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Italian grain/ricotta cheese cake

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 LBS. OF WHOLE MILK RICOTTA CHEESE

1 1/4 COOKED QUINOA GRAIN

5 EGGS PLUS ONE EGG YOLK

3/4 CUPS SUGAR

1 LEMON (GRATED)

1 ORANGE(GRATED)

1 TEASPOON OF VANILLA

for the pie tart shell

1 stick of butter

1 1/4 cups of  flour

1 egg yolk

3 tablespoon of ice water

2 tablespoons of sugar

This is a fantastic recipe handed down from Grandma (my ex-wifes grandma that is….I knew it was too complicated to explain…WHATEVER

 First start off with about 1/2 lb. of  quinoa grain..(easily found at any health food store) cook the grain…. by the way, you will need 1 1/4 cups cooked grain for this receipt, first bring to a boil 2 1/2 cups of water, then add the quinoa and lower the heat to a very low simmer, cover and let cook (about  20 minutes) meanwhile back at the ranch.. take 1 stick of butter (softened) and mix with 2 teaspoons of sugar ( hopefully you are using a stand mixer because it is a pain without it) beat until softened then add 1 1/4 cups of flour and 1 egg yolk (optional) but it makes the crust much sweeter, add a few tablespoons of water, I use as little as possible due to the fact that too much water makes for a tougher dough and we do not want that , do weNO   when the dough forms a ball and I mean as soon as it starts to come together ..STOP the MIXER, put some flour on you tabletop  and roll out the dough, place in a 9″ deep ceramic pie tart, fold over the edges as to create a free form top edge….PLEASE DO NOT do a Sandra Lee pie shell, half the pleasure of eating a delicious dessert is that it looks fantastic not like a store-bought machine-made mass-produced piece of ….(lets leave the profanities for another blog)

OK… where was I, ooh right then… place this tart in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes while the oven heats up.(350* degrees) cook the tart for about 20 minutes, then fill it with the Ricotta cheese batter…for those of you new to the art of baking tart shells, you MUST put a sheet of parchment paper or foil in the tart and fill with pie weights..ok, not every one has pie weights in their pantry so you can use uncooked rice, beans or lentils, whatever you have lying around the cupboards in order to fill the shell completely so the sides do not fold-in.

All right, while that’s baking, let’s get back to work, remember the grain??? it has been cooking for a while during which you were making the tart pastry, now that the grain is cooked, let’s make the Ricotta filling.

Let’s take the 1 1/2 lb. of whole milk ricotta and mix it with 5 eggs, 1/4 pint of heavy cream, 1 1/4 cups of the cooked grain, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, grate one lemon and one orange, (just use the gratings) discard the liquid and mix on a slow setting for about five minutes. Personally if you want to get fancy, beat the heavy cream first to form soft peaks then add the remaining ingredients…but that’s just good technique, it will still taste great either way..

take out the tart from the oven and hopefully you have not burnt it to a crisp..next take out the pie weights from the pastry shell and fill the tart all most up to the top with the batter and bake for about an hour @ 350* degrees. Place a cookie sheet under the tart in case it overflows….

HERE IS THE BIG QUESTION:::::When is it done??? not if it shakes when you move it, it could have some wiggle but not too much…mine you, it should not be as hard as rock either, the filling is done when a knife inserted comes out relatively clean, yes relatively clean not squeaky clean but pretty clean… all right enough with that, the cake will continue to set-up as it cools down.

this cheese cake is to die for when it is warm!! but you really do not get the full flavor until it is completely cooled preferably the next day or at least a few hours…but go ahead…and eat a slice and tomorrow when you had your fourth piece you will say…I think it is better today!!!!!! ENJOY

To make the presentation even better when serving, drizzle a little Agave around edge of the plate and shave very finely some of your favorite chocolate, of course add some powdered sugar..

DON”T FORGET....everything in moderation, then you’ll still be able to fit into that size 7 dress you love so much…

Organic vegetables from the Hudson Valley farm stands

RIGHT NOW IS THE BEST TIME TO LIVE IN THE HUDSON VALLEY….

That is, if you want the most unbelievable fresh fruits and vegetables of the season. Here are a few photos that I have taken of what is local and out there right NOW

Fiery Fall Dinner

The time is approaching, (at least in the Hudson Valley Area) for down to earth heart warming COMFORT FOODS.

During the cooler months, the foods we eat are based on hot and savory dishes such as vegetables, beans and who could ever forget pasta and rice. These wonderful fuels last a long time and keep us warm and fat ( one of the disadvantages of starch and carbohydrate greens and beans) what the heck, you have to eat… right???? so you may as well enjoy it....

Fiery Dinner

INGREDIENTS:

2 LARGE ONIONS

4 CHILLI PEPPERS OR EQUAL

1 GREEN AND 1 RED SWEET PEPPER

1 ZUCCINI

1 SQUASH

2 EARS OF FRESH CORN

1 LBS. OF FRESH PASTA OR EQUAL

This absolutely fiery dish can be served on a bed of pasta, rice, Quinoa grain, couscous or any other appropriate carbohydrate. The trick to cooking vegetables without them becoming one pile of goo, is to keep cooking times to a minimum, First, start off with heating the olive oil to a very hot temperature, when you throw in the onions they should start immediately cooking, simmer the onions and garlic (in my case..this is optional, as I never use garlic because it kills my stomach) but to each its own….next add the peppers, zucchini and squash and let simmer for about five minutes. Next add the plum tomatoes in along with the fresh corn and the typical seasonings…salt, fresh ground pepper, parsley and basil.

let this cook down for about 15 minutes on a reduced temperature… medium to low simmer but first make sure all vegetables have slightly browned before reducing the heat.

With a meal like this, timing is everything, make sure the pasta is ready at the exact moment that your vegetables are otherwise they will over cook and ruin the evening…. YOU probably do not have any thing else in the house to cook for dinner and of course the snow is coming down very hard and you need new tires on your Range Rover, so you do not want to drive down the mountain for ingredients that you will most likely will mess up again anyway, as you have… this simple, yet elegant meal…

BE CAREFUL and everything will be fantastic

INGREDIENTS:

2 CUPS OF BASAMATI RICE

4 LARGE PEPPERS..RED, GREEN, OR YELLOW ARE ALL FINE

1 LARGE ONION

4 FRESH PLUM TOMATOES (cut and quartered)

1 CAN OF ITALIAN TOMATO PASTE

1 CAN OF ITALIAN PEELED TOMATOES (TRY TO GET ORGANIC TOMATOES FROM ITALY)

FRESH PARSLEY AND BASIL, SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE

1 CUP OF PEAS

1/4 LBS. LOCATELLI GRATING CHEESE

To prepare this meal, it will take three separate operations but all can be done simultaneously, that is of course if you have an extra pair of hand available…

First start out by preparing the red sauce, take a large saucepan and add your olive oil,(a good rule is to completely coat the bottom of the pan with oil to about at least an 1/8″ high and let this get very hot). Add the onions to this hot oil and let them sweat until lightly browned (as in the fiery pepper dish, you have the option of adding 1 clove of garlic..you know how I feel about this but…. whatever) then throw in the plum tomatoes stirring frequently as not to burn the tomatoes, when this starts to get thick add in the tomato paste and let this cook for about two minutes, at this point be careful as this will quickly burn if you do not stay on it. Now add the can of crushed tomatoes and one full can of water, along with the salt, pepper, parsley basil and bay leaves. Lower the heat to a low simmer and stir occasional as needed. Cook this sauce for approximately 1 hour.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, cut off the tops of the bell peppers and remove all seeds and wash throughly. I like to par boil the peppers, this will cut down on time in the oven and make for a very tender skin but it is perfectly fine to stuff them raw and cook fully in the oven. (this usually produces a little firmer shell but completely acceptable) bring a large pot of water to a boil and put in the peppers for about 5 minutes or until they start to get softened. Remove in wash in cold water to stop the cooking process. Put the peppers in a glass oven proof pan and set aside for later use.

Take three cups of cold water to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of butter and salt to taste. when the water boils add in the rice and reduce the heat to low simmer and cover for about twenty minutes. try not to remove the cover too frequently and especially do not stir the rice. (a good practice is to throughly wash the rice prior to cooking).

In a bowl add the rice peas, grated Locatelli, salt pepper a little of the red sauce, mix throughly and fill the peppers with this mixture. I usually do not over load the rice mixture with too much sauce as I add it on top of and around the peppers after filling them. An option would be to add fresh mozzarella on top of the peppers.

Cook for about 40-50 minutes @ 450* degrees or until tender and liquid is boiling around them.