Tomato and Mozzarella Tart

For the pastry:
¾ plus 2 tablespoons all purpose white flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon white sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and sliced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ice water
For the filling:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ pound mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced or grated
½ cup ricotta cheese
3 – 4 large ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

To make the dough, place the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, and pulse to blend. Add the butter, one slice at a time, and mix until crumbly and there are no clumps of butter left. Add the water and mix until a ball forms, about 30 seconds. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Sprinkle flour on the countertop, place the dough on it and with a rolling pin, roll it out into a 10 inch circle. If you are using a pie pan, crimp the edges about ½ way up the sides: this is a shallow tart. Line the pan with the dough and cover with aluminum foil or wax paper and fill with pie weights or beans. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and bake for 1- 12 additional minutes.

Increase the temperature to 400 degrees.

Line the dough with the mustard and then with the ricotta. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and place the tomato slices in circular pattern. Drizzle the tomatoes with the garlic, oregano and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Gazpacho with Feta Cheese and Croutons

 
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large or 2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
1 small red onion, diced
3 vine- ripe tomatoes, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
3 cups tomato or v8 juice
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ cup crumbled Feta cheese
2 cups croutons

Place the garlic, cucumbers, onion, tomatoes, yellow pepper, tomato juice and vinegar in a bowl and mix to combine. Remove 2- 3 cups and transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth and return to the bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour and up to overnight.
Serve garnished with Feta cheese and croutons.

Frittata

Here’s another great morning dish that can be prepped the night before and cooked in the morning, or even cooked the night before and served at room temperature A frittata is basically a crustless quiche with endless variations; you can choose any combination of vegetables, cheese, and herbs that appeals to you. If you’re watching your carbs, you can leave out the bread.

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Dain’s Grandmother’s Carrot Cake

When I was in college I had a friend named Dain Fritz, who used his truck to help me move a piece of heavy furniture. Since I knew he loved carrot cake, I made him one as a way of saying thanks. Although he was gracious and appreciative, when the cake had been completely consumed, he told me that the best carrot cake he had ever had was his grandmother’s. So when it came time for his birthday, I called his mother, who called her mother, who sent me the following recipe. I have never had a better carrot cake.

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Lizzy’s Awesome Chunky Blue Cheese Dip with Herbs

Here is another great blue cheese recipe from former blue cheese hater turned blue cheese fanatic Lizzy Shaw.

Makes 2 cups.

2 cups Danish blue cheese cut into ½-inch cubes
Good-quality olive oil to cover
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Kosher salt to taste

1. Place all the ingredients in a medium-size mixing bowl, toss together gently, cover, and refrigerate at least overnight and up to 5 days to let the flavors develop.

2. To serve, fish out the cheese chunks with a fork, (they look pretty with the herb flakes), reserving the herbed oil, and place them in a bowl. To make more dip, continue to add more cheese to the marinating oil until it gets too cloudy and looks ugly.

Serve with lightly steamed broccoli florets, French bread toasts, or triangles of pumpernickel bread.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Roasted Red Pepper and Ricotta Dip

This is perfect for those who want something low in fat but flavorful.

Makes about 1 cup.

1 large bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and seeded, and cut into big chunks
1 to 2 garlic cloves, to your taste, sliced
1 scallion (white and green parts), ends trimmed
¾ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon cream cheese or Yogurt Cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the pepper in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until chopped. Add the garlic and scallion and pulse until chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and process until well combined.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with chopped mint, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Serve with celery sticks, baby carrots or carrot sticks, or pita or bagel chips.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Lizzy Shaw’s Creamy Dreamy Gorgonzola Dip

My childhood friend Lizzy Shaw only recently came to like blue cheese, but now she can’t seem to get enough of it. This dip is inspired by one she got at a market in California; she’s become such an aficionado that she was sure she could improve upon the one she bought. And she was right. This is also great on sandwiches, with Buffalo wings, and even on French fries!
Lizzie says to make sure not to get the waxy, hard kind of gorgonzola sold in wedges, which won’t crumble and often doesn’t have much flavor. You want the creamier version. If your gorgonzola stays in hard squares, instead of crumbling, try mashing it a little with a fork. If it still won’t soften up, or if the gorgonzola is too mild, add 2 tablespoons crumbled Rosenborg Danish blue cheese, which is available in many large supermarkets, or another soft mild blue cheese to make the dip creamier.

Makes about 1¼ cups.

1 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
1 scallion (white and green parts), minced or thinly sliced
3½ heaping teaspoons sour cream or Yogurt Cheese
1 heaping tablespoon cream cheese (regular, not whipped)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch or ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, to your taste
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1. Place all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and mash with a fork until well combined.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and set aside for 1 hour to let the flavors develop before serving, or cover and refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, let it soften a bit before serving.

Variation: Make the whole thing with Rosenborg Danish blue cheese, or add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a little zing. Add about 1 tablespoon whole milk if you like a thinner dip. Thin it with about 2 tablespoons milk if you want to use it as a salad dressing, or just go ahead and add a big dollop of the spread “as is” to any salad and flip out how good it is!

Serve with little crunchy crackers, endive spears, celery sticks, or boiled tiny new potatoes.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Hot Camembert Cheese with Cranberries and Pecans

Hot, gooey, rich, creamy, sweet, and spicy all at the same time, this recipe is a winner. Be sure to buy a camembert round in a thin wood box; the box is necessary to the recipe.

Serves 6.

One 8-ounce camembert round, frozen for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 heaping tablespoon lightly roasted salted pecans
1 tablespoon dried cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

2. Carefully, using a sharp knife, scrape of the rind from the top of the camembert round. Return the round to the wood box. Spread the brown sugar over the surface, then top with the pecans and cranberries.

3. Place the box on a baking sheet, transfer it to the oven, and bake for 30 minutes.

4. As soon as you can handle it, remove the box and place the camembert on a serving plate. Serve immediately.

Variation: Substitute 3 tablespoons chutney of your choice for the brown sugar, pecans, and cranberries, or brie for the camembert.

Serve with toast rounds, crackers, bread sticks, or the crudités of your choice.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Roasted Walnut and Gorgonzola Dip

Very rich and very creamy – in short, this is to die for.

Makes 1½ cups.

4 ounces gorgonzola cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces (half an 8-ounce package) cream cheese, at room temperature, or ½ cup Yogurt Cheese
¼ cup cream (either light or heavy is fine)
1 teaspoon Cognac
4 tablespoons walnut halves, toasted

1. Place the cheeses in a small mixing bowl and mash together with a fork. Gradually add the cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, and the Cognac and mash until well incorporated. Mix in 3 tablespoons of the walnuts.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with the remaining 1 tablespoon of walnuts, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Variation: Substitute goat cheese for the cream cheese.

Serve with endive spears, radishes, or triangles of pumpernickel bread.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Goat Cheese Spread with Dried Apricots and Pistachios

A microplane grater is the only type of grater that will get the lemon zest fine enough for this creamy, salty, tangy, sweet spread.

Makes about 2 cups.

¼ cup dried apricots, finely diced
¼ cup boiling water
1 log goat cheese (10 to 12 ounces), at room temperature
⅓ cup pistachio nuts, toasted and finely chopped
¼ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 to 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, to your taste
Honey for drizzling (optional)

1. Place the apricots and boiling water in small heatproof bowl and set aside until the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.

2. Add the goat cheese and mash well. Add the nuts, buttermilk, mint, and lemon zest and mash again.

3. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, drizzled with honey, if desired, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Let it come to room temperature before serving.

Variation: Substitute dried dates or figs for the apricots and pecans or walnuts for the pistachios.

Serve with triangles of pumpernickel bread, crackers, fresh figs or strawberries.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Horseradish Cheddar Dip

The first time I made this dip, I started out with a tablespoon of horseradish. It wasn’t enough, but being a bit horseradish shy, I added only one more. Still it wasn’t enough, and so, tasting after each addition of yet one more tablespoon, I eventually arrived at a whopping eight.
Horseradish has been used as an aphrodisiac, a rub for lower back pain, and a treatment for tuberculosis and rheumatism; it is also used as a bitter herb for Passover seders. About six million gallons of prepared horseradish are produced annually in the US – enough to generously season sandwiches to reach 12 times around the world.

Makes about 2 cups.

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded (about 3 cups), at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream or Yogurt Cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup prepared horseradish (without sugar)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Chopped fresh Italian parsley or cilantro leaves for garnish

1. Place the cheese, sour cream, and butter in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Add the horseradish and lemon juice and process until incorporated.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. If refrigerated, let soften before serving.

Serve with celery sticks, zucchini spears, steamed tiny potatoes, triangles of pumpernickel bread, or French bread toasts.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Truffled Goat Cheese Spread

The amazing taste and ease of preparation balance the expense of the ingredients in this dip. Truffle oil is produced when truffles are soaked in olive oil. The aroma and freshness weaken over time, so be sure to buy a fresh bottle and make this dip often. It’s also fabulous spooned on top of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or risotto or tossed with linguine.

Makes about 1½ cups.

1 9-ounce log goat cheese, at room temperature
2 to 3 teaspoons truffle oil, or to your taste
4 radishes, trimmed and grated
¼ cup chopped fresh chives

1. Place all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and mash together with a fork to combine

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. If refrigerated, let soften a bit before serving, if desired.

Variation: Substitute one 8-ounce package of cream cheese for the goat cheese.

Serve with cucumber rounds or triangles of thinly sliced pumpernickel bread.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Spicy Feta Dip with Fresh Mint and Cilantro

Inspired by an appetizer I once had of feta cheese marinated in cumin, coriander, and red pepper flakes, this dip is herby, spicy, savory, and creamy. It’s great on burgers, on eggs, or with anything accompanied by black olives.

Makes about 1 cup.

8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup lowfat plain yogurt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ to ¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes, to your taste
1 teaspoon grated orange zest, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves

1. Place the feta and yogurt in a small mixing bowl and mash together with a fork until combined but still slightly chunky. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately garnished with orang zest, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Serve with pitted black olives, sliced baguette, or warmed pita triangles.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Sarah Shaw’s Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

This is without a doubt the best use of sun-dried tomatoes I have ever had and a great example of the sum being more than its parts. When Sarah first told me about this dip, I was skeptical because I never really loved sun-dried tomatoes. However, ever since she gave me the recipe, I have been making and remaking this dip, with total enjoyment. Try it as well as a filling for omelets or a topping for burgers.

Makes about 2 cups.

½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
½ cup boiling water
¼ cup olive oil
1 to 2 garlic cloves, to your taste, minced
1 log goat cheese (10 to 12 ounces)
Kosher salt to taste
Finely chopped fresh basil leaves for garnish (optional)

1. Place the tomatoes in a small heatproof bowl and cover with the boiling water. Let stand until softened, 8 to 15 minutes, depending on the hardness of the tomatoes. Drain and return to the bowl. Add the olive oil and garlic, cover, and refrigerate for 2 to 3 days to the let the flavors develop.

2. Add the goat cheese and mash with a fork. Season with salt. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with basil, if desired, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. If refrigerated, let soften a bit before serving, if desired.

Sarah says, “I like to spread this on the fat end of endive leaves and arrange them around a plate of radishes. It’s good with chilled asparagus spears, too.” I like it on triangles of thinly sliced black bread.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Todd English’s Herbed Goat Cheese Spread

I came across this great dip when I wrote The Figs Table with Todd English in 1998 (Simon & Schuster). Todd rarely used it as a dip but instead dolloped it on pizza, salads, pasta, and burgers and swirled it into polenta. It’s not only versatile, it’s also a snap to make and lasts up to a week.

Makes 1 cup.

1 cup crumbled goat cheese or ricotta cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
Kosher salt to taste (depends on the saltiness of the goat cheese)
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the goat cheese in a medium-size mixing bowl and mash well. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. If refrigerated, let soften a bit before serving, if desired.

Serve with celery sticks, baby carrots or carrot sticks, grape or cherry tomatoes, endive spears, blanched asparagus, pita chips, or French bread toasts.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Artichoke and Feta Dip

This is the rare dip that contains as much vegetable as it does cheese. Chunky, salty, and light, it’s one of my favorites.
Feta, the only cheese other than Parmesan that can always be found in my refrigerator, is a classic Greek white cheese that is both salty and tangy, a winning combination for me. Traditionally made from sheep or goat’s milk, it is now mostly made with pasteurized cow’s milk.

Makes 1 to 1½ cups.

1 6-oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
½ cup sour cream or Yogurt Cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 oil-packed anchovy fillet, minced
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish

1. Place all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and gently combine.

2. Transfer to a small serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with chopped dill, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Serve with celery sticks, endive spears, crackers, or French bread toasts.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)