Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ricotta Tart with Vermicelli Pasta

Snow came down on this last weekend in October. And I don't know what it is this year, but I really like it! After having spent two days at a yoga workshop, for me, this very rich and sweet Italian tart was just the thing on Sunday evening! Who said that carbs are a bad thing anyway?!

I had bookmarked this recipe a long time ago because I always thought that it sounded interesting. Pasta the sweet way - something else for a change, and it really works. As I said, the tart is rather heavy, so cut into small pieces. You can alway have a second one if need be...

(from: Pasta Passion by Ursula Ferrigno)

for the pastry:
225g butter, soft
175g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
450g plain flour, some more for dusting

for the filling:
450g ricotta cheese
115g caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp orange water (you can also use orange juice)
115g candied orange or mixed peel
1 free-range egg, separated
550ml milk
175g vermicelli
a large pinch of salt
icing sugar, for dusting

For the pastry put the butter and sugar in a bowl and cream together. Add the egg yolks and then gradually add the flour, mixing well to make a soft dough. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C. To make the filling, put the ricotta, sugar (reserving 2 tablespoons), cinnamon, half a lemon zest, the lemon juice, the orange flower water, candied peel and the egg yolk in a bowl and beat together.

In a small saucepan, bring the milk to the boil. Add the vermicelli and the remaining sugar and lemon zest with the salt and simmer gently until the vermicelli have absorbed nearly all the milk.

While it is still warm, blend the pasta carefully into the ricotta mixture. Whisk the egg white until it just holds its shape, then fold into the mixture.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry and use two thirds of it to line a 28cm diameter tart tin. Ferrigno writes that it is a "very short pastry" and that it might tear readily. The dough really isn't easy to work with, but you can patch it together easily.

Add the ricotta filling. Ferrigno uses the other third of the dough to cut it into stripes an to arrange the strips in a lattice pattern over the top of the tart. I decided to cut out little butterflies instead because I simply didn't manage to roll the dough out into large enough disks to cut into long strips.

Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes until golden. Dust with icing sugar before serving. You can eat it warm or cold. I liked it a lot when it was still a little warm.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Plum and Almond Tart

I finally found a rectangular tart tin! I had been searching for one for ages. It had to be put to use immediately of course :-) I can't stop raving about this wonderful tart...  It brings some warmth and sweetness to cold autumn days... Enjoy this fresh from the oven. Oh, so lovely...

(slightly adapted from: Food and Travel Magazine Aug/Sept 2012)

For the filling:
80g butter
80g caster sugar
80g ground almonds
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp plain flour
a pinch of salt

320g ready-rolled sheet of puff pastry
10 ripe plums (the original says apricots)
4-5 nuggets of candied ginger, coarsly chopped
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp toasted flaked almonds
2 tbsp icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Beat together the butter, sugar, ground almonds and egg until smooth. Add the flour and a pinch of salt and stir until fully incorporated.

Roll out the puff pastry and trim into a rectangle a bit larger than your tin. Lay into the tart tin. Fold in a 1cm band of pastry around the edges, prick the center of the tart with a fork, and leave to chill for about 20 minutes.

Spread the almond mixture onto the base. Halve and stone the plums and arrange them on top, cut-side down, two abreast. Scatter over the candied ginger.

Beat together the egg and milk to form an egg wash and brush over the pastry.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until light golden. Brush on more egg wash and sprinkle with almonds. Dust with icing sugar and serve in slices.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Honey and Walnut Cake

Yesterday, I had Christina over, new colleague from my office. You can't help but adore that woman for her straightforwardness. And for her laughter! Evelyn and I finally got backup! Although it would be big fun, it's probably still better that the three of us don't share an office. We went for lunch together lately and I guess we entertained the whole cafeteria... :-) Christina and I went for a long walk yesterday and had tea and this lovely cake afterwards. It's a wonderful autumn-treat. The addition yogurt to the dough and the honey syrup it is soaked with after baking make it moist and tender. The nuts add a crunch. Instead of walnuts, you could also use pecans.

(from one of my new favorites: The Hummingbird Bakery - Süsse Sünden)

190g soft butter, plus some more for greasing the pan
190g sugar
3 eggs
190g flour, plus some for the pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
25g yogurt
1 sachet of vanilla sugar
2 tablespoons runny honey
60g walnuts, coarsly chopped

Preheat the oven to 170°C (convection oven 150°C). Grease a 20cm cake tin and dust with flour.

In a bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one by one. Scrape down the bowl with a ladle from time to time.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add the flour to the fluffy batter in two portions. When all is well combined, add yogurt, vanilla sugar and 1 tablespoon of honey. Then, add the walnuts and incorporate with a ladle.

Fill your dough into the prepared tin. Bake in the middle of the oven for 50-60 minutes. Test if the cake is done by inserting a wooden skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is done.

Pour 50ml of water and 1 tablespoon honey into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Let cook until the liquid has reduced by half. When you take the cake out of the oven, pour the syrup over it. Let cool in the tin first. Then, release from the tin and let cool completely.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Upside-Down Fig Tart

It's getting colder... time for such heart-warming sweet treats like this one. You will not be able to cut this tart into neat pieces. No one will mind the mess, though... This tart is just wonderful! Serve warmish and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream... perfection.

(my beloved Tender II by Nigel Slater)

for the pastry:
175g cold butter
225g plain flour
2 large egg yolks
2 level tablespoons sugar

for the filling:
75g butter
75g sugar
10 figs, halved and tough stems removed

You need a tarte Tatin mould, a metal-handled frying pan or sauté pan about 20-23cm in diameter.

To make the pastry, cut the cold butter into cubes, then rub it into the flour until the mixture resembles fine fresh breadcrumbs. You can do this by hand or with the food processor. Add the egg yolks and the sugar. Then, bring the mixture together into a ball with your hands. Wrap into cling film and refridgerate for about 20 minutes.

Set the oven to 220°C. Melt the butter and the sugar in the tarte Tatin mould or the pan over moderate heat, stirring from time to time. When the mixture looks syrupy and is starting to color, add the figs, cut-side down. Let them cook for three to five minutes until they are soft and start to darken. Remove the pan from the heat.

Now, if you have a tarte Tatin mould or an oven-proof pan, you may leave the figs in this pan. Otherwise, you can transfer the figs to a tart tin which is what I did. Then, roll out your pastry and make a circle a bit larger than the pan. Fold the extra pastry over to make a double "rim" around the edge. Place the pastry rim-side down on top of the figs (the best was to move this pastry is to wrap it lightly around the rolling pin, then carefully lift it on to the pan). Place in the oven and bake for about forty minutes, until the pastry is a deep biscuit color. Take out of the oven and leave it to calm down a bit. Cut into slices and serve straight from then pan.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Rice and Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potato

Ottolenghi's Plenty is one of those books that I kept looking at in book stores time and again thinking that I want to buy it at some point. No need for that anymore since Sarah got it for me as a present. I put it to use the weekend after my birthday party and made my own version of Ottolonghi's Quinoa salad with dried Iranian lime. That is - without dried Iranian lime :-) What I like about Ottolenghi's recipes is that, if you're a more or less experienced cook, you can use them as an inspiration and modify them the way you like it.

(from Yotam Ottolenghi - Plenty)

2 medium sweet potatoes, about 350g each (I used 3)
110ml olive oil
200g mixed basmati rice with wild rice (I used plain basmati rice)
200g quinoa (I used red quinoa)
4 garlic cloves (I'm not that much into garlic, so I used 2 only)
3 tbsp shredded sage leaves
3 tbsp roughly chopped oregano
2 tbsp ground dried Iranian lime (I omitted that)
6 tbsp shredded mint
4 spring onions, green parts only, thinly sliced (I omitted these)
1 tsp lemon juice
160g feta, broken into pieces
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into roughly 2cm dice. Spread on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, drizzle over half the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20-25 minutes, or until tender.

Meanwhile, cook the basmati (and wild) rice as instructed on the packet; drain. Place the quinoa in a pan with plenty of boiling water and simmer for 9 minutes; drain in a fine sieve. When dry (but still warm), transfer the rice and the quinoa to a large mixing bowl.

Pour the remaining oil into a small frying pan to heat up, then fry the garlic for about 30 seconds, or until it turns light golden. Add the sage and oregano and stir as you fry for about a minute. Watch closely and make sure that the herbs or the garlic don't burn. Pour the contents of the pan over the rice and quinoa. Add the roast sweet potato with its oil.

Add the lime powder (if you have any), mint, spring onions, lemon juice, feta, some salt and pepper. Toss everything together gently and try not to mesh up the sweet potato and the feta. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve warmish or at room temperature, garnish with spring onions.

This salad keeps in the fridge for about two days. I took my leftovers to the office for lunch.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Berry Muffins

I didn't bake this week. But I have another recipe for you from my baking session of last week. It's an easy one, because, as I said, when I'm baking during weekdays, I don't have the nerves to try complicated and time-consuming recipes. That's what my weekends are for ;-)

(from: The Hummingbird Bakery - Süsse Sünden)

300g flour
150g sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
250ml milk
85g butter, melted
50g blueberries, fresh or frozen
50g raspberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat the oven to 190°C (convection oven: 170°C). Line a 12-mould muffin pan with paper cases. Also prepare some extra paper cases or use a second muffin pan. I ended up with about 20 muffins.

Sift flour, 120g sugar, vanilla sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Mix eggs with the milk and beat well. Slowly, with an electric hand mixer, add the egg-milk-mixture to the dry ingredients and beat until well combined. Scrape down the bowl with a ladle. In the end, add the melted butter.

With a spoon, add the berries to the dough and mix with a ladle until the berries are evenly spread. Fill your paper cases with the dough to about two thirds. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar.

Bake the muffins in the middle of the oven for about 25-30 minutes until they are golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted into the muffins comes out clean.

Let them cool in the pan for about ten minutes. Then, release from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Related Posts with Thumbnails