Chard & Ricotta Pie

When we are up at the cabin, I don’t always have a full larder. I do however, have a garden and a few cheats in the freezer. This invariably leads to simple and creative dinners. I was able to whip this up in a snap. Mostly because, our garden overflows with chard.

Chard and Ricotta Pie
10 sheets filo dough
olive oil
grated parmesan
1 garlic clove–finely chopped
1/2 medium onion–finely chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
1 bunch (about 12 large leaves/4 cups chopped)–chopped–discarding stems
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 eggs
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp freshly grated parmesan
a few turns of the pepper-mill

Use an 8×10 pan. Layer the filo by brushing each sheet with olive oil, and a light sprinkle of parmesan cheese. The bottom layer should be 6 sheets. Trim the ends and set aside. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on low–toss in the garlic and onion. cook just until the onions begin to sweat and turn translucent. Do not allow the garlic to brown. Toss in the chard and allow to wilt, giving a good stir to evenly cook. After about 5 minutes, toss in about 1/4 cup of water and cover. Allow the chard to get nice and soft. allow to cool slightly. strain off the liquid and place in a bowl. add the ricotta, parmesan, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and pepper.
evenly spread into the prepared filo crust. Take the remaining 4 leaves of filo one by one and scrunch them in a loose accordion. Place on top of the spinach layer, making sure to cover the entire top of the pie. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle a bit more cheese.
Bake at 375F for about 30-35 minutes. You will look for the filo to be nice and crispy. Serve warm or room temperature. This is very easy to crisp up in the oven for a “next-day” treat!

Lemon Lavender Cake

I love lavender-trimming day. Delicate buds not yet spent, but given their pollen to the bees, at the ready for culinary cajoling. I bundle the limping stalks, tacking my baker’s rack with lines of purple. A scent of Provence fills the air. I toss the dried buds in everything from simple syrup to custards, aioli to bitters, shortbread to biscotti. I especially love it in this cake.

Lemon-Lavender Cake
(this is a riff on a classic 1-2-3-4 cake)

1 cup unsalted butter–room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
1 Tbs lemon zest
juice of 1 large lemon
1 generous tsp dried lavender buds

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time fully incorporating after each addition. Stop and scrape down the sides with a spatula and resume beating until the mixture looks like buttercream frosting. Meanwhile…in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice and buttermilk together. With the mixer on low, alternately mix in the flour and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour, in 3 additions. Do not over-mix, just allow the ingredients to come together. Stir in the lavender. Pour into 2 loaf pans that have been coated in pan spray. Bake at 325 F for approximately 50 mins. Check for doneness after 40 minutes. Cake is fully baked when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.When cool, pour glaze over.

1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbs cream
Juice of lemon (more or less to your taste)
Stir together and pour over cooled cake.

Ripe Figs with Ricotta & Honey

It is a given; if i were to find myself naked, roaming the garden of Eden, I surely would be occupied with plucking and eating figs. Not with modesty <strong<of.any.sort. Figs are good fresh or dried, plain & gilded. For a simple and gorgeous treat; serve these as an appetizer or dessert.

Gilded Figs
ripe fresh figs
ricotta cheese (fresh if you can get it)
sea salt
toasted walnuts

Slice the figs in half, and put a generous scoop of fresh ricotta on top. Drizzle your best honey to just cover the ricotta, sprinkle a few grains of sea salt and top with a walnut half. Serve chilled or room temperature.
tastes great accompanying a cold glass of Prosecco

Eggplant Involtini

With the sun low and a slight breeze cooling the warm air, summer evenings are ripe for a picnic. We like to hitch the dogs, grab a well worn blanket, load a basket of tidbits and head out to: our garden, the beach, a park, a concert, or sometimes just the porch. A favorite tidbit, this time of year are these.

Eggplant Involtini
roasted peppers
fresh basil leaves
soft goat cheese
2 cloves garlic-peeled and smashed
1/2 cup olive oil
salt & pepper

Place the olive oil smashed garlic in a small saucepan and heat to warm. this process is to simply infuse the garlic flavor into the oil. Set aside and allow to infuse for an hour. Remove the garlic and store extra oil in the refrigerator. Slice the eggplant into slices no thicker than 1/4″. Layer slices between paper towels and let dry out for several hours or overnight. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. In batches, place the eggplant in the skillet. do not use oil, you will be dry frying. Turn when soft and brown and brown the second side. Remove from heat and place on plate and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cool, take a slice of eggplant and brush the top with the garlic oil to coat, but not saturate. Place a piece of roasted pepper across the middle, add a generous dollop of goat cheese. Give a quick sprinkle of salt and pepper, and top with a basil leaf. Roll overlapping the eggplant ends and place closure side down. brush a bit more olive oil over the top. Serve cold or room temperature.