Ricotta Pomodoro Pie

I don’t know about you, but my garden tomatoes are going crazy right now! Don’t have a garden? Well stop by the local farmer’s market or grocery, and pick up some sweet summertime tomatoes, and get cooking. My Ricotta Pomodoro Pie recipe is light and refreshing, and the rosemary cornmeal crust adds a crunchy comfort to this tasty tart. It pairs perfectly with a light pinot noir, and is the ideal meal for an evening outdoors.

Ingredients for Crust:

  • 1 c. cornmeal (preferably fine ground)
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 c. butter, room temperature softened
  • ¼ c. ice water
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. coarse ground salt
  • 1 tsp. coarse ground black pepper

Method – Crust First.

1. On a cutting board, remove rosemary leaves from stem. Sprinkle with the coarse ground salt and pepper, and run your knife through the mixture to roughly chop. Set aside.

Fluff, Crumble, Ball, Crust!

2.  In a large mixing bowl, add cornmeal, flour and butter. Lightly run your fingers through the mixture to break up the butter, incorporating the dry ingredients until crumbles form.

3. Add herb mixture to the bowl. Start to pour in the ice water, 2 Tbs. at a time, and continue to work the dough until you form a rough ball. If your dough comes together with less than the full ¼ c. of water, don’t add any more. You don’t want the dough consistency to be too soft like batter.

4. Press dough into a 10 inch non-stick tart pan with removable bottom OR pie dish to form a crust. Lightly poke the bottom of the crust a few times with a fork.

5. Bake crust off for 10 minutes at 375°. Remove from oven, and set aside until filling is ready.

 Ingredients for Filling:

  • 2 c. ricotta cheese (or 1 small 15oz. container)
  • 1 c. plain greek yogurt or sour cream (or 1 small 6 oz. container)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced into wedges
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh basil as garnish

Method – Filling.

Meanwhile:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together ricotta cheese, Greek yogurt, egg, garlic and a dash of salt and pepper to season.

2. Pour the filling into the pre-baked crust.

3. Arrange the tomato wedges on top of the ricotta filling. Some of them may sink into the mixture a bit. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper if desired.

4. Bake at 375° for 55-60 minutes, until filling has set up to a firm, spongy consistency, and crust is golden brown. Tomatoes will appear lightly roasted.

5. Top with fresh basil, and serve in slices.

Here’s to the Red White and Blue…Summer Wines

Let’s be honest, summertime is vacation time. What better way to enjoy vacation than with a wine glass in hand? My thoughts exactly. Here are a couple of my favorites to grab on the go, or sip by the beach.

Red: Melville 2010 Estate Pinot Noir- Verna’s, Sta. Rita Hills, CA    $26.00/bottle

A great ‘wind down the evening’ wine, this blend is richly aromatic with fruity floral tones mixed with a hint of spice and smoke. Grab your favorite sweater and post up in your favorite rocking chair while sipping.

I was lucky to meet the proprietor of Melville at a wine tasting recently, and she is just as lovely as the fruits of her labor. If ever in the Santa Barbara region, visit the Melville tasting room!

 

White: 2010 Uppercut Sauvignon Blanc, North Coast, CA   $12.00/bottle

Light, Bright, White! True to that little rhyme, this Sauv Blanc is refreshing on a hot summer afternoon. The crisp, citrusy start rolls off the tongue into a tangy yet smooth finish. Definitely a great complement to a grilled white fish dinner.

 

Blue (well, blue labels…): Surprise, I’ve got two- Splurge and Save!

Splurge: Mumm Santana Brut, Napa Valley, CA   $45.00/bottle

What’s a celebration without a little sparkly? Well, given my affinity for the fine wines of Mumm, there was no doubt that this spunky sparkling would make my list. The Santana, named after the rock legend, is complex and not too sweet. With a fruity start and soft, vanilla-y finish pop open a bottle at your next party.

 

Save: La Marca Prosecco, Northern Italy   $13.00/bottle

Don’t let the price fool you, La Marca was awarded a ‘Top 100 Wines of the Year’ nod by Wine Spectator Magazine in 2007.  One of my favorite go-to bottles of bubbly, this Prosecco is slightly sweet and well balanced with hints of honey and apple.

Mediterranean Spinach Stromboli

Pizza’s ‘stuffy’ (hehe, sorry couldn’t resist) cousin seems to have become almost a lost art. It’s shameful, really, because this beautiful, savory turnover can be dressed up or down, and when stuffed with gooey cheeses and fresh ingredients is impossible to resist.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 small, or ½ large sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. fresh spinach
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 Tsp. sugar
  • 3-5 slices smoked Provolone cheese
  • ¼ c. fresh shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 1 ball of pizza dough (fresh or frozen & thawed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs. water
  • flour for counter surface

Method:

1. Whisk together egg with 1 Tbs. water, and set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 400° F.

3. Heat olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and sweat until translucent.

4. Add spinach, and incorporate with garlic and onions. Stir in marinara sauce, and add the sugar. Mix well, and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

5. Roll out the pizza dough onto a lightly floured surface.

6. Layer 3 pieces of provolone cheese onto the center of the dough. Pile on the spinach and marinara mix and top with shredded cheese. Save any remaining spinach mix for later, it makes a great sauce for pasta!

7. Fold top and bottom dough edges up over the mixture first, followed by sides, creating a nice sealed package.

8. Brush egg wash over the top and sides of Stromboli.

9. Carefully transfer the Stromboli to a baking sheet coated with pan spray.

10. Bake at 400° F for 18-20 minutes, until crust is golden brown. To see if the dough has cooked through, insert a toothpick into the top of the Stromboli, where all of the dough layers are thickest. If toothpick comes out clean, it’s done. If there is dough residue on the toothpick, continue to bake until cooked through.

11. Cut into slices, sprinkle with a bit more shredded cheese and serve.

New England Clam Dig and Beach Grill

Summertime in New England revolves around trips to the beach, and nothing beats a good old fashion clam-bake… EXCEPT digging your own clams… and fresh grilling them 50 feet from the water. Recently, a great family friend reminded me of this classic surfside activity, and show me some of his secrets to what he promised would be the most delicious clams I’ve ever had. No seasoning required. None, whatsoever except for what nature bestowed upon these succulent little creatures. Yep, he was right.

Before heading out for your own clam digging adventure, be sure to check the local fishing regulations, and acquire the necessary permit or LOA (letter of authorization). Additionally, check the reports for a healthy bacteria count. Then, grab a bucket and you’re good to go! Here are some excellent tips for digging for the most flavorful regional catch.

Once you’ve got your daily catch (rinse them in a little fresh water first), just throw them straight on a hot grill. When the shells open wide enough for you to see the entire clam, and you can see the juice inside sizzling, they are done! Easy as that, and it only takes a few minutes. The salty ocean water and natural clam juice serve as a yummy broth. Open the shell, detach clam, the remove the beard and slurp the clam and broth all in one bite. New England beach cuisine at its finest!

These little guys are just opening up.. another couple of minutes to deliciousness!

Done! Eat.