Ricotta and Chive Cakes

Ricotta and Chive Cakes | Selma's TableI have a friend who I think of as the Imelda Marcos of lunch boxes. She has the most incredible selection – ones for breakfast, ones with separate compartments for salads and dressing, ones that can go in the microwave, spill proof soup mugs, ones that have their own placemat, ones that have their own cutlery – you name it – she’s most probably got it! She takes the most delicious things to work and obviously saves a fortune in the process.

Ricotta and Chive Cakes | Selma's TableHave you ever totted up what you spend on food during the working week? I’m not talking about going out for restaurant  lunches but the stuff you get from the thousands of takeaway sandwich bars and cafe’s that line our streets. Starting with your morning latte and yoghurt pot/muffin/croissant to a mid morning snack, lunch of sandwiches/salads/noodles/sushi, coffee or tea, juice etc…it really adds up. At let’s say £5 – £10 a day, that’s £25 – £50 a week which works out to £1,250 – £2,500 a year! With a little fore thought and organisation, you could so easily be taking in your own food which will be delicious, not full of salt, sugar, preservatives and additives and saving you a fortune at the same time. Those Manolos might be yours sooner than you think…

Ricotta and Chive Cakes | Selma's TableAnyway, I popped round her house recently and she gave me a ricotta cake to try – she had mentioned them a few times in the past and said how wonderful they were and how perfect in one of her “salady” lunch boxes and I could immediately see why. It was so savoury; light but filling and extremely low carb, so, no mid afternoon carb coma. She did tell me what was in them, but all I could remember was the ricotta and parmesan. Possibly basil.

The other day, I bought some ricotta to make ravioli and had some left over so thought I would give the cakes a go. I did a little googling to get the proportions right and came up with these…They are so easy. Just whisk up a couple of eggs with salt and pepper, snip in the chives and stir in the cheeses. Spoon into very well greased tins, top with a little more parmesan and bake. So, so delicious!

These are really quite small – you would probably want 2 or 3 – maybe more, per serving, depending on your appetite. I also think that these would be lovely with a little grated lemon zest in them and maybe a sliver of sundried tomato on top. Thyme or oregano would work well here too. So many possibilities…

P.S. if you click on the link to the Manolo Blahnik website, there is THE most fabulous short film about how, as a child growing up in the Canary Islands, Manolo Blahnik made shoes from sweetie wrappers for lizards. I used to make Christmas decorations out of sweetie wrappers – think I may have missed my calling…

Ricotta and Chive Cakes

  • Servings: makes about 22 small cakes
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large eggs, free range or organic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch of chives about 25g
  • 500g ricotta cheese
  • 60g finely grated parmesan cheese, halved

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150C/300F. Thoroughly grease and flour a couple of 12 hole patty tins (the shallow kind used for mince pies or Yorkshire puds).
  2. Lightly whisk the eggs in a medium sized bowl. Whisk in the salt and pepper and snip in the chives – scissors are much better than a knife for chives.
  3. Add the ricotta and half the parmesan and whisk until all the ingredients are well mixed together.
  4. Pop a tablespoon of the mixture into each hole and lightly smooth over the tops.
  5. Evenly sprinkle over the remaining parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool for 5 minutes then remove from pans to either finish cooling on a wire rack or eat warm with a salad.
  7. Store in a lidded container in the fridge for up to 7 days.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Thyme & Seed Pide topped with Leek, Celery & Cheese

thyme-and-seed-pide-with-a-leek-celery-and-goats-cheese-toppingIt’s funny how inspiration strikes. Aware that the clock was counting down fast on the deadline for submitting a ‘yeast and herb’ based post for Angie’s first Fiesta Friday Challenge, I found myself dithering over recipes, like a debutante in a dress shop. I cursorily glanced through some of my bread baking books but nothing appealed. I googled “yeast recipes”; still nothing appealed. In the meantime, fabulous dishes were being submitted; Sue with her fabulous fermented kvas as a base for a Russian soup, Michelle with her luscious peach and basil danishes; Angie herself posted a stunning looking Fougasse…tick, tock, tick tock… Oh, what to do? I pop into my local green grocers to pick up some tomatoes and basil for a salad. Checking my purse, there isn’t enough change to cover it so I pull out my card to pay then realise that there is minimum £5 purchase for card transactions. I had been eyeing up a tray of squidgy Mejool dates, so I added them to the basket as Jake loves them. The next day, I wander into the kitchen to make a coffee, idly thinking about the day ahead when my eyes fall on the dates. I think about flavour combinations and imagine that dates and goats’s cheese would work. A quick internet search shows that I am not alone in thinking this. Progress! I plump for a seeded flatbread by bread maestro, Dan Lepard, to which I will add thyme, make tamarind and date sauce and a topping of leeks & celery. I have a moment’s worry as to this flavour combination, so try a teaspoonful of the leek and celery, topped with a cube of goat’s cheese with a dribble of the date and tamarind sauce. Hurrah!! It is delicious! Sharp, tart, grassy, crunchy, earthy, lemony, spicy – it works!! I will go to the ball, I will! thyme-and-seed-pide-with-a-leek-celery-and-goats-cheese-topping thyme-and-seed-pide-with-a-leek-celery-and-goats-cheese-toppingOnce baked, the goat’s cheese has melted and the creamy ricotta is a wonderful counterpoint to the heat from the chilli flakes and the crunch of the seeds. Next time I will add more ricotta (I’ve updated the recipe below to account for this). Angie is being very ably assisted by Catherine @ Catherine Cuisine. Please do go and look at the entries for this yeast and herb based challenge; you will find crumpets, semolina pancakes, pizzas, flat breads and  much, much more – the Creative Fiesta Friday Crew are rising beautifully (see what I did there, Angie and Catherine?) to the challenge! So this is how to make some easy and delicious Turkish inspired Pides – feel free to use different toppings but I have to say that I was really pleased with the combination below. As always, a printable recipe follows the photo tutorials and any musings. thyme-and-seed-pide-with-a-leek-celery-and-goats-cheese-topping Ever since I attended Nina Oortman’s bread making class, I have been coveting the stainless steel counters that make bread kneading, shaping and  clean up so effortless. I came across this rather large stainless steel serving/prep  tray from my catering days, while I was unpacking and had a Eureka! moment. Rather than bestowing the tray on my local charity shop, it could come in useful for pasta and dough making – and it has, as you will note from the photos below… thyme-and-seed-pide-with-a-leek-celery-and-goats-cheese-topping I used a chopstick to roughly mix the dry ingredients into the wet, thanks to a tip from Aneela @ The Odd Pantry and it worked brilliantly. No more sticky dough adhering plaster-like to each finger! The dough is sticky – resist the temptation to add lots of flour when you are working with it. This dough does not require very much handling – hardly any kneading in fact. A light hand and as little additional flour as possible will yield a more tender bread. http://theoddpantry.com/2014/05/07/in-my-kitchen-of-alternative-uses-may-2014/ http://theoddpantry.com/2014/05/07/in-my-kitchen-of-alternative-uses-may-2014/

Thyme and Seed Pide with a Leek, Celery and Goat's Cheese Topping

  • Servings: makes 4 pide
  • Difficulty: easyish!
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Adapted from Dan Lepard’s Supper Flatbread Recipes in the Guardian INGREDIENTS For the pide:

  • 175 g all plain flour
  • 75 g spelt flour (or wholemeal)
  • 25 g sunflower seeds
  • 25 g pumpkin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp chopped thyme leaves (fresh)
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 175 g warm water (this is the same as 175 ml in volume. Weighing the water is a more accurate measure)
  • 25 g honey
  • 7 g sachet fast acting yeast

For the leek and celery topping:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 100 g diced celery (3 stalks)
  • 2 shallots finely sliced
  • 140 g finely sliced leeks
  • water as required
  • 1 mini sweet red pepper finely diced
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp finely chopped thyme leaves (fresh)
  • 60 g cubed or crumbled goat’s cheese
  • 12 tsp ricotta cheese
  • salt and pepper

For the tamarind and date sauce:

  • 10 soft pitted dates roughly chopped – soak them if they are dry
  • 1 ½ tsp tamarind concentrate
  • 100 ml water

INSTRUCTIONS For the pide:

  1. Measure out all the dry ingredients (not the yeast though) into a mixing bowl and stir well to combine.
  2. Measure the honey and warm water directly into a mixing bowl set on the scales and mix well to combine
  3. Sprinkle over the yeast and stir in.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and mix until it is a soft, shaggy, sticky dough (I used a chopstick to stir it round and round ).
  5. Cover and let this rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Lightly flour a work surface and very lightly knead the dough for about 10 seconds! It comes together very quickly.
  7. Place back in the bowl, cover and leave to prove for 30 minutes.

For the leek and celery topping:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pain set on a medium low flame.
  2. Add the celery and shallots and sauté gently for 5 minutes to soften a little. Season with a good pinch of salt.
  3. Stir in the leeks. If there isn’t enough oil, add a splash of water to get things going – you may need to do this several times. Cook until floppy then stir in the thyme and red pepper and chilli flakes. Cook for a couple of more minutes, season to taste then take off the heat and leave to cool.

For the tamarind and date sauce:

  1. Place the dates and tamarin in a saucepan set over a medium low flame.  Add the water in splashes, stirring  with a wooden spoon to dissolve the tamarind – mash the dates with the back of the spoon too. Let this reduce to a thick lumpy sauce (mashing and stirring all the while) and take off the heat.
  2. Scrape into a wire mesh strainer and set it back over the saucepan. Using the wooden spoon, stir and press the mixture through the sieve until you are left with just the date fibre in the sieve. Scrape the sauce from the bottom of the sieve and into the pan.

To assemble and bake the pide:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 240C/465F. Prepare 2 baking trays with parchment or silicone paper or dust with flour.
  2. Cut the dough into quarters (I weighed the dough, then divided it by four and tried to get 4 balls fairly equal in weight)
  3. Shape into balls by cupping and pushing the dough to stretch it out and get a smooth top.
  4. Cover and leave for 5 minutes.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball into an oval that is about 20 cm x 10 cm. Push at the edges to make a slight lip and lay on the prepared baking sheets.
  6. Spread a 1 ½ teaspoons of the tamarind date sauce on the dough, leaving the edges free.
  7. Top each pide with ¼ of the leek and celery mixture.
  8. Top this with the goat’s cheese and little blobs of ricotta.
  9. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes. Mine were ready in 10 minutes.
  10. Eat warm!
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013 – 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Swiss Chard and Herb Tart

swiss-chard-and-herb-tartMy veg box this week included some beautiful Rainbow Swiss Chard and to celebrate the gorgeous spring weather we have been having, I decided that I wanted to use them in a tart. A quick internet search brought me to a recipe by Ottolenghi which I knew I could adapt without  too much trouble. swiss-chard-and-herb-tartIsn’t rainbow chard beautiful? I read that the coloured shard stalks can bleed into paler colours when cooking but I didn’t find this to be a problem. Chard does need to have a good soak and swish in a sink full of cold water to dislodge any mud that may be clinging in the leaf crevices. The stems have to cook for a little longer than the leaves so do separate them and use them! swiss-chard-and-herb-tart swiss-chard-and-herb-tart The tart was really very delicious – the flaky pastry combined with the greens and cheese reminded me of of that wonderful Greek dish of Spanakoptika. And the textures work really well – slightly crunchy celery and chard stems,  buttery flaky pastry, soft greens and creamy cheese – we had this for a mezze type dinner and Jake, who invariably feels shortchanged if there is no meat, didn’t seem to notice and, unprompted, ate the left overs when he got home from school the next day. A printable recipe follows the photos below so you can scroll straight to that if you prefer not to read my ramblings but for those of you that can bear it, this is how I made the Swiss Chard and Herb Tart. swiss-chard-and-herb-tartFirst, fill the sink with water and swish the chard leaves about. Leave the in the sink for any grit to settle on the bottom and in the meantime slice the onion into half moons and start sautéing them. Slice the celery and add them to the onions. Scoop out the chard leaves and cut out the stems. Slice the chard stems and add to the pan. With lots of water clinging to the chard, slice the chard leaves and chop the herbs and garlic. When the celery has softened a little and become  translucent, stir in the  chard leaves, the herbs and the garlic. Let this cook down, stirring from time to time,  on a gentle heat for about 10 minutes. In the meantime toast the pine nuts (these burn quickly and I find it easier to do in the microwave for a couple of minutes – they don’t brown but get nice and crunchy), crumble the feta, grate the parmesan and zest the lemon. swiss-chard-and-herb-tartTurn the heat off under the pan and stir in the cheeses, zest and nuts. Season with lots of freshly ground pepper. Leave to cool. In the meantime, turn on the oven and beat the eggs. Unfurl the pastry onto a baking sheet and score a 2 cm border around the edge, using the back of a knife. Spread the cooled filling within the borders and crimp the edges of the pastry to form a lip. Brush the edges with the beaten eggs. Season what is left over of the eggs and pour slowly and evenly over the filling. Dot the top with teaspoons full of ricotta and slices of goats cheese. I also added some halved marinated cherry tomatoes and used some of the marinade to drizzle over the tart. This can of course, be substituted with fresh cherry tomatoes and olive oil. swiss-chard-and-herb-tart   Bake for half an hour and serve warm or at room temperature! swiss-chard-and-herb-tart swiss-chard-and-herb-tart 

Swiss Chard and Herb Tart

  • Servings: 4 as a main, 6 as part of a mezze
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adapted from Swiss Chard and Herb Tart by Ottolenghi for Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium red onion, sliced (about 85 g)
  • 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced (about 220 g)
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard; stalk and leaves separated; both roughly chopped (about 250g)
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp mint leaves roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 100 g feta cheese crumbled
  • 50 g parmesan, grated
  • 15 g pine nuts toasted
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 x 320 g sheet of ready rolled all butter puff pastry
  • 8 tsp ricotta cheese
  • 50 g (7 or 8 thin slices) of goat’s cheese
  • 5 cherry tomatoes halved (I used the marinated ones from this recipe of mine)
  • 2 beaten eggs

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium low flame and add the sliced onions.
  2. While they cook, slice the celery and stir into the pan.
  3. Remove the stalks from the chard, chop these up and stir into the pan.
  4. Ribbon (chiffonade)  the chard leaves, slice the garlic and chop the herbs.
  5. Once the celery has softened a little, which should take about 5 minutes, stir in the chard, herbs and garlic. Let this cook down for about 10 minutes and take if off the heat.
  6. Stir in the feta, parmesan, lemon zest and pine nuts and season with a little salt  if necessary (the feta and parmesan are very salty) and a good grinding of pepper. Leave to cool.
  7. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
  8. Unfurl the pastry and score a 2 cm border around the perimeter.
  9. Place the cooled chard mixture within the border and crimp or pinch the edge of the pastry to form a lip.
  10. Dot the top of the chard mixture with the ricotta, goats cheese and cherry tomatoes.
  11. Brush the edges of the tart with the beaten egg and then gently drizzle the remainder over the tart.
  12. Bake for 30 minutes and allow to cool a little before serving

Eat warm or at room temperature. Serves 4 as a light main course with a salad and some cold cuts for the determined carnivores. Or slice into 12 and serve  as mezze for 6.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.