Tag Archives: ricotta

Recipe: Ravioli primavera

An actual savoury recipe!  Who knew I could still do those?  Actually, I have an uneasy feeling I’ve done something very like this before.  I mean, me, pasta, vegetables – that’s basically my default work night dinner, frankly.

But I think this is a little different to my last primavera, primarily because I’ve gotten a lot lazier since then.  Also, someone told me that adding some pasta cooking water to one’s pasta sauce makes it come together better, and they are quite right, so if nothing else, this recipe has that particular upgrade!  (I’m still hopeless at remembering to salt my pasta water, however…)

This is a pea-free primavera, because Andrew doesn’t like peas.  It is also a broad-bean-free primavera, because shelling broadbeans is for people who are much less lazy than me.  Besides, Woollies had pea ravioli with spinach and feta, so I figured our pea requirements were covered.

And that’s about it.  It’s a simple, tasty meal for four, and a good celebration of spring.

Your shopping list

Olive oil
1 bunch baby carrots
2 golden shallots (the French ones that look like miniature onions)
2 bunches asparagus
200g cherry tomatoes
60 g baby spinach
2 tablespoons pesto
100 g ricotta
50 g parmesan, finely grated
650 g vegetable ravioli (I used the aforementioned pea ravioli and a sweet potato one.  But any light-tasting vegetable ravioli will do.)
a ladle or two of reserved cooking water Continue reading

Recipe: Italo-Franco-Australian Berry Trifle

It is no secret on this blog that I am very fond of Josephine’s beautiful French tea shop in Brunswick.  What I have perhaps not mentioned about Josephine’s is that in addition to her beautiful macarons, crème brulées, tarts, savouries and other handmade goodies, she also stocks a small collection of imported French goodies.

Among other things, these include Rose de Reims biscuits, which are a pink biscuit, rather like a small, elegant sponge finger, designed to be dipped in champagne.  They do not, alas, taste like roses, but they did instantly inspire in me a desire to make a pink version of my berry-mi-su trifle (which I could have sworn I wrote about here, but can no longer find anywhere on this site), spiked with rosewater and champagne.

So I did.  I dipped the pink biscuits into champagne from a tiny bottle I was given a few years ago, combined mascarpone and ricotta with a little sugar, and layered the whole lot with mixed berries tossed a little rose syrup.

And it was delicious – light and fresh and unexpectedly alcoholic, a delicious meal for a hot day.

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Your shopping list

600 g mixed berries (prepared weight, any kind)
2 tsp rose syrup
250 mascarpone
250 ricotta (light ricotta works and then you can pretend this is healthy!)
50 g sugar
200ml champagne or chardonnay or any sparkling white
125g rose de renne biscuits (or sponge fingers)

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Recipe: Italo-Australian Strawberry Trifle

This is one of those recipes that sort of evolved as I wandered along Sydney Road on the weekend, and then started poking around in my pantry at home. 

First, I fell for the beautiful tiny strawberries at La Manna, which were just begging to find their way into a dessert of some sort.  Then, my eyes were seduced by the enormous, glowingly-pink rosewater meringues at Josephine’s.  I pictured a sort of hot pink Eton Mess.  But as I came back from my walk today, I found myself drawn to the beautiful handmade sponge fingers at the Pasticceria on the corner of my street.  So I started thinking trifling thoughts… but trifle is very rich, and I really didn’t feel like making custard – especially when I already had meringues in the house and thus no simple use for all those extra egg whites…

A peek into my fridge, however, reminded me that I still had a bit of low-fat ricotta leftover from another recipe last week, as well as half a tub of mascarpone and a lot of low fat Greek yoghurt.    So that was the creamy part taken care of, though it was a little bit bland… which is when I remembered that I had a sachet of powdered strawberry gum, an Australian native ingredient from a Eucalypt with a sweet, fruity, floral sort of flavour that goes well with strawberries.

All that remained was to find a suitable soaking liquid for the sponge fingers, preferably something not too sweet and not too alcoholic – how fortunate that I had most of a bottle of Wild Dog Natural Produce‘s strawberry vinegar in the house.

The result?  A surprisingly light, fresh-tasting dessert with a wild pink topping.  I am not absolutely certain that the meringue was necessary to this recipe, but it certainly gave it a pizzaz it wouldn’t have had otherwise!  The strawberry gum made the ricotta mascarpone cream rather grey-looking, but the flavour was superb – and it complemented the strawberries beautifully.  I’ll be making this again.

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Your Shopping List

100g mascarpone
100 g low fat ricotta
100 g low fat Greek yoghurt
20 g brown sugar
15 ml powdered strawberry gum (optional, but magnificent if you can get it)
6 bit sponge fingers
1/2 cup strawberry vinegar
2 punnets of strawberries (about 400 g once you’ve hulled them)1 teaspoon raw sugar
1 gigantic pink meringue (vanilla, rosewater, raspberry or another berry flavour)

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Recipe: Stuffed zucchini on roasted tomatoes

I was originally going to post this to my Tomatoes challenge, but then grant season got the better of me and nothing happened at all.  And now I have a Tofu challenge in play, and I have no idea what I’m going to do with that.  But right now, I’m working on the backlog of recipes that I created and scribbled down onto random pieces of paper in February (in fact, what I scribble down is a list of ingredients and quantities, trusting myself to remember the method, which is a bit of a gamble if the piece of paper then gets knocked off the desk by a cat, and batted under a couch, and then only found many weeks later), since this blog has been very nearly a recipre-free zone of late.

Anyway.  Zucchini flower season is almost over for us in Australia, but for once, I can give the Europeans and Americans a thrill by posting something that is about to come into season for a change!  I am constitutionally incapable of not buying zucchini flowers when I see them, which means that I then have to instantly re-jig any menu plans I’ve made, as zucchini flowers must be used the day you buy them, or at the very most, the day after.  In all probability, there are better ways to cook them – in fact, I am constantly being exhorted by farmers to try deep-frying them, stuffed or un-stuffed, in tempura batter, but since deep-frying is the one un-healthy culinary habit that I do not have, I am reluctant to learn it, even if tempura zucchini flowers does sound amazing.  God, that sentence was dreadful.  Sorry. 

Anyway, since I eschew the deep-fryer, my preferred option for zucchini flowers has always been to stuff them with a herby spinach and ricotta mix, and then bake them either in a simple tomato sauce or on a bed of roasting tomatoes. So far, nobody has complained at the lack of deep-frying, so here, for your delectation, is the recipe I normally use.  I apologise for the poor photographs – the light in my kitchen isn’t very good for photography.  I promise you, these zucchini flowers taste amazing, however they may look in these photos.

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Your Shopping List

12 zucchini flowers, preferable with the little zucchini still attached
1 kg assorted beautiful tomatoes
salt, pepper
1 tsp brown sugar
olive oil
2 tsp vinegar
oregano, to taste
150 g frozen spinach, defrosted (or a bunch of fresh)
300 g ricotta
50 g parmesan
a handful each of mint and basil leaves, chopped finely
nutmeg, pepper
1 egg
 
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Recipe: Pasta with Ricotta, Herbs and Spring Vegetables

This is the revised version of a recipe I noted down here a while back, because I never really put in any quantities, just typed in the ingredients as I remembered them, because it was late and I was tired!

But the recipe really is too delicious not to be written up properly, and with Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes starting a new Pasta Please monthly challenge with a cheese theme for January, it seemed the perfect time to re-visit this recipe and do a proper version of it.  So here is the new, improved version with actual quantities and also variations!

The quantities I’ve noted below will definitely work, but feel free to experiment or change things – the essence of this dish is pasta, ricotta, and some herbs and vegetables so that you can pretend it isn’t all about the cheese.  You really can’t go wrong with this sort of meal.

Vague shopping list

1 punnet (250 g, approx) shelled broadbeans

1 small bunch of parsley

1 handful each of basil and mint

350 g ricotta

100 g parmesan, grated
25 g salted butter
black pepper
1-2 tablespoons of butter, olive oil, or, ideally, a combination of the two, for sautéing vegetables.
3 spring onions (the long skinny kind)
1 baby fennel bulb
2 small bunches asparagus
3 yellow pattypan squash
350 g rigatone pasta
 

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Recipe: Stuffed Pasta Shells with Ricotta, Mint and Feta

Aargh!  Here I am, with the best intentions in the world about posting lots of exciting things, and I can’t, because I don’t have time, because I’m too busy cooking!  Well, and singing.  To give you a brief glimpse of the current craziness: Friday night was singing lesson and making vegan truffles for a birthday yesterday, yesterday I was out all day at said birthday, today was choir, a birthday dinner for a different set of people, practicing cake decorating, and bonus practice cupcakes erupting all over my oven (moral of the story: do not forget to put the eggs in the cupcakes.  It’s fine if they weren’t supposed to have eggs in the first place, but if they were, it turns out that one of the things eggs do is prevent bicarb-fueled cake eruptions), tomorrow is another singing lesson, Tuesday is a dinner party, Wednesday will be last minute cake experiments for the wedding cake I am making for Sunday, Thursday is choir, Friday is singing practice and baking wedding cakes, Saturday is baking more wedding cakes and decorating them, and Sunday is a wedding.

So you see, even typing very fast, that doesn’t leave much room for blogging.  Especially when the cakes you were hoping to blog about erupted all over your oven…

So here’s a random recipe I started writing down for you months ago and then forgot about completely and never came back to.  It’s still good, though.  It started off Italian in feel, but sort of started sidling shiftily in the direction of Greece with the herbs and feta.  Feta is very shifty that way.  Still, cultural identity issues aside, it tasted pretty good and was well worth making.  And finally I have something to do with those giant pasta shells that ogle me so enticingly from the supermarket shelves and then sit in my pantry for months doing nothing…

Your Shopping List

500 g frozen spinach
olive oil
5 cloves garlic
400g tinned tomatoes (chopped)
750 ml passata
1/2 cup water
1 small bunch basil
500 g ricotta (preferably fairly solid ricotta from a deli, not the smooth stuff in a tub)
150 g feta cheese
2 eggs
a large handful fresh mint
salt, pepper
375 g giant pasta shells
1/4 cup parmesan, approximately
1/4 cup breadcrumbs, fresh if possible

 

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Recipe: Baked Ricotta

Today is horrendously hot, and the next two days threaten to be worse.  I have therefore spent the afternoon… cooking.

No, really, bear with me, it isn’t as mad as it sounds.  Cooking in this weather can only be described as a penance, but one can’t have takeaway every night (or at least, I can’t).  So I have a strategy for these hot days, though I admit it works better when I am organised enough to get started on it before the weather really heats up.  Basically, on the first day, I buy bread and cold meat, and I make a tomato salad, baked ricotta, and roast a lot of garlic  (which I set aside), capsicums, eggplant, and any other vegetables which take my fancy.   We eat these at room temperature.

The next day, we have more bread, baked ricotta, and the roasted vegetables and garlic get mixed in with  tinned chickpeas and herbs and maybe tomato to make a salad. I’ll usually make a cucumber salad, carrot or beetroot salad or similar – basically a salad which is happy in the fridge for a few days.  The day after that, we have the last of the roast vegetable salad, leftover vegetable salad, and the bread gets grilled and added to a fattoush-style salad. And we still have baked ricotta, or if we don’t, I buy some nice cheese.

And so forth – the idea is that I only have to cook a maximum of one item per day, and if possible I do it in the morning, before things heat up too much – the rest of dinner is just a matter of assembling things that are either raw or have already been cooked.  But one still has a reasonably healthy and varied diet and doesn’t wind up eating the same food each day.  Sometimes I’ll mix things up by marinating lamb or chicken for kebabs the night before, or making felafel to cook right before dinner, but basically it’s bread, salad and cheese all the way until the cool change which, Melbourne being what it is, is usually only a few days away, and thank goodness for that.

So here’s the baked ricotta recipe with which I will start my week.  Don’t be put off if you’ve had baked ricotta before and haven’t liked it – mine is, apparently, very non-standard indeed, and people always comment (with some surprise) that it doesn’t taste like baked ricotta and it’s actually really nice.  Which makes me wonder what other baked ricotta tastes like – but not enough to buy any…

Your Shopping List

375 g fresh ricotta from the deli (whole-milk, not whey, and not the stuff you get in a tub, which is far too wet for this)
1 egg
75g parmesan
salt, pepper, and herbs of your choice – I like rosemary, oregano and dried lavender, and I probably use 2-4 teaspoons, depending on how I feel
breadcrumbs (from a packet is fine)
olive oil
 

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Recipe: Orange Me Up (Scotty)!

What do you get when you cross orange salad with tiramisu?  In my case, you get something a lot like a very orangey, boozy, rich, trifle.  Which I choose to call ‘orange me up’, because tiramisu means ‘pick me up’, and I find the phrase ‘orange me up’ amusing.  And I was feeling decidedly oranged-up after eating this.  Though ‘Orangey Sue’ also has a certain silly appeal.

This, incidentally, is what happens when I try to make a light, healthy dessert.  I do fine at moderately healthy fruity desserts, such as fruit crumbles or fruit pies or balsamic strawberries with mascarpone, and sometimes I even like fruit salads, but there is something about the whole fruit-in-fruit-syrup that just brings out the worst in me.  I can’t leave it alone. It’s not a proper dessert.

But… there I was, with no idea what to make for dessert, and I saw this recipe  in Cook Simple for citrus fruits in orange and rosemary syrup, and it had blood oranges (which I have from the market), oranges (of which I have a tree full), lemons (ditto), rosemary (which I have in my garden) and grapefruit (which are certainy in season)! Clearly, this was the way to go.  The recipe suggested serving it with crême fraiche and almond biscuits.  I started enthusiastically planning acts of Extreme Biscuit Baking, but realised that with guests only an hour away and dinner not really made, this would be a bad idea.  And then the supermarket had sponge fingers on special, and I thought, hey, mascarpone is better than crême fraiche, and also, mascarpone + sponge fingers = tiramisu!  Which is way, way, too rich, and moreover has coffee in it (ugh!), but oranges would cut the richness…

And here we are.  This recipe makes enough to feed at least 8 people, and would probably be better spread around 12.  I suspect it would stretch to 16, especially if you made a little more of the orange salad.

Your Shopping List

500 ml fresh orange juice
200 ml water
175 g white sugar
3 sprigs rosemary
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 oranges
3 blood oranges
1 pink grapefruit
2 tangellos
175 g sponge finger biscuits
50 ml grand marnier
125 ml semi-sweet sherry
250 ml fresh orange juice
250 g mascarpone
250 g ricotta (the softer kind that comes in a tub)
2 tablespoons caster sugar, or to taste
50 g good dark chocolate
 

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Recipe: Ricotta and Herbs

Still feeling too seedy to really be creative, so here’s a really short, easy recipe, inspired by The Complete Italian Vegetarian CookbookThis recipe makes me feel a little sad, because right now is absolutely not the season for it – indeed, dinner tonight was semolina gratin with a wintry stew featuring mushrooms, cardoons, carrots, broccoli and cannelini beans, so heavily improvised that I haven’t the faintest clue what the recipe would be.  But for you sun-drenched Northern Hemisphere types, here’s something lovely to have on good Italian bread while you are waiting for the weather to cool down enough for cooking to be tolerable.  Or else, just make a dinner of bread, tomato salad, cannelini beans puréed with lemon and roasted garlic, some minted cucumbers or grilled eggplant or roasted capsicum, or cold chicken or whatever other nice, cool foods your fridge and pantry have to offer, and this lovely refreshing spread to just make your bread wonderful.

Jack Bishop says you should toast the bread to go with this, but I think if bread is good enough to be worth eating, it deserves to be eaten as it is – soft and fresh  to go with the softness and freshness of the ricotta.  And please – make sure it’s good bread, not that cotton wool stuff.  Putting this spread on a white sandwich loaf insults both you and it – and you both deserve better.

Your Shopping List

250g good ricotta – the best you can afford, so go to the deli counter or your Italian food shop, and do not even think about making this with something that comes in a tub.  You’re looking for something solid, not runny – in a pinch, you can drain slightly watery ricotta through cheesecloth or paper towels for an hour or two, but it’s better to start with the good stuff.
1 small bunch of basil
1 small bunch of mint
salt, pepper
1 loaf of good Italian bread – pasta dura is ideal for this.  French bread will do in a pinch, but no cotton wool.  I mean it!
 

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Recipe: Lemony Garlicky Fractal Broccoli with Pasta

I wanted to call this creamy lemony garlicky floral fractal broccoli with pasta, but I thought that might be a tad long.   I haven’t cooked or eaten Romanesco Broccoli before, and the recipes I had all seemed to involve cutting it up small or mashing it, which may taste nice, but does seem to miss the point.  If you have something that looks as spectacular as this broccoli does, it seems rather a pity to pulverise it.  This recipe is lovely and fresh, and has almost a floral taste to it, which surprised me – I think it’s probably from the lemon, but a little bit of it is from the fractal broccoli too.  After all, broccoli is a flower…

Your Shopping List:

extra virgin olive oil
3 small leeks
4-5 small peppers (I used Italian sweet frying peppers, which have a lot of flavour and sweetness but no heat)
6 cloves of garlic
2 heads of broccoli romanesco
zest and juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup white wine
salt, pepper
125g fresh ricotta (not the stuff from a tub)
75g pine nuts, toasted
500g pasts (I used giant rotelle – any big, ridged pasta would do, though)
75g parmesan, grated
1/3 cup fresh mint, sliced
 
(Vegan / dairy-free variation below)

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