Lemon Ricotta Tart (with Berries)

Alright- I'll admit it. I like to have a little something sweet after each meal. Or with each meal. Or smack dab in the middle of the afternoon when I have nothing else to eat. To prove this point, I currently have little tiny stashes of dark chocolate hidden throughout the house. So sorry to my husband if you're discovering this for the first time right now. I still love ya. And no, I won't show you where they are, but if you ask really nicely I might go uncover a small bit for you when you're not looking.

My love for sweets translates into a lot of mad-science action in the kitchen, and this Lemon Ricotta Tart was the result of some of that play.

Lemon Ricotta Tart (with Blueberries)
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed according to directions on package
3/4 lb part skim ricotta cheese
1/4 c sugar, plus some for dusting pastry
zest and juice of 1/3 lemon
1 egg
2 cups blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or strawberries, cleaned

Mix ricotta, sugar, lemon and egg just until blended.

Place thawed pastry on parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle remaining sugar over the top. With a knife, lightly score a 1/4 inch border around the edge of the pastry and poke a few holes in the center.

Spread the ricotta mixture evenly inside the border.

Top with berries.

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 for remaining 25 minutes, until the ricotta is set and the pastry is nicely browned.


Stargazers Soup

Favorite recipes, like many other things in life, have a way of adapting themselves to fit in with our changing scenery. I first made a version of this soup with tiny star-shaped pasta (stelline 74) and imagined it accompanying us, piping hot in a thermous lid, as we laid on fresh-cut grass, trusty telescope by our sides, to watch the stars on a summer night. Well, that and I thought the pasta would intrigue my then two-year-old. Not so much. The pasta made the soup too starchy, and my toddler would not go near anything with star pasta or called star soup for months. Then winter came. Snow piled up copiously around the house, we began another flu season and the members of our household began a game of cold and flu tag, and I gave the soup a few tweaks, most significantly changing its name. I won't tell you what we call it, just that it is named after a highly annoying cartoon character, which seems to do the trick with the preschooler set. Its great as a baby food, as well.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do, and if I don't get my way with the thermous this summer, maybe you can do it for me.

Stargazers Soup

3 stalks celery, chopped
3 cippolini onions, chopped
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1 32 oz box chicken or vegetable broth
2 good sized carrots, chopped
1 large sweet potato or yam, chopped
1 c frozen, chopped organic spinach, thawed (don't worry about draining!)
1 16 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1) Heat dutch oven over medium heat with Olive Oil. Add celery and onions and cook until transluscent (just a couple of minutes.) Add salt and pepper to taste.
2) Add broth, carrots, yam and spinach. Bring to boil and cook until soft (about 15 minutes.)
3) Add beans, reduce heat to medium low, and cook, covered about five minutes. Blend with immersion blender and enjoy with a nice piece of crusty bread.