Monthly Archives: April 2013

Gluten Free Ricotta-Goat Cheese Cheesecake w/Pistachio Crust


I do not like cheesecake. I never have. I think it’s highly overrated, dense, heavy, sits like a huge rock in the pit of your stomach.

I never order it in a restaurant, that is until one day last summer…

Jolly and I were at one of my favorite Richmond (VA) restaurants – Bistro Bobette. The featured dessert was a lemon-goat cheese cheesecake. Now, I love lemon, anyone who has cooked with me knows I use them virtually daily in my cooking, but lemon desserts, well I often find them very cloying and unnatural in flavor, so another dessert option I typically steer clear of. Let’s face it I am a chocolate and caramel girl!

For some reason on that hot night in late July, lemon, goat cheese cheesecake sounded appealing. It was way more than appealing. I devoured it in seconds, wishing for seconds, making all kinds of ooohhhs and ahhhhs while eating it! It was amazing! Light and fluffy, smooth and creamy, just a hint of lemon, enough to refresh but not cause your lips to pucker.

I thought about that cheesecake for weeks after and keep saying I need to create one. Yet it wasn’t until earlier this month when faced with a lot of leftover ricotta from making gnocchi that the light bulb went off – make and freeze more gnocchi OR make dessert!

Well, that was a no-brainer!

So, here it is, the cheesecake for all my fellow cheesecake haters out there. I promise you this is unlike any other cheesecake you have ever tried. Light and fluffy, just the essence of lemon…you will be swayed!


Gluten Free Ricotta-Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Pistachio Crust


1 cup almond flour

1 cup pistachios

1/8-1/2 cup sugar*

5 TB unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350.

Butter the bottom of a 8 or 9-inch springform pan.

Process almond flour and pistachios until finely ground, add sugar* 1/8 cup will let the pistachio shine through, 1/2 cup will give you a very sweet crust.

Add melted butter and process until crust starts to come together.

Press into the bottom of prepared pan.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.


16 oz whole milk ricotta, room temp

8 oz goat cheese, room temp

1 cup sugar

zest of one lemon

juice of one lemon

1 tsp vanilla

3 large eggs, room temp

Reduce oven heat to 325.

In a small bowl mix sugar and lemon zest, set aside. Fingers work best for this. Mixing the zest with the sugar helps distribute the zest better and even sitting for just a short time perfumes the sugar.

In a large bowl mix cheeses until fluffy.

Add sugar, mix until combined.

Add lemon juice and vanilla and then eggs one at a time. Blend until smooth.

Pour over crust.

Bake at 325 for 50 minutes

Cool completely, then chill a couple of hours before serving.

I topped it with a sauce of fresh blackberries, lemon juice and honey.


Gluten Free Crispy Ricotta Gnocchi w/ Asparagus and Gribenes



I hope you are wondering what gribenes are. Even more I hope that after reading this you will do what is required to make them.

If you are Jewish, you may already know. Gribenes are the by-product of schmaltz. That doesn’t make them sound at all delightful does it? And what is schmaltz?

Quite simply schmaltz is rendered chicken fat cooked with onions. Simple ingredient list – chicken skin, water, onions. Simple to prepare. The flavor…distinctive, a bit buttery, a bit oniony, rich and clean and simply delish!


I had never heard of schmaltz until a few months ago when Michael Ruhlman published a small ebook titled The Book of Schmaltz – A Love Song to a Forgotten Fat. One thing you know about me, if Ruhlman writes it, I am going to read it!

I began my freezer collection of chicken skin right away, anxious to taste for myself this fat that is “unlike anything else.”

And so finally I had enough in the freezer, and time on a Saturday to give it a go.


Here’s what you need:

Skin from 8 chicken thighs

1/4 cup water

1 onion, diced


Chop the skin into small pieces, this is infinitley easier if the skin is still at least partially frozen.

Place in sauce pan with water and bring to a simmer over high heat.

Reduce heat to low and cook until fat is rendered and skin begins to brown. This can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. Once the water cooks off is when the browning begins, but you don’t want to rush this or you end up with roasted fat. You want a clean, clear schmaltz.

These are the gribenes!

These are the gribenes!


Once the skin is golden, add the onion and continue to cook very slowly until the skin and onions are a very deep brown. Strain them and set aside on a paper towel. Pour schmaltz into a jar, allow to cool. Both can be refrigerated for a week or frozen for months.

This makes 1/2 cup of schmaltz.

I had double the amount of skin when I made mine, and thus it was truly an all-afternoon affair to render the fat. Be patient! It’s worth it.

Now for the gnocchi. I love these gnocchi, they are quick, require no boiling and are always super light and fluffy. My normal method for this recipe is to cook down some pancetta, crisp up the gnocchi in the pancetta drippings, then add whatever fresh spring veggie I am craving at the time, think fresh May peas here, and there you go! So, if you aren’t up for making schmaltz, pancetta is a worthy, albeit entirely different substitute!



1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese, drained

3/4 gluten free all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 egg

zest of one lemon

2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste


In a large bowl mix all ingredients together, just until mixed.

Turn dough out onto floured surface, cut into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a small rope, using a bench scraper or knife, cut into 1-inch pieces and place on a baking sheet or large plate. Freeze for 5-10 minutes or refrigerate for several hours until ready to cook.



1 bunch fresh asparagus

juice of lemon

red pepper flakes


salt to taste


Remove tough stems from asparagus.

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil.

Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.

Boil asparagus for 2 minutes, less for thin ones, just until the color turns very bright and they are crisp tender. Place in ice water to stop the cooking process.

In a large saute pan, heat 3-4 TB of schmaltz until shimmering. Add gnocchi in batches, being sure not to crowd pan, and cook until browned. Move to serving bowl.

Squeeze juice of a lemon on top.

Add blanched asparagus and 1/4 cup or more of gribenes and pinch of red pepper flakes and salt to saute pan. Toss to coat with schmaltz and heat through, just a minute or so. Pour over gnocchi, toss, add more parmesan cheese and serve.

UP NEXT…you know what I did with the leftover ricotta right? Cheesecake!!!


Wilted Collard Greens with Lemon

I have several recipes that I am so excited to write and share with you all, but I’m running a bit behind this week…so I thought I’d share this quickie and the recipe pretty much consists of what is in the headline.

I love collard greens, love all greens, grew up eating them all the time, collard, kale, mustard, yum!

My Leonard loves greens too! LOVES them! It’s crazy, he will snatch fresh, raw kale leaves right out of the bag if I dare to set the bag on the floor when I get home. That photo, that’s a pile of fresh collards waiting for their boil, every time I turned my back he reached up and grabbed a leaf, EVERY time!


While kale has enjoyed a lot of time in the spotlight lately with it’s versatility to be used in salads, roasted and eaten just barely cooked, collards haven’t quite found their groove yet, outside of an all-day, ham-hock braising! Which is also quite wonderful.

I’m here to tell you they are awesome just wilted in salted, boiling water for 5 minutes or so, top them with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice, maybe even some zest and a drizzle of good olive oil and yum! This recipe is also one of the many reasons to buy local, they have soooooo much flavor that the pre-bagged stuff at the supermarket just can’t touch!

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