Roasted Stone Fruit with Ricotta and Mint Sugar

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Today, I have the easiest of summertime recipes for you. Sure, I’m asking you to make cheese from scratch, but it’s super easy. I promise. Plus, you could always just buy good quality ricotta from a cheese counter, making this summery dessert even easier.

If you’ve never made homemade ricotta, I seriously urge you to add it to your list of must-makes. It’s crazy easy and produces something that is so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s creamy and perfect…not at all grainy, gummy, or dry. It’s a totally different animal from the part-skim business you’ll find near the cheese slices at the store. I would definitely recommend going the whole milk route for this venture though, you could skip the cream if you want it a little lighter.

Also, let’s talk mint sugar. I am obsessed with mint these days. I love the smell of fresh mint and the flavor it brings to both sweet and savory dishes. I love to use it in summery chopped salads of cucumber, tomato, and lemon, and recently tried it in a feta and pea laced fritatta at Tasty n Sons here in Portland. It was fantastic. Needless to say, I also love it in all sorts of sweet aplications–it’s my favorite herb to pair with melon, or really any fruit, in this case perfect, summer stone fruits. This mint sugar is perfect for just that.

Speaking of stone fruits, they are crazy good right now. Like, I cannot get enough. I’ve been buying (and eating) a ton of them. It even seems a little early to me for them to be so spectacular but, apricots, plums,  and even cherries, are fantastic. The peaches haven’t been perfection, but they are still darn good and only benefit from a little roasting or grilling. Paired with creamy, lush ricotta and herbal mint sugar, the sweet-tartness of summertime fruits really shine.

Tip: if the pits of your stone fruits are stubbornly attached to the flesh, use a melon baller to scoop around the pit to free it. 

[recipe]

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Roasted Fruit with Ricotta and Mint Sugar

There are a variety of methods for making ricotta that can be found online. I kind of read a bunch, then went for it. I have used multiple layers of cheesecloth before, and it takes forever for the liquid to drain away (several days), so I find a single layer of cheesecloth over a fine mesh sieve does the trick just fine. Of course, you can sub the homemade ricotta with quality ricotta purchased from a grocer. Use any stone fruit you like and if you don’t want to turn on the oven, go ahead and grill the fruit halves, it will be just as delicious!

Homemade Ricotta:

Makes about 1lb of drained ricotta. 

1/2 gallon whole milk

8 ounces cream

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Roasted Stone Fruits:

As many pieces of fresh, not overly ripe, stone fruit you’d like. Peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, and even cherries would work here.

sugar for sprinkling

Mint Sugar:

1/2 cup mint leaves

1/2 cup sugar

To make the ricotta, start 1-2 days ahead of time, so the cheese has plenty of time to drain.

Place a large pot (a dutch oven or soup pot will work perfectly) over medium heat and add the milk and cream. Insert a thermometer into the milk mixture and clip to the side. Gently heat the milk mixture until the thermometer reads anywhere between 165ºF-180ºF. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the salt, plus lemon juice. Let the milk and lemon mixture sit for 10 minutes off the heat, undisturbed. Small curds will form and separate. Set a large fine mesh sieve over a large bowl, lined with one layer of cheesecloth and ladle the curdled milk mixture into the lined sieve. You may have to do this in batches as the liquid drains away or use 2 sieve/cheesecloth/bowl set-ups. Place the draining ricotta in the refrigerator for 1-2 days until most of the liquid has drained away, you may have to pour off the liquid from the bowl beneath once or twice if it reaches the bottom of the sieve. Once the ricotta is the consistency you like, store in an airtight container for a few days, if needed.

To roast the fruit, preheat the oven to 375ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment. Place washed and halved stoned fruits on the sheet in a single layer, cut side up, and sprinkle with sugar. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the fruits soften and begin to release their juices. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before serving. Or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To make the mint sugar, pulse the mint and sugar in a food processor until combined.

When you are ready to serve the fruit and ricotta, either spread some ricotta onto plates, top with fruits, and sprinkle with the mint sugar, or spoon some ricotta into the center of each fruit half and sprinkle with mint sugar.

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National Doughnut Day

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Whether you prefer doughnut over donut doesn’t really matter (I used both!), because these fried, baked, glazed, filled, sprinkled, and all around glorious treats are amazing no matter what you call them. In honor of National Doughnut Day–which is tomorrow, btw–I’m sharing some favorites from the archives.

So, let’s get our  sweet, sweet carb on!

Strawberry_Buttermilk_Donuts

Strawberry Buttermilk Mini Donuts 

Nutella_Filled_Donuts

Nutella-Filled Donuts (recipe HERE)

Double_Chocolate_Donuts

Double Chocolate Doughnuts

Pumpkin Brown Butter Malt Doughnuts

Pumpkin Brown Butter Malt Donuts

Raspberry_Donut_Cakes

Raspberry Donut Cakes

Ricotta_Donuts

Ricotta Fritters

Carrot_Cake_Donuts

Carrot Cake Doughnuts (recipe on Betty Crocker)

Blueberry_Lemon_Donuts

Blueberry Doughnuts with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze

Rainbow_Donuts

Rainbow Doughnuts

Turkey & Zucchini Meatball Sandwiches

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One of my ultimate comfort foods is the humble meatball. The funny thing is, we NEVER had them growing up. My mom, grandma, and aunts never really made them. Sure, we had spaghetti with meat sauce, but never meatballs. I always longed for a plate of pasta and meatballs, a la Lady and the Tramp. It’s just that kind of nostalgia evoked via cinema and whimsy that you sometimes crave. You know? As an adult, I have made certain meatballs have become part of my cooking repertoire.

Recently, I was contacted by Le Creuset and Williams Sonoma inquiring if I’d be interested in participating in a traveling potluck, dubbed #lapispotluck, using the exclusive Lapis French Oven. My answer was obviously, YES…duh. I have a Le Creuset Braiser that I treasure and use often, so I knew I would love a chance to use the French Oven. I’m just a sucker for enameled cast iron.

When I was thinking of what to make with this beautiful oven, I really wanted something with a color that would pop against that deep blue. Enter these Turkey & Zucchini Meatball Sandwiches. I love meatballs a top a pile of spaghetti, but there’s just something so irresistible about a messy, meatball sandwich. I knew the red sauce with bits of bright-green basil would compliment the Lapis hue perfectly, plus it would make a delicious dinner.

I made these meatballs with turkey, since it’s spring and some of us may be seeking comfort foods on the lighter side. Even though these are turkey meatballs, they are still juicy and full of flavor thanks to the sausage, aromatics, parmesan, and plenty of fresh zucchini. I like to brown my meatballs a bit before dropping them into the sauce for an extra layer of flavor, plus those brown bits leftover are perfect for helping to season the sauce–all made in the same pot! The meatballs are great on their own, but piled on top of a lightly toasted roll and topped with plenty of melty cheese and fragrant basil is absolute meatball sandwich perfection.

[recipe]

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Turkey & Zucchini Meatball Sandwiches

Makes several sandwiches (at least 6).

For the rolls, I used some sausage rolls made in the bakery of my favorite market. Small hoagie or sub rolls, or even portions of a baguette would work perfectly.

1 lb. ground turkey

1/2 lb. turkey Italian sausage (hot or sweet, depending on your preference)

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1 heaping cup shredded zuchinni

1 heaping cup minced onion

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1/2 teaspoon salt

pinch of red pepper flakes, optional

Sauce:

1 onion, diced fine

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1, 28 ounce, can crushed tomatoes

salt to taste

For sandwiches:

basil

shredded mozzarella

parmesan

sandwich rolls

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs and mix well. I like to use my hand in a claw-like motion, stirring in one direction vigorously until well combined. Scoop meat into golf-ball sized portions and set on a sheet pan or large plate. Heat your French oven, or other wide pot, over medium-high heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Brown the meatballs in batches, on at least 2 sides, remove the browned meatballs back to the plate or sheet pan (they do not need to be cooked through, cooking will continue in the sauce.

Once the meatballs are done, lower the heat to medium and add the onions for the sauce to the pot, adding about 1 tablespoon of olive oil if needed, plus a pinch of salt. Sweat the onions, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan as the onions become soft and release some liquid. Once the onions are translucent, add in the garlic, and cook for about 60 seconds. Add in the tomato paste, stir to combine, and cook until the tomato paste becomes a rusty-red color, about 1-2 minutes. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, stir to combine, and add a pinch of salt. Bring the sauce to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and add in the meatballs plus any juices collected on the sheet pan/plate. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Taste for seasoning before building your sandwiches.

Preheat the broiler, split your sandwich rolls, place on a sheet pan, and toast lightly under the broiler. Top rolls with a few meatballs, mozzarella, and parmesan. Place under the broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly, remove from under the broiler and scatter with some torn or shredded basil. Serve hot and melty! [/recipe]

I was compensated by Le Creuset & Williams Sonoma for the development of this recipe. As always, all opinions and thoughts are my own.