eat in my kitchen

To cook, to bake, to eat and to treat.

Tag: ricotta

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

If you decide to make your own homemade pasta, be prepared that you’ll never be able to eat store bought pasta again (you’ll feel less satisfied with it at the very least) – and that you won’t feel your arms and abs for a couple days. To knead the dough by hand is necessary and labor-intensive. I had moments when I felt slight doubts about whether the crumbly mixture in front of me would ever turn into a smooth ball, but it worked. I needed all my patience and muscle power to get there, but the result tasted so good that I’d do it all over again (after my muscles got some rest).

My pasta project started last Friday and ended on Saturday afternoon. I first tried a recipe by Sicilian chef Dario Cammarata who only uses plain flour, durum wheat semolina, salt, egg yolks, and olive oil. The result tasted amazing, but getting there was so much harder than what I remembered from when I visited the chef in his kitchen in Frankfurt earlier this year. What seemed so easy in Darios’s hands, didn’t want to work as smoothly in my own.

Dario taught me that ravioli are best when they are made with egg yolks and not whole eggs. I have no doubt that this is true, the texture is light and perfectly al dente. But to knead my own dough made of 10 egg yolks, flour, and semolina almost made me cry. The mixture was so hard and fragile, I needed an alternative that was less stressful. I still used my egg yolk dough to make a few ravioli, which were perfect, and I made tagliatelle. And these were the best tagliatelle of my life – taste, texture, and thickness were spot on!

Early the next morning I went back to my kitchen. More eggs in the bowl (this time including the egg whites), with a fresh and open mind and a quenchless appetite for fresh pasta, I felt optimistic. Kneading the dough still required some serious muscle power (maybe it’s just me, my arms are not the strongest), but it was manageable. And this time I totally enjoyed pulling the thin layers of fresh pasta through my KitchenAid pasta attachment. I needed about two test sheets, but then I was in business. They were so thin that I could see my hand through them.

For my first homemade ravioli, I chose a filling that still allowed me to enjoy the fine taste of the egg pasta. After all this work it didn’t feel right to knock it out. The combination of preserved artichokes and fresh ricotta refined with a little orange zest was just right, present, but not overpowering. I served it with melted butter and golden artichoke hearts, briefly seared in the sizzling fat. A little crushed pepper and some more orange zest, and my work was done.

My KitchenAid has three pasta attachments and I’m particularly fond of the tagliatelle cutter. Once I was done with the ravioli, all the shorter pieces and leftover dough went through this attachment and they were perfectly cut into the thinest, tastiest pasta. Cook it al dente and add a knob of butter, freshly grated aromatic hard cheese, and black pepper, and you’ll have the best meal ever. Buon appetito!

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

 

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

Homemade ravioli are time and labour-intensive. They are a great starter or main dish for a dinner party, but I recommend preparing them a day in advance to keep it stress free. Freeze them (uncooked) and cook them in boiling salted water just before serving for 4 minutes. I recommend using a pasta machine for this recipe.

Makes 20-24 ravioli / serves 2-4

For the pasta dough

plain flour 150g / 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons
durum wheat semolina 150g / 5 1/4 ounces
fine sea salt 1/4 teaspoon
large organic eggs 3 plus 1 egg yolk
olive oil 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon
water, cold, 1 tablespoon

For the filling

preserved artichoke hearts, drained and squeezed, 160g / 6 ounces
fresh ricotta 125 g/ 4 1/2 ounces
olive oil 1 tablespoon
freshly grated Parmesan 25g / 1 ounce
a pinch of freshly grated orange zest
fine sea salt
ground pepper

For serving

butter 4 tablespoons
preserved artichoke hearts, drained and cut into 6 pieces each, 2
Parmesan
black peppercorns, crushed
a little orange zest

For the pasta dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough attachment, combine the flour, semolina, and salt. Add the eggs, egg yolk, and olive oil and knead for about 5 minutes (I set it on ‘4’ on my KitchenAid). If it’s too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water, but not more. If it’s too sticky, add a little semolina and flour. On the counter top or on a stable table, using your hands, continue kneading the dough for about 15 minutes until smooth. It will still be firm. I find it easiest to leave it in the shape of a thick disc for the first 5-7 minutes, punching and kneading it, and scraping the crumbs together. Then I knead it and roll it into a ball (see pictures below). Form a ball, wrap it in cling film, and let it rest in the fridge for 1 hour.

For the filling, purée the artichoke hearts, add to a bowl along with the ricotta, olive oil, Parmesan, orange zest, salt, and pepper. Whisk until smooth and adjust seasoning.

Divide the dough into 4-8 portions (depending on the width and power of your pasta machine). Roll out 1 portion with a rolling pin until it’s thin enough to fit into your pasta machine. I started using position ‘1’ on my pasta attachment, using the speed setting ‘2’. Pull the dough through the pasta machine twice, fold it in the middle, flatten it a little with the rolling pin if necessary, turn it 90°, and pull it through the pasta machine. Continue 2-3 times. Change to a thinner setting (I used ‘3’) and pull the dough through the machine about 3 times, without folding it. Using a knife, straighten the sides of your pasta sheet and cut off excess dough. Continue using the thinner settings of your pasta machine until you can see your hand through the dough (I used ‘5’ and then ‘6’ at the end). If the dough is too sticky, use semolina, but no flour.

Sprinkle the rolled out pasta layer with semolina, fold it gently, and cover with cling film. Continue rolling the remaining dough.

Sprinkle a large baking sheet with semolina. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to the boil.

Lay out a layer of pasta and mark it with circles, using a 7cm / 3″ round cutter (or whatever size and shape you prefer). Add a teaspoon of the filling in the middle of each marked circle. Dip your finger in water and wet the rim of the circles. From a second sheet of pasta, cut out circles of the same size, lay on top of the filling, and using your finger, push around the rim (see picture above). Using the cookie cutter, cut out the ravioli and press a little fork all around to seal the rim (see picture below). Transfer the ravioli to the prepared baking sheet.

In batches, cook the ravioli in the simmering water for about 2-3 minutes or until al dente.

To serve the ravioli, in a saucepan, heat the butter over high heat until golden brown, add the artichoke hearts, turn gently, and sauté for 1 minute.

Serve the ravioli sprinkled with the butter, Parmesan, orange zest (optional), and crushed pepper and lay the sautéed artichokes on top.

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

 

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

 

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

 

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

 

artichokeorangeravioli12

 

artichokeorangeravioli11

 

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

Ricotta Beetroot Doughnuts, New York and my 4th book launch

New York Book Launch

The monotony of clouds and waves kept me in a daze while we crossed the Atlantic, but then, when I finally spotted Nova Scotia from high up in the skies, I was as excited as a little girl. Soon we’d land in New York JFK, to open the last two chapters of my overwhelming Eat In My Kitchen book tour. New York and Washington DC had been on my itinerary for months, but to know that I’d be there in just a few hours gave me shivers.

This trip was emotional, which I got used to after weeks of being on the road in London, Berlin, and Malta, my emotions seem to be tied to a rollercoaster. And now New York, this city filled with so many dreams and visions, vibrant, loud, and bright, it never rests. As we stumbled out of the subway, packed with all our bags and suitcases (I took a few pounds of Maltese sea salt with me), my view was drawn to the sky, along the shiny facades of the city’s famous skyscrapers. Jet lagged, happy, and with an espresso in my hands, I felt breathless as I stood on the vibrant streets of Greenwich Village.

New York Book Launch

Ten days on the East Coast allowed me to dive deep into this magical city, to meet and get to know so many people and to enjoy some of the most delicious treats. I hadn’t seen my dear friend and editor Holly La Due in more than a year, and to step into her office on Broadway for the first time, to finally meet the entire team of Prestel Publishing that worked on my book, almost made me cry. And we ate – constantly! There was so much to discover, so much to try, it felt like traveling the world through food, but in one city. My palate enjoyed the most amazing Jamaican curry, Cuban stew and pies, Korean BBQ, Indian treats, and American classics. Our breakfasts were luscious, every day: The richest Challah French toast, fluffy blueberry pancakes, huge muffins, crunchy cookies, fudgy brownies, perfect bagels, fine lobster roll, juicy burger, creamy clam chowder, and generously filled sandwiches. New York is heaven on earth if you love food. The quality is outstanding, proven by the fact that we didn’t experience a single bad meal, I can recommend almost every restaurant we went to as you can see in my list below. One of the treats that struck me on our last day was a gorgeous pink doughnut at Bryant Park Holiday Market filled with ricotta and covered in sticky beetroot glaze. This combination is so good that I decided to come up with my own recipe and share it with you. My version is a soft and spongy oven-baked yeast doughnut refined with orange zest and sprinkled with pistachios. Next time I’ll fry them in oil, which adds that extra rich flavour plus calories.

New York Book Launch

There’s no better way to explore a city than on foot, so as we ate our way through Manhattan and Brooklyn, we also got to walk on the elevated High Line, a 1.5 mile long city garden. It’s an impressive green oasis along the closed tracks of the West Side Line. I couldn’t miss Tiffany’s, the melody of the film classic in my head, I pulled my boyfriend into the sparkling shop on Fifth Avenue after we took a little break at Central Park. We managed to see a live performance and also Nan Goldin’s Ballad of Sexual Dependency at MoMA, and a fantastic show at The Met Breuer, by James Kerry Marshall called Mastry. And visiting Kenzi Wilbur at Food52‘s holy test kitchen in Chelsea (picture below) was another highlight. It was quiet when we approached the 9/11 memorial, as I stood there for about 10 minutes, in silence, I noticed how all the sadness and anger I felt turned into peace at one point. It’s a place that reminds us that love is the only way, and not hate.

New York Book Launch

 

New York Book Launch

I came to New York to present the Eat In My Kitchen book, at a wonderful book launch feast at Maman NYC and at a cozy book signing event at the beautiful – and so tempting – Whisk kitchenware shop on Broadway. It’s my first book, and to have had these two unforgettable celebrations in New York makes me feel very humble. I can’t thank everybody enough who’s been involved in both of the events. Maman is a stunning space with high ceilings in TriBeCa, founded by Michelin starred French chef Armand Arnal, Elisa Marshall, and Benjamin Sormonte. They are the sweetest team and they did everything possible to turn our event into a very special night. Chef Hetty McKinnon from Arthur Street Kitchen, and author of the cookbook Neighbourhood, prepared the recipes from my book for this special event. She’s a precious gem, as a chef and as a friend. My trusted partner Meridiana Wine Estate shipped their glorious Maltese wine over the Atlantic just for our event – our American guests are already thinking about how they can get hold of this wine from Malta in the future. Marisa Dobson is the power woman who helped me so much, organizing all my events in the US, and she introduced me to Baked (see the list below). Photographer Maria Midões is the lovely woman who captured the magic of our night at Maman in her gorgeous pictures. I had a dream team in New York, accomplished by the support of my wonderful publisher Prestel and of my boyfriend. He made me enjoy every second of this trip – especially breakfast, lunch, and dinner – at least twice as much. You can’t create a book on your own, but you also can’t send it out into the world on your own. Thank you, my friends!

New York Book Launch

This trip was all about people and food. We sat at the table with so many inspiring people, publishers, bloggers, food lovers, and journalists, fans of the Eat In My Kitchen blog and book, family and friends. We ate and drank wine, we discussed, laughed, and spoke about food, art, books, and culture; and about politics – it was two weeks before the sobering elections. So this trip had to sides, we felt our excitement, the excitement of two travellers exploring a new terrain, but we could also feel that there was something in the air. The people around us, and even the two of us, were anxious and had premonitions that the future might not bring what we all hoped for, a world without a US president who disrespects people, women and men, who humiliates people because of their sex, religion, skin colour, and culture. Today we know better. I always saw the USA as a vibrant melting pot of cultures, and I admired the country for this reason. To exchange ideas and traditions is fruitful, and not frightening. We are what we are because we evolve, we learn from each other, we need each other to widen our mental horizon. History, especially the not so distant German history, has shown what happens when we build walls, mental and physical walls, when we separate ourselves from the others. I feel pain when I hear the words of the newly elected American president, his words disgust me. But I don’t want to feel scared, I want to believe that deep inside we all know what’s right and wrong. We know compassion, we know that all the hate spread throughout our human history didn’t create anything good, just more destruction. It frustrates me to see that a single small minded, greedy and bitter old man can shake so many people, all over the world. But frustration doesn’t help, that’s democracy and democracy only works when we communicate, so let’s keep the dialogue going.

New York Book Launch

Here are some of my favourite food spots:

Manhattan

Baked TriBeCa, American bakery (they bake Oprah Winfrey’s favourite brownies)
Maman TriBeCa, coffee, bakery, and events
Tina’s Cuban Cuisine
Luke’s Lobster East Village (the best lobster and crab roll and clam chowder)
Clinton Street Baking (New York Magazine voted: the best blueberry pancakes)
ABC Kitchen (their spinach, chèvre, and dill pizza is a revelation)
Stick With Me (Susanna Yoon’s finest confectionaries)
Black Seed Bagels (delicious tuna melt and salmon bagel!)
Pondicheri New York (acclaimed Indian restaurant)
Food market at Bryant Park, especially The Doughnut Project
Salumeria Biellese Deli (the best sandwiches lusciously filled with Italian prosciutto and cheese)
Blue Bottle Coffee
Eileen’s Special Cheesecake
Jongro BBQ (Korean BBQ, be prepared for loud! music)
Russ and Daughters
Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
Hot Pot Under de Tree in Harlem (Jamaican Diner on Frederick Douglass Boulevard)

Williamsburg – Brooklyn:

Khao Sarn (delicious Thai soups and papaya salad)
The Rabbit Hole (cozy breakfast spot, try the challah french toast with strawberry mscarpone!)
Extra Fancy (American restaurant, seafood and burger)
Peter Luger Steakhouse (reservation needed!)
Vanessa’s Dumpling House

New York Book Launch

Ricotta Beetroot Doughnuts

Makes about 16 doughnuts plus doughnut holes

For the dough

plain flour 325g / 2 1/2 cups, plus about 2 tablespoons if the dough is too sticky
fast-acting yeast 1 1/4 teaspoons
granulated sugar 50g / 1/4 cup
fine sea salt 1/2 teaspoon
orange zest 1/2 teaspoon
milk, lukewarm, 155ml / 2/3 cup
butter, melted and cooled, 20g / 1 1/2 tablespoons
vanilla bean, scraped, 1/2
organic egg 1

For the filling

fresh ricotta, whipped, 250g / 9 ounces

For the glaze / topping

icing sugar 200g / 2 cups
beetroot juice 4-5 tablespoons
unsalted pistachios, chopped, a small handful
orange zest 1 tablespoon

For the dough, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Whisk together the milk, butter, vanilla seeds, and egg – the mixture should be lukewarm – and add to the flour mixture. Knead on medium speed for a few minutes until well combined. The dough should be soft and moist, but not sticky. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour. Transfer the dough to a table or countertop and continue kneading and punching it down with your hands for about 4 minutes or until you have a smooth and elastic ball of dough. Place the dough back in a clean bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm place, or preferably in a 35°C / 100°F warm oven (conventional setting), for about 60 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

When the dough has almost doubled in size, punch it down, take it out of the bowl, and knead for 1 minute. On a lightly floured countertop, using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it’s about 1cm / 1/2″ thick. Using a 7 1/2cm / 3″ round cookie cutter or glass, gently cut out circles and transfer them to the lined baking sheets. Using a 3 1/2cm / 1 1/2″ cookie cutter or shot glass, stamp out the smaller inner circles and arrange them around the doughnuts on the baking sheet. If you use a smaller cookie cutter for the inner circles, the hole in the middle will close while baking. Cover with cling film and let rise in a warm place for about 25-30 minutes or until puffy.

Preheat the oven to 190°C / 365°F (conventional setting).

Bake the doughnuts and the doughnut holes for about 6-8 minutes or until light golden and still soft. If you’re not sure, take out one doughnut and cut it in half to see if it’s baked through. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Cut the doughnuts in half and spread each bottom with about 1 heaping teaspoon of ricotta.

For the glaze, whisk the icing sugar and beetroot juice until smooth, the mixture should be quite thick. Using a teaspoon, sprinkle the glaze generously over each doughnut and doughnut hole. Immediately sprinkle with pistachios and a little orange zest.

New York Book Launch

 

New York Book Launch

 

New York Book Launch

 

New York Book Launch

 

New York Book Launch

 

New York Book Launch

 

New York Book Launch

 

New York Book Launch

 

New York Book Launch

 

New York Book Launch

 

New York Book Launch

Basil Ricotta and Tomato Quiche

Basil Ricotta and Tomato Quiche

Walking aimlessly through the narrow streets of Malta is one of my favourite activities when we’re on the islands. Give me comfy shoes and a bottle of water and I’m ready to brave the heat. Valletta, with its imposing architecture, will always be my first destination when I need a break of my beach life. I just love strolling along the limestone facades, shining golden in the late afternoon sun. Discovering new vegetable shops, peaking into little baroque chapels, or simply looking at the stunning grand palazzi built in the past centuries is one of the most relaxing things I can think of. To extend my circle of adventures, I take the ferry that connects Valletta and Sliema on one side of the capital or I catch the boat that sails across The Grand Harbour on the other side, towards The Three Cities: Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua.

If I need a complete change of scenery, I go to the sister islands Comino or Gozo, and that’s what we did last weekend. We rented a huge farmhouse, which our family of 20 people filled easily with Mediterranean craziness. The village of Ghasri got to hear lots of laughter, accompanied by a water ballon fight, a luscious BBQ, and a late night pizza picnic at the pool. Our extensive snorkeling trips to the breathtaking Wied ilGħasri, Reqqa Point, and Qbajjar were fabulous. I had never been to Reqqa before, but it’s one of the most spectacular spots I’ve seen so far. The water is very, very deep and the dancing sunbeams that cut through the dark blue look like lightsabers – it’s hypnotic. We finished our trip with a visit to the Cini family at the Xwejni Salt Pans where I always buy enough salt for a year of cooking. Their passion for their craft, their love for the salt from the sea, and their dedication to nature never ceases to amaze me.

Every time I’m in Malta, I bake at least one ricotta pie. This year’s creation turned into a savoury quiche, refined with lots of basil and sweet tomatoes – delicious

Basil Ricotta and Tomato Quiche

 

Basil Ricotta and Tomato Quiche

Basil Ricotta and Tomato Quiche 

Makes 1 ( 20cm / 8″) quiche, serves 4.

short crust dough 250g / 9 ounces (you can use 1/3 of the pastry from my fruit tart recipe, but leave out the sugar, click here)

ricotta 400g / 14 ounces
organic eggs 3
butter, melted and cooled, 40g / 2 heaping tablespoons
Parmesan, freshly grated, 60g / 2 ounces
chopped fresh basil leaves, 4 heaping tablespoons, plus a few leaves for the topping
lemon zest 1 heaping teaspoon
fine sea salt 1 teaspoon
ground pepper
cherry tomatoes, cut in half, 6

Prepare the dough, form a thick disc, wrap in cling film, and put in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F (conventional setting).

Roll out the dough between cling film and line a 20cm / 8″ pie or quiche form with the pastry. Push the pastry into the pie form and prick with a fork. Bake for about 12 minutes or until golden. Take the pie form out of the oven and turn the heat down to 190°C / 375°F.

In a medium bowl, whisk the ricotta, eggs, butter, Parmesan, basil, lemon zest, salt, and pepper until well combined. Pour the ricotta on top of the pre-baked pastry, even it out, and arrange the tomatoes on top. Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until golden and the ricotta is just firm.

Let the quiche cool for a few minutes, sprinkle with fresh basil leaves, and serve warm or cold.

Basil Ricotta and Tomato Quiche

 

Basil Ricotta and Tomato Quiche

 

Basil Ricotta and Tomato Quiche

 

Basil Ricotta and Tomato Quiche

 

basilricottaquiche13

 

basilricottaquiche12

 

basilricottaquiche10

Pumpkin Crespelle with Ricotta and Sage

Pumpkin Crespelle

Around Halloween, my boyfriend feels the call of his American roots and carves scary faces in pumpkins. Being a good girlfriend I know my duties, so I went out into the world – or rather my local shop around the corner – to find only the finest examples for him. I brought quite a pretty collection back home and let him do his work but I ended up with far more squash in my kitchen than we needed. We had a vast selection, a few Hokkaidos in different shapes and sizes and butternut, which isn’t really helpful due to its shape but I forgot in my enthusiasm. So it was obvious, pumpkin had to be on the menu!

Thin, golden Italian crespelle have been on my mind for weeks but my inspiration was missing, I had no idea what to fill them with. Halloween’s squash became my muse and here it is: roasted pumpkin cubes paired with a little ricotta, the obligatory creamy Béchamel sauce, Parmesan and crisp, fried sage leaves. It looked and tasted so good that my sister Nina, who’s in Berlin at the moment for a quick visit, almost bit my laptop screen when she saw the pictures. We ate it all, so unfortunately, there was nothing left for her.

Pumpkin Crespelle

 

Pumpkin Crespelle

Pumpkin Crespelle with Ricotta and Sage

Makes 4 crespelle

For the filling

mixed pumpkin, cut into 1 1/2cm / 1/2″ cubes, 550g / 1 1/4 pounds
(like Hokkaido (with skin), or peeled butternut and musquée de provence)
olive oil
flaky sea salt
butter 2 tablespoons
fresh, large sage leaves 30
fresh ricotta 4 heaped tablespoons
Parmesan, grated, 70g / 2 1/2 ounces
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

For the Béchamel sauce

milk 600ml / 2 1/2 cups
bay leaf 1
a pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated
fine sea salt
ground pepper
butter 30g / 2 tablespoons
plain flour 30g / 4 tablespoons

For the crespelle

milk 160ml / 2/3 cups
organic eggs 2
plain flour 130g / 1 cup
fine sea salt 1/4 teaspoon
butter, to cook the crespelle

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 390°F (conventional oven) and line a baking dish with baking paper.

Spread the pumpkin in the lined baking dish, coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with flaky sea salt and cook in the oven for about 25 minutes or until soft. Take the pumpkin out of the oven and set aside, keep the oven set to 200°C / 390°F.

For the Béchamel sauce, bring the milk with the bay leaf, nutmeg, salt and pepper to the boil, take it off the heat once boiled. In a saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour, let it cook on medium heat for 1 minute. Take off the heat and slowly add the hot milk, whisk until smooth and cook for about 3 minutes on lowest heat until it’s thick and creamy. Discard the bay leaf, season to taste and set the pan aside.

Mix the ingredients for the crespelle with an electric mixer until well combined and let the dough rest for about 5-10 minutes. Heat a little butter in a large, heavy or non-stick pan and cook 4 large, very thin crespelle on medium heat until golden on both sides.

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan on high heat and roast the sage leaves for a few seconds in the sizzling butter until golden and crisp but not dark.

Lay each crespelle flat on a plate, spread with 1/4 of the pumpkin and sprinkle each of them with 2 1/2 tablespoons of Béchamel sauce, 1 heaped tablespoon of ricotta, 3 sage leaves, some Parmesan and crushed pepper. Roll into a tight wrap and place them next to each other in a baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown, switch on the grill (broiler) for the last 1-2 minutes.

Pumpkin Crespelle

 

Pumpkin Crespelle

 

Pumpkin Crespelle

 

Pumpkin Crespelle

 

pumpkincrespelle12

 

pumpkincrespelle8

Strawberry Ricotta Muffins

http://eatinmykitchen.meikepeters.com/green-bean-pea-and-kumquat-salad-with-turmeric-and-mint/

The past 10 days have been packed with excitement – too much for me at times. It started off with an urgent change to a new camera and laptop and I wasn’t too happy about this at first. I’m not a very technical person, I prefer sticking to a set up once it’s up and running rather than getting used to all sorts of technical novelties every couple years. I’m a bit lazy in that respect, but my forthcoming cookbook pushed me out of my comfort zone and called for new equipment. After 2 days of confusion and desperation, a long talk with my wonderful and patient photographer friend Anne Deppe, I felt ready for a new technical era in my life!

So once all these issues were solved, I could finally get started with the first recipes for my book. It felt a bit intimidating in the beginning when I took the pictures. I thought “wow, this will be printed one day, I’ll be able to hold these photos in my hands next year”. No more digital flexibility, this is the unchangeable analog world, I’ll have to make final decisions together with my editor Holly which will be irreversible at one point and printed onto paper! I stopped for a few minutes, put the camera aside and took my time to process everything that happened in the past month. I looked at the camera and the sandwich on the table right in front of me and made a decision: this is going to be fun, exactly like my blog! Eat in my kitchen has always been about my love for food and my enjoyment in the kitchen, I’ve enjoyed every second of this journey and I’ll keep it this way. So when this mental hurdle was overcome, the recipe craziness began: I cooked and baked 17 new dishes in the past 5 days, luckily we had family over from Malta. Everyone was more than happy to join our meals and I was very glad to hear their feedback. It was a very satisfying experience for both sides and there are hopefully many more to come in the next few weeks and months while I’m cooking and baking for the book.

When I met my friend Anna to talk about my technical issues, I decided to make a bunch of muffins with relaxing and caressing qualities. I needed some soul food for my stressed mind. I threw in my first strawberries of the year and their subtle sweetness matched wonderfully to the smooth dough which I refined with ricotta, olive oil and orange juice. They came out as being perfect spring breakfast muffins, light and fruity – and they relaxed me!

http://eatinmykitchen.meikepeters.com/green-bean-pea-and-kumquat-salad-with-turmeric-and-mint/

Strawberry Ricotta Muffins 

For a muffin tray with 12 molds you need

plain flour 320g / 11 1/4oz
sugar 100g / 3 1/2oz plus 1-2 teaspoons for the topping
baking powder 3 leveled teaspoons
baking soda 1/2 teaspoon
salt 1/4 teaspoon
organic eggs 2
ricotta 250g / 9oz
olive oil 100ml / 3 1/2fl oz
freshly squeezed orange juice 30ml / 1fl oz
strawberries, cut into chunks, 200g / 7 ounces

Set your oven to 190°C / 375°F (fan-assisted oven) and put paper baking cups into the 12 molds of the muffin tray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Take out 1 heaped tablespoon of the flour-sugar mixture and mix quickly with the strawberries. In a second bowl, mix the eggs, ricotta, olive oil and orange juice until light and fluffy and pour into the bowl with the dry mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until you have a lumpy dough (with a bit of flour left here and there) and gently fold in the chopped strawberries. Keep in mind, the more you mix it the more it will lose its light texture.

Fill the muffin tray with the dough and bake for about 18 minutes or until golden. Take 1 muffin out of the tray and check with your finger if the bottom is baked through (the strawberries will make it very juicy). Sprinkle the muffins with a little sugar and let them cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before you put them on your breakfast table.

http://eatinmykitchen.meikepeters.com/green-bean-pea-and-kumquat-salad-with-turmeric-and-mint/

 

http://eatinmykitchen.meikepeters.com/green-bean-pea-and-kumquat-salad-with-turmeric-and-mint/

Blueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

lueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

My last cheesecake creation is definitely too long ago, it was a dense treat with lots of orange and lemon flavours, rich in cream cheese with a little addition of Mediterranean ricotta. It was more like a classic New York cheesecake and was so good that for more than a year I haven’t bothered to come up with a new recipe. I baked it all winter, its citrusy richness is just perfect for a cosy tea time, and then in summer, I moved on to our old family recipe for the German version of this cake. German Käsekuchen is made with quark and stiff egg whites which gives it a lighter, fluffier texture, it’s delicious with fresh berries for a Sunday morning brunch on the balcony!

Despite the wintery temperatures, my mood has already moved on to the next season, spring, sunshine and fragrant flowers. This calls for a new cheesecake recipe!

I was after a lighter version so a good amount of the usual cream cheese had to make way for ricotta. For the first time in my life I looked at the amount of fat in both dairy products, something I’m not very interested in most of the time as I want to enjoy my food and not feel guilty. The Italian cheese is definitely the winner (in a good way). It still creates a creamy texture but it’s not as filling. I refined the cheesecake mixture with lots of lemon juice and zest and baked it on top of a base of buttery digestive cookies. A fruity topping brought a spring feeling to the recipe, I brushed the cake with a thin layer of apricot jam and spread lots of crisp blueberries on top. It was amazing, one bite after the other was pure bliss!

lueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

 

lueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

Blueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

For a 20.5cm / 8″ springform pan you need

digestive cookies (Graham crackers) 210g / 7.5 ounces
butter, melted, 70g / 2.5 ounces
ricotta, room temperature, 250g / 9 ounces
cream cheese, room temperature, 300g / 10.5 ounces
sugar 100g / 3.5 ounces
vanilla pod, scraped, 1/4
organic eggs 3
cornstarch 1 teaspoon
zest of 1 large lemon
juice of 1 lemon (4 tablespoons)
a pinch of salt
fresh blueberries about 200g / 7 ounces, for the topping
apricot jam 2 tablespoons, for the topping
water 2 tablespoons, for the topping
icing sugar, for the topping

Crush the cookies in a blender until very fine, or in a plastic bag, and mix with the melted butter until combined. Press the mixture into the springform pan and put in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Set the oven to 165°C / 330°F and put a deep tray or roasting tin in the oven on the lowest position. Boil water in a kettle.

Mix the ricotta, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, eggs, cornstarch, lemon juice, zest and salt with an electric mixer until well combined.

Take the springform pan out of the freezer and wrap it in aluminium foil twice so that the bottom and sides are well covered to protect the cheesecake from the water while it’s baking. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the hardened crumbs and place the tin carefully into the tray in the oven. Fill the tray with the boiling water from your kettle. The water should come half way up the wrapped springform pan. Bake for 50 minutes, switch off the oven, open the door a little bit and leave the cake in the oven for about 15 minutes. Take the cheesecake out of the oven, take off the foil but leave the cake in the springform pan. When the cake is completely cool, chill it in the fridge (or outside in winter) for about an hour.

In a sauce pan, bring the jam and water to the boil and cook for about 30 seconds, push through a sieve and brush on the cake. Spread the berries evenly on top of the cake and sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.

lueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

 

lueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

 

lueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

 

lueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

 

lueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

 

lueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

Spinach Ricotta stuffed Conchiglioni on Grilled Cherry Tomatoes

spinachricottaconchiglioni2

The trilogy of spinach, ricotta and tomatoes is one I use a lot for my pasta dishes, be it in lasagna, ravioli or canneloni. And if I need a really quick dinner I go for conchiglioni, the pretty pasta shells. It’s so convenient to stuff these little beauties with all kinds of sauces and vegetables, a thick Bolognese or Ratatouille, mashed pumpkin or a tuna stew, they deliciously carry whatever I choose to fill them with! I also like that I can cook them in advance and just bake them with some cheese under the grill to warm them up, another easy solution for a spontaneous dinner party!

For this recipe I can skip all of the preparations that my classic lasagna requires, no Béchamel, no slow cooked red or meat sauce. I just put a bunch of cherry tomatoes under the grill until their skin starts to burst, it’s the same preparation that I used for my orecchiette recipe in July. The roasted fruits are so soft and sweet that I only need to stir in some olive oil, Balsamico vinegar, salt and pepper to turn them into an aromatic and juicy sauce. I spread the conchiglioni on top of the tomatoes in the same dish as soon as they are done, lusciously stuffed with blanched spinach and creamy ricotta and sprinkled with Parmesan. Another 3 minutes under the grill and dinner is served!

spinachricottaconchiglioni1

 

spinachricottaconchiglioni5

 Spinach Ricotta stuffed Conchiglioni on Grilled Cherry Tomatoes

For 3-4 people you need

conchiglioni, cooked al dente, around 25 pasta shells
spinach, the hard stems cut off, cleaned, 400g / 14 ounces (mine weighed 600g / 21 ounces before I prepared it)
ricotta 200g / 7 ounces
cherry tomatoes 500g / 1 pound
Balsamico vinegar 1 teaspoon
olive oil 2 tablespoons
nutmeg, freshly grated, to taste
salt and pepper
Parmesan, grated, around 40g / 1.5 ounces, for the topping

In a large pot, bring salted water to the boil. Blanche the spinach for 1 minute, rinse with cold water in a colander, drain and squeeze out the water with a spoon. Chop the spinach roughly, mix with the ricotta and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.

Put the cherry tomatoes in a baking dish (big enough to spread the stuffed conchiglioni on top when the tomatoes are done) and roast the fruits under the grill for 15 minutes or until their skin starts to burst, turn them once or twice. When the tomatoes are done, stir in the Balsamico vinegar and olive oil, season with salt and pepper and gently squeeze the tomatoes with a spoon.

Fill the pasta shells with the spinach ricotta stuffing, spread them on top of the tomatoes and push them gently in between the tomatoes. Sprinkle the shells with the Parmesan and some more pepper and put under the grill for around 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Like with lasagna, it’s best to let the dish sit for a few minutes before serving.

spinachricottaconchiglioni7

 

Spinach Ricotta stuffed Conchiglioni on Grilled Cherry Tomatoes

 

spinachricottaconchiglioni4

 

spinachricottaconchiglioni3

Zucchini, Bell Pepper and Aubergine Moussaka with Lemon Ricotta

Moussaka

My Moussaka, truth be told, is a fruity ratatouille baked with a fluffy lemon ricotta soufflé on top. The traditional Greek Moussaka is made with a Béchamel sauce which I’m not too fond of. I like this creamy sauce in my lasagna or cannelloni but that’s it. The ricotta tastes much lighter, enhanced with lemon zest, nutmeg, parmesan and fresh basil, it gives this dish more of a summer feeling. Contrary to the Greek version, I kept mine vegetarian, there’s no minced meat involved, just zucchini, bell pepper, tomatoes, red onions, lots of parsley and a velvety layer of fried aubergine slices in between the vegetables and the cheese. It stops the ricotta from running into the juicy ratatouille.

When I cook a ratatouille I always make a big batch. This moussaka is perfect as a second day dish for ratatouille leftovers. Topped with the ricotta it just has to bake in the oven for half an hour, great if you have friend’s over for dinner and not much time for preparations! I baked it in small casserole dishes closed with a lid so that each of us could have our own little pot.

Moussaka

 Zucchini, Bell Pepper and Aubergine Moussaka with Lemon Ricotta

I bake the Moussaka in two 12,5cm / 5″ casserole dishes with lids, you could use a big one instead but you may have to bake it a bit longer for the ricotta to set.

For 2-3 people you need

small aubergine, sliced into circles, 1
zucchini, sliced into circles, 1
red bell pepper, thinly sliced, 1
big red onion, quartered and thinly sliced, 1
big tomatoes, chopped, 4
garlic, thinly sliced, 3 cloves
parsley, chopped, 2 tablespoons
Balsamico vinegar 2 tablespoons plus more to taste
olive oil for frying
salt and black pepper

For the topping
ricotta 260g / 9 ounces
organic eggs 2
parmesan, grated, 30g / 1 ounce
small basil leaves, chopped, 30
lemon zest 1 teaspoon
lemon juice 1 teaspoon plus more to taste
(I also added in a little of the liquid of my Moroccan preserved lemons)
nutmeg, ground to taste
salt and pepper

Spread the slices of aubergine on a baking dish and sprinkle with salt on both sides to pull some of its water out. Let it sit for around 15 minutes, rinse the slices and dry between kitchen roll paper. In a large heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil and fry the aubergine for a few minutes on both sides on medium temperature until golden and soft, add a little more oil if necessary. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a large pot, heat a splash of olive oil and fry the onion for a few minutes until golden and soft. Add the bell pepper and garlic and fry for 2 minutes before you add the zucchini. Fry the vegetables for 2-3 minutes and deglaze with 2 tablespoons of Balsamico vinegar. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Add the parsley and season with Balsamico vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

For the topping, mix the ricotta, eggs, parmesan, basil, lemon zest and juice and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F top/ bottom heat.

Divide the vegetables between the 2 casserole dishes, cover with 3-4 slices of aubergine and spread the ricotta mixture gently on top. Cover with lids and bake for around 35 minutes until the ricotta mixture is set.

Moussaka

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