Orecchiette w/ Cheesy Chicken Meatballs

One thing Italians share with the rest of the world is their love for pasta. Pasta remains part of a rich tradition that impacts every corner of Italy, meshing with regional cultures and influencing local cuisine.

Orecchiette is a pasta specialty from the beautiful southeastern region of Puglia, down in Italy’s southern ‘heel’. It’s one of the country’s flattest and most fertile regions, with wheat and olive oil produced in abundance.

Orecchiette translates to ‘small ears’—a fitting name for a dome-shaped pasta that looks like tiny ears. This pasta has a thin, concave center, chewy edges, and a rough surface texture. Orecchiette require only three ingredients: hard wheat flour, water and salt.

Their particular shape, combined with the rough surface, makes it perfect for any kind of sauce, especially vegetable sauces.

With its deep-rooted history in the region, use of simple ingredients, and its convenient versatility, orecchiette has become a defining part not only of Puglia’s cuisine, but its culture, as well. And its popularity extends far beyond the region of Puglia.

I absolutely love orecchiette with its chewiness and nice ‘cupping’ ability. Pared with some cheesy meatballs, this meal is so good!

Print Recipe
Orecchiette w/ Cheesy Chicken Meatballs
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
SERVINGS
Ingredients
Pasta Sauce
Servings
SERVINGS
Ingredients
Pasta Sauce
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Pasta
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta & cook until tender but still firm to the bite., stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Transfer pasta to a bowl & add the parmesan. Toss to lightly coat orecchiette, adding reserved pasta water, if needed to loosen pasta.
Meatballs
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a large baking sheet with foil & rub with oil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, Parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley, egg & garlic. Season with salt & pepper. Form into 30-40 meatballs, then place on prepared baking sheet & bake until browned & cooked through about 25 minutes.
Pasta Sauce
  1. In a large pot, add chicken broth & tomatoes & bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer until tomatoes are soft. Remove from heat & add meatballs & pasta/cheese mixture. Combine grated mozzarella cheese with basil paste.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter a 9-inch baking dish.
  3. Place meatball/pasta mixture in baking dish & top with mozzarella cheese/basil mixture. Bake only until cheese is melted.

Potato Pie w/ Artichokes & Sausage

Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political changes and is noted for its regional diversity and abundance of difference in taste.

Tortiera di Patate Carciofi e Salsiccia or ‘potato pie with artichokes and sausage’, is classic, simple comfort food at its finest. A seasonal dish that can serve as a hearty vegetable side dish (omitting the sausage) to a meat or fish meal, but which can also be the main course by adding the sausage meat as I did here.

Being a vegetable lover, I think vegetables are all good, but put together they make for fantastic preparations. 

This is a very easy preparation, which does not require special techniques or even special skills. Potatoes go very well with artichokes and sausage, making it a dish with a harmonious and truly savory taste.

Print Recipe
Potatoes Layered w/Artichokes & Breadcrumbs
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Béchamel Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, add milk. Slowly whisk in flour until blended then add salt, pepper & smoked paprika. Bring to a boil over medium heat while whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low & simmer, stirring for about 5 minutes. remove from heat & stir in parmesan.
Veggies & Sausage
  1. Cook potatoes in microwave until soft but not overcooked. Peel (if you wish) & slice into 1/4-inch slices; set aside.
  2. Clean artichokes, remove the harder outer leaves, cut them into fairly thin slices & brown in a pan with oil, season with salt. Add water & cook only until soft. Drain any excess water & set aside.
  3. Scramble fry sausage meat, remove from heat & drain on paper towels. Grate cheese. Prepare some breadcrumbs for topping.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Line a 8-inch round baking dish with foil & brush with oil. Place a layer of potatoes in the bottom of pan then top with a layer of artichokes. Sprinkle half of the sausage meat on top then half of the grated cheese. Spread half of the béchamel sauce over all. Repeat the same procedure to form a second layer.
  3. Bake for about 45 minutes or until bubbling & hot. Remove from oven & allow to cool about 10 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate. Carefully remove foil & sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Serve.

Biscotti

Biscotti are time consuming to say the least, but they’re also one of the easiest and tastiest cookies you’ll ever make. No special equipment is needed; just a bowl, a couple of baking sheets and some parchment paper.

The word biscotti is derived from the Latin biscoctus, meaning twice baked or cooked: the dough is formed into logs, baked, cooled and baked again. Whereas Italians use the word ‘biscotti’ to refer to various cookies, North Americans use the term to refer to the singular long, crisp, twice-baked Italian cookie. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that biscotti became a treasured North American favorite.

Despite their centuries old heritage, there is no one perfect way to make biscotti. Some recipes call for eggs, which is the traditional method, while others use butter or oil. The choice is yours; just keep in mind that those made with butter or oil will have both a softer texture and a shorter shelf life.

Today, it seems, biscotti is everywhere with an endless array of flavors. Classics such as almond, anise and hazelnut to gingerbread, maple walnut or mint chocolate chip. There are also savory biscotti made with various cheeses and herbs that are so good when paired with a charcuterie plate, an assortment of olives and cheeses or even a bowl of soup.

Since the holiday season is upon us and as you have probably noticed, I like making the most of basic recipes with some variations. Being able to make four different flavors using one basic recipe definitely speeds up the process.

Print Recipe
Biscotti
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings
BISCOTTI
Ingredients
Basic Biscotti Dough (use 1 recipe per variation)
Cardamom Orange Variation
Anise Citron Variation
Seeded Cranberry Variation
Speculoos Spice Variation
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings
BISCOTTI
Ingredients
Basic Biscotti Dough (use 1 recipe per variation)
Cardamom Orange Variation
Anise Citron Variation
Seeded Cranberry Variation
Speculoos Spice Variation
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Biscotti Dough
  1. Preheat oven to 300 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. TO MAKE 80 BISCOTTI IN TOTAL, USE ONE RECIPE OF THE BASIC BISCOTTI DOUGH FOR EACH VARIATION. THE MIXING PROCEDURE IS ALWAYS THE SAME, JUST VARY EACH ONE WITH THE DIFFERENT ADDITIONS.
  3. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Add eggs & vanilla extract (add orange zest in CARDAMOM ORANGE variation). Mix until combined.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together flour, (SPICES where called for), baking powder & salt.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients a little at a time, mixing on low until JUST incorporated. Add CITRON PEEL or PEPITA SEEDS & CRANBERRIES to the variations calling for them.
Shaping & Baking
  1. For each recipe (or variation), shape dough into a log that is about 16-inches long. Place 2 logs on each baking sheet. Use your hands to flatten the dough logs until they are about 3/4-inch thick. Gently press the sides & ends of the logs to even them out & flatten them.
  2. If desired, sprinkle logs with coarse sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden & the center of the logs is almost firm & bounces back when touched.
  3. Let the logs cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 275 F. Using a sharp knife to cut the logs into 3/4-inch thick diagonal slices. Press straight down with the knife, rather than using a sawing motion. Lay the slices, cut side up, back on the lined baking sheets.
  4. Bake another 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through baking time. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 weeks or in the freezer for 3 months.
  5. You will have roughly 20 biscotti from each variation.
Recipe Notes
  • Since I have a nut allergy, sadly I can't use them, but don't hesitate to make some variations of your own.

Barley Risotto w/ Roast Butternut Squash & Beets

Risotto, a classic Italian dish with origins in the northern part of the country, is traditionally made with Arborio rice, a short-grained rice with a particularly starchy consistency. While the classic version is always a treat, I love the versatility of risotto, which can be made with just about any grain. In particular barley, not only because this nutty grain adds complexity to the dish in terms of taste and texture, but also because of the many health benefits of the grain.  

The amount of work involved with this dish is much less than you’d think. Risotto has the reputation of needing a lot of attention, but in reality, it just needs a few stirs now and then, and little else.

Risotto is undoubtedly pure Italian comfort food. This creamy, hearty dish is usually associated with cold weather. However, risotto can be made with just about any seasonal ingredient and is delicious enjoyed year round!

Risotto can be as elegant or as simple as you like. Using butternut squash & beets adds some winter vegetable interest.

Print Recipe
Barley Risotto w/ Roast Butternut Squash & Beets
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Rub unpeeled beets with some oil & bake until soft. Cool slightly, peel & dice. Set aside.
  3. In a skillet, melt half the butter & sauté onion until soft; add the barley & mix until coated with butter. Add the wine, stir & allow to evaporate. Heat the broth & add a ladle to onion/barley mixture & leave until most of the broth is absorbed. Uncover, add some more broth; do not let the barley dry out. Cook barley until it is soft, over a medium heat. It should take about 20 minutes. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  4. On a baking tray, place squash, drizzle with some olive oil & sprinkle with pepper & add rosemary. Roast at 350 F. until soft but still firm. During the last 3 minutes add the beets to reheat them. Remove the rosemary.
  5. When barley is cooked, remove the pan from the oven; add remaining butter & parmesan & stir well. Set aside for a couple of minutes. It should become quite creamy.
  6. To serve, place on serving plates & top with roasted vegetables. Serve immediately.

Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Stuffed Shells

Instead of making the basic ricotta and spinach stuffed pasta shells which you can easily find in the frozen section at your local grocery store, I wanted to kick the flavors up a notch. The savory and salty prosciutto pairs perfectly with the creamy, butteriness of the brie. 

Brie is a soft, creamy, buttery cheese that originated in France, and is produced internationally. It has a creamy interior with a soft, bloomy, edible rind of white mold. Brie is traditionally made from cows milk, but can be made from goat’s milk. 

Nothing beats a bubbly pasta bake, piping hot straight out of the oven. No matter what the reason you may need some comfort food, these stuffed giant pasta shells filled with chicken, wrapped in prosciutto and covered in a creamy Brie sauce is one for the repertoire.

Print Recipe
Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Stuffed Shells
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine shredded chicken, zucchini, red onion, artichokes, reserved marinade and sea salt. Toss to combine. Stuff mixture into al dente cooked pasta shells. Cut 10 pieces of prosciutto into half lengthwise. Wrap each shell in a piece of prosciutto, placing closely together into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Set aside.
  3. In a heavy bottom saucepan, add flour & butter, whisking over medium-low heat until a blond roux has formed. Add brie, whisking well until smooth. Pour brie sauce over chicken stuffed shells.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until shells are fully heated. Remove & top with minced parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Scarpaccia

Scarpaccia is a savory zucchini tart originating from the northern coast of Tuscany. There are two versions: savory from the town of Camaiore, and sweet from Viareggio. It’s name roughly translates to ‘old shoe’, the reason being twofold; first it bakes up as thin as the sole of a shoe and second, much like a bad shoe that has been worn by many, this tart can be made with a variety of ingredients.  Scarpaccia was typically considered a spring time specialty that sailors made with their garden vegetables which included zucchinis and their blossoms.  The dish was served warm or at room temperature and enjoyed at the end of a meal (because of its slight sweetness), or a snack food paired with white wine or prosecco. The dish was made by folding zucchini into a simple batter of flour, eggs, olive oil and sugar or honey, then spreading the mixture into a baking sheet and cooking until golden and crisp.

The recipe has evolved to incorporate seasonal vegetables and herbs along with variations on the type of flour used allowing for its enjoyment year-round.  It can be eaten for dessert, as a great brunch dish or the main course when paired with a salad. 

Every region in Italy has its own specialties, some shared by other regions but with different names. Scarpaccia can be made sweet or savory, thin or thick, crisp or soft – as long as the common ingredients of zucchini and flour are used. Zucchini … what a treasure!  

Print Recipe
Scarpaccia
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword scarpaccia
Servings
Ingredients
Filling
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword scarpaccia
Servings
Ingredients
Filling
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Prepare a 12 x 16 inch baking sheet pan by spraying with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Slice zucchini into very thin slices & place in a large bowl. Slice red onion into very thin slices; add to zucchini along with corn.
  3. Drain oil from sundried tomatoes into a cup measure and set oil aside. Cut tomatoes into quarters & add to bowl with the other vegetables. Add pepita seeds, basil, 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, salt & pepper to the large bowl with vegetables; toss all ingredients together.
  4. In a separate smaller bowl mix flour, corn meal and baking powder. Add this to the large bowl and toss again to mix the ingredients. In that same smaller bowl, beat eggs & add to the large bowl, mixing into ingredients.
  5. Take the reserved cup measure with the oil drained from the tomatoes and add enough olive oil to fill one cup. Add to the large bowl, mixing to combine. Slowly mix the water into the large bowl, only using enough to make a thin batter. You may not need all of the water. Pour batter into the prepared sheet pan, drizzle the top with olive oil.
  6. Bake for 55-60 minutes.
  7. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese all over the top and drizzle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle the remaining thyme over the top. Cut into squares and serve.

Glazed Limoncello Cakes

Limoncello, (pronounced lee-mon-CHAY-low) the Italian lemon liqueur, is known for its refreshing sweet and tangy flavor. It is made from lemon rinds, alcohol and sugar. Although, traditionally served as an after dinner drink, it is a wonderful ingredient to use in cooking and baking.

Families have passed down recipes for limoncello for generations, as every Italian family has their own recipe. In the winter of 2013, Brion and I spent some time travelling Italy. It was in Sorrento where we tasted limoncello for the first time and loved it. As we walked through the quaint artisan shops packed together onto a maze of medieval alleys, we came across one that sold liqueurs & confectionery. One of the treats that they made were limoncello sugar coated almonds … to die for!

Limoncello origins are disputed. Some say it was created by monks or nuns while others credit the wealthy Amalfi Coast families or even local townsfolk. In any case, its roots are in Southern Italy, primarily along Italy’s Amalfi Coast and the Sorrentine Peninsula known for their meticulous lemon cultivation. These lemons are considered the finest lemons for making limoncello. Prized for their yellow rinds, intense fragrance, juicy flesh and balanced acid.

Today, I’m using limoncello not only in the cake but the glaze as well. This is definitely a refreshing cake, great for a summer picnic or dinner.

Print Recipe
Glazed Limoncello Cakes
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray an 8-inch square cake pan with cooking spray or baking pans of your choice.
  2. Whisk sour cream, white sugar, canola oil, eggs, 3 tablespoons limoncello, and lemon zest together in a large bowl.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in another bowl. Add flour mixture to sour cream mixture; stir with a wooden spoon until batter is just combined. Pour batter into prepared cake pan or pans.
  4. Bake for about 35 minutes OR until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake(s) in the pan for 5 minutes.
Glaze
  1. Whisk powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons limoncello liqueur together in a bowl until glaze is thin and smooth. Drizzle glaze over the top of the cake. Cool cake completely before serving. Top with a bit of whipped cream if desired.
Recipe Notes
  • You may need a bit more glaze if you have made individual cakes as I did here.

Salmon Lasagna

Lasagna is not a quickie weekday meal but as we (lasagna lovers) all know, it’s definitely worth the effort. There’s several elements involved: making the filling, the sauce, layering everything and cooking it all together.

Canned salmon is a nutritious option to have in your pantry staples. Being very versatile it can be paired with plenty of different ingredients to transform it into a variety of healthy meals. Whether you use red or pink is a personal choice but opt for responsibly sourced wild as opposed to farmed in any case.

I have given ‘meaty’ lasagna a seafood twist that’s just as delicious if you enjoy salmon.

Print Recipe
Salmon Lasagna
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword salmon lasagna
Servings
Ingredients
Mushroom & Leek Filling
Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword salmon lasagna
Servings
Ingredients
Mushroom & Leek Filling
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Mushroom & Leek Filling
  1. In a saucepan, heat butter & saute mushrooms, leeks & garlic for 5-10 minutes, stirring over low heat until softened & moisture has evaporated. Add the salt.
Bechamel Sauce
  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan until it is foaming. Whisk in the flour to make the roux & cook for 2 minutes. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly until it is incorporated into the sauce. Bring the sauce to a low simmer & cook for 3-4 minutes or until thickened. Whisk in mustard, dill, lemon zest & (40 gm) grated Parmesan. Season with salt & pepper.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Evenly spread a small amount of sauce to the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Place a layer of 3 cooked lasagna noodles over the sauce then cover with a bit more sauce.
  3. Spread the salmon over the sauce & top with half of the shredded mozzarella. Top that with a bit more sauce & the next layer of 3 lasagna noodles. Spread the mushroom/leek filling on top then add the remaining shredded mozzarella.
  4. Top with a final layer of 3 lasagna noodles & cover with the remaining bechamel sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan/cheddar combo.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing to serve.

Italian Sausage Lasagna

Whether you prefer a sweet or spicy variety, there’s no denying the delicious versatility of Italian sausage.

The predominant flavor in ‘mild’ Italian sausage is fennel, or actual anise, a licorice like flavor with a little more earthiness. This emulates the style of sausages in Northern Italy, known for milder flavors with a noticeable presence of both fennel and garlic. It will also typically have a small amount of red pepper flakes to open up the flavors.

The ‘hot’ designation means a higher content of pepper flakes, or the addition of cayenne, giving you that spicier flavor that is more common in the southern regions of Italy.

‘Sweet’ is pretty straightforward, little bit of sugar, milder flavors around that, sometimes some mild herbs, typically a lot of basil and such to round it out.

In this meal, the layers of lasagna noodles blanket a creamy béchamel sauce and a filling with a savory ‘Italian sausage’ flavor and tender artichokes. Truly a comfort food meal.

Print Recipe
Italian Sausage Lasagna
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Filling
  1. Drain artichokes (reserving oil) & slice in halves; set aside. In a heavy skillet, heat artichoke marinade oil; sauté garlic, onions & mushrooms for a few minutes.
  2. Add ground pork, sun-dried tomatoes & spices. Cook over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; add artichokes. Remove from skillet & set aside until ready to assemble lasagna.
Béchamel Sauce
  1. In the skillet, melt butter over low heat. Once the butter is completely melted and bubbling, add the flour & mix well. Cook for a couple of minutes until flour just begins to take on some color.
  2. Slowly start adding the milk, whisking continuously to prevent lumps from forming. Continue to simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, stirring often. Season with a pinch of salt, white pepper & nutmeg.
  3. Set aside until you are ready to use, by pouring the sauce into a glass bowl & covering with a buttered sheet of plastic wrap. Cook lasagna noodles. Grate cheeses.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish, spread 1/2 cup of the béchamel sauce on the bottom. (Set aside 1 cup of the béchamel sauce for the top.) Arrange a single layer of lasagna noodles over sauce; spread some of the filling over noodles, top with a sprinkling of the grated cheeses. (Make sure to reserve a bit of cheese for the topping.) Repeat layers, ending with noodles.
  3. Spread the reserved 1 cup of béchamel sauce over the noodles & top withy the remaining grated cheese. Cover with foil, bake for 35 minutes, remove foil & bake until bubbly & lightly browned on top, about another 15-20 minutes.
  4. Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving.

Italian Rice Pudding Tarts (Budini di Riso)

This week we celebrate my husband, Brion’s birthday. In previous years I would be able to post a ‘birthday pic‘ with a wonderful holiday background …. you know the kind with tropical plants, ocean, and such. Due to the covid pandemic keeping us close to home for the last year or so, my birthday picture of Brion is in our back yard but notice we have a tropical Canna close by!! During the interlude away from being able to travel, Brion has had to wear another ‘hat’, and has been there for me through numerous surgeries. I am incredibly grateful for that and the speedy recovery that comes through such love & care.

I had read about this little treat sometime back but had put it on hold for a special occasion and today’s the day!

Named after the principal ingredient used in the filling, budini di riso is a typical pastry coming from Siena, a medieval city in the region of Tuscany, located in the north of Italy.

Every summer, from May to July, until the 1960’s (and even 1970’s in some places), thousands of female seasonal workers would make their way to the Po Valley in northern Italy. Here, in the rice fields, they went to work as ‘mondine’. Their task was to remove weeds that could stunt the growth of the rice plants.

The compensation of these women consisted not only in money but also 1 kg of rice for each day of work. Hence the wide spread use of rice throughout the region in both savory and sweet preparations.

This rice custard tart is a combination of a creamy, vanilla scented rice pudding with a caramelized top, all baked in a crisp shortbread pastry crust. There are many variations for this Italian classic. Some like to make it with a crust, others prefer it without. Other recipes may also add fresh squeezed lemon juice for a citrus flavor.

Today, rice is the world’s most widely consumed cereal grain, which means that virtually every culture has a rice pudding they call their own.

Part pie … part rice pudding, these little tarts can be eaten for breakfast, as an afternoon snack or for dessert, they are just plain good anytime.

BIRTHDAY WISHES TO MY LOVE, YOU’RE THE BEST!

Print Recipe
Italian Rice Pudding Tarts (Budini di Riso)
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Ingredients
Short Crust Pastry Shells
Rice Pudding
Raspberry Topping
Servings
Ingredients
Short Crust Pastry Shells
Rice Pudding
Raspberry Topping
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Tart Shells
  1. In a bowl, sift together flour, rice flour, powdered sugar, salt & baking powder. Add butter & rub together with fingertips to make soft crumbles.
  2. In a small bowl, beat egg; add to flour mixture & work into a smooth ball of dough. DO NOT OVERMIX. Flatten dough ball & wrap in plastic wrap; chill in refrigerator.
Rice Pudding (Filling)
  1. Place rice in a saucepot. Cover with water & bring to a boil. Rinse rise; return blanched rice back in saucepot & cover with milk. Add cinnamon stick & lemon zest. Cook over low heat, stirring often until rice has absorbed most of the milk & rice mixture becomes soupy.
  2. Remove rice-milk mixture from heat & add butter; stir well. Place rice mixture in a bowl to cool. Stir & cool for about 20 minutes. In a bowl, combine eggs, sugar & vanilla; add to cooled rice mixture.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  4. Roll out the chilled pastry to a 1/8-inch thickness. Traditionally these little rice tarts have straight sides. The fastest way to do this is to cut out pastry disks with a glass or lid as big as the bottom of the muffin tin & press them gently in. Next cut with a knife some pastry strips to line the sides of the muffin tins. Press the pastry lightly with your fingers to seal the bottom with the side strips.
  5. Spoon the rice pudding into the pastry shells & bake about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Prepare raspberry topping.
Raspberry Topping
  1. In a saucepan, place frozen raspberries & heat until thawed. Stir in the sugar & bring to a slow simmer. In a cup, dissolve the cornstarch in water & stir into raspberry puree. Bring to a boil & simmer for about 1-2 minutes or until thickened. The mixture will thicken a bit more as it cools.
Serving
  1. Serve rice tarts warm or cold with raspberry topping & yogurt, whipped cream or ice cream. If you would prefer, just a dusting of icing sugar or as is works just as well.