Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Or is it Shrove Tuesday?

In other parts of the world, people are celebrating Shrove Tuesday (aka Pancake Day) instead of Mardi Gras. If you’re like me, you celebrate both. So this morning I prepared pancakes.

Shrove Tuesday’s Pancakes and baked apples:

1 egg
100 g milk
50 g ricotta
25 g honey
100 g flour
6 g baking powder
Butter for cooking

Prepare the pancake batter: in a large bowl mix together milk, ricotta, honey, flour and baking powder. Let rest for half an hour. When ready, whip the egg white, fold into the batter and cook the pancakes. Serve with baked apples – I cut mine into pieces and put them in the microwave for a few minutes – faster than traditional baking. I like cinnamon with them.

It's Mardi Gras!

Mardi Gras is the last day of Carnival. It’s a day for feast, for dressing up and masquerading. I especially this time of the year. I love to see children getting all dressed up. Carnival is also a time for eating sweets. There are numerous traditions here and everywhere you go you’ll find several different sweet treats, especially fried ones.

Every year I use this time as an excuse to try new recipes. This year it’s Carnival Fried Ricotta Tortelli – actually that’s not their proper name, but the recipe was given to me by a neighbour of mine who has Sicilian origins, and their original name is in a Sicilian dialect which I do not understand, so I renamed them.

Carnival Fried Ricotta Tortelli

For the dough:
125 g flour (all purpose will do just fine)
50 g sugar
1 large egg
Cinnamon to taste

For the filling:
200 g ricotta
50-100 g sugar
Zest of a lemon

Oil (for frying)

Prepare the dough: mix together all the ingredients and knead as for pasta dough. Wrap in cling film and let rest for at least an hour.

Prepare the filling: mix the ricotta cheese with the sugar and the lemon zest. Mix well.

Roll out the dough either with a rolling pin or with a pasta machine, just as you would do with ordinary pasta dough. Divide into two pieces.

Put little quantities of filling on top of a dough sheet, cover up with the other sheet and gently press all around the dollops of filling, making sure the two pieces of dough stick together perfectly. Using cookie cutters, cut out “tortelli” all around the filling.

Heat up a pan filled with oil and deep fry the tortelli. Sprinkle with sugar and serve warm.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Muhallabiah - milk pudding

Muhallabiah is a milk pudding that you can find all around the Middle East. It is thickened with either cornstarch or rice flour and flavored with orange blossom water or rose water. It is normally served in a cup or a glass accompanied by a fruit gelée or simply with pistachios or walnuts. It’s quite delicate and not too sweet. I normally serve it in martini glasses, but since this month’s theme for Waiter There’s Something In My… is terrine, I thought I’d turn it into a terrine. The recipe is the same, I just let everything cook a little longer than usual, so that it would thicken a bit more and “hold its shape”. I must say I prefer the glass version, since the texture you get by longer cooking is too jelly-like for me. I prefer a smoother, more fluid texture, but if you’re a fan of Jell-O, this is the right terrine for you.


For the orange gelée:
300 g fresh orange juice, filtered (I used blood oranges, that’s why the gelée looks so red)
30 g sugar
15 g cornstarch

For the milk pudding:
450 g full fat milk
45 g cornstarch
75 g sugar
1 tablespoon orange blossom water

Pistachio nuts to decorate

Normally I would start by preparing the milk pudding, since it is placed in the bottom of the cup, but in this case I started with the orange gelée.

Prepare the gelée: carefully mix together the cornstarch and 50 g orange juice. Add the sugar and the rest of the juice, mix well. Pour everything into a saucepan and place it on a very low heat until it starts to thicken, stirring constantly - in case you’re making a terrine simply let it thicken a little longer. Remove from the heat and pour everything into your terrine mould. Let cool or refrigerate.

Prepare the milk pudding: mix the cornstarch with 50 g cold milk – a whisk makes it very easy. Add the sugar and the rest of the milk, mix well. Place everything into a saucepan and place it on a very low heat until it starts to thicken, stirring constantly. Add the orange blossom water and cook a few more minutes. Again, if you’re making a terrine, cook longer – otherwise remove it from the heat when the pudding starts to thicken. Pour the pudding on top of the cold orange gelée and refrigerate.

When ready to serve, turn the terrine mould upside-down and decorate with coarsely ground pistachio nuts.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Back on line and happy birthday to me!

Happy New Year everyone! I’m finally back on line. Unfortunately my computer broke down early in December. I had to buy a brand new one and reinstall all of my stuff, especially the work-related kind and that left no time for blogging and reply to new comments. Sorry for that. I hope you all had a great time during the holidays.

Yesterday, it was my birthday! To celebrate I went on a trip with some friends and I thought I would have no cake this year, but I did! They did a great job at hiding it. Since they couldn’t hide a classic/standard size cake, they bought these “cake in a jar” things, made by a very talented pastry friend of mine. Imagine many little jars like the one in the picture all close to one another and voilà your cake! Or my cake, in this case. Thank you, guys!