What's Baking: Tomato Ricotta Tart


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This month's What's Baking is hosted by Jade of The Mess Pot with the theme being Celebrate Summer.  Although I love Fall, Summer comes close to being my favorite season mostly due the beach.  I love the beach and am very fortunate to live close enough to make weekly or semi-weekly trips on the weekends.

I had so many ideas incorporating a beach-y feel, but as it turned out I decided to highlight the abundance of tomatoes coming out of my garden.  Tomatoes are the garden I look forward to all Summer.  I've heard so many stories around the nation of lost gardens due to extreme heat or bugs, we were lucky to escape both of these hardships this year.

Every Summer I search for new ways to use tomatoes, usually opting for recipes that highlight their bright flavor.  This Tomato Ricotta Tart from Martha Stewart was no exception.  Not only does it highlight the tomatoes, pairing it with a side salad makes for a great light dinner on an especially hot Summer day.

My springform pan is 10 inches, so the measurements here represent what I used for that size pan.  Here is what you'll need:
  • 2 1/2 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 3 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 450F degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, add breadcrumbs and olive oil, combine well.  Pour crumbs into bottom of springform pan and gently press to make a crust.

In the mixing bowl, add ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, basil, salt and pepper.  Whip together until well combined.  Pour over crust in pan and gently spread to cover entire crust.

Layer tomato slices over cheese mixture forming a circular pattern.  Use larger slices around the outside, and use smaller slices in the middle.  Spring salt and pepper over the tomatoes, and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until tomatoes appear dry.  Allow to cool before removing side from pan.  Serves 6.

Coconut Ginger Lime Oatmeal Muffins


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I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, however, it seems that Summer is starting to wind down (at least in my area).  I know that there is still time for it to come back strong, but while it's cooler I'm taking advantage of this opportunity to bake.  I miss baking.  Call me a wimp, but I just cannot handle baking in the heat of Summer.  I hope to make up for it now.  This is the third baked good I made in the past 2 weeks.  Unfortunately my first two won't be posted here, at least not until I can figure out what went wrong.

These muffins came about because I started straying from eating a good breakfast.  This is a problem; I need good fuel for brain power throughout the morning.  So early one morning I searched for a muffin recipe.  After realizing all the recipes I was finding called for milk, which I was out of, I almost lost hope.  However, I thought I must have a can of coconut milk in the pantry.  That would work, right?  The reviews of this basic oatmeal muffin recipe lead me to believe that indeed it should adapt well.

Now I had to think about how to flavor them.  What compliments coconut?  I had fresh strawberries and peaches, frozen blueberries, black raspberries and bananas, but none of these sounded right.  I wanted something a bit more tropical.  Lime would work, but that didn't seem like enough, so I took a chance on adding ginger.

The aroma while these baked was heavenly!  The flavors complimented each other really well.  These were a great breakfast option for me, full of good-for-you ingredients.  I will caution you that these are not sweet, but I hope that doesn't stop you from giving them a try.

I made several changes to the recipe which are included here:
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup agave
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dried shredded coconut 
  • 1 tsp ginger
Preheat oven to 425F degrees.

In a large measuring cup, measure coconut milk.  Add oatmeal and allow to soak 15 minutes.

In a small mixing bowl, combine egg, oil, agave and lime zest.  Add oatmeal mixture and combine.

In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt.  Add coconut and ginger.  Add wet mixture and stir until just combined.  Do not overmix.

Divide batter evenly among a 12 cup muffin tin.

Bake 20-25 minutes (mine came out at 20 minutes) until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Makes 12 muffins.

Summer Corn and Tomato Salad


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I'm always looking for new ways to utilize these star vegetables of summer.  This salad is inspired by this corn soup recipe I started making 2 summers ago (I hope to make and blog this soon).  Since I had both a leftover ear of corn and fresh tomatoes on hand, and I knew they went well together I decided to make a light salad to accompany our Shrimp Burgers.

The corn and scallions tied in nicely with the burgers.  I just used a bit of vinegar to give it some flavor, but still keep the flavor mild which I appreciated for balancing out the tartness of the burger's tartar sauce.

Here is what you'll need:
  • corn kernels, cut from 2 fresh cobs of corn
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chopped scallions
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a small bowl and combine well.  Let sit for a 20 minutes before serving.   Serves 2 as a side.

Shrimp Burgers


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If I ask JR what he wants for dinner, at least 50% of the time he will respond, "bacon cheeseburgers".  While I'll occasionally eat a cheeseburger, it's rarely something I want for dinner.  Make it a turkey burger and I'm on board, but then JR isn't interested.  It's complicated.  I need to expand our burger horizon and that's exactly what I did with these Shrimp Burgers I saw on Pink Parsley.

These were delicious, but messy!  I adapted the recipe slightly, mainly leaving out most of the cayenne and hot sauce since JR cannot tolerate heat.  See I have issues here, no turkey burgers, no heat...and the list goes on.  Even with less heat (really no heat since it's only used to boil the shrimp then rinsed off) these were packed with flavor!  JR agreed that a burger doesn't have to be made of beef to taste great!

I had some trouble keeping these from falling apart, but since there was tartar sauce to cover them up you probably couldn't tell.  I thought maybe it was because I didn't finely grind the breadcrumbs.  It was hot and I was being lazy, so I just broke the bread up into small pieces.  However, Josie mentioned she had the same problem and she thought it was due to the chopped vs. ground shrimp.  

While the burgers were great, let's talk about this tartar sauce.  YUM!  I've never experimented with tartar sauce beyond mixing relish and mayonnaise, and I never realized what I was missing!  This tartar sauce will no doubt be my go-to from now on.  So even if shrimp is not your thing, make this tartar sauce to accompany fish sticks!

The changes I made are listed here:

For the Burgers:
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 Tbsp peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp celery seeds
  • 1 Tbsp mustard seeds
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound shrimp, shells on 
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • corn kernels, cut from 1 fresh cob of corn
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise with olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
In a large pot, add water, peppercorns, celery seed, mustard seed, bay, 1/2 cup sea salt and cayenne t.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Add shrimp and boil for 2 minutes until they turn pink.  Remove from heat and run under cold water to cool.  Peel, devein and chop (or grind) the shrimp, then place in a large mixing bowl.

To the mixing bowl with shrimp, add scallions, corn, ginger, lemon zest and juice, mayonnaise, yogurt, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine all ingredients together well.  Add egg and gently fold into mixture.

Form mixture into 4 even size patties.  Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill and mold together (I would recommend longer, maybe an hour).

In a large frying pan, heated oil over medium-high to high heat.  Once oil is hot, but not smoking, gently place shrimp burgers into pan.  Cook for 3-4 minutes until browned.  Flip and cook other side 3 minutes until browned.  Remove from pan and place on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb any extra oil.

For the Tartar Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup drained pickle relish
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise with olive oil
  • 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Mix all tartar sauce ingredients together in a small mixing bowl.

Serve burgers on rolls of your choice topped with tartar sauce, lettuce, tomato or other toppings of your choice.  Serves 4.

Fig and Arugula Salad


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This post jumped to the front of the line after our Sunday lunch.  When I can serve my husband a meal with very minimal meat, and he's satisfied, it's cause for celebration!  As we started lunch JR was making comments such as, "this is really good", "I'd eat this again", "these figs are the perfect ripeness".  He never asked, "where's the meat?"  I'm shocked, but I shouldn't be.  I did add just a few very slices of shaved prosciutto to the salads, and that was enough for him.  Lesson learned.

Since fig season is so short, when I came across this recipe on courant.com last week, it immediately went on our weekly menu plan.  I'm so grateful it did.  I found arugula and a perfect goat milk feta, not too salty, at Sunday's farmer's market.  I was unsure about arugula since I'd never had it before and I'm not generally fond of bitter flavors, however, it worked really well here.

I served this with a side of toasted baguette (also from the farmer's market), sliced and drizzled with olive oil and the remaining dressing.  This really was the perfect lunch for a blazing hot Sunday.

Here is what you'll need:
  • 1 bunch arugula
  • 2.5 oz. feta cheese, cubed
  • 4 figs, quartered
  • 4 slices shaved prosciutto 
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
In a small frying pan, toast the pecans over medium-high heat.  Be sure you watch them carefully and shake the pan a few times to move them around.  When you begin to smell the nuts, they're done.  Remove them from the heat and allow to cool.  Once cool, chop.

Arrange arugula, feta, figs, prosciutto and pecans on a plate.

In a small bowl, add vinegar, olive oil, honey and salt.  Whisk well.  Drizzle over salad.  Serves 2 as a main meal, serves 4 as a side.