Dinner Exchange

I want to be honest with you, this is my very first recipe swap party. As you may know I moved from Florence to Montreal just 4 years ago, and this kind of party is something we don’t organize in Italy.  So, when the Tre Stelle team proposed for me to organise one, I kind of panicked. As someone who loves cooking, having people over is something I enjoy a lot, but usually it’s always me cooking.  So I started asking myself “Who should I invite?” “What do I have to ask my guest?” Stupid questions you may say, but I am a newbie to these kinds of “gatherings” and I was more scared than excited. But, of course I did not back off. So I set a day, I identified the right people to invite among my friends and I asked them to cook one recipe with the assigned Tre Stelle cheese, saving the Mozzarella ball for myself.

My friends accepted the invitation with a lot of enthusiasm, which was more than I was expecting. My recipe swap party turned out to be a great party, since it’s somewhat like a potluck but better, because it’s themed!

Even though not all my friends are as passionate for cooking as I am, I have to say that the food was excellent and in the end we did not have many leftovers to take home!

The great outcome of this party made me think that even those who don’t like cooking will enjoy preparing something if stimulated with an invitation, and they often come with very simple recipes but they’re damn good!

I tend to overthink about the right recipe to make and the right food to serve. We often discard some recipes because we consider them too easy or too trivial. But again, I learnt from this party that “too easy” does not match with “no good”, and that sometimes 2-3 ingredients if well combined and presented can hit the party buffet.

After having seen this little party become so successful, I started to think that it would be a great idea to turn it into an annual event, as a fun excuse to spend time with my friends and of course eat yummy food! You can’t go wrong with good friends and great food. A recipe swap party is an easy and fun way to improve your recipe repertoire and above all a great excuse to hang with your friends.

If like me, you are new to this kind of party format, please find here some tips on how to host your own Recipe Exchange Party:

  • Pick the theme of your party

 The theme can be anything that suits your fancy. For example, calendar occasion (Christmas, Halloween, Easter…) or food tradition in different countries, or a colour.

  • Number of guests

If you have enough space it can be fun to leave it as an open invitation event so that friends can invite other friends. The recipe swap party can be made as a girl’s night, but with men it works too, since a lot of them love challenging themselves in the kitchen universe

  • Rules

There are no rules! Besides the fact that the attendees are asked to bring an already cooked dish and a copy of the recipe, accordingly with the party theme.

Before eating each person can talk about their dish, how they make it and why they picked it. It is a nice start especially if someone is new in the group. Doing this helps to “break the ice”, stimulate the conversation and gives everyone a chance to introduce themselves, if needed.

Here the recipes tasted and shared during my party:

 

  1. Baked Frittata with Bell Peppers, Red Onion and Tre Stelle Ricotta
  2. Tre Stelle Bocconcini Sandwiches with Prosciutto and Sundried Tomatoes
  3. Phyllo Triangles with Spinach, Dill and Tre Stella Feta
  4. Bruschetta with Tre Stelle Mozzarella Ball with Avocado Salad
  5. Tre Stelle Mascarpone Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chips

 

Baked Frittata with Bell Peppers, Red Onion and Tre Stelle Ricotta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

¼ green bell pepper, chopped
¼ red bell pepper, chopped
5-6 slices of red onion
4 eggs
100 gr. of Tre Stelle Ricotta
3 tbsp. of olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven at 360F

In a pan heat the oil for 30 seconds and then add the peppers. Let it cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often;

Add the onion slices and a pinch of salt, keep cooking for 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it cool down a bit;

In the meanwhile, whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper, and then whisk in the Ricotta. Mix until you get a homogeneous mixture;

Add the vegetable to the egg and Ricotta mixture; pour into a baking pan and cook for about 25-30 minutes;

Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Tre Stelle Bocconcini Sandwiches with Prosciutto and Sundried Tomatoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Tre Stelle Bocconcini
2 thin slices of prosciutto
2-3 sundried tomatoes, tiny sliced
4 leaves of basil
8 toothpicks

Divide the Bocconicini in halves;

Stuff each Bocconcini with ¼ slice of prosciutto and a piece of tomato. Close the “sandwich” with a half basil leaf and a toothpick;

Serve immediately of keep in the fridge until you serve them.

 

Phyllo Triangles with Spinach, Dill and Tre Stelle Feta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3/4 green onions, finely chopped
A handful of baby spinach, finely chopped
400 gr. of Tre Stelle Feta, crumbled
1 package of phyllo dough
Melted butter (for brushing the dough)

 

Preheat oven to 360 F;

In a bowl, combine onions, spinach and Feta, set it aside;

Place all the phyllo sheets on a surface, cut the first long rectangle (about 5 cm wide) for the entire thickness of the dough;

Take two rectangles, brush them with melted butter, paste them one above the other. Brush with butter on the outer surface of the rectangle;

Place 1 tablespoon of filling 2cm from the short edge closest to you. Fold the bottom left corner over the filling to the right edge to form a triangle. Fold the triangle up, bringing the point at the right bottom along the right edge. Turn the lower right corner over in order to touch the left edge; Continue turning the triangle over in this manner until you reach the end of the rectangle;

Repeat with remaining sheets of phyllo dough, continuing until running out of filling. You should get about 20 triangles;

Transfer the spanakopita on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake in the oven about 15 minutes, until browned;

Serve hot or warm.

 

Bruschetta with Tre Stelle Mozzarella Ball with Avocado Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 slices of country-style bread;
1 big avocado (or 2 small), ripe;
2 green onions, finely chopped
¼ tsp. of lime juice
5 slices of Tre Stelle Mozzarella Ball
Salt and chilli
3 tbsp. of olive oil
Black sesame to garnish (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 360 F;

Toast the bread slices and set them aside;

Peel the avocado and cut it into little pieces. Mix the avocado with onions, lime juice, salt and chilli, set aside;

Place the Mozzarella slices over the bread and put into the oven until the Mozzarella is melted (be careful to do not burn it);

Take out from the oven, place the avocado mixture over the melted Mozzarella, toss with some olive oil and some black sesame and serve immediately.

 

Tre Stelle Mascarpone Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 tbsp. of chocolate chips
3 eggs
90 gr. of sugar
80 gr. of vegetable oil
250 gr. of flour
1 tsp. of baking powder
200 gr. of Tre Stelle Mascarpone
Vanilla essence
A pinch of salt
Butter for the mold

 

Place the chocolate chips in the freezer;

Preheat oven to 360 F, grease a cake pan with butter;

Wish eggs, sugar and a few drops of vanilla for 2-3 minutes until you get a foamy mixture;

Sift the flour with the baking powder and add into the egg batter;

Add in the vegetable oil and mix again;

Add in the Mascarpone and a pinch of salt, mix well until you get a homogeneous batter;

Take out the chocolate chips from the freezer and add them to the mixture;

Pour the batter into the greased mold and bake for about 40 minutes;

Let the cake cool down before unmoulding it.

#RandomActsOfCooking

This Holiday season I’m joining hands with Tre Stelle to promote their #RandomActsOfCooking campaign. The goal of this awesome campaign is to encourage people, those that love cooking or miss cooking, to get back into the kitchen over the holidays and cook something for someone else. We would love to have you join in by cooking for someone else either in need or as a completely random act just to say you are thinking of them.

My husband and I recently relocated due to his job. After 30 years of being homeowners, we decided to rent. The move was not easy as we had to downsize significantly, pack up and move to a new city where we did not know anyone. After considerable searching we found a lovely 3 bedroom apartment which would now become our new home.  A gentleman named Dickie, who works at the apartment complex made us feel at home right from day one. He is always there for us with a friendly smile and hug ready to help us.

I thought to myself, why not give the gift of food to someone we now consider a dear friend. I was excited to cook up some great comfort food for Dickie as my participation in the #RandomActsOfCooking.  Using three of Tre Stelle’s superior quality cheeses, Mascarpone, Ricotta and Mozzarella I made this tasty recipe, Cheesy Chicken Pasta Casserole. This is an easy dish to prepare and can be done in under 30 minutes.

Cheesy Chicken Pasta Casserole

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups penne pasta (uncooked)

2 cups cooked chicken cubed (I used a store bought rotisserie chicken)

1 can diced tomatoes –do not drain (14.5oz size)

1 can tomato sauce (8oz size)

½ cup cream

½ cup Tre Stelle Mascarpone

½ cup Tre Stelle Ricotta cheese

1 cup Tre Stelle Mozzarella sliced

1 cup onions diced

2 tsp. garlic minced

1 tbsp. fresh basil chopped

¾ cup frozen peas

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. butter

salt and pepper

 

Method:

Preheat oven 350º F

Generously grease 2 qt. size baking dish.

Cook pasta as per package instructions. Set aside.

In large skillet heat olive oil, add diced onions and cook until translucent.

Add minced garlic and cook for an addition couple of minutes.

Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, cream, Mascarpone and Ricotta cheese.

Heat until cheese has melted and is well combined.

Season with salt and pepper

Stir in cooked chicken and pasta.

Stir in fresh basil and peas.

Pour into greased baking dish, cover with foil and bake 350º F oven for 25-30 minutes.

Remove foil and top with fresh sliced Mozzarella cheese. Return to oven and bake until cheese is melted.

Everyone young and old, take a bit of time this Holiday Season to embrace the spirit of the holidays by cooking a meal for someone else. Your #RandomActsOfCooking will surely make someone feel special during this wonderful time of year. Cooking a meal for someone is an exceptional way to say “You Care”!

 

Tre Stelle Random Acts Of Cooking

When the Christmas season approaches I get all excited about two things: cookies and surprises. Well, actually three: snow too!

So when I had the opportunity to think of a new recipe for this Christmas, I knew I could roll all three of these holiday joys into one package. Ricotta Snowball Surprises!

First the cookie. I love them and my holiday baking focuses on making special cookies and sharing them with friends. Chewy, cake-like cookies are my go-to and Ricotta is the perfect ingredient for an airy cookie that takes flavours on gorgeously. Next, the snow: soft and fluffy Ricotta reminds me of snow shaped so right, like beautiful little snowballs.

Finally, the surprises. We all get a little excited about gifts under the Christmas tree or giving a surprise to kids and friends. So these cookies have a little surprise in the middle, which is chocolate! The best part about these cookies is the surprise of sharing them with loved ones or anyone who needs a little Christmas cheer. This year, #RandomActsOfCooking means yet another reason to share my Christmas cooking and baking (and gives me a reason to come up with new recipes too!).

Participating in #RandomActsOfCooking means cooking for someone who is in need or who you just want to surprise. It’s meant to get us all back in the kitchen, to enjoy cooking or baking and sharing food with the people you care about. My #RandomActsOfCooking was for a friend who is on bed rest during her pregnancy. She was missing cooking for her family and being involved with events so I figured she could use a little surprise. My son and I dropped off these Ricotta Snowball Surprises to pick up her spirits and celebrate the start of the winter and Christmas season.

When did you last whip up a batch of cookies for family or friends? Pass on your #RandomActsOfCooking this winter with these Ricotta Snowball Surprises or try your own creation. Happy Holidays!

Ricotta Snowball Surprises
For the dough:
½ cup (115 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup (235g/half a tub) of Tre Stelle Traditional Ricotta
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons coconut extract OR 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

For rolling:
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut for rolling
2-4 tablespoons granulated sugar for garnish
1 cup chocolate chips

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale. Mix in the Ricotta, eggs and flavouring extract.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the mixture until just combined. The dough will be quite soft but cooling it will allow you to work with it for rolling.

Refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes or up to one day.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the dough from the fridge. Using a cookie scoop, create dough balls for the cookies. Flatten a ball in the palm of your hand and place three chocolate chips in the middle. Fold over the dough to encase the chocolate and roll between your palms to create a ball. Roll the ball in the coconut and place it on a cookie sheet for baking. If you find the dough is still sticky, dampen your hands before rolling the cookies.

Once you have a full cookie sheet of cookies, sprinkle granulated sugar over the cookies for a sparkling effect once they are baked.

Bake at 350 on the middle rack for 14 to 15 minutes, rotating the tray half way through.

When done, remove the cookies to a cooling rack to stop the bottoms from browning too much. Yields approximately 4 dozen cookies.