happy endings in the kitchen episode 8: ricotta cheese & ricotta cheese tart

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I love to cock

Are you suffering from dating exhaustion? Tired of swiping right to disappointment? Kissed too many amphibians in princely clothing?

Well then there was Facebookcheat.

Yes, Facebookcheat.  It all started with a simple friend request.  I had no idea who he was but his photo had me intrigued.  Confirm.  He was an actor, a ridiculously good looking version of Roberto Benigni, made a 3 day growth look desirable, had wild curly hair that was come-hither disheveled, used adorably incorrect grammar, wanted to chat about everything and anything, was inquisitive about my life and the workings of my mind, plied me with praise and encouragement, and was funny, witty, and so wonderfully creative.  Che bello!  Note: He lived in Rome, made grammatical errors that were sometimes bordering on ridiculous that seemed to be a convenient segue into a sexually charged conversation (eg during a conversation about culinary delights he revealed “I love to cock”), only ever called from the holiday apartment he managed, seemed uncontactable during his evening hours….and did I mention he lived in Rome??

And so, it was infatuation.  Texting to the late hours, waking up to good night messages, Skype calls  lying side by side with only oceans dividing us, and devising the beginning sketches of a European holiday and first time meet up.  I found myself humming ‘That’s Amore’ a little too often, started drinking copious amounts of stove-top coffee, ate Nutella with everything, and watched ‘A Roman Holiday’ in anticipation.  I was walking on marshmallow clouds, the world was full of new colours, my senses seemed to multiply and I spoke Italian in my dreams.  It was the kind of thing I’d been waiting for.  Unexpected, a little crazy, and deliciously foreign.

Five weeks of blissful absorption until I logged onto Facebook one morning to discover him tagged in a wedding album….and he was the groom.  Mamma fkn Mia!!!  I felt like projectile vomiting nutella all over his wild curly hair and 3 day stubble.  I was in such a state of shock I didn’t know how to react.  I  definitely wanted to break his coglioni!  Instead I wrote a rather terse message about how the truth can set you free and clicked ‘unfriend’.  Uffa!  Because why would I waste any more time on a cheating, story-telling, social media stalking, big-haired, cock talking cazzo?!?  Time to make a Roman holiday of my very own, in my mouth.  Flavour awaits in la cucina.

A taste of Rome

IMG_0729.JPGRicotta Cheese

3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine the milk, cream and salt in a saucepan.  Using a food thermometer heat the milk to 190°F, stirring slowly to make sure milk doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.  Remove the pan from heat and add the lemon juice, stirring it through slowly a couple of times.  Leave it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
Line a colander with a few layers of cheese or muslin cloth and place it over a large bowl.  Pour pan contents into the colander and strain for a few hours.  Store strained curds in an airtight container and keep in the fridge until use. Use the whey to make a stock, a milkshake, a hair rinse, or feed it to your plants.

 

IMG_0728.JPGRicotta Tart

Ingredients:

The crust:
2 cups plain flour
half cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 stick of butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1 egg yolk
The filling:
1 pound ricotta
1 cup honey
3 eggs
half teaspoon lemon zest
A good squeeze of lemon juice
To serve:
Toasted pine nuts
morello cherries

Directions:

Combine sifted flour, sugar and salt.  Add the butter and rub through until it becomes like breadcrumbs.  Beat the egg and egg yolk separately and pout into the dry mixture and mix until combined.  Add a little cold water if still crumbly.  Wrap in cling wrap and place in refrigerator for an hour.
Set oven at 180 degrees Celsius.  Remove dough after chilling and roll out on a floured surface.  Aim for it to be an even thickness and larger than the dish you are transferring it to.  Transferring is the tricky part and don’t beat yourself up if it breaks into pieces when you do. Moisten your fingers with a little water and smooth into pan and up to the edges.  Return to fridge to cool for another 15 minutes.  Once cooled cover the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking stones or something that distributes weight across the pan evenly (I used dried split peas). Blind bake for 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove paper and weights once done.
Whilst the pastry is blind baking make your filling.  Whisk the eggs separately.  Combine the ricotta, honey, juice and zest in a large bowl.  Add the eggs and stir until combined.  Pour mixture into your pastry case and return to oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes, until the top is golden.  Serve with toasted pine nuts, morello cherries and double cream.

Oh!  Dio mio!  My tastebuds are singing.  Now that’s amore.  Bad taste gone.

 

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Happy endings in the kitchen episode 7: Rustic little Pasties

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 The trumpets shan’t sound

Are you suffering from dating exhaustion? Tired of swiping right to disappointment? Kissed too many amphibians in princely clothing?

Well then there was FauxBF.

Yes, FauxBF.   I was but 22.  I had just made a fresh start with new housemates and a new home, a rustic little settlers cottage with loads of character and a shitty extension constructed of plaster board and corrugated iron.  Life was good.  An ideal blend of work, friends, and fun.  But I was pathetically forever aware of the gaping hole in the almost perfect picture that could only be satisfactorily filled by a suitable boyfriend. 

At the end of my first week in my new abode I decided to venture out to see a pianist friend performing in a concert.  And therein I spied and was introduced to a rather attractive man.  He was tall, thoroughly handsome, was majoring in trumpet, had an adorable left-sided grin, was passionate about music and motorbikes (meaning he was in touch with both his masculine and feminine side), and was a cool blend of charming and laid back flirtatious.  Note: he had also just broken up with his once ever only girlfriend, and hadn’t traveled outside of Adelaide his whole life, but other than that he seemed flawless through my rose-coloured fogged up senses. He also happened to be a close friend of my ivory tinkling friend. Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match!  And before I knew it the three of us were headed to my rustic little cottage for after concert glasses of wine. To my shock and horror I found the place freshly burgled on our arrival. Suddenly rustic with character was more like squatter with trampy. And as I melted down into varied states of anger, grief, loss, and girlish fear I became even more aware of FauxBF’s manly, protective, comforting, and incredibly sexy presence. Apparently in my heightened emotional state Liberace had left the building.  It was just me, FauxBF, and his trumpet.  

And so, it was an instant relationship.  He moved in that night.  The man of the house.  No burglar alarm required.  I had my very own scarecrow.  Only he was a dream.  We’d go to work, arrange to be home at the same time for microwave dinners, listen to each other’s music, laugh a lot, have random water fights, and plenty of enthusiastic, youthful love-making.  I was in heaven.  My housemates were in hell. 

It had been two weeks of undeniable bliss and during the morning routine of discussing the day ahead, amidst cuddles and heavy petting, FauxBF mentioned that he had to make a stop by his once only ever ex-girlfriend’s place to collect some of his belongings.   As he kissed me tenderly on the tip of my nose goodbye I didn’t for a second imagine that it would be the last touch we shared.  But when he failed to return for toasted sandwiches, Villi’s pasties, and Neopolitan ice-cream that evening it became clear that I was just the bridge music before the key change and he only blew his born for once ever only. 

FauxBF never apologised or gave an explanation.   FauxBF never returned his freshly cut key.  FauxBF and his average trumpet were never to be seen again.  FauxBF clearly had testicles the size of a grain of sand.  But here, within these words, lies my opportunity to cleanse myself of such a smarmy, boyfriend faking, hero feigning, key stealing, hornblowing git.   So, in not so loving memory, to the kitchen I go to create a much improved version of a Villi’s pastey whilst listening to the god-like trumpet of Miles Davis, hmmm, a much improved version indeed.  

A taste of home

  
Rustic little pasties

Shortcrust pastry

Ingredients:

2 cups plain flour

125g butter, cut into pieces

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon chilled water 

Pinch of salt

Directions:

Mix the flour, salt and butter in a food processor.  Whizz until it turns into coarse crumbs and butter has blended through.  Add the egg yolk and water and whizz again until it forms a not too sticky dough. Add a little more water if not combining.  Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly until smooth.  Wrap in cling film and place in fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

The filling

The ingredients:

1 large sweet potato

1 potato

1 parsnip

1-2 carrots

2 onions, finely chopped 

1-2 sprigs rosemary, chopped

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

Feta or Parmesan cheese (optional)

Egg for basting

Directions:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees centigrade. Cut vegetables (minus the onion and rosemary) up into small cubes and place in baking tray.  Toss through a good slug of olive oil and season well. Roast for approximately 30 minutes, until vegetables soften and crisp at the edges.

Meanwhile sauté the onion and rosemary in a pan with a tablespoon or so of olive oil until translucent.  Add to the baked vegetables.

Reset oven to 180 degrees centigrade.  Divide pastry into half and roll out first batch on a floured surface.  Roll to a thickness of about 3 mm.  Divide into squares, as small or large as you would like your pasties.  Place a mound of vegetable mixture in the middle and fold over. Press edges together with a fork.  Baste with beaten egg and cook until golden.

Note: You could also add zucchini or red capsicum to moisten up the mix. I also added crumbled feta for a bit of sharpness. 

Little bundle of goodness in my mouth.  Bad taste gone.