Tag Archives: Bryan Voltaggio

Butter Lettuce and Strawberry Salad with Gorgonzola and Candied Sunflower Seed “Croutons”

Butter Lettuce and Strawberry Salad with Gorgonzola and Candied Sunflower Seed "Croutons"

I love salads all year round, but dear lord they just have to be lighter in the summer – otherwise, what’s the point? This is my personal example of the ideal summer salad.

Butter Lettuce and Strawberry Salad with Gorgonzola and Candied Sunflower Seed "Croutons"

Butter lettuce, with which I am more than a tad bit obsessed; sweet, juicy, peak-season strawberries; a tangy cheese to offset the sweetness; a light vinaigrette with just the right balance of heft and tartness; and a good crunch at the end.

Butter Lettuce and Strawberry Salad with Gorgonzola and Candied Sunflower Seed "Croutons"

We should discuss this crunch. I should tell you how delicious it is, how it could probably adorn a bowl of ice cream so beautifully, and how as written it will yield about twice what you need – which means you can make another batch of this salad if you didn’t inhale them all. Big if, by the way. Enjoy this one on a very hot day, seeing as those seem to be afflicting almost everyone right now.

Butter Lettuce and Strawberry Salad with Candied Sunflower Seed "Croutons"

Source: ever so slightly adapted from Home by Bryan Voltaggio

Ingredients:

DRESSING:
2-3 oz. dried strawberries
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup white grape juice
Pinch of salt

SUNFLOWER SEED “CROUTONS”:
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 tbs honey
½ tsp salt
1 ¼ cups unsalted raw sunflower seeds
¼ tsp sweet paprika

SALAD:
4 heads butter lettuce
8 oz. fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 tbs olive oil
4 oz. Gorgonzola

Directions:
The night before you want to serve, start the DRESSING: place all the dressing ingredients in a bowl, mix well, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. The next day, put the mixture into the blender. Puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and reserve.
To make the “CROUTONS”: put the sugar, honey, and salt in a heavy-bottomed medium pot. Over medium heat, cook the sugar and honey together until the sugar melts, then add the sunflower seeds. Cook and stir until the sugars caramelize and the seeds become evenly roasted, about 10 minutes. Stir in the paprika. Remove the sunflower seeds from the pan and cool them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. When the seeds cool, break them up into bite-size croutons.
Assemble the SALAD: put the lettuce leaves in a large bowl. Add the fresh strawberries and olive oil. Dress the salad with the dressing, taking care not to overdress it. Toss to combine, then add the sunflower seed croutons and chunk the Gorgonzola on top. Serve immediately.

Goat Cheesecake with Blueberry-Gin Compote

Goat Cheesecake with Blueberry-Gin Compote

So I didn’t really plan or intend to take this much time off from blogging lately, but it sort of coincided with some nuttiness in my real job plus some incredibly loud construction going on across the street from my building. Like, metal pounding metal stakes into the ground. The sound is actually rather unnerving, and everything I tried to write just leeched out undertones of the inner rage I was feeling at the noise. Better to not subject anyone to that.

goat cheesecake with blueberry-gin compote

They seem to be taking a day off, so I’m writing out as many blog posts as I possibly can, while I can think clearly! Let’s talk goat cheese in a cheesecake. This is not a savory cheesecake at all, so the goat cheese isn’t terribly obvious in the flavor department. It’s more that it lends a background tanginess that cuts the sweetness of cheesecake, and mostly it provides creaminess to the texture.

Goat Cheesecake with Blueberry-Gin Compote

I was very much in love. Upon initially reading the recipe, I was a bit skeptical that the batter might not work properly. It just seemed like overkill to include sour cream, and ricotta, and goat cheese in addition to the cream cheese. But I was wrong, it works beautifully! This was among the creamiest and smoothest cheesecakes I’ve ever tasted, so I can’t complain about any perceived overabundance of batter ingredients.

Goat Cheesecake with Blueberry-Gin Compote

The blueberry sauce was really gorgeous, both to look at and to eat. You don’t taste the gin outright, but it does complement the sweet-tart nature of the blueberries, and the texture achieved here is divine. It’s really rich and smooth, but with those plump bursts of the whole blueberries added in. Cheesecake is always a labor of love and time, so I firmly believe it’s got to be completely worth it when you do make it. This one will not disappoint. Enjoy!

Goat Cheesecake with Blueberry-Gin Compote

Source: slightly adapted from Home: Recipes to Cook with Family and Friends by Bryan Voltaggio

Ingredients:

CRUST:
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup plus 1 tbs graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt

FILLING:
12 oz. goat cheese, at room temperature
10 oz. ricotta cheese
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup plus 7 tbs granulated sugar
2 ½ tbs sour cream
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp kosher salt
2 ½ tbs all-purpose flour

COMPOTE:
8 oz. blueberries, divided
½ tsp orange zest
½ tbs honey
½ tsp gin
Pinch of kosher salt

Directions:
For the CRUST: preheat the oven to 375 F. In a medium bowl, stir together the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and salt. Mix until the mixture resembles wet sand. Pour the crumbs into a 9” springform pan and use a flat-bottomed drinking glass or measuring cup to press the crumbs evenly on the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake 9-12 minutes, until browned. Remove from the oven and let cool. Lower the oven temperature to 300 F.
Meanwhile, make the FILLING: mix the goat cheese, ricotta, cream cheese, granulated sugar, and sour cream in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed until fully blended, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, waiting until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next one, followed by the yolks in the same fashion. Add the vanilla and salt. When they are incorporated, stop the mixer and add the flour. Mix on low speed until just blended.
Prepare the cheesecake for baking. Take two large strips of aluminum foil and lay them out on a flat surface so they overlap a bit. Tape them down the middle with sturdy packing tape or duct tape. Turn the foil over and tape the other side. You want no seam left flapping open. This is the only way I’ve found to ensure that no water seeps into your cheesecake. Set a tea kettle full of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Place the springform pan over the aluminum foil and tightly wrap the sides. Place the springform in a roasting pan. Carefully pour the filling into the crust, then add enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the pan. Bake for 60-75 minutes, until the sides are set and the center is jiggly but not liquidy. Shut off the oven and crack the door open. Let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 1 hour. This helps to prevent the dreaded cheesecake cracks. Remove the cake from the water bath and let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.
Right before you’re ready to serve, make the COMPOTE: put half of the fresh blueberries, the orange zest, honey, gin and salt in a small saucepot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low and cook about 3-5 minutes, or until the blueberries are completely tender and soft. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the puree through a fine-mesh sieve. Add the remaining blueberries and mix well. Cool slightly before serving.
Serve slices of the cheesecake with a nice dollop of compote.