Tag Archives: cheese

Roll On!

Involtini is an Italian word for various small bites of food consisting of some sort of outer layer wrapped around a filing.  It can be made with a wrapeer of meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetables, with fillings like cheese, vegetables, cured meats, and nuts.  In this case the wrapper is zucchini and the filling is ricotta, pesto, and fontina.

For me, the definition of comfort food is smelling something luscious coming together in the kitchen.  Since I consider the kitchen to be the heart of the home, I love making dishes that catch people’s attention when they come in from outside.  This dish packs a flavor punch, yet won’t weight you down.  I make it with my homemade roasted tomato sauce, but you can easily substitute canned crushed tomatoes.  If you can, try to find locally raised grass-fed lamb; it’s leaner and more flavorful.  This dish can be made ahead up to 12 hours and reheated.  It can also be doubled for a crowd.  Serve with a simple salad tossed with vinaigrette and you’re in business.

STUFFED ZUCCHINI INVOLTINI

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb or sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (I like San Marzano)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped (2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (slightly more if you enjoy more heat)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 large zucchini
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded fontina cheese
  • 1/2  cup basil pesto, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh basil, ribboned for serving

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Lightly oil a 9×13 baking dish or dish of similar size.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet on medium-high heat.  Add Italian sausage or ground lamb, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.  Cook until no longer pink.  Reduce the heat to low, add the bell pepper, tomatoes, oregano, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, along with salt and pepper.  Simmer for 10 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, using mandolin or vegetable peeler, slice the zucchini into 1/4 inch wide strips and lay them flat on a paper towel lined counter.  You should have about 30 strips.  Sprinkle the zucchini with salt.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, fontina, and 1/2 cup pesto.
  5. To assemble, spoon the tomato meat sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Place two zucchini ribbons on cutting board side by side, and slightly overlapping lengthwise.  Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling onto the zucchini.  Roll into a coil and place each seam-side down in the dish as you go.  Repeat with remaining zucchini.  Top with mozzarella.  Cover with foil.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted.  Remove foil and broil for 3-5 minutes to lightly brown.  Cook 5 minutes and top with ribboned basil and thyme leaves.

Serves 6

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“If you cook Italian food, why should you go to a restaurant?”  –Martin Scorsese

The Flavorful Earth

Many years ago, when I was 10 years old, I made my first pie crust.  I had read the ingredients incorrectly and accidentally switched the salt and sugar amounts, making the pie virtually inedible.  Since then I have used refrigerator pie crusts with similar results;  they too were tough, tasteless and inedible.  I love tarts, pies and galettes and wanted to master these at home.  My reluctance to make homemade pie crusts continued until 2 months ago when my surrogate mother Mama Jan Burian offered me a solution.  I had always admired her baking skills and shared with her that pie crusts intimidated me.  She gave me her perfect pie crust recipe.  “It’s virtually foolproof!”, she told me.

Although slightly skeptical, with the encouragement of Mama Jan, I knew I had to try again.  After making the very first one, I regretted getting stuck in the refrigerator section of the grocery store.  My god, it was foolproof!  I am now delighted to report that there is no turning back!  I’m obsessed with savory galettes.  This one has become a favorite; and can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  It comes together quickly and has had favorable reviews.  Thanks Mama Jan!!

SAVORY MUSHROOM GRUYERE GALETTE

MAMA JAN’S PERFECT PIE CRUST

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Fine Pastry Flour)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • ½ cup ice water

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pulse flour, sugar and salt in a processor.  Add butter and shortening; pulse until crumbly.  Add ice water and pulse until it forms a ball.  Dust silicone baking mat with flour; place ball on mat and cut in half.  Wrap each half in plastic wrap.  If using for a one crust pie or galette, place one half in refrigerator for one hour; place other half in freezer for future use.
  2. Remove wrapped dough from refrigerator and let stand for 10-15.  Unwrap and place on lightly floured silicone baking mat.  Roll out in a circle of about 16 inches in diameter.  Roll loosely around your rolling pin and place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

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FOR FILLING:

  •  2-3 medium sized shallots, minced
  • 2 12 ounce packages white button or crimini mushrooms, or a mixture of both, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup white vermouth
  • Kosher salt and freshly grated black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 8 ounces finely shredded Gruyere or Comte cheese
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a large non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Add shallots and saute until soft, about 6-8 minutes.  Add mushrooms, then thyme leaves and continue to saute as the mushrooms start to sweat out their moisture.  After about 10 minutes add your white vermouth, salt and pepper.  Continue sauteing until most of the moisture is evaporated from pan.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Place your finely shredded Gruyere cheese in a 12 inch circle in the center of rolled out crust; leaving a 2 inch border.  Place your mushroom mixture on top of Gruyere.  Gently fold over border making occasional pleats where necessary.
  3. Brush with beaten egg.  Place in over for 35-45 minutes; or until crust is golden and mushrooms are bubbly.  Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting.  Garnish with chopped parsley.

Serves 2-4

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“I learned that a galette is sort of the offspring of a pie and a tart- halfway between homespun and fancy- but easier to make than its parents. The biggest difference is that a galette is a free-form pastry, baked without a pie pan or tart ring. It’s rustic. And it’s forgiving. You just roll it out flat and then fold it in roughly around the filling.”                       —Viola Shipman