Barbecue with Tre Stelle

The time for outdoor entertaining, family get-togethers and barbecues has arrived! Sometimes it seems slow in coming, but who can help but feel that sense of anticipation as the days get longer?

No matter what the occasion – whether it’s a dinner for two under the stars or a sun-drenched brunch in the garden – there can be no question that the barbecue will always play a starring role in our summers. It’s the perfect opportunity for get togethers.

The great thing about barbecues is that simple, laid-back, no-fuss atmosphere that allows us to spend time with our guests without having to run off to check something in the oven or put the finishing touches on fancy plating. It’s so nice to be able to keep things simple where we can quickly throw together a variety of unexpected hot dishes, even if you aren’t an expert in the kitchen or a great fan of cooking! There’s no excuse not to give it a try – in fact, some people who never set foot in front of the stove turn into avid chefs in the summer, thanks to the barbecue.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BWaEwvFAQc9/?taken-by=trestellecheese

Beyond the traditional meat, fish and vegetable dishes, you can experiment with recipes that are more elaborate and creative, but still not difficult. So, it’s time to venture into new culinary territory, surprise our taste-buds, swap in some new ingredients, and put a new twist on old favourites. Remember: it often only takes one little addition to make a huge difference, in both taste and presentation.

Keep in mind that most ingredients are perfect for the barbecue, from appies to desserts. Play around with your favourite flavours, choose seasonal fruits and vegetables to add cheerful accents of colour to your menu and turn delicious summer soups into unforgettable experiences.

Time to whet our appetites!

Here are 3 original recipes perfect for the barbecue.

  1. Greek salad with Grilled Feta
  2. Polenta, Prosciutto and Mozzarella Kebabs
  3. Grilled Strawberries with Mascarpone Cream

 

Greek salad with Grilled Tre Stelle® Feta

12-15 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 large English cucumber, finely sliced

¼ red onion, finely chopped

3 tbsp. Kalamata olives

1 tub Tre Stelle® Feta

Olive oil

Salt and oregano to taste

 

Season a piece of Feta Cheese with 2 generous tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of oregano, then wrap the cheese in foil and cook it on the barbecue for 2-3 minutes on either side;  In the meantime, put the tomatoes, cucumber, onion and olives on a platter and season them with a few spoonfuls of olive oil, a pinch of salt and oregano to taste;

Place the unwrapped barbecued Feta with its seasoning on top of the vegetable salad, using two spoons as the cheese will be quite soft.

Serve immediately. 4 servings

 

Polenta, Prosciutto and Tre Stelle® Bocconcini min mini Kebabs

250 mL of water

5 heaped tablespoons of quick-cooking polenta

4-5 thin slices of prosciutto

Tre Stelle® Bocconcini mini mini

A few fresh mint leaves

Salt, olive oil

 

Bring the water to a boil in a pot and add a pinch of salt;

Lower the heat and sprinkle in the polenta, stirring with a whisk;

Let it cook for 5 to 6 minutes, adding a few more drops of water if necessary;

Pour it into an oiled baking pan: you want it to be quite thick. Allow it to cool completely;

As soon as the polenta has cooled and set, cut it into squares;

Brush the squares with oil and put them on the barbecue for about 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side; assemble the kebabs with a mint leaf, a ball of Bocconcini, half a slice of prosciutto and two pieces of grilled polenta.

Serve the kebabs or, if you are preparing them in advance, keep them in the refrigerator. 4 servings

 

Grilled strawberries with Tre Stelle® Mascarpone Cream

3 eggs

6-7 tbsp. of sugar

250 g Tre Stelle mascarpone

A few drops of lemon juice

12-16 strawberries (depending on the size of the berries)

 

Separate the egg whites and yolks into two bowls; Add 3 heaping tablespoons of sugar to the egg yolks and beat until you get a frothy, uniform, pale yellow cream. Set aside;

Gently fold the mascarpone into the egg yolk and sugar mixture;

Add the lemon juice to the egg whites and, using a hand mixer, beat them until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture, taking care to keep it light and airy; Cover the mascarpone cream with plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it; Coat the strawberries with the remaining sugar, put them on skewers and grill them on the barbecue for about 1 minute on either side; Serve the strawberry skewers with the mascarpone cream. 4 servings

 

Berry and Mascarpone Blintzes for a Special Mother’s Day Brunch

For my family, crepes mean it’s a special occasion. A holiday morning, an anniversary brunch, or company is over. Crepes elevate breakfast or brunch to something a little more elegant.

Blintzes are crepes that are a touch more fancy. The extra step of filling and baking the crepes truly make them a special meal. And the steps used to make these can involve the whole family, so kids will really feel like they’ve had a hand in making a treat for mom on Mother’s Day. There’s beating the batter,  chopping the berries, mixing the filling, or even wrapping and folding the crepes.  Make it a true family affair to share and enjoy.

The berries, with a hint of mint or thyme (this may be omitted if children are too young) combine perfectly with the luxurious and velvety Mascarpone. Mascarpone makes every recipe an indulgent experience.  Any other time, if you’d prefer, you could choose to use Ricotta, but for a special brunch, Mother’s Day treat or special times, go all out and use this wonderful Mascarpone by Tre Stelle!

Final touch – a drizzle of macerated berries on top is fresh and full of colour. Visually impressive, and a treat for the taste buds!

Feeds 4 (12 blintzes or 3 each)

Crepe Batter

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tbsp. sugar

1/8 tsp salt

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

Zest from one lemon (save the lemon for the rest of the recipe)

2 tbsp. canola oil

 

  • Whisk the flour, sugar and salt together in a small bowl
  • In a medium bowl lightly beat the eggs.
  • Alternating flour mixture and milk, add by the 1/2 cup to the eggs. Mix thoroughly before adding the next portion. Once completely blended together, add the lemon zest and blend some more. Add the canola oil, and blend well. The final batter should be the consistency of heavy cream. Let the batter rest for at least 1 hour, covered, on the counter.
  • Heat a 6-8 inch shallow pan (ideally a crepe pan) over medium heat. Have canola oil ready to grease the pan with. Add enough to coat the bottom of the heated pan.
  • Lifting the pan from the heat, add enough batter to coat the entire bottom, swirling it around (but don’t add any more than that- you don’t want them thick)
  • Place pan burner and cook for about 40 seconds, or until the edges are cooked through and dry. Using a small spatula, slide it under the crepe all the way around to loosen. Flip and civil the other side till just golden.
  • Place on a plate.
  • Add a little oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Repeat until all the batter is used up. You should get between12-14 or more (depending on the size of your pan) set aside.

 

Berry Topping

2.5-3 cups of fresh berries, chopped if larger (it can be a combo of strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, currants etc)

2/3-3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tbsp. fresh chopped mint (or combo of mint and thyme)

3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice.

 

  • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, except for the lemon juice. Set aside. The sugars will draw out the berry juices. This will turn into a lovely sauce. Just before serving, add the lemon juice, 1 tbsp. at a time till you achieve freshness to the sauce that you like.

 

Mascarpone Filling

400 grams of Tre Stelle Mascarpone cheese

1 cup fresh chopped berries (use what is in season, almost any fruit can work!)

1/3-1/2 cup icing sugar (you decide how sweet you want it!)

3 tbsp. fresh chopped mint (you could also use thyme or a combination)

2-3 tbsp. lemon juice (just to thin it out a touch, what you need may be affected by the berries you choose)

 

  • Mix all filling ingredients together.

 

Prepare the blintzes:

 

  • Preheat the oven to 325F
  • Lightly grease the bottom of a large baking dish with some melted butter or canola oil
  • Take one crepe and place a small mound of the cheese mixture in the middle (about 2.5-3 tbsp.) Fold two sides in. Then wrap the top and bottom in (you’ve created a little envelope or parcel). Place with folded edges on the bottom into the baking dish.
  • Repeat till you have made up all the blintzes. Lightly brush the tops with a bit more butter or oil.
  • Bake for about 10 minutes, or until warmed through.
  • Place three on a plate and spoon the fruit topping over them. You can also sprinkle everything with more icing sugar.

 

 

Winter Comfort Food

If there are two things that go hand in hand, it’s Winter and Comfort Food. In addition to warm sweaters, cozy blankets, slippers, fuzzy pajamas and the warmth of the fireplace.  As much as we complain about the cold weather, it’s a great time to slow down a bit, snuggle up with a great book or movie and enjoy some hibernation.

Winter is also time to enjoy soothing, homestyle comfort food.  Whether it’s a great homemade soup or fresh baked bread, comfort foods are sentimental, reminding us of our favourite recipes prepared by Grandma, Mom or Dad.  I reached out to my family and friends to discover their most loved Comfort Foods. Although they gave me a wide variety of recipes, all were associated with cherished memories. My favourite Comfort Food is a piping hot bowl of homemade soup just like my Grandma made!
Tomato Mascarpone Soup 1-6241I probably have never made a soup recipe the same way twice. That is the great thing about making soup. Start with a basic recipe and then add a bit of this and a bit of that, and throw it in the pot. Experimenting with quality ingredients like Tre Stelle cheeses, lets you put your own twist on a beloved Comfort Food recipe.  Too many people say “I can’t cook” and worry about a recipe not turning out perfect.  But don’t fret! The adventure of cooking is taking one of your favourite recipes and making substitutions to suit individual tastes. Look through cookbooks, magazines, and the internet for something new and exciting to try cooking. My recipe for Tomato Mascarpone Soup is a great recipe to add your own twist to. Maybe add some shaped pasta, cooked rice, or quinoa for more fibre. Elevate the flavor with some healthy spices like Tumeric, or add some heat with chili pepper flakes.

For my Tomato Soup recipe I add creamy Tre Stelle Mascarpone cheese.  The mascarpone cheese adds an exceptional creamy, rich flavour to the soup. I serve the soup with a Tre Stelle Mozzarella Grilled Cheese Sandwich. That’s Comfort Food at its finest. Just dip that grilled cheese sandwich into the deliciously warm bowl of homemade tomato soup!

So get fearless, buy great quality ingredients and start enjoying personalizing your own recipes with incredible taste and flavor. And share the joy of cooking with your kids, your friends, or your partner! Invite them into the kitchen for some cooking fun with delicious results. Turn on some music (I love to listen to some great 70’s tunes) and enjoy a unique winter afternoon cooking adventure. Enjoy!

 

Tomato Mascarpone Soup

1 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 medium onion thinly sliced (1 cup)

2 garlic cloves thinly sliced (2 tsp.)

2 tbsp tomato paste

¾  tsp dried thyme

¾  tsp dried basil

1-28oz can whole tomatoes

1 tsp. sugar

3 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth can also be used)

½ tsp pepper

¼ cup Tre Stelle Mascarpone cheese

 

In large skillet melt butter and olive oil.

Add onions and garlic.  Cook over medium heat until onions are golden brown (about 10-12 minutes).

Add tomato paste, thyme and basil, cook for additional 2-3 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes with juices, sugar, pepper, chicken broth and pepper.

Season with salt as needed. Saltiness of broth and tomatoes vary, so salt to taste.

Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

Using an immersion blender puree soup. (any blender will work). If you like a really smooth soup, strain through a sieve.

Stir in mascarpone cheese. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes

Serve warm with a Mozzarella Grilled Cheese Sandwich using top quality Tre Stelle Mozzarella cheese.

 

Cook Time: 1 hour     4 servings

 

 

Staying Cool

Tiramisu Popsicles-4832Summer time – sunshine filled days of outdoor swimming pools, camping trips, bike rides and of course frozen treats to cool everyone off. Who doesn’t love popsicles, a great dessert, no forks or spoons required!

If you like Tiramisu you are going to love this recipe for frozen Tiramisu Popsicles. It is the perfect dessert for your backyard BBQ’s, summertime parties, or any time treat.

Tiramisu Popsicles combine the sensational flavour of classic Tiramisu to create an easy to make, smooth and creamy frozen treats! These will certainly be a warm-weather favourite treat for both grown-ups and kids alike.

Tiramisu Popsicles start off with Tre Stelle® Mascarpone Cheese which is a rich, fresh triple-cream cheese related to Cream Cheese and Ricotta. I love the taste and exceptional creaminess of Mascarpone Cheese in desserts, but it also tastes terrific spread on toast or bagels, and then topped with fruit or jam.

Marvelous gourmet flavour was added to this recipe with a shot of espresso. Very strong coffee will also work if you don’t have espresso. After the popsicles were completely frozen I decorated them with crushed ladyfingers and chocolate shavings. I used coffee-infused dark chocolate, but any type of chocolate you like will taste great.

Luscious, melt in your mouth Tiramisu Popsicles are one of my family’s favourite homemade frozen treats! Good eats to enjoy throughout the sunshine filled, relaxing, carefree days of summer!

 

Tiramisu Popsicles

Tiramisu Popsicles-4747PREP TIME: 15- 20 mins.       Serves: 6-8

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (8-ounce) container Tre Stelle® Mascarpone Cheese
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. espresso, cooled (very strong coffee will also work)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
  • 6-8 ladyfinger cookies crushed
  • 2 tbsp. grated chocolate (I used coffee flavoured)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a bowl using an electric mixer beat granulated sugar and Mascarpone until well combined.
  2. Add espresso and combine well.
  3. In a separate bowl using an electric mixer at high speed, whip the cream and confectioners’ sugar until stiff peaks form.
  4. Fold the whipped cream into the Mascarpone mixture.
  5. Fill popsicle molds with mixture. Tap down on countertop to remove any air pockets. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze for at least 3 hours.
  6. To remove popsicles from molds run under warm water for 30 seconds.
  7. Coat with crushed ladyfinger cookies and shaved chocolate.

12 Healthy, No-Cook, Family-Friendly Snack Ideas

TreStelle_HealthySnacks_01The idea of snacking can be divisive. Some think you should ban it to avoid overeating, and others consider it essential to keeping your metabolism running consistently throughout the day. If you have kids, you probably consider snacks crucial to a smooth-running day! I personally need snacks to keep my energy levels up between meals, and my toddler son needs them to fuel up between enthusiastic playing, running, and climbing sessions. To avoid falling for salty, fatty snacks (which are so easy to reach for), I try to always have fresh fruits, vegetables, and cheese in the fridge so I can assemble healthy bites as quickly as possible. The snacks I like to make are not only beautiful to look at, attracting the curiosity and interest of little ones, but also nutritious, effectively appeasing hunger pangs without leading to overindulgence.

The following healthy snack ideas don’t require any cooking, making them especially handy for hot summer days, and they won’t keep you in the kitchen for too long. Some chopping is involved, but then it’s just a matter of assembling the bites, which the kids will love helping you do. Each bite features a main fruit or vegetable, a Cheese, a protein, and some flavorings. If you want to take a shortcut, you can skip the flavorings altogether, but they add a delightful complexity and a certain sophistication to the snacks. Each snack idea is great for calming appetites on a busy weeknight while you prepare dinner, but you can also make several of the bites to create gorgeous spreads for brunch, cocktail parties, or special events, such as baby showers. In short, they’re versatile, healthy bites you’ll want to serve all summer long.

TreStelle_HealthySnacks_04

  1. Blueberries + Ricotta + Almonds + Honey
    Halve mini-pitas. Spoon some Ricotta over each piece, top with blueberries and almonds, and drizzle with honey. As an alternative, you could also fill the mini-pitas with the ingredients instead.
  2. Apple + Ricotta + Chicken + Walnuts
    Slice an apple thinly. Core the pieces that need it. Spoon some Ricotta over each slice, then add chopped roasted chicken. Top with a walnut half.
  3. Spinach + Ricotta + Bacon + Pumpkin Seeds
    Transfer some Ricotta in a small bowl. Chop a handful of baby spinach very finely, then mix it in. Spoon the mixture into edible crispy shells or over crackers, then add a piece of cooked bacon and sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds.
  4. Avocado + Chickpeas + Feta + Sunflower Seeds
    Smash the avocado with a fork and squeeze in some lemon juice so it doesn’t brown. Spread over slices of toasted baguette, then top with cooked chickpeas (make sure to rinse canned chickpeas thoroughly before using). Sprinkle with crumbled Feta and sunflower seeds.
  5. Cucumber + Feta + Walnuts + Basil
    Slice a cucumber into thick rounds. Top with cubes of Feta cheese. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and fresh basil.
  6. Cherry Tomatoes + Feta + Corn + Coriander
    Sprinkle crumbled Feta on tortilla chips. Top with a halved cherry tomato. Add a spoonful of cooked corn kernels over each tortilla chip, then finish with fresh coriander leaves.
  7. Dates + Mascarpone + Prosciutto + Lemon Zest
    Cut open each date to remove the pit. Fill each date with Mascarpone Cheese. Sprinkle with finely grated lemon zest, then wrap each date in prosciutto.
  8. Strawberries + Mascarpone + Maple Syrup + Thyme
    Dice the strawberries. Spread some Mascarpone Cheese over salted crackers. Top with diced strawberries. Drizzle with maple syrup and finish with fresh thyme leaves.
  9. Mushrooms + Mascarpone + Pesto + Toasted Panko
    Remove the mushroom stems and place the caps upside down on a serving plate. In a small bowl, mix some Mascarpone with a spoonful or two of pesto. Fill each mushroom cap with the Mascarpone-pesto mixture, then sprinkle with toasted panko crumbs.
  10. Melon + Bocconcini + Ham + Mint
    Cut the melon into cubes (any melon variety will do). Top each cube with a strip of smoked ham, then add a leaf of fresh mint. Finish with a Bocconcini pearl and secure with a toothpick to serve.
  11. Zucchini + Bocconcini + Hazelnuts + Lemon Zest
    Cut the zucchini into thick rounds and grill lightly, if desired. Let cool, then top each round with a halved Bocconcini. Finish with chopped hazelnuts and finely grated lemon zest.
  12. Figs + Bocconcini + Pistachio + Olive Oil
    Halve fresh or dried figs, then use your finger to lightly press into the center of each fig, so to create a shallow indentation. Grind the pistachios, then roll Bocconcini pearls into the nuts. Press one pearl into each fig, then sprinkle with more ground pistachios. Finish with a drizzle of aromatic extra-virgin olive oil.

Tropical Strawberry and Cream French Toast Bake

It’s Mothers day this month so why not treat all the moms out there to a beautiful brunch that includes a Tropical Strawberry and Cream French Toast Bake.  Easily prepared ahead of time, this French toast bake is sure to please your guests!

Mascarpone3Brunch is one of my favourite meals. Going out for breakfast usually means waking up early in order to get a table at a restaurant. Brunch, on the other hand, is usually enjoyed closer to noon (and means I get to sleep in). Honestly, that is all I want for Mother’s Day this year – a relaxing day with my family.

I prefer hosting brunch at home. It’s a nice way to have family and friends gather together while providing a comfortable setting. With the weather warming up we may even take our brunch outdoor this year and set up on the patio!

A number of brunch items can be prepared in advance and simply heated or quickly assembled the next day. This tropical strawberry and cream cheese French toast bake is very easy to make and is best if left overnight in the fridge to set up. I’ve made quite a number of French toast versions over the years when hosting Mother’s Day or other holiday brunches, but this one is right up there as one of my favourite combinations. To create a tropical taste, I’ve combined Tre Stelle® Mascarpone cheese with cream of coconut as part of the cream layer. Mascarpone is a rich triple crème related to cream cheese and Ricotta. It’s soft and spreadable making it a perfect addition to breakfast, dinner and dessert. Fresh or frozen berries can be used in this dish and don’t be afraid to change it up. There are a number of mixed berry or tropical fruit blends available.

Mascarpone2Here are some helpful tips for planning a relaxing Mother’s Day brunch at home:

Include a variety of items both sweet and savoury. Choose two or three main casserole style dishes that can be made ahead of time. Hash brown casseroles, quiche and French toast bakes are great options.

Set the table the night before and have serving dishes and utensils ready. Have the kids help. It is Mother’s Day after all – don’t try to do everything yourself. Guests are often more than willing to bring a fruit or vegetable tray along which will help minimize preparation and ensure a variety of food items at the table.

Have a cocktail ready to offer. Mimosas can be set up as self serve with fresh berries as garnish or a large pitcher of sangria can be made ahead of time. Don’t forget to offer a non-alcoholic beverage as well!

Plan ahead. The last thing you’ll want to do is run to the store last minute. Make an ingredient list and double check the pantry and fridge.

Finally, fresh flower arrangements as take-home gifts for all mothers in attendance are always a nice touch.

Mascarpone1Strawberries and Cream French Toast Bake

 Ingredients

1 loaf of French bread
8 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup light cream
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup Tre Stelle® Mascarpone Cheese
1/4 cup cream of coconut
2 cups frozen, sliced strawberries
Powdered sugar and whipping cream to serve

Directions

Slice the loaf of French bread into large cubes. Set them aside while you prepare the filling.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, light cream, milk and vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, combine the Mascarpone cheese and cream of coconut until smooth.
Layer half of the French bread cubes in a large oven proof casserole dish.
Drop the Mascarpone and coconut mixture by tablespoon over the bread cubes, spreading the mixture evenly with the back of the spoon.
Place the strawberries over the cream in an even layer then top with the remaining bread cubes.
Evenly pour the egg mixture over top and cover the casserole dish with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate overnight for best results. The bread will soak up the liquid and be ready to bake in the morning.
In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and remove the casserole dish from the fridge.  Replace the plastic wrap with foil and bake the French toast covered for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking another 30 minutes.
Let the French toast sit for 10 minutes before serving.