Sometimes, no, many times I wish I have a personal chef who can whip up any recipes I request. I can just say, “I’m planning on inviting about 6 friends over for a dinner, can you make something with Mexican theme?” You know, I do like entertaining people, but what gets me is my anal, clean, and control freak mindset… I get so wrapped up with coming up with the menu, shopping for the ingredients, prepping and making sure all the foods get on the table at the right timing, AND, keeping the kitchen clean at the same time as I’m cooking!!! I get so exhausted even before the guests arrive!!!
The recipes for today can easily fit in to feed many people, however, as you’ll see what I did with my mashed potatoes, just keep it simple and glop the mashed potato on the plate. Don’t try to do anything fancy – I only tried to make it look semi-fancy because I was curious how it’ll come out.
The vegetable stew is my own recipe (from past trials and errors). The ricotta cheesecake is from the Intermezzo magazine.
This vegetable stew is a great recipe to add whatever vegetables you have in your fridge. Feel free to delete, add and adjust any of the ingredients (aside from some key ingredients, ie. canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, and different herbs).
2 medium onions, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 carrots, diced
1 pound celery, diced
1 pound mushrooms, sliced and cut into quarters
1 pound rutabaga, diced
1 pound yams, diced
1 pound broccoli, just the florets
1 pound zucchini, diced
1 pound potatoes, diced
2 cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 pound can diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1-1/2 teaspoon thyme
1-1/2 teaspoon Herb de Provence
salt and pepper
3 Tablespoons flour
1/4 cup red wine or dry sherry
Heat onions, garlic, carrots, celery, mushrooms, rutabaga, broccoli and yams for 10 minutes over medium heat.
Add zucchini, potatoes, canned tomatoes, kidney beans, water, thyme and the herb. Mix well, add salt and pepper to taste. Let it boil, turn the heat to low and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes (until the vegetables are tender).
Mix flour in wine, add into the stew, stir gently but well, and let it cook stirring for 5 minutes.
** Make your favorite mashed potato – for mine, I put my mashed potato in a piping bag (zip lock bag will be good too, just add the mashed potato in the zip lock bag, and snip off the corner). I usually don’t like mixing mashed potato well, because if you mix too much, it becomes too starchy and stiff. As a result of not mixing long enough, my mashed potatoes were lumpy, thus, not so pretty mashed potato bowl…but better texture, oh well…
My opinion: Even though my mashed potato bowl didn’t come out too pretty, the combination of stew and mashed potatoes were awesome!! I really liked my vegetable stew (I know, it sounds sooooo conceited, but it tasted so good). I also added the baby carrots with the tops, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled kosher salt and roasted for 20 minutes.
Ricotta Cheesecakes with Cranberry-Orange Compote:
serves 8-12 (depending on the ramekins you use)
2 pounds ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
3 Tablespoons amaretto liqueur
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 orange, grated and juice squeezed
Preheat oven to 350F
In a bowl, using a hand mixer or a big whisk, combine ricotta and sugar. Add flour and mix until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add amaretto and mix.
Spray ramekins of small, shallow over proof bowls with nonstick cooking spray. Divide cheesecake among prepared ramekins. Place cheesecakes on a baking sheet. Fill another ramekin with water. Place on baking sheet with cheesecakes.
Bake 30-40 minutes or until centers are just set. Turn oven off. Let cheesecakes rest in oven for 15 minutes. Open oven door and keep open for 15 minutes.
Remove cheesecakes from oven. Cool completely on wire cooling racks.
Make compote: Preheat oven to 350F. In a small baking dish, combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice and zest. Bake 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Just before serving, top chilled cheesecakes with chilled compote.
In my opinion: Not too sweet, but the tartness of cranberries compliments really well with the smoothness of this cheesecake. I used frozen cranberries and the compote came out fine (I just baked additional few minutes). If you are concerned about calories, you can always use ricotta with less fat, but this is such a small portion, I think you can allow yourself to use full fat and enjoy this treat!