Sunday, August 10, 2008

I think I'm in love with Heidi Swanson: (ZUCCHINI RICOTTA CHEESECAKE)

I used to have a crush on Angelina Jolie (well I still do) but now I have a new one, Heidi Swanson. In fact, I want to be her. Before I sound slightly John Hinkley-ish, I think that I immediately related to her due to the volumes of cookbooks that I own. There's no way I could possibly cook out of all of them. Besides, some of them are in boxes in the attic and I don't like going up there (anyone seen the scene from The Grudge? Crap why does that always pop in my head as soon as I pull the attic ladder down?). Anyway, I'm stuck in cookbook-land and haven't really branched out like she has done. I enjoy her pictures and I LOVE her recipes. That's what I mean about wanting to be her. Just maybe emulate her talents perhaps.

As I've said before I've been farting around with the first phase of the South Beach diet. I was reading my morning blogs and came across this recipe from Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks. I though ah ha! Perfect. I really think this could be compatible with what I'm eating right now. Now I just have to get the zucchini which shouldn't be a problem here in farm stand-land.


To shred the zucchini use a box grater - most micro planes are too fine, you want shredded zucchini, not mush. Feel free to play around with the "add-in" ingredients - for example, use whatever chopped herbs you like. I had dill on hand, and I like how it tastes with summer squash, so dill it was. I suspect anything from chopped olives, sun-dried tomatoes, or chives, to spices, chopped spinach, or corn could work here. Also, when I have the time and inclination I'll drain the ricotta through cheesecloth to get even more moisture out of the cake, but to be honest, most times I won't bother. Lastly, I use a springform pan here, but you could use an equivalent baking dish or deep tart pan as well.


2 cups zucchini, unpeeled & grated
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
zest of one lemon
2 large eggs, well beaten
1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
drizzle of olive oil


Preheat oven to 325F degrees, racks the middle. Butter/oil a 7-inch springform pan.
In a strainer, toss the shredded zucchini with the salt and let sit for ten minutes. Now aggressively squeeze and press out as much moisture as you can. Set aside.In the meantime, combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, shallots, garlic, dill and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Stir in the eggs and continue mixing until well combined. Now stir in the shredded zucchini. Fill the springform pan with the ricotta mixture and place on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for sixty minutes. If there is any moisture left on top of the cake at this point, carefully use a bit of paper towel to dab it off. Now sprinkle with the goat cheese and return to the oven for another 20 -30 minutes or until the goat cheese is melted and the cake barely jiggles in the center (it will set up more as it cools).

At this point, if the cake is baked and set, but the top isn't quite golden, I'll zap it with the broiler (just about a minute) to get a bit more color on top. Remove from the oven and let cool five minutes, then release the cake from its pan. Cool completely, serve at room temperature drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a few sprigs of dill.

Serves 8
The collection of cooking magazines is as enormous as the cookbooks are. I really got to thinking while my pictures downloaded about, perhaps, I need to clean up a bit. Not today though! It's Sunday. Besides it's Birthday bonanza time for the Weeks/Whitten/Luongo clan. Everybody who had preceded us had sex around Thanksgiving and now we're all August babies. It's like Christmas around here. There are literally three birthdays in a row then three more sprinkled in flowing into the first week of September (one more including my step-mom too just to be fair). The gift giving composes, lately, of just having one big bash which includes a crab feast at Daddio and Donna's. This is the only time of the year I usually have crabs (ah hahaha funny I KNOW). So, no cleaning up today. Just eating crabs and figuring out WHERE to put all those prized cookbooks and magazines so that they are not cluttering my kitchen but within reach, just in case.

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