of cream cheese emulsion
12 ounces of good white chocolate (8 ounces melted for curls and shavings, and 4 ounces grated).
1 large gum paste red rose
12 small sugar red roses
red candy covered chocolate pieces
1/2 pint of fresh raspberries ( choose the prettiest ones to place on the cake)

Directions:
Stage 1).  The cakes day 1.
Prepare the pans with parchment paper, butter and flour. Using a semi-soft stick of unsalted butter, completely grease all the pans on the bottom and along the sides. Next, place a round piece of parchment paper in the bottom of each pan. Rub butter on top of the parchment paper as well. Then dust those same three pans with all-purpose flour. shake off any of the excess Set the pans aside and start making the batter.

Start one at a time of the three boxes of French vanilla cake mix. Note: Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature. In a large bowl mix together the wet ingredients listed on the back of the box. The eggs, vegetable oil, and water. To that, add a 1/3 of the caviar from a vanilla bean pod, and 1/4 cup of ricotta cheese. Whisk these ingredients together with an electric mixer,on low speed, until well combined and smooth.

Next, still using the electric mixer on low speed, add the dry mix from the box slowly to the wet ingredients. Once the dry and wet come together, immediately remove the mixer and transfer the cake batter to the large bowl.Small lumps are fine. Make sure to use a spatula to get all the batter out of the bowl.  Repeat this process, two more times, using the same bowl. Each time transferring the batter to the large bowl.

At this point, all the batter has been mixed and is together in the large bowl. Using the spatula, give the batter a big stir one final time.  Fill each of the cake pans 2″ from the top. Gently, tap each of the pans on the counter to release any air bubbles that may be trapped.

Follow the temperature instructions on the back of the cake box. This brand requires temperature to be at 350 degrees F.  Because there are three different size pans, baking times will vary. The small cake should take about 45 minutes. the medium pan 55 minutes, and the large pan about 60-65 minutes.

Use a cake tester or a wooden skewer to check on the them at these particular times to make sure each cake is fully baked. You know if it’s done when the skewer comes out clean. Each oven may vary so keep a close eye on the time once the cakes are placed in the oven. As each cake finishes baking,  remove that one from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Once all the cakes have come out of the oven. let them cool overnight on the racks.

Stage 2). The raspberry cream filling, day 2.
In a sauce pot, place 1 pint ( or 2 half pints) of fresh raspberries, granulated sugar, Chambord, (raspberry liqueur), raspberry jam ( with seeds) and water. Turn on medium heat. Bring the raspberries up to a soft boil then turn down to a simmer.

Using a fork, smash the raspberries to break them up completely. In a small bowl, mix 1 heaping tablespoon of cornstarch with a tablespoon of water. Add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce and bring the mixture back up to a boil, (adjusting the heat) stirring continuously.  Once the sauce has thickened, about 7-10 minutes, remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and let cool completely.

To the cooled raspberry sauce, add 1-8 ounce container of room temperature mascarpone cheese, 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract.  Mix all this together, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Stage 2). filling the cake with raspberry filling, day 3
Remove each cake from their pan and the parchment paper from the underside of each cake.

Once at a time, slice through the center,lengthwise, of each of the cakes. Take the filling and spread the raspberry cream on the bottom half of each cake. Make sure not to spread it all the way to the edges. Leave about 2″around the outside of the cake. Place the top back on each cake.

First start by setting parchment paper on the main base to prevent frosting from getting all over . You want to set the parchment so you can easily pull the pieced out once the cake has been frosted. Set the larger cake, carefully centered on top of the parchment papper that’s resting on the cardboard cake base. Next, place the cardboard rounds in between each of the filled cakes, stacking the cakes carefully, and centered, on top of each other.

Stage 2). Make frosting, frost and decorate the cake, day 3
In a large bowl add the room temperature 4 sticks of unsalted butter, 3- 8 ounce containers of mascarpone cheese, the zest of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons of pure vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon of cream cheese emulsion.

Using an electric mixer or stand ,with the paddle attachment, on low speed, mix these ingredients together. Slowly, add the remainder of the 2 pound bag of powder sugar. Mix all this together until completely combined and smooth.

Stage 3). Frosting the cake.
This cake, I used decorative pieces fresh raspberries, and white chocolate to decorate this cake. In an earlier post, under “Orlando information” I talk about a bakery supply call D&G Occasions. This is where I purchased the decorations for this cake.

Using an offset spatula, starting with the top and working downwards and around the outside of each particular cake. Once the cake is totally frosted, fill a large pitcher with super hot water. Dip the offset spatula in the water, shake off the excess water. Run the spatula around the top and rim of the bottom two cakes as well as the outside of each cake. This will smooth out any imperfections on the frosting. If needed, add more frosting to areas that made need it. Again, smooth out that particular area with the spatula that’s been dipped into the hot water

Stage 4). Decorate the cake, day 3
Whatever decorations you may choose to use, let your imagination run wild. I used a large gum paste red rose for the top, and small red sugar roses as a boarder around the base. Red covered chocolate candies as accents, and a boarder of fresh raspberries around the middle layer of the cake.

I melted 8 ounces of white chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals until just melted. Poured it onto the bottom of a baking sheet, and place that into the frig to set. Take a small metal cookie spatula and run that along the cooled chocolate making chocolate curls and shavings.

Using a grater, grate another piece of white chocolate over the top of each layer, so it falls like snow all over the cake.

 

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Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

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My grandmother always added ricotta cheese to pancake batter. She didn’t necessarily always make them from scratch. She’d take help from the store when she could. I took this cue from her. Don’t get me wrong, if you have the time to make the batter yourself that’s awesome. I use help from the store whenever I can. Truth be told, there are some really great box mixes available now, they just need a little extra love added to them. I’ll show you my tricks in making the fluffiest and tastiest pancakes ever.

Directions:
Basically, the box mix calls for 1 cup of dry mix to 3/4’s cup of water. Starting with the wet ingredients, I’m adding in the zest of a lemon, 1 tablespoon of a pure vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup of ricotta. I mix those ingredients together really well until there are no lumps, and the water has a milky appearance. Next, slowly whisk in the dry mix just until the batter comes together. Set the bowl aside while preparing the non-stick pan.

On medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter. I like to make a tester pancake first. You know how the first one never turns out right?… That’s why I do this. It also gets the pan evenly preheated. After the small tester pancake is complete, start with the actual pancakes you are going to be serving.

Lower the stove dial to medium-low. Then add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan, swishing the butter all around the bottom. Immediately add in a small ladle of the batter, about 4″ in diameter. Once you see air bubbles all over the top of the pancake, it’s ready to flip. The times may vary slightly. You want the pancakes cooked completely on the inside, and on med-low heat, it may take a minute or two longer. Don’t rush the process, it will be worth it.

Cook for about 3 minutes on the first side and another 2-3 minutes on the second side, making both sides golden brown. Adding an additional 1 tablespoon of butter, to the pan, for each pancake you make. Repeat the process for the remainder of the batter.

Note: While making the remainder of the pancakes, place the pancakes on a baking sheet in a warm preheated oven, 200 degrees F. Also use a real maple syrup, it makes a big difference.

Yields: 4 silver dollar pancakes ( about 6″ in diameter)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5-6 minutes per cake

Ingredients:
1 cup of pancake mix (box mix that only requires water)
3/4’s cup of water
zest of a lemon
1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
1 stick of unsalted butter

 

 

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