Tag Archives: Mozzarella

Heirloom Caprese with Balsamic Reduction

8 Sep

Things that have happened since my last post:

1. Earthquakepocalyspe. I knew it was an earthquake, but refused to believe it was actually happening in DC. But after the first few seconds, I got up from my desk and braced myself in the doorway of my colleague’s office. He ducked under a table. We looked pretty ridiculous.

2. Come on, Irene. I had a Living Social deal to go whitewater rafting the day Irene hit. They didn’t cancel the trip ahead of time, but I eventually decided that I didn’t want to risk being stuck on a bus in West Virginia should the hurricane prevent us from getting back to DC. My best friend was visiting me from CA, so we ventured out before it got too bad and stocked up on quesadilla-making supplies. All-in-all, it was a good excuse to sit around inside watching TV and playing Scrabble all day.

3. “We’ve got two specials tonight…” I am now officially a waitress instead of a hostess. I’m pretty thrilled about the change. It’s so much more fun, since hostessing gets pretty boring. On slow nights I make about what I made as a hostess, but I make way more on busier nights. (Except when that French table stiffs me $20 on the check. Jerks.) I’m still learning…I tend to forget to bring people bread, and I’m still memorizing which beers we carry. But I think for the most part I’m pretty good. And to make my mother proud, I constantly make an effort to talk slower.

4. I painted my nails with hot pink stripes. It just felt right. I blame Joy the Baker.

5. I had a love affair with heirloom tomatoes. It all started when I went to Graffiato and had the Burrata salad. Heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, and homemade burrata. Good golly, words cannot describe. So I started trying out different heirlooms at the farmers market. My favorite is that guy on the right in the above picture. It’s kind of got red and orange tiger stripes. So yummy.

I know I’m not very creative. Caprese salad? Been there. Done that. But you know, when I buy a gorgeous fresh tomato, this is the only way I want to eat it. I don’t want to cook it, I don’t want to mask it with too much other food. My dad has it right: he just eats plain slices of tomato with salt and pepper. Being a cheese fanatic, I need a little mozzarella thrown into the mix.

And my favorite part is sopping up the tomato juices at the end with a fresh loaf of bread. It’s a must.

Heirloom Caprese with Balsamic Reduction

Serves 1

Print this recipe!

1 small or medium sized heirloom tomato
4-5 slices fresh mozzarella
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
fresh basil
Balsamic Reduction:
Heat small sauce pan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup balsamic and allow to simmer until it begins to thicken. Whisk frequently to prevent burning. It’s done with the vinegar has reduced by about half.
Slice tomato. Lay alternating slices of tomatoes and mozzarella on a plate. Drizzle with balsamic reduction, and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh basil. Serve with slices of fresh crusty french bread.

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette

8 Mar

Confession: I took A LOT of pictures while I was making this. But I didn’t actually take a picture when it was finished. Partially because I made it for a couple of my friends, and as soon as it came out of the oven we were devouring it. So for my sake, just pretend that crust is nice and golden brown from the egg wash I put on it, and the cheese is nice and bubbly, and the zucchinis are tender and delicious looking.

This is a great dinner party dish, or perfect for a potluck (in fact, I made it for an office potluck last year). Part of what makes it great is that you can assemble it ahead of time, throw it in the fridge, and then toss it in the oven before your guests start to arrive. Even better, it doesn’t have to be served fresh out of the oven, it still tastes great after you’ve let it cool for a while. So if your other dishes are taking a little longer, this guy can just chill out on the counter and will be great whenever you get around to eating it. You could even eat it chilled if you wanted. (But I like my cheese a little melty, personally).

This week I made it for two of my friends, who were coming over for dinner before we went to a concert. We went to see The Get Up Kids, whom I was obsessed with in high school. The show was awesome. We were all singing along, and it felt like I was back in central IL, driving home from school with the windows down, singing out my teenage angst.

Since pastry crusts can be intimidating sometimes, this is going to be a picture heavy, step-by-step post.

You’re going to start out making the crust. It’s not your standard pie crust, but it comes out amazing. So flaky, so rich, everyone will be very impressed. Of course, part of what makes it so rich is the whole stick of butter that goes into it.

Just cut the cold butter into your dry ingredients, and either use your pastry cutter or your hands to incorporate the butter. If you’re using your hands, just make sure you don’t over-work it and melt the butter. It helps if you have poor circulation and perpetually freezing hands like me. It should look something like this when the butter is incorporated:

Now instead of using just ice water, you use a combination of ice water, sour cream, and lemon juice. It really makes for a great, elastic dough that is fun to work with. Just pour half of the liquid in, give it a quick couple stirs, and then add the rest, with just another few stirs. Less is more here.

At this point, if it looks a little dry, I promise it’ll be okay. Just kind of mush it all together with your hands, wrap it up in wax paper, and throw it in the fridge for an hour. Once it comes back out of the fridge, give it a very quick knead. I’m talking two to three kneads and you’re done. Just enough to get the dough to stay together in one lump.

Now that your dough is chillin’ in the fridge, time to move on to the filling. You’ll want to slice your zucchinis, lay them out on a paper towel, and sprinkle with salt to pull out some of the liquid so that your galette doesn’t end up drowning when you cook it.

While the zucchini sweats it out, you can mix up those delicious cheeses: ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan.

I’m a rebel, and I always put in more cheese than the recipe calls for. I don’t drink milk, so I have to get my calcium other ways, right?

Now you’ve got your zucchini, your cheese, and your garlic olive oil all ready to go. So it’s time to roll the dough out and assemble.

I like to roll this dough out pretty thin. It’s fairly sturdy so it won’t tear apart, and it’s so rich that if you keep it too thick it’s overwhelming.

You want to transfer it to your baking sheet before you start assembling, or else it will be all but impossible to move. Cheese goes on first. Spread it out leaving about an inch or so around the edge.

Then just layer on the zucchini in some sort of pretty fashion. I did alternating green and yellow, as you can see.

And then you just fold up the edges, and you’re ready to roll! Right before you put it in the oven, adding an egg wash will make it brown up just perfectly.

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 6

Pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water

Filling:
1 large or 2 small zucchinis, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup (about 1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup (1 ounce) shredded mozzarella

Egg Wash:
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Mix the flour and salt together in a medium bowl, add cubes of cold butter and cut in using a pastry cutter or your freezing hands, until butter is about pea-sized.

In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream, ice water and lemon juice. Add half of liquid to the flour and butter and give 1-2 gentle stirs. Add the rest of the liquid and gently stir another few times, until the dough is mostly in large lumps. Press into a ball and wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Slice zucchini and spread out in a single layer on a paper towels. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt and let sit for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes, blot the zucchini with another paper towel to remove extra liquid.

In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil and garlic. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and 1 teaspoon of the garlic olive oil mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out to about a 12 inch circle. Fold in half, and then in half again to make it easier to move. Unfold onto an ungreased baking sheet. (I’d suggest using one with sides, as there is sometimes a little liquid that comes out of the galette and that way you’ll avoid having the clean the bottom of your oven.)

Spread the cheese mixture over the pastry, leaving about an inch around the edge. Next, arrange the zucchini slices in circles on top of the ricotta. Drizzle the remaining garlic olive oil over the top. Fold the edges up around the filling, pleating to keep it in place. Brush the crust with egg wash. (If you aren’t baking it until later, wait and put the egg wash on immediately before putting in the oven).

Bake until the cheese is puffed and the zucchini is tender, 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate and enjoy!