Comfort Food Extravaganza: Cauliflower-Pumpkin-Ricotta Gratin

Orange Cauliflower

It’s that time of year again…daylight savings is totally messing with my body and making me crave warm, rich comfort food as soon as I drag my sorry butt home from work. I can’t help it, when it gets dark outside at five pm I just go into hibernation mode, aka sweatpants and cheesy food in front of the TV mode. Fortunately I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve when it comes to fall and winter comfort foods so I don’t actually pack on as much weight as a slumbering bear.

For example, cauliflower! It’s such a versatile vegetable. Use it in place of white, starchy carbs like pasta or potatoes and you have a super indulgent and cozy yet much healthier meal. When I was grocery shopping at Central Market last weekend I found some beautiful orange cauliflower on sale (the color is so fun! And it means that the cauliflower is especially high in beta-carotene, the same reasons carrots have that great orange color). I knew I had to do something with it…then orange made me think of pumpkin…I still had some pumpkin puree and ricotta left over from the pumpkin lasagna I made last week… BAM. This recipe was born. It’s way quicker and easier to make than your traditional gratin (which are traditionally creamy dishes topped with browned cheese), not to mention way healthier. And it’s totally creamy and satisfying! You won’t regret this one.

Cauliflower Gratin

Cauliflower-Pumpkin-Ricotta Gratin

Read More
Sponsored Content

Watermelon, Olive and Homemade Ricotta Salad

Watermelon Ricotta Salad

I don”t like Labor Day weekend that much. Weird, right? I mean, three-day weekends are the best and all. But to me, Labor Day signifies the end of summer and I love summer! I don”t want it to end! Luckily here in Texas your typical “summer” weather lasts from about April-October. Still though, the fact that September is coming is stressing me out—I feel like I have to cram in as much summer fun and flavor as possible.

One of my very favorite summertime foods is watermelon. I”m obsessed. It”s obviously delicious and refreshing on its own, but I”ve also gotten really into using it as a component in more savory recipes. I always love a good watermelon and feta salad, but here”s something even better. Our friends at Pompeian sent over a recipe for a savory watermelon salad with olives and homemade ricotta. Game changer! If you”re looking for a unique side for your last barbecue of the summer (sob!) I think this would do the trick.

Watermelon, Olive, & Homemade Ricotta Salad

Read More
Sponsored Content

Cocoa Crumble Ricotta Cake

DSC_0245

There’s something about a good, fresh ricotta that compels me to eat a pound of  it by the spoonful. One of my local delis sells an amazingly creamy ricotta, which I buy in two-pound increments: one for cooking/baking, one for eating on a spoon.

This extraordinary ricotta made me remember a cake I made a few years ago. It had a cocoa shortdough crust, a custardy ricotta filling, and was topped with a buttery cocoa crumble. I baked it, and against explicit instructions to not unmold the cake before it was completely cool, I unmolded it still warm and the ricotta flowed from the center like molten lava. It was a delicious disaster.

DSC_0242

I dug through my old recipe folder, found the recipe scribbled on coffee-stained paper, and attempted it again. This time I practiced patience, and it sure paid off. This has a lovely, creamy, cocoa-y, and not-too-sweet flavor that is perfect with a cup of dark coffee. Make this cake well in advance, at least 8 hours before you plan on eating it. It really is disastrous to cut into this cake before it has set. You can store the cake in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer (well wrapped) for 2 weeks.

DSC_0239

Cocoa Crumble Ricotta Cake

Read More
Sponsored Content

Cooking with Love: Carla Hall's Rustic Mushroom Tart

Hey, guess what? I got an opportunity to review Carla Hall”s brand new cookbook, Cooking with Love: Comfort Food that Hugs You.  I was obviously very excited.  Thanks, ES!

I have been a fan of Carla Hall since her first season on Top Chef, Season 5.  When she came back for All-Stars, I also enjoyed rooting her on.  She has a southern style of cooking that focuses on comfort food and fine dining spins on classics.  Plus, she has a super perky and positive personality, but not in an annoying sort of way.  Like in a contagiously sunny kind of way.

This book has so many great recipes that I”ve bookmarked to try, like goat cheese grits and buffalo wing burgers (yum!)  It also has some little anecdotes and tips from Carla.  Carla was a caterer before she made it big and has some great tips about serving large groups, if you are into that kind of thing.  If I had to give a constructive criticism about the book, it would be that I would like a picture for every recipe.  That”s probably not doable to have so many photographs, but that”s what I like.  Although the pictures that are already in the book are quite stunning.

All in all, I”d say everyone should definitely have this cookbook on their shelves.  It”s pretty rockin”.

So, I decided to make the mushroom nbso tart recipe and it was pretty boss.  Super easy and oh so tasty.  I didn”t use a paddle attachment on a food processor , so my dough was a little more crumbly than hers appears.  It was still really good, though.

You should make this and pop over to Amazon to preorder her book, which comes out November 6th.

Rustic Mushroom Tart from Cooking with Love

Read More
Sponsored Content

Endless Ice Cream: Cannoli Cups

Here is a marriage of two of my favorite things: cannoli and ice cream. This is a pretty easy recipe: no eggs, no straining, barely any cooking at all. Plus, these cups are adorable, and perfect for individual party desserts. You can fully assemble and garnish them up to three days ahead of time and pop them back in the freezer, in an airtight container, until it’s time to eat. No need to defrost, you can eat them right away. I really like the wonton wrapper cups, they are crispy but not crispy enough to give you Doritos mouth shank.

Cannoli Ice Cream Cups

Read More
Sponsored Content

Friday Fuck Up: Ricotta, Don’t Fail Me Now!

Yes, I realize this is a gorgeous plate of pasta. Whole wheat noodles, swirling high, bombarded with thick rods of asparagus and topped with green garlic and grated parm. But what are those darn clumps of white? Fucking ricotta.

I bought a tub of ricotta from the far mar (although you can apparently make ricotta yourself) for my strawberry ricotta sticks, and wanted to use the rest of it up quick. I thought a creamy ricotta based sauce would be fantastic for my spring pasta medley. Well, ricotta doesn’t really melt. Or smooth out. Or blend in. It just kinda forms into these lumps of cheese. I tried to let it absorb in the pasta cooking water. I added more butter than I care to admit. And still nothing. Blobs of ricotta.

The meal in its entirety still tasted good, but not what I had envisioned. Is it even possible to turn ricotta into a sauce? Please help me not fuck up again!

Sponsored Content

Salvaging a Crime Scene

This time of year it’s hard for me to eat brunch at a restaurant. Instead of tired florentine or crab cake benedicts (or <gasp> buffets), I grab a bright red bike from the closest Capital Bikeshare dock and ride over to the farmers market. Asparagus bundles line the wooden tables. Bins of kale and spinach also take up plenty of space. But on Sunday, it was all about the strawberries. It was the first time I spied the sultry fruit this season and I couldn’t resist picking up 2 cartons (at $7) from the tiny Bloomingdale market.

The only mistake: riding my bike back home. The berries rumbled around in a box I borrowed from a vendor. When I opened it up at home, it looked like a crime scene as the berries stained the cardboard walls. I managed to save them and decided to use most of them up pretty quickly for a friend’s graduation party. (Congrats, El!) It’s a twist on strawberries and cream, and mostly all of the ingredients can be found at market.

Creating this still cheesy, but much fresher, dish makes me so freaking happy its spring! That was pretty lame, huh?!

 

Read More
Sponsored Content
Page 1 of 212