Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Looking for more?

I will no longer be updating this blog, but you can visit my new site Ribbons & Bluebirds to see what I have going on these days.


Sunday, 19 August 2012

ROTW, Week 32: Honey Ricotta Tarts with Toasted Pecans

Two weeks in a row with dessert!  This never happens.Except that since I still had the ricotta, it made sense to use it again (and frankly, as we are prepping for vacation next week, there is NOTHING else in there right now.)

So based on the remaining contents of my fridge/freezer:

Ricotta Puff Pastries with Honey and Toasted Pecans
makes 5

1/2 package frozen puff pastry, thawed (1 sheet)
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
handful of pecan halves
honey to drizzle

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Roll out the puff pastry dough until it is 1/8" thick - cut into roughly 4" squares using a pizza cutter.  Lay the squares into the cups of a muffin tin, pressing the dough to the bottom and folding as necessary.  Leave the corners outside the cups.  Using a fork, prick the bottoms of the cups to encourage them to stay flat inside.

Bake the cups for 5-8 minutes, until the corners have begun to puff and the bottom is as cooked as possible without the corners getting too browned.  Meanwhile stir together the ricotta, powdered sugar, and cinnamon until well blended.  When the cups are finished prebaking, remove the tray from the oven and fill the cups with the ricotta mixture.  Return the tray to the oven and bake a further 10 minutes.

While the cups are baking, toast the pecans for 2-3 minutes in a cast iron skillet on the stove, over medium heat.  Be careful not to burn them!  When the pecans are toasted, remove them to a chopping board and roughly chop them.

After 10 minutes remove the ricotta cups from the oven.  Allow the pan to cool and the ricotta to set slightly before attempting to remove the pastries.  Sprinkle with the chopped toasted pecans, and drizzle honey over the whole thing.  Enjoy slightly warm, or at room temperature.

Monday, 13 August 2012

ROTW Week 31: Ricotta Cake with Blackberries

This recipe was made this week partially out of desperation.  A ton of things had gone wrong that day, and I wanted to make a solid effort to have at least one thing go right.  And lo:

Was this ever right!  Blackberries infused with red wine, black pepper, and thyme; beautifully rich ricotta cake with the right hint of sweetness and a touch of lemon.  Worked like a charm to cheer me up.

This is what you get when you search "blackberry ricotta" on Pinterest!

Dani Fischer's Ricotta Cheesecake

Text directly from Design Sponge and Dani Fischer. So when it says "I", its Dani, not me.

Ricotta Cheesecake with Berries and Sauce

For the berries and sauce
2 cartons of blackberries
2 cups of medium- to full-bodied red wine
1 1/2 cups of sugar (1 cup for macerating and 1/2 cup to help thicken the caramel)
couple sprigs of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon of black peppercorns

1. To macerate the berries, combine all the ingredients in a bowl (save for 1/2 cup of sugar), toss together with your hands to keep the delicate berries intact, cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. Once macerated, carefully remove the blackberries with a spoon or your fingers, taking care to not smash them. Set aside.

3. Strain the wine liquid into a saucepan, making sure to remove all the peppercorns.

4. Add the thyme back into the pot with the 1/2 cup of sugar you set aside. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring in the extra sugar until it dissolves. Then turn down the heat so the mixture is just simmering.

5. Allow to simmer and thicken for 30 minutes or until the mixture is syrupy — it should begin to stick to the back of a metal spoon. Let cool.

For the cake
3/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
zest from 2 large lemons (Meyer if you can get them)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, separated, whites beaten until stiff peaks form
1 cup full-fat ricotta cheese (If you can get your hands on fresh ricotta, you will taste the difference.)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
powdered sugar for dusting
dash of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and butter an 8-inch springform pan.

2. Using a wooden spoon or a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Then add the ricotta, vanilla, lemon zest and egg yolks.

3. In a separate bowl, combine and mix the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and combine until well integrated. Then fold in the egg whites.

4. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the sides and top of the cake are beginning to turn golden brown. Unmold and let cool.

To assemble the cake

Use a strainer to dust the cake with powdered sugar. (I like to totally cover the top of the cake with a thin layer of sugar.) Then carefully arrange the blackberries on top of the cake. (I like to pile them in the center, leaving a rim of the powdered sugar showing.) Serve with the red wine sauce. (I like to let guests pour their own sauce, 
so it doesn’t soak into and stain the cake before serving.)

Sunday, 5 August 2012

ROTW 29 and 30: Shrimp with Grit Cakes and Raspberry Custard

So I totally dropped the ball on this one.

Truth of the matter is, I still enjoy cooking these new recipes - I just get a lot less joy out of taking the time and effort to post them.  I'm not sure how much longer I am going to be able to do make myself sit down and write these up.

Two weeks ago I made the raspberry custard, and last Tuesday we had the shrimp with grit cakes.  Since I didn't get around to writing up the custard, I'll present the shrimp first as if it were at one meal.  Here you go:

Pan Seared Shrimp with Grit Cakes

1/2 lb uncooked med-large shrimp, cleaned and peeled
1/4 lb cured bacon
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
3/4 cup diced tomato
1/2 cup frozen peas
1tbsp olive oil

2 cups cooked grits, cooled flat at 2" thickness
3 tbsp salted butter

Combine the cleaned shrimp and the Cajun seasoning - refrigerate and marinate for 30 minutes.

Cut the cooled grits into bars roughly 2x3" in size.  In a non-stick skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the grit cakes and sear until crispy and golden brown - be careful, as the grist will spit!!  Spatter screen highly recommended.  When the grits are finished, place them in the over to keep warm.

In the same saucepan, cook the bacon over medium-low heat, allowing the fat to render.  Drain off the excess fat and leave the bacon in the pan, adding the garlic and shrimp and raising the heat to high.  Cook for 1 minute, then add the frozen peas.  Continue to cook and additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the shrimp are pink and opaque.  Stir in the diced tomatoes.

Plate the grit cakes and spoon the shrimp over top.  Enjoy!

Raspberry Custard, adapted from this recipe at

This one... I didn't love it.  But maybe that's just me, so here it is regardless.

1 1/3 cups of raspberries
2 large eggs
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
pinch of salt
1/2 cup fat free milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
powdered sugar for dusting
baking spray

Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly spray 4 5-oz ramekins with baking spray and dust with a little flour. Toss in the cherries.

Whisk the eggs, sugar, salt, and flour together until smooth.

Add the milk and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Pour into the baking dish.

Bake for 25-28 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. When you pull it put of the oven it will wiggle and puff up and will deflate while cooling. Cool on a wire rack.

When cool, dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

ROTW Week 28 - Pork and Cabbage Pie

Busy week this week!  We made some great new recipes though, so it was difficult for me to choose one to be ROTW.  In the end, I went with this delicious pork and cabbage pie because it was the recipe I made up.

We watch a reasonable amount of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives while we're waiting for actual good shows to come on, and I love getting insider tips on ethnic foods from there.  We've seen a number of them featuring Eastern European cooking recently, and as a result I bought a cabbage hoping to make cabbage rolls.

HA.  Do you know how long it takes to make cabbage rolls?  Too long for me.  So we used half the cabbage making warm caraway slaw, and the other half had been languishing in the fridge waiting for me to figure out what on earth I could use it for.

Combined with ground pork I had intended for Thai pork salad (which other needed ingredients I didn't have) and a bit of leftover pie crust from Strawberry Rhubarb fame, and voila:  pork and cabbage pie.

Makes 1 family sized pie and 2 mini pies.

1 pastry recipe of your choice, I used this one.
1lb ground pork
1 onion, diced
half a savoy cabbage, chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
1 egg yolk
1tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 375F.

In a large skillet, brown the pork over medium high heat, 4-5 minutes.  Drain any fat from the pan and return to heat - add onion and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook for an additional three minutes before pouring in the chicken stock.  Be sure to scrape any delicious brown bits from the bottom of the skillet.  Add the nutmeg, paprika, and oregano.

Bring the mixture to a simmer, turn the heat down to med-low, and reduce for 15 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste and stir in the flour to thicken the sauce.  Remove from heat, and stir in the butter.  Spoon the filling into casserole dishes ready for serving - I used one large round casserole, and two smaller ramekin-sized ones.

Roll out your pastry to about 1/8" thickness.  Cut out circles to fit inside your casserole dish, and brush the top with the egg and water beaten together.  Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, or until the tops of your crustare beautifully golden.

Serve with a delicious veg for a tasty meal!