Ricotta is a staple in my house. I use it mixed with crushed fruit or topped with jam over toast or muesli. I mix it with spinach and fetta for pies, make a quick 15 minute start-to-finish gnocchi or add it to roasted vegies in a salad. And that’s all before I use it in pancakes, desserts, or cakes.
As easy as it is to buy it, it’s even easier to make and takes just 30 minutes. If you don’t fancy a trip to the supermarket just so you can make some pancakes, try this next time. Continue reading Day 12 – How to Make Ricotta
This beautiful salad was a happy combination of good luck and good management. I saw a link to a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi on Twitter and bookmarked it the moment I realised I had all the ingredients ready to go.
This is a sensational salad worthy of your consideration even though you might think that salads are only enjoyable in the heat of summer. If it helps you, think of this as some warm roasted vegetables tossed with a piquant orange dressing. Continue reading Day 11 – Carrot, Fennel and Orange Salad
There is a school of wisdom that says if you are going to make a pasta bake then for goodness’ sakes, make lots of it. From there you have two options – either invite everyone you know to share it with you or freeze half a batch for another time. Either way, when preparing a lasagne or a cannelloni or even a pasta bake, it is impossible to make just enough for just four people. Not only that, the finished result looks paltry compared to the time and effort involved.
It’s far better to go the extra distance and make enough for a small army.
So, to that end, let me give you the bad news – this meal cost nearly $20.00 to make. The good news? It feeds at least eight people.
It started because my housemate bought 800g of fresh ricotta. Why she bought so much I don’t know, but there it was, a meal waiting to happen. What followed was a combined effort. She made the tomato sauce and pronounced herself happy with the results and I think you will love it as much as I did – it’s a lovely creamy version of a tomato ‘sugo’ without an overwhelming acidity. I added a more conventional béchamel sauce over the top and together we ate this meal for three nights in a row, plus a couple of lunches.
I told you it could feed an army. Continue reading Day 10 – Ricotta and Tomato Cannelloni
With pumpkin well in season, now is the time to take advantage of prices as low as a dollar a kilo. The question then becomes one of how to use it all up, especially if you don’t much care for pumpkin soup.
Hard to believe I know, but as my housemate reminds me, it does happen. Pumpkin soup is not universally popular, despite our best efforts to convince the nay-sayers.
The lovely thing about this pie is that you can substitute many of the ingredients. It’s a fantastic resource for an end-of-week fridge clear out. I used pumpkin, but a layer of sweet potato works just as well. Instead of capsicum you could use a layer of squeezed out frozen spinach. Use roast vegetables, peas and corn kernels, some sliced carrots, even lentils or quinoa. Substitute the ricotta for cottage cheese, and if you have none, use mozzarella or bocconcini, or some grated tasty cheese mixed through the vegetables. It’s a very generous and compliant meal, generously supporting many food combinations. Continue reading Day 6 – Chicken and Pumpkin Layer Pie
At this time of year I look for any excuse to eat broad beans while they are firm, fresh and cheap across the country. The trouble is, I usually have to convince someone that they are a wonderful vegetable to eat.
While they may not be the most attractive looking vegetable, they do yield magnificent results if you take the time and trouble to double pod them. It’s not enough to remove them from their waxy pods the first time around – you then slip them from their tough grey skin a second time to show little green and delicately flavoured jewels. Continue reading Day 7 – Ricotta Gnocchi with Broad Beans and Mint
It wasn’t exactly a windfall, but it was treated like one. A cache of fresh ricotta was in my fridge because I had ignored my own advice and did NOT check a recipe before shopping. I bought ricotta but hadn’t needed it for the cheesecake I had planned for it.
Ricotta is loveliest when fresh, sweet and mildly scented and able to carry the flavours of whatever is paired with it. That said, some flavours can overwhelm which is why parmesan or cheddar is so often added to it to bolster the cheesiness. So when I tell you that you can take this basic recipe and add anything you want to it, do give it some consideration first. Mild cheese should be matched with mild flavours – chives or thyme rather than rosemary, a pinch of this, a dash of that. Put the bigger flavoured accompaniments on the side with some crusty bread or lavash crispbreads, such as roasted capsicum or smoky eggplant, some olives or hot salami.
Continue reading Day 2 – Herbed Baked Ricotta
From a recipe by Steve Manfredi, this makes the very best of a special occasion without the need for expensive ingredients, or even those that may be out of season.
I started hunting down a suitable ricotta recipe because I had a tub of it in the fridge left over from my peanut butter cheesecake recipe. I thought I would need it – it turns out I didn’t. So what to do with the remains?
I converted a large tub into two recipes, for this tart and for a savoury baked ricotta that you might add to a cheeseboard or an antipasta platter. I’ll post that one later in the week, but for now, here’s a tart that fed eight people with ease.
Continue reading Desserts – Lemon Ricotta Tart
From Sicily, cassata is a wonderful way to use up some of the dried fruit in your pantry that would otherwise be relegated to use in the cooler months. While this dessert is a straightforward make-ahead mixture of sweetened ricotta cheese and savoiardi (sometimes called lady finger) biscuits it’s best eaten within 24 hours of making it because of the fragility of the cheese.
Your choice of flavourings is entirely your own. In this case I started with the summer flavours of orange, honey, dried apricots and vanilla and then added grilled peaches for a perfect end note. The one ingredient you can’t substitute is dark chocolate. But of course.
Continue reading Desserts – Cassata with Grilled Peaches
Indisputably linked to a reputation as an aphrodisiac, figs are in season, the height of summer indolence and hedonism. We are blessed to have a large local supply in this country and it’s not uncommon to see them priced very competitively throughout January and February.
Soft and yielding, figs bruise and spoil very easily and really must be used up within a few days of purchase. After thousands of years of cultivation, they have a rich culinary history across the Mediterranean. A savoury fig and custard tart was served following the coronation of Henry VIII and they have a long history – often used in their dried form – in British food. They are a very versatile fruit that can be used just as successfully in savoury or sweet foods, from jams and pickles to old fashioned steamed puddings, cakes and pies, or paired with meat and cheese.
Continue reading In Season – Fig, Prosciutto and Herbed Ricotta Tart
EDIT: With english spinach at regular cheap prices, this really is a great standby to have when the budget is tight and you can’t really afford a large steak. Not only that, but it freezes very well. Make one and freeze for later in the working week. It’s no wonder that since I posted this recipe in the very first fortnight of this blog, it’s been consistently popular.
There are a number of people who refuse to eat their vegetables, and I’m not just talking about toddlers. Grown men have been known to say, “I’m not eating THAT”. Maybe this will help convert the nay-sayers.
Continue reading Day 13 – Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne