Category Archives: Desserts
If only to prove I suck as a blogger and baker, I stumbled across this little baking adventure yesterday. I had to share. I was so impressed. What do you think?
From CakeCrumbs Live Journal:
A little while ago, my sister approached me with an idea. She’s doing an education degree, and her and her friends had to give a series of lessons on the geological sciences to a class of primary school kids. One of their lessons involved teaching the kids about the structure of the Earth. One of her friends came up with the idea of presenting a model of the Earth made out of cake. So my sister asked me if I could make a spherical cake with all the layers of the Earth inside it.
To see how she achieved this feat, head over to her page and see her process at CakeCrumbs.
And for more of her amazing designs, wander around her blog for a while. I think this is one of my favorites. Followed closely by this one. It’s amazing stuff. And if you’re in Melbourne, Australia, she’ll make you a cake to order. Cool.
I know it’s grilling season, but we’ll have all summer to talk about grilling recipes. This week I wanted to try out a recipe that has been tucked away and waiting for me to put my spin on it.
A while back, I asked you guys for a vegetarian meatball recipe, and you came through with some great ideas. Once I had the general concept down, I thought it was time to flavor it up a bit more. So tonight’s featured recipe is a vegetarian spinach ricotta meatball. With that in mind, the recipe theme came into focus. The versatility of ricotta cheese, from main course to desserts.
To start, how about homemade ricotta? JeffreyW has done it and you can click here and he’ll take you step by step through the process.
He then puts his homemade ricotta to good use with Stuffed Shells, as pretty to look at as they are delicious. (recipe here)
I have a great alternative to regular gnocchi, a lighter, easier version using ricotta cheese and a fire roasted sauce to make a simple, quick Baked Gnocchi. (recipe here)
Moving on to dessert, a friend of mine has what feels like weekly potlucks at work and she often takes Apple Lasagna, recipe here, that is always a hit.
And finally from JeffreyW, a beautiful Cannoli recipe, pictured above that can be found here.
Now that you have a bunch of ideas for that tub of ricotta, let’s switch things up before we get to the featured recipe. I’d like to know if you’ve ever made your own wine, beer or hard ciders. I’d like to know details, where did you get your ingredients and how did it all turn out? Besides that, what’s on your menu for the weekend?
Now on to the featured recipe. These a so simple to make and taste so good, it’s a great vegetarian alternative for your pasta dishes. They’re very light and once you get the technique down, you can play with the flavors and customize them to your palate.
Most of the recipes I looked at used Italian Breadcrumbs. But I really feel these need fresh breadcrumbs, so I’ve included instructions for making your own. I didn’t season mine because I didn’t want them to overpower the delicate flavors of the cheeses. Fresh breadcrumbs absorb flavors and moisture more than packaged ones, so I thought it gave the whole meatball a better, lighter texture. I added a bit of garlic powder (fresh garlic did not work with this, it was overpowering and a touch bitter), basil, oregano and fennel. The fennel really took it up a notch. I think next time I might add a bit of red pepper flake.
Spinach and Ricotta Vegetarian Meatballs
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (instructions below)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese mix
- 1-1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
- 2 tsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder (not salt)
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- Salt and pepper
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese
- Olive oil
Breadcrumbs: this took a full 1-lb loaf of day-old Italian or French bread. I bought it from the day-old rack for cheap. I tore it into small pieces, spread out on a baking sheet and dried it in a 200 degree F oven for about 30 minutes. I didn’t want them toasted or seasoned because I thought it would overpower the delicate flavors of these meatballs. Once they were dried, I ran them through the blender. I reserved 1/4 cup for rolling the balls in before cooking.
Meatballs: Mix together ricotta, grated cheeses, spinach and spices. Add the eggs and mix well. Then add the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup at a time. You want it to come together to form soft balls, but you don’t want it to be dry. Once you can form a soft ball with some structure, you don’t need to add more breadcrumbs.
Scoop up a heaping tablespoon (I used my cookie dough scoop) and roll the mixture into balls.
Mix together 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup grated cheeses in a bowl and roll each meatball in the mixture, coating on all sides.
You can bake or pan fry these. I chose to pan fry, it used a bit of oil, but it gave them a nice flavor. Baking them would be my option if I was doubling the recipe.
To fry: heat olive oil in a skillet on medium and add the meatballs, leaving enough space between them to easily turn them. They are soft, so it’s a delicate process. The good news is, if you really want them round (instead of kind of flattened) you can reshape them after they come out of the pan. Turn them until they are golden brown on all sides.
To bake: place them on a well oiled baking sheet or use parchment paper. Brush them with a bit of oil if desired. Leave space around each one so they brown evenly and bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. You can turn them halfway through if desired.
This week I’m doing frozen treats. Vanilla and Strawberry Ice Cream began the series here. This is the next treat.
The sorbet was by request and I’m so glad they voted for it. It was terrific. Cool, light, tangy and slightly sweet. The lemon is the perfect addition to the blueberries, giving it a nice depth. Easy to make. Perfect for a warm summer day.
- 1 cup water (3/4 cups if you’re using frozen blueberries)
- 1/2 cup sugar (you can use half sugar, half honey if you prefer)
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 5 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
- a few blueberries and fresh mint for garnish
saucepan, blender, ice cream maker
In the saucepan, add water, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a low boil and stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved. To blender add blueberries and slightly cooled sugar mixture and puree until smooth. I have a vitamix, so I got a very smooth puree, you may need to run the blueberry mixture through a cheesecloth or fine sieve to remove any remaining skins or stems.
Let mixture cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour and then process in your ice cream maker according to directions.
Remove to an airtight container and let freeze solid. I actually covered the top with wax paper to keep it from getting a dry crust on top. It worked well.
Stay tuned, tomorrow there will be another treat. Until then….
Friends are letting me test drive their Cuisinart Ice Cream maker and it inspired a whole week of frozen treats, which will conclude with the Friday Recipe Exchange.
I thought it would be good to start with the basics. The first recipe is for a cream only ice cream and I’ll link to a JeffreyW post that has an egg custard ice cream. Then I’ll add strawberries to it. These recipes all make 1 to 1-1/2 quarts.
Vanilla Ice Cream
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 3 tsp high quality vanilla extract)
Combine all ingredients (including the bean and its pulp – if you’re using extract, DO NOT add yet) in a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to barely simmering, about 170 degrees F. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly – remove the hull of the vanilla bean or add extract at this point, stirring in completely. Pour mixture into lidded container and refrigerate mixture overnight to mellow flavors and texture.
Freeze mixture in ice cream freezer according to unit’s instructions. The mixture will not freeze hard in the machine. It will reach a soft serve consistency. Then spoon the mixture back into a lidded container and harden in the freezer at least 1 hour before serving.
Strawberry Ice Cream (or really Any Berry Ice Cream)
- Make the vanilla base (above), cooled overnight
- 2 cups of chopped frozen strawberries (or any quality frozen berry of your choice)
- 1 tbsp vodka
ice cream maker
Toss strawberries with vodka, stir into the cold vanilla cream mixture. Add to your ice cream maker and freeze according to unit’s instructions. Again it will be a soft serve consistency when done, remove to an airtight container and freeze for 1 hour before serving.
For an egg custard ice cream, go to JeffreyW’s post here.
JeffreyW makes strawberry ice cream, too