Dining & Wine

Anna Olson’s Three-Course Cheesy Holiday Feast!

December 15, 2021

Did you know cheese is the number one ingredient served over the holidays? Ricotta be kidding me you say? We’re not, and that’s a gouda thing! (Sorry….we couldn’t resist.) Cheese has been uniting millions for generations. Whether it’s over your shared love of pizza or pasta, this ingredient plays a starring role every holiday season. This is why Food Network Canada personality Anna Olson has curated a three-course holiday feast that will have you rethinking your turkey and pie. Get ready for some mouth-watering, ooey-gooey, easy-peasy, cheesy recipes featuring Canada’s own Tre Stelle Cheese, made with 100 per cent Canadian dairy.

To start the meal, Anna created a velvety spicy crab dip appetizer called Feliz Navi-Crab. This recipe features two types of cheeses, mascarpone for creaminess and mozzarella for maximum “meltiness” …

Feliz Navi-Crab Cheesy & Spicy Crab Dip

Prep Time: Under 10 minutes
Ready In: 20 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8

1 cup 100 g Tre Stelle Mozzarella Ball
1 Tbsp 15 mL cornstarch
½ cup 125 g Tre Stelle Mascarpone
¼ cup 60 mL mayonnaise
3 Tbsp 45 mL chopped Italian parsley
2 Tbsp 30 mL chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
1 Tbsp 15 mL lime juice or jalapeno pickle juice (from the jar)
1 tsp 5 mL celery salt
½ tsp 2.5 mL chili powder
¼ tsp 1 mL garlic powder
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Dash hot sauce (optional)
4 oz 120 g tinned crab meat, drained
Crostini, tortilla chips or crackers, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Shred the mozzarella and toss with the cornstarch in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the mascarpone and mayonnaise followed by the parsley, jalapeno peppers, lime juice (or pickle juice), celery salt, chili powder, garlic, Worcestershire and hot sauce (if using). Stir in the crab meat. Spoon the dip into a 4-cup (1 L) shallow ovenproof dish, spread and bake for about 20 minutes until golden on top and bubbling at the edges. Serve immediately with crostini, tortilla chips or crackers. The dip can be made up to a day ahead and stored, well-wrapped, in the fridge. Let the dip sit on the counter for 20 minutes before baking.

For Anna’s main dish, she created a ricotta pasta with butternut squash and sage which she calls Gnocchi’n Around the Christmas Tree. Making fresh pasta is a tradition in Anna’s house as it’s a great way to bring your friends and family together. What is Anna’s secret to getting gnocchi to puff up to pillowy perfection? Tre Stelle Ricotta! Top the dish with some feta and then let the happy comfort sweep over you.

Gnocchi’n Around The Christmas Tree Ricotta Gnocchi With Butternut Squash, Sage & Feta

Prep Time: Under 20 minutes
Ready In: Under 15 minutes
Serves: 4 as a main, 6 as a starter

475 g (1 tub) Tre Stelle Traditional Ricotta or Extra Smooth Ricotta
4 large eggs
2 ½ cups 375 g all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp fine salt
4 cups 1L diced fresh butternut squash, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces (about 650 g)
3 Tbsp 45 ml olive oil or butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp 45 ml chopped fresh sage (or 2 tsp/10 mL dried)
1 ½ cups 375 ml halved grape or cherry tomatoes
3 oz 90 g Tre Stelle Crumbled Feta
Salt & pepper, for seasoning

To make the gnocchi, beat the ricotta in a large mixing bowl by hand and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the flour and salt and stir until evenly combined. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead for a minute until no longer sticky. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll each piece into a 16-inch rope about 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick. Cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces and transfer to a flour-dusted baking tray. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the diced squash and boil for about 6 minutes, until almost tender. Drop the gnocchi into the same boiling water and cook for 5 minutes more, until the gnocchi floats to the top of the water. Drain the gnocchi and squash in a colander. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sage and stir for one minute. Add the gnocchi and squash to the pan along with the tomatoes and stir to coat with the oil and season to taste. Spoon the gnocchi into pasta bowls or a serving bowl and sprinkle the crumbled feta on top and serve immediately.

Lastly, Canada’s baking sweetheart takes it over the finish line with her O’Cannoli Night cheesecake. One bite of this heavenly dessert and you’ll understand why it’s a spiritual experience! When baking cheesecakes, it’s common for the cheesecake to crack when being removed from the oven, but Anna says a ricotta cheesecake doesn’t crack!

O’Cannoli Night Cannoli Cheesecake

Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus chilling
Ready In: 75 minutes
Serves: 12 -16 (Makes one 9-inch/23 cm cheesecake)

2 ½ cups 280 g chocolate or graham cookie crumbs (or crushed biscotti)
½ cup 120 g unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ lb 675 g Tre Stelle traditional ricotta cheese or Extra Smooth Ricotta cheese
2/3 cup 135 g granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
¼ cup 60 ml sweet Marsala (optional)
2 tsp 10 ml vanilla extract
1 tsp 5 ml finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp 5 ml finely grated orange zest
Pinch ground nutmeg
3 Tbsp 45 g unsalted butter, melted
½ cup 85 g mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325F and lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. Place the pan on a baking tray. For the crust, combine the crumbs with the melted butter and press this into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan, coming almost all the way to the top. Bake for 12 minutes and cool while preparing the filling. For the filling, stir the ricotta by hand to smooth it out, and then whisk in the sugar, eggs, yolks, Marsala (if using) vanilla, lemon & orange zest, nutmeg, and then whisk in the melted butter. Stir in the chocolate chips and scrape the filling into the crust (it’s OK if the crust is still warm). Bake the cheesecake for an hour, until the edge of the filling is set but it jiggles in the centre when the pan is moved. Allow the cheesecake to cool for 90 minutes, then chill for at least 3 hours before serving.

We hope you enjoy your cheesy feast with your loved ones this holiday. For more cheesy recipes, click here. Merry Cheesemas! —Vita Daily



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