Showing posts with label ricotta cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ricotta cheese. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Passover Ravioli – How to make Italian Malfatti using Matzo Meal by Cleo Coyle

Malfatti, which translates to "badly made," are fun little Italian dumplings. They're also known as "gnudi" because they look and taste like "naked" ravioli—ravioli filling without the pasta pillow. 

There are many popular recipes for malfatti out there, some of which use flour. My family prefers bread crumbs, which is why I was easily able to turn my malfatti recipe into a Passover dish. To my happy surprise, I found the matzo meal worked even better than bread crumbs. Perhaps it’s the unleavened nature of the crumbled matzo that does the trick. It gives the malfatti a great structure, helping the dumplings stay together while cooking.   

Malfatti are also a great deal of fun to form, and I'll show you how to do this using a simple wine glass. I even made a little video to help illustrate the step.

As for finishing the dish, malfatti can be served with many kinds of sauces, just like ravioli. In my photos, you see a simple marinara sauce with a sprinkling of grated Pecorino Romano. The sauce is a big part of the taste of this dish so use a good quality jarred sauce or make your own from a favorite recipe. If you’re not a fan of red sauce, try a cream sauce, or simply sauté slices of garlic in butter and olive oil. Throw in some chopped basil and thyme and pour the buttery herb sauce over the malfatti. It’s absolutely delightful!

Gluten Free Note: Thanks to Avery/Daryl for sharing the info that gluten-free eaters can now get gluten-free matzos, as well.

Cleo Coyle, fan of naked
ravioli, is author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Happy Passover!

Cleo Coyle's
Matzo Malfatti 

Free Recipe PDF!
To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Makes about 16 pieces – 4 servings of 4 each


For the Malfatti:

2 large eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon table salt)
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning mix
   (*or your own mix of herbs,
     see my note at the end of this recipe)
1 cup whole milk ricotta (pour off any visible liquid)
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan or aged Asiago)
1/2 cup matzo meal + about 1/2 cup more for finishing

(optional) A few cloves of garlic and more salt for the boiling water

Variation: For Spinach Malfatti,
see my note at the end of this recipe.

Step 1 – Make the dough: In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs well. Add oil, salt, white pepper, and Italian seasoning mix. Add the ricotta and whisk vigorously until the mixture is completely smooth (no lumps!). Stir in the grated hard cheese. (If creating the spinach or kale version, add the pureed spinach onion and garlic mixture now.) Finally, stir in the 1/2 cup of matzo meal.

Step 2 – Chill the dough: Cover the bowl with plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes. Do not skip this step. Chilling the dough makes it easier to work with and gives the matzo meal time to absorb the liquid in the dough.

Step 3 – Form the naked ravioli: Watch the video below to see exactly how to do this. Drop 1 heaping tablespoon of dough into a bowl of matzo meal and lightly coat. Drop the dough ball into a large wine glass. Hold the glass by the stem and spin it vigorously in your hand as if you were swirling wine. The dough ball will knock against the sides of the glass, forming a smooth elongated oval, like a little football. Gently slide the finished dumpling onto a plate. Repeat with a new lump of dough. 

My 30-Second Video:
How to Form Malfatti with a Wine Glass


FREEZE (or not): If you have time, and for the very best results, freeze the dumplings before cooking. Otherwise, move to the next step and cook without freezing. 

Step 4 – To cook: Fill a deep pan with water, generously sprinkle with kosher salt and add a few cloves of garlic. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Gently add the malfatti to the water. Do not crowd, be sure the dumplings have room to expand while cooking. Boil for about 12 to 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to carefully remove. Place them on plates covered with paper towels to remove excess water.

Step 5 – Cool: Allow the hot malfatti to cool to room temperature. As they cool, the texture changes, becoming more dense. To serve, move gently to plates, cover with well-heated marinara sauce, sprinkle with grated Pecorino, Parmesan, or aged Asiago cheese and…eat with joy!

*NOTE ON HERBS: In the recipe, I suggest using a standard "Italian mix" of dried seasonings to save time, but you can certainly create your own combination of dried or fresh herbs. I suggest oregano, rosemary, parsley, and basil, perhaps some garlic and/or onion powder. The final mix is to your own taste.

**NOTE ON SAUCE: If you’re not a fan of red sauce to finish the malfatti, try a cream sauce, or simply sauté slices of garlic in butter and olive oil. Throw in some chopped basil and thyme and pour the buttery herb sauce over the malfatti. It’s absolutely delightful!

(pictured below..)

This is a delicious and highly nutritious variation. To make it, simply dice up 1 large onion (3 cups roughly chopped) and 4 cloves of garlic. Warm a bit of olive oil in a skillet and sauté the onions and garlic. After the onions have caramelized into a light brown color, add no more than 2 cups of chopped frozen spinach (or kale). Stir and cook the spinach for a good ten minutes (see more on this below). 

You're watching for steam to rise from the spinach, which means the liquid is evaporating. That's your goal here--to dry out the spinach. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree. This spinach-onion-garlic mix should measure about 1 cup packed. If you have more than that, do not use the extra. Use only 1 cup packed. Pop the mixture into the fridge or freezer to cool it quickly to room temperature and add where indicated in Step 1 of the recipe. Then proceed as directed and...


Eat with joy!
~ Cleo Coyle 

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Friend me on facebook here
Follow me on twitter here.
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 
To learn more, click here. 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Banana Cream Cheesecake Gluten-Free Recipe

I was looking at some lonely bananas sitting on my counter and thought they didn't deserve to go, yet again, into a gluten-free banana bread. 

What could I do with them? I had plenty for my morning cereal for a couple of days. I couldn't just toss them. And I wasn't in the mood for a smoothie.

You all know that I love cheesecake. It's one of my favorite things in the world. I could eat it for breakfast lunch and dinner. My grandmother gave me a fabulous recipe, one that I've shared on MLK before. I often add things like caramel or chocolate chips to it. I even made a pineapple upside-down cheesecake from a recipe I tweaked (Tommy Bahama's). But bananas?

Well, I searched the Internet for one and found a Cheesecake Factory recipe that sounded good. I couldn't eat it, as is, because I need to eat gluten-free, so I tweaked and played, and came up with this. [I prefer adding a little ricotta cheese to all my cheesecake recipes because there's just a different texture that comes through in the baking.]

I hope you enjoy.



14 large gluten-free ginger cookies
¼ cup margarine, melted
12 oz cream cheese  (1.5 cups)
12 oz ricotta cheese (1.5 cups)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp. rice flour
3 eggs
¾ cup mashed bananas (about 2, very ripe)
½ cup whipping cream
2 tsp. gluten-free vanilla extract (or vanillin)


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Smash cookies in a plastic (Such fun to do this!)

Melt butter. Pour into the bag with then cookies. Mush together. (This is the official term.)
Line a 10" springform pan with wax paper or parchment (cut in a circle to fit). Press crumb mixture onto bottom of 10" springform pan; refrigerate.

I prefer a dump method. 

Put cream cheese and ricotta cheese in large bowl. Add sugar, rice flour, eggs, and bananas [make sure you use very ripe bananas]. Add the cream and vanillin. Mix with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Pour cream cheese mixture into springform pan. 

Place pan on cookie sheet and bake 15 minutes.

VERY IMPORTANT!  Reduce oven temperature to 200°F and continue baking 75 minutes or until center is set. 

REMOVE from oven and set on wire rack. Loosen the edge of the cheesecake with a hot knife. Cool completely then refrigerate cheesecake, uncovered, 6 hours or overnight.

Serve with whipped cream and freshly sliced bananas.

* * * * *

You can learn more about me, Avery, by clicking this link.
Chat with me on Facebook and Twitter.

And if you haven't done so, sign up for my mailing list
 so you can learn about upcoming events, releases, and contests!


"Like" Daryl's page on Facebook and "follow" Daryl on Twitter.
She doesn't say all the same things "I" do.
And pretty soon she'll have some fun news to share!

You'll hear that first in Avery's newsletter!

Say cheese!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Cookies from Leftovers!

I made MJ's Dinner Party chicken yesterday and I want to publicly say thank you to MJ for sharing that one. Big hit with the family (btw, my vegetarian daughter is away at school, if you haven't guessed).

Anyway, take a look, aren't they pretty?
This was before they went into the oven. Another thing MJ was right about - the house smelled wonderful as they baked.

We loved the chicken, and I loved how easy it was to put this delicious dish together. I would be delighted to serve this to guests. It's elegant and tasty. A win-win.


When I was shopping for this recipe's ingredients I realized I'd forgotten to write down how much ricotta cheese I needed.


To be on the safe side, I asked for a pound and the lovely young woman behind the counter gave me a very healthy pound. Almost 1.25. MJ's recipe calls for 3/4 cup, which means I had a lot left over.

What to make with the extra?

I searched and for recipes containing ricotta and I found this one:

You can get the recipe by clicking the title above. I would normally type it in its entirety here, but I can't, in good conscience, do that this time. This recipe belongs to the person who posted it at Allrecipes and I didn't change a thing.

If I adapt a recipe I have no problem posting it here, but this one I followed step by step and it would be unfair to take credit for it.

I will tell you that these cookies are wonderful. I used to make something my neighbor always called Italian cookies and we loved them, but they're a lot of work. A lot of work.

These ricotta cookies taste a great deal like my Italian cookies. The only difference is that these are soft. So far, one of my daughters prefers these. I'll check with the rest of the family, assuming this batch lasts that long! I have to tell you - my daughter likes them enough that she's encouraging me to make a fresh batch for Easter.
Simple, and easy to pull together assuming you have ricotta cheese in the house. BTW - I halved the recipe because I didn't have enough for a full one.

So, from MJ's Party Chicken leftovers we get Cookies!
How fun is that?


Grace Interrupted, coming June 7th to a bookstore near you!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Appetizers Make New Year's Party

We're coming upon New Year's Eve. Happy New Year!

May this year bring you joy and happiness. May all your creative endeavors be positive. May you laugh and be surrounded by laughter. May you love and be surrounded by love.

And may you enjoy good company of friends (if you so desire).

For New Year's festivities, I'm always looking for new appetizers? Things I can serve on the 31st. Things I can serve watching football or while reading a good book (while others watch football).

I've stumbled upon a terrific herbed ricotta appetizer that is so EASY to make and so delicious to eat, and they're pretty. A plateful looks beautiful. So does a platter-ful. And guys like them just as much as gals. [This can also be made as a bruschetta "sandwich".]

For this batch of appetizers, I decided to try my hand at cheese making first. I've been told that making ricotta cheese was the easiest, so that's what I tried.

Ricotta cheese is fabulous. It's luscious and yet delicate and light. Though it was "harder" to do than I imagined, I really enjoyed the experience and I would do it again (now that I'm a seasoned veteran).

Just so you know, homemade tastes even better than store-bought. Definitely.

To prepare, you need a sieve, cheesecloth, a mixing bowl, and a 6-quart pot. Oh...and the ingredients (of course). And patience.

(makes about 2 cups)

2 quarts whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
1 fresh lemon

You need a large sieve and cheesecloth.
Line the sieve with the cheesecloth and place the sieve over a large mixing bowl.
In a 6-quart pan, slowly bring the milk, the cream, and the salt to a boil over medium heat, stirring to prevent the mixture from scorching. This takes 3-4 minutes.

Squeeze the juice from one fresh lemon. It makes about 3 tablespoons. Add the lemon juice to the milk mixture, then reduce the mixture to low and continue stirring, about 2 minutes.
Pour the mixture on top of the cheesecloth in the sieve and let it drain for about an hour.
Discard the liquid in the bowl and reserve only the “curds” that are on top of the cheesecloth.
Keep the ricotta in a covered container and refrigerate. It will keep 3-4 days.

Now...for the appetizer, which IS EASY to make...



2 cups ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons scallions, minced
2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
2 tablespoos chives, minced
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 loaf sourdough bread or your favorite crackers
olive oil [FOR BRUSCHETTA]
1 whole garlic clove, cut in half [FOR BRUSCHETTA]

As I said, this may be made a couple of ways. Like a bruschetta (a meal) or just as a cold appetizer.

For appetizer: [easy!]

Combine the ricotta, scallions, dill, chives, salt and ½ teaspoon ground pepper.

Spread a tablespoon of the cheese on your favorite crackers.
Garnish with crushed pepper. [Do not use the oil or garlic from the ingredients above.]

For bruschetta: [a little more involved] [Sorry I don't have pictures of this one. We ate all the appetizers and ran out of the cheese mixture!]

Prepare a barbecue with medium-high heat.

Combine the ricotta, scallions, dill, chives, salt and ½ teaspoon ground pepper. Set aside.

Cut the bread in hafl and cut each half into 6 thick slices; 12 total.

When the grill is hot, brush the bread with oil and grill on each side for 2 minutes. Remove and rub with garlic clove.

Spread the herbed ricotta on the bread. Garnish with more pepper.

Serve with a crisp green salad.

If you want a few other appetizers from our Mystery Lovers Kitchen, click these links:

* * *
If you'd like to know more about A Cheese Shop Mystery series and want to download a few other recipes from me (on recipe cards), click on this link to my website: Avery Aames. I've posted recipes in the "morsels" section. There's lots of other fun stuff, as well. And sign up for the mailing list to get in on the next contest...coming soon.

Say cheese!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Treats

It's Thanksgiving week at Mystery Lovers Kitchen!

Welcome into "our" house.

Today, I'm sharing...


What's not to like about appetizers? For a Thanksgiving feast, you've got to have
a lot of them, right? You've got family and/or friends...or just
yourself...milling about.

You must eat. And enjoy!

I remember Thanksgivings where all I ate were appetizers. I adore turkey, but by the time the meal came around, I'd had so many delicious treats before, I couldn't even consider a taste of turkey (my favorite) and mashed potatoes (my second favorite) and cranberry sauce (okay, this might be my first favorite) and pumpkin pie (all right, truth? I never pass up pumpkin pie)...but you know what I mean.

Appetizers. You've got to have good, great, tasty appetizers. They set the mood. They let the
family and friends mingle. They stir the palate.

Yes, of course, a cheese platter is always a wonderful appetizer.

But here are a couple of appetizers that are just downright tasty!

And easy.

Easy is important!!!



12 thin (but not too thin) pancetta slices

12 arugula leaves

12 slices fresh goat cheese

3-4 teaspoons peach preserves

4 figs, sliced thinly


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place pancetta in single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. [Can be put on foil.]

Bake until crisps, 12-15 minutes. [*A thicker piece of pancetta will take longer to cook and not be as brittle. I recommend.]

Cool pancetta and transfer to a platter.

Top each pancetta with 1 arugula leaf, 1 slice of goat cheese, ¼ teaspoon of jam, and 1 small slice of fig.

If desired, sprinkle with ground pepper.



1 cup artichoke hearts (canned, in water)

½ cup basil leaves, diced

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

16-18 green pimento-stuffed olives (diced)

1 5.2-ounce garlic-herb cheese (like Boursin)

Crusty breads, crackers, breadsticks


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Chop artichoke hearts, basil, and olives. Pour into mixing bowl. Add cheeses. Stir well.

Pour mixture into 4-cup baking dish.

Bake about 15 minutes.

Garnish with diced basil.

Serve with breads and crackers.


... for my gluten-free friends, I wanted to share a gluten-free stuffing recipe. That's right, stuffing! Made with GF bread. It's so delicious and so easy, it's scary. This was inspired by a new Twitter friend @glutenfreegirl. She has an ongoing romance with a chef and they put together a little video on stuffing. I tweaked their recipe to make it my own.

Most importantly, start with a really good gluten-free bread. Don't skimp. It can be homemade or store-bought, but make sure it's a bread you normally like. [I start with mine frozen so it won't absorb too much moisture too quickly.]



12 slices gluten-free bread

2 cups GF broth

1 cup chopped celery

¼ cup chopped water chestnuts

½ cup chopped yellow onion

4 tablespoons butter

3 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

1 egg plus enough water to equal ½ cup liquid

Parsley flakes

[If desired, 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese]


Set oven to 300 degrees.

In a saucepan, combine butter, broth, celery, onion, chestnuts, and spices. Bring to boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

In a bowl, combine egg and water.

Slice bread into thick cubes. (I like to use frozen bread so it won’t absorb the moisture too fast.)

Put the bread into a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Pour the egg/water combination over the bread. Pour the hot broth combination over the bread. DO NOT STIR YET.

Bake in oven 30 minutes. If desired, broil the stuffing for about 5 minutes until crisp brown.

Remove from oven and stir, chopping up the bread to moisten entirely. [If you do not like your stuffing so moist, do not chop and stir. Simply serve...]

Garnish with parsley flakes and serve.

If desired, this may be served with shredded Parmesan cheese.



Remember to enter Krista's Christmas Cookie Contest!

Krista's Christmas
Cookie Contest!

Krista Davis is celebrating the upcoming release
of her new holiday mystery, The Diva Cooks a Goose.

She's holding a delicious contest! Send Krista your favorite cookie recipe
at Krista at KristaDavis dot com and you might win!
Find out more by
clicking here


Finally...if you'd like to know more about A Cheese Shop Mystery series and want to download a few other recipes from me (on recipe cards), click on this link to my website: Avery Aames. I've posted recipes in the "morsels" section. There's lots of other fun stuff, as well. And sign up for the mailing list to get in on the next contest...coming soon.