pomegranate & ricotta toast

January 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

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I made a few wonderful things over the holidays, meals that take longer to prep and are meant to be shared. I made fresh potato gnocci, something I haven’t done since I lived in Florence six years ago. I made jam, Rice Krispie treats and spicy pretzels to munch on. Most of these things were gobbled up quickly, no leftovers to spare, but a few things traveled back home with me, which forced me to think of new ways to finish them.

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I think it’s important when cooking to think outside the box a bit. I made this wonderful pomegranate jam which I had on toast and English muffins for more than a few breakfasts, but that got old quickly. I stirred it into yogurt with a side of granola. And to finish up the last jar I made this crostini with creamy ricotta. I never would have thought of this combination if I hadn’t made the jam to begin with.

I have found myself over the last few months, walking into the grocery store in a daze. Buying the same vegetables, the same fruit and the same grains. Even if my recipes are a bit different each week, the flavor profile ends up being much the same. How boring. I am hoping to be a bit more adventurous over the next year. I know this will lead to some horrible recipes, more findings of ingredients I don’t necessarily like, but I will also discover some wonderful food that I won’t believe I have been living without for so long. Every once in awhile we need to reboot in the kitchen. I can’t wait to share my new discoveries with you!

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Pomegranate & Ricotta Toast
crusty bread
olive oil
ricotta
pomegranate jam (see recipe below)
fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice bread rather thinly. Place slices on a baking sheet and brush the tops of each with a bit of olive oil. Bake for 6-8 minutes until the tops are just slightly browned and crisp to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

When bread is cooled, spread a layer of ricotta on each and top with the pomegranate jam and a sprinkling of thyme.

Serve immediately while the bread is still slightly warm, otherwise it will become too soft from the cheese.

Pomegranate Jam
Inspired by Green Kitchen Stories

1 1/2 cups pomegranate seeds (from 2-3 pomegranates)
1 cup frozen raspberries
1/3 cup agave syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Slice the pomegranate in half. Pull the membrane apart and pick out the seeds. Discard the membrane and place all the seeds into a medium sauce pan. (Mind you this is a messy job. Pomegranate juice will stain and it likes to get everywhere; prepare accordingly.)

Add the raspberries and agave to the pomegranate pot and set on medium heat. Stir until combined and then allow everything to come to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down to medium-low and allow to simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, sterilize a cute jar or two, and allow to fully dry.

Add the lemon juice and thyme to the pot and simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes. This jam will be on the soupier side so do not wait for it to thicken.

Remove from the heat and pour into the jam jars. Allow to cool completely before covering and keeping in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

tofu lettuce wraps & almond dressing

June 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Finger foods are one of my favorite things, especially when it allows you to look at your new engagement ring! I’m keeping this short and sweet since I am still overwhelmed and overjoyed with being engaged and everything that comes along with it.

Serves 4
Inspired by Sprouted Kitchen Spring Rolls

1 (15 oz.) package extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1 head bib lettuce
1 avocado, chopped
2 carrots, grated
5 radishes, thinly sliced

Almond Dressing
1/3 cup almond butter
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/4 cup soy sauce
zest of 1 lime
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon Sriracha

Drain tofu and wrap with a few paper towels. Put on a plate and place another plate on top of the tofu to release the extra juices. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

To make the dressing, whisk together the almond butter, agave, soy sauce, lime zest and juice and the Sriracha.

Rip off individual leaves of the bib lettuce and set aside. Chop up all the veggies for easy assembly. Slice tofu into 1 inch thick squares. Spread the toasted sesame seeds on a large plate and roll a couple tofu chunks in the seeds until they are lightly covered, repeat with all remaining tofu.

To assemble, grab a lettuce leave and fill with a few chunks of tofu and avocado, then sprinkle with a few slices of carrot and radish. Set on a large platter and repeat with remaining lettuce leaves.

Once they are all assembled you can drizzle each leaf with a bit of almond dressing or serve the dressing on the side for individual pouring/dipping.

crostini, fruit & company

March 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

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You know when you make that perfect treat for company. Everyone is wowed by how good it is. They make little comments about how you should be a chef and oh isn’t this just the best thing. When deep down you know it had nothing to do with talent, it was simply just a delicious, incredibly easy recipe. It’s a lovely feeling. It’s also these types of recipes that need to be shared with everyone!

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My boyfriend’s family came to visit a few weekends ago. I always love when we have company and I can cook a bunch of food, set a nice table, and open a couple of bottles of wine. My only complaint about hosting is that I try to limit the amount of cooking I have to do that day. I want to relax with company once they arrive and enjoy good food. So although most of the things we had that day were cold plates, they were still tasty and adored by everyone. There was a highlight, a new recipe, a risk I only like to make on one item when company comes, ricotta crostini with roasted grapes. And this was the wow recipe of the night.

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Crostini is a classic small plate but just recently I’ve seen so many recipes where ricotta and fruit are being added into the mix of toppings. I’ve tried a bunch of different toppings but these two recipes below are the fruit standouts.

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Grape & Thyme Crostini
This recipes is from Alexandra’s Kitchen

crusty bread, sliced
olive oil
ricotta
grapes
thyme
salt

Pear & Walnut Crostini
This recipe is from Martha Stewart

crusty bread, sliced
olive oil
ricotta
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and lightly chopped
1 pear, thinly sliced
honey

If you have a panini press or George Foreman, I find these are ideal for making crostini. If you don’t, a grill or oven works too.

Press: Drizzle a bit of olive oil on one side of the sliced bread and place the oil side face down on the panini press. Add another touch of olive oil to the topside and repeat on all pieces of bread. Press the bread for 5 minutes until you get a crusty brown surface.

Oven: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a baking sheet, drizzle a bit of olive oil and place the slices of bread on the pan. Drizzle each slice with a bit more olive oil and bake for 6-8 minutes, or until the bread is crisp to the touch. You won’t get as much color this way, so make sure you don’t leave the bread in the oven too long.

For the grape crostini, preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, toss together grapes, a touch of olive oil and a pinch of salt; just enough to coat. Then add the thyme, pull some thyme off the stems and add a few full stems to the bowl. Toss everything onto a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 8 minutes. If you cook too long, the grapes will split open and lose their juices. Set aside and let cool.

For the pear crostini, in a small sauté pan over medium heat, place the lightly chopped walnuts. Toast until they become fragrant and are lightly browned. Remove from heat and cool.

Once you have your bread and walnuts toasted and your grapes are roasted, you’re ready to assemble. Spread a large spoonful of ricotta on each slice of bread. Top half of the bread with the roasted grapes and thyme (discard the thyme stems). Top the other bead with a couple slices of pear, a few walnuts and a drizzle of honey.

Serve together on one big platter!

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