Limoncello Cheesecake Squares

From Giada’s Family Dinners book, and I quote: “Refreshing, light, and decadent, these squares are a cross between mini cheesecakes and everyone’s favorite lemon bars.

 

Nonstick cooking spray

8 ounces purchased biscotti

6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

3 Tbsp. grated lemon zest

1 (12 ounce) container fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese, drained

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temp.

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup limoncello

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the bottom of a 9x9x2 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Break the biscotti into pieces and grind them to fine crumbs in a food processor. Add the melted butter and 1 Tbsp. of the lemon zest, and process until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumb mixture over just the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared pan. Bake until the crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and cool the crust completely.

Clean out the food processor bowl and blend the ricotta until smooth. Add the cream cheese and sugar, and blend well, stopping the machine occasionally and scraping down the sides. Blend the limoncello, vanilla, and the remaining 2 Tbsp. of lemon zest. Add the eggs and pulse just until blended.

Pour the cheese mixture over the crust in the pan. Place the baking pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the smaller pan. Bake until the cheesecake is golden but the center of the cake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour. (the cheesecake will firm up as it cools)

Transfer the pan to a rack, cool for 1 hour. Refrigerate until the cheesecake is cold, at least 8 hours, and up to 2 days. Cut the cake into squares and serve.

Enjoy!

Potato Pizza ~ A specialty from Puglia in southern Italy ~ Vegan

This “pizza” is made with mashed potatoes, and contains a tasty filling of garlic, tomatoes, capers and Kalamata olives.

4 large russet potatoes

1.5 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 large tomato, chopped

2 Tbsp. capers, rinsed

1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives

  1.  Cut up and boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Hand mash, adding 3 Tbsp. oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2.  Heat 3 Tbsp. oil in a medium pan. Add garlic and chopped tomatoes. Cook until softened and tomatoes begin to dry out a little. Fold in capers and olives. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3.  Oil a shallow baking dish. Spread half the mashed potatoes in the dish in an even layer. Cover with the chopped tomatoes/capers/olives/garlic combo.
  4.  Spread over the rest of the potatoes in an even layer. Brush the top with the remaining oil and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top in golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh, chopped parsley.

Thai Coconut Chicken and Rice Soup

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces

3 cups chicken broth

1 large onion diced

8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, stems removed, sliced and sauteed

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 cup cooked rice

1 can coconut milk (about 13 oz.)

1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

2 Tbsp. grated lime peel

 

  1. In a large Le Creuset pot combine chicken, broth, onions, mushrooms, ginger and sugar. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes or until heated through.
  2.  Stir in rice, coconut milk and bell pepper into soup. Cover and cook 15 minutes. Turn off heat. Stir in cilantro and lime peel before serving.

Vegetable Lo Mein

The other day, while too hot to garden, was perfectly suited to jumping in the convertible and shopping. One of our stops was at Barnes and Noble bookstore where I let Sandy know I wouldn’t be buying any more cookbooks. I have plenty. But, one meander through the bargain section and I had collected an Asian Cooking cookbook; $9.98! No author, but plenty of recipes that were simple and tempting. With this dish I wanted to use what vegetables I had rather than following their ingredients exactly. I did have scallions for the thin egg pancake and a red pepper. Outside of that I substituted their veggies with asparagus and snap peas. This recipe makes 4 hearty servings. Enjoy!

8 ounces uncooked Chinese egg noodles or spaghetti. (I used spaghetti)

2 egg whites

1 egg

1 green onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, tough stems discarded.

2 cups thinly sliced bok choy (leaves and stems)

1 red or yellow bell pepper cut into strips

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1/4 cup teriyaki sauce

Chopped peanuts (optional)

Chopped cilantro (optional)

  1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside
  2.  Beat egg whites and egg in small bowl until foamy. Stir in green onion. Spray large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Add egg mixture; cook without stirring 2 to 3 minutes or until bottom is set. Gently turn over; cook 1 minute or until bottom is set. Slide onto cutting board; set aside.
  3.  Heat oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, bok choy and bell pepper; cook 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add broth and teriyaki sauce; simmer 2 minutes. Remove to large bowl. Add noodles; toss to coat.
  4.  Cut egg pancake into strips; add to noodle mixture. Gently toss to combine. Serve with peanuts and cilantro if desired.

Basque Garlic Soup

This recipe comes from the January 2019 edition of Food & Wine Magazine, and it meets both my requirements: easy and incredibly flavorful. So, here you go!

4 oz. high-quality baquette

1/2 cup olive oil, divided

1 garlic head (about 12 cloves), peeled and finely chopped

1 heaping Tbsp. smoked Spanish paprika

8 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth

2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste

2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar (I used Champagne vinegar)

3 large eggs, beaten

 

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place baguette on a baking sheet, and toast in preheated oven until very browned and almost burnt. 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool. Break or slice bread into 2-inch pieces.

2.  Heat 7 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add bread pieces, and reduce heat to medium. Cook, turning often to allow bread to toast and soak up oil, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove bread, and set aside. Wipe pot clean.

3. Add garlic and remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pot. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until garlic is golden brown. 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in paprika. Add broth and salt; bring to a boil.

4. Add bread to pot. Reduce heat to medium-low, and maintain a simmer. Add vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally to break up bread until flavors meld, about 25 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed.

5. When ready to serve, bring soup to a simmer over medium-high. Stirring constantly, slowly pour beaten eggs into hot soup. Serve hot

Greens and Beans with Fried Bread

This originally was a recipe from the April Bon Appetit, but I altered it. Where I have spinach, they had kale. I also cut down considerably on the amount of olive oil used, and where this dish, when finished, is sprinkled with white wine vinegar and olive oil, I sprinkled with white wine vinegar and topped with olive oil pearls. The original recipe also did not call for the clams, but I added some steamers. Without the clams this dish is vegetarian and one of the most delicious dishes I’ve ever made! Enjoy!  Serves 2

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tsp. finely chopped oregano

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1  6 oz. bag spinach

1 15.5 oz. can white cannellini beans, rinsed

4 Tbsp. olive oil

4 1″ thick slices crusty bread, cut the baguette diagonally

White wine vinegar and olive oil pearls (for serving)

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Fry pieces of bread on both sides until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain. You can keep them warm in a low oven. (I did not)
  2. Bring wine, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper flakes and 1/4 cup water to boil in a large skillet. Add spinach, cover pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are wilted. Mix in beans and 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and cook uncovered, until beans are warmed through, about 2 minutes.
  3. To serve, place 2 pieces of fried bread on each plate and spoon spinach/bean mixture and sauce over, dividing evenly. Drizzle with white wine vinegar and top with a few olive oil pearls.