Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fresh lemon ricotta and berry tartlets

The summer is over and as usual it passed by too quickly, to many hopes and plans remained unfulfilled and to many dishes uncooked. 
My garden did not do well this summer, either due to the fact that my kid’s are probably not the best substitute for my care or the most persistent caterpillars in the whole state of New Jersey.
My plans to host a summer brunch did not happen either as there are just not enough weekends on the calendar.  So many sunny days passed with me locked in the stuffy, dusty office and so many rainy Saturdays remained wasted… Oh well, if the kids can bare to go back to school, I should be able to deal with it as well.
But on the brighter note, the weather will be turning cooler and leaves will change color and if I can squeeze in one more wine trip to the country I can even see the full glory of the North East autumn.  The Thanksgiving is promising to be quite exiting this year as I think I will actually have a significant audience for my culinary efforts.
So for the last summer desert fling ( to be followed by the remainder of the year deserts), I thought I would do something light, simple, fresh and truly my own recipe.  For those who cook most often follow a recipe of some sorts, not necessarily to a T, but the idea comes from some place, it is based on something you read or watched.  You may change up the book or a show or a web recipe until it is unrecognizable but it is still not fully yours until… well until it is.

Fresh lemon ricotta and berry tartlets
Makes 10  4 inch tartlets

For the dough
8 tbs of ice cold butter cubed
1 ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
¼ cup almond flour
2 tbs sugar
Pinch of salt
2 -3 tbs ice cold water

For the filling
2 cups fresh ricotta (drained if runny) – see note*
1 ½ cups of sugar
4 egg yolks
Zest of 2 lemons
2 tbs of lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Fresh berries
1 tbs powdered sugar
Note* - now I am not a food snub (well sometimes I am), but really try and get the best homemade freshest ricotta around.  It makes a lot of difference.  Look for small Italian neighborhood store that makes its own.  And don’t go for the skim milk kind, pick either part skim or full fat variety.

Prepare the dough by pulsing the flour, sugar and salt in the food processor until combined.  Add the cubed butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal.  Add iced water and pulse until the dough comes together into a ball.  Press the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350F.  Roll out the dough to ¼ inch thickness and using a glass or a cookie cutter, cut out 10 circles about 5 inches in diameter.  Press into the buttered tartlets forms.  Place a small sheet of buttered foil over each form and fill with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake blind for 10-12 min, than remove the pie weights and foil and bake for an additional 3 min.  Let cool.
In the meant time, prepare the filling by whisking together the egg yolks, sugar, and lemon zest.  Add the ricotta and whisk to combine.  Add the lemon juice and vanilla and whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Fill each tart with the filling and bake for about 15 min until the filling begins to turn golden brown and puffy.   Let cool on the wire rack and arrange fresh berries on top.  Dust with powdered sugar and a bit more lemon zest.

Now this can cure the “summer is gone “blues!

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