Tomato and Asiago Pizza

August is almost gone, can you believe it? I sure can't. This summer just FLEW by! One of my favorite parts about August is how amazing the farmers market is this time of year. Tomatoes, peaches, melon, corn, squash, peppers and the first of the apples, wow is it glorious. I have been eating good! 

There's almost nothing better than a simple, homemade pizza to showcase some of that summer bounty. This pizza only needed a couple ingredients to help it shine. Start with a good crust, add some garlicky oil, top with a couple handfuls of whole milk mozzarella mixed with a bit of asiago, top with a couple slices of one of those juicy, sweet and tender August tomatoes and sprinkled with thyme. A quick trip to the oven and you're ready to go. Serve with a bit of fresh parley and Parmesan cheese and you are set for dinner.

You could kind of consider this a spin on the traditional Margarita pizza, just switching up the cheese a bit and using a different herb, so not really a Margarita pizza at all! But in the same spirit in my opinion! Whatever you all it, it's delicious!

 
 
 
 
 
 

Tomato and Asiago Pizza

  • 1/4 of the perfect pizza dough recipe
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tomato, sliced thin
  • Asiago cheese, shredded
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions
Heat a small frying pan over medium to low heat. Add the oil and allow it to heat up for 30 seconds, then add the sliced garlic. Fry the garlic in the oil until it is just starting to turn golden, watching it closely to ensure that it does not burn. Remove pan from heat and set aside to cool. 

Prepare pizza dough. Brush shaped dough liberally with the garlic oil, you may not need it all, save the leftover oil to use later on. Sprinkle the oiled dough with a few tablespoons of parmesan cheese. Then top with asiago cheese, spreading almost to the very edge. Lay tomato slices on top of the cheeses. Sprinkle the whole thing with minced fresh thyme and some salt and pepper. Slide pizza off peel and onto your heated stone or baking sheet. Bake until the crust is golden and and cheese is bubbling and just beginning to brown, 6-10 minutes depending on your oven. 

Homemade Ricotta

I don't know if I've made it clear before, but if not, let's set the record straight, I absolutely love cheese. All kinds of cheese, it doesn't matter, I have never met a cheese I didn't like. So of course I've been interested in making my own. Now I know that making any aged cheese takes a lot more work, and is a bigger investment then I want to make right now, so currently I'm sticking to fresh cheeses that are quick and easy to make, and are ready right away.

Homemade ricotta is about as easy as it gets. You don't need any fancy ingredients or tools and it can be ready to eat in less than an hour. All you need to start is some milk and an acid such as vinegar or citrus juice. A thermometer of some kind and a small amount of cheesecloth are the only other tools that you really do need (and you can get by without the cheesecloth if you have too, that's what happened to me the first time!). After you have this all set, all it takes are some heat and a little time and you'll have a bowl of fresh, homemade ricotta, ready for anything you might imagine!

Traditionally, ricotta is actually made from the whey that is leftover from cheesemaking. But since I don't generally have a lot of whey sitting around ready and waiting, this alternative using milk does the trick. I've heard some people complain that this is not actually ricotta then, but in the end I don't really care. Call it whatever you want, but it's close enough to ricotta for me. All I know is that it is easy to make and absolutely delicious to eat! If you've ever been interested in making your own cheese, this is definitely the place to start!

Heating the milk and vinegar over medium heat

You can see some nice curds forming

Straining the cheese in a cheesecloth lined colander 

(or in my case, an old cotton t-shirt lined colander, definitely 

not ideal, but sometimes you have to improvise!)

All strained with the salt mixed in

A beautiful bowl of cheese!

(don't look too closely at the 6 ounce measurement, 

I actually lost some cheese down the drain while I was

straining it :( so you should actually get more than this!)

Ready to eat!

Homemade Ricotta

Adapted from

One Hour Cheese

by Claudia Lucero 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar (can also use lemon juice)
  • 6 cups whole milk, not ultra-pasteurized (I highly recommend whole milk, you can use other milks, but they will result in a less creamy final product and a lower yield, whatever you do, don't use skim milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon flake salt

Directions

Pour the milk and vinegar into a large pot and set over medium heat. Heat the milk and vinegar mixture to 190 degrees, gently stirring occasionally to prevent a skim from forming and to prevent any milk from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Don't stir so vigorously that the curds are not broken up. Some curds will begin to form right away, and will begin to form more rapidly as the milk approaches the target temperature of 190 degrees. It should look like thin oatmeal. 

Once the mixture reaches 190 degrees, turn the heat off and take the pot off the burner. Allow the curds to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes. They will release more whey this time. 

While you wait, line a colander with cheesecloth  and either set over a large bowl (if you want to save the whey) or in the sink. 

After the 10 minutes are up, pour the curds and whey into the cheesecloth lined colander. Allow the whey to drain for about 10 minutes, or until you get the creamy smooth texture of smooth mashed potatoes. 

Gather the cheesecloth into a bundle and give it a gentle squeeze to remove the last bit of whey. Place the clothe of fully drained ricotta back in the colander and add the salt. Stir the salt into the ricotta gently until thoroughly mixed. The salt will help release more whey, but air will dry out the cheese so if you stir too long the cheese will become crumbly instead of creamy. 

The ricotta is ready to eat. It will be loose and creamy while warm, but will firm up after being chilled in the fridge. 

Yield: about 7-8 ounces cheese

Capellini with Chicken, Spinach and Camembert

So I've been in my new apartment for one week now and I am loving it! Having my own space is amazing and something I was completely ready for. Unfortunately, these first couple of weeks in my new place also coincide with a couple of week of night shifts for school. So with all of this going on I hardly know what day it is, or what is going on with the rest of the world. Even so, that doesn't mean I want to eat poorly so I made sure to stock my cupboards and pantry full as soon as I could so I would have the ingredients to make simple and quick meals during these crazy couple of weeks. 

This pasta dish was one of my first meals in my new apartment (the very first meal being a fantastic peanut butter and banana sandwich on freshly made bread, delicious, but not as fun to talk about!) I threw it together with the stuff in my fridge and I was very pleased with how it turned out. Some roasted broccoli was all I needed to round it out. 

There is nothing fancy about this simple dish. It's really just spaghetti with some wilted spinach and chicken, finished off with one of my new favorites, Camembert cheese. I also added in some onions and garlic for flavor. If I had been trying to make this extra fancy I could have made a sauce with the cheese, using a roux and melting the cheese into it until smooth, but I was much too lazy for that. I just threw it in at the end and let it gently melt into the hot pasta. Perfect technique, no; still absolutely delicious and so much easier, yes!

Capellini with Chicken, Spinach and Camembert

From Jana

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 small onion, sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 ounces whole wheat capellini
  • Handful spinach
  • 4 ounces cooked chicken
  • 2 ounces (or more!) Camembert cheese
  • Pasta water
  • Salt
  • Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling on top

Directions

Fill a large pot with water, add a good handful of salt and bring water to boil. While the water is heating, add a couple of teaspoons of olive oil to a saute pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and a pinch of salt. Saute the onions until they begin to soften and just start to brown, add garlic and cook until fragrant.

Once water begins to boil, cook capellini until just al dente. About 1-2 minutes before the pasta is finished cooking, add the spinach and the cooked chicken to the pan with the onions and garlic. Add a ladleful of pasta water and let the spinach begin to wilt.

When the pasta is finished cooking, add it to the saute pan along with the camembert. The heat from the pasta will continue to wilt the spinach and start to melt the cheese. Mix it all together in the saute pan, adding more pasta water if needed to form a nice sauce. Finish with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese if desired. 

Serves 2

Tomato Tart

While it's not tomato season yet in Michigan, the farmers market is starting to have some very nice greenhouse tomatoes that are actually pretty good. I've picked up a few over the last couple weeks and have been quite happy with them, on sandwiches or salads. Over the winter I've forgotten how much I love having fresh tomatoes around, they are so useful and so delicious. They may not be fresh from the garden, still warm from the sun tomatoes, but I am happy with them for now, and they worked perfectly in this tomato tart.

This tart is basically just a pizza in a different form, and it was delicious. Spreading an entire head of roasted garlic on the crust is a brilliant start. Since I had mozzarella in the freezer, I used that instead of the Fontina which was called for. I would have loved to use Fontina, but the mozzarella was still very good. Fresh basil on top was the perfect finishing touch. I thought this tart was just wonderful, and I can't wait to make it again with my very own tomatoes, fresh from the garden.

Tomato Tart

From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

Ingredients

  • 1 head garlic
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • All purpose flour for dusting
  • 1/2 recipe Pate Brissee (recipe follows)
  • 3/4 cup grated Fontina or mozzarella (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ripe but firm tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • course salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 12 fresh basil leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the garlic on a piece of foil; drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Fold the foil up around the garlic, sealing the edges, and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven until golden brown and the tip of a sharp knife easily pierces the flesh, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees. When garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the clovees out of their skins and into a small bowl, mash with fork and set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 13 inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. Fit the dough into a 10 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom, pressing into the edges. Using a rolling pin or a sharp paring knife, trim dough flush with the top edge of the tart pan; chill tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes.

Spread roasted garlic evenly on the bottom of the chilled shell. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Arrange the tomato slices in an overlapping circular pattern on top of the cheese, working from the out edge toward the center. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese, and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.

Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees. Bake tart until crust is golden and tomatoes are soft but still retain their shape, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Thinly slice basil leaves lengthwise. Sprinkle tart with basil, and serve warm.

Pate Brisee

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed

Directions

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds. (To mix by hand, combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry blender or two fork.)

With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until the dough holds together with out being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of the dough together; if it is still to crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic  wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or overnight. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.