Well, not just for Big Man, but for some dear friends who came to visit recently. Time for desserts, sitting around after a meal chatting until the candles burn down, sipping coffee and eating “just one more little piece” even though the waistband is straining a little.
To be honest, most of my girlfriends are not big dessert eaters. Not for any health or diet reasons, we’re just more fans of all things savoury. A good compromise was found once more in the pages of Jerusalem, the cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I decided to make Muttabaq, a delicious dessert made with layers of buttery filo pastry and filled with creamy cheese.
If you want a look at the original version, hope over to see how Chaise Longue of Olives and Artichokes made it. I decided to add a little Chica twist of my own.
- 1 packet of filo pastry
- 100g melted butter (the original recipe calls for about 50g more but I found I didn’t need it all)
- 2 x 250g packs of ricotta (Check out Chgo John’s method if you want to make you own)
- 1 x 250g pack of mascarpone (the original recipe calls for goat’s cheese but I have a goat’s cheese hating pal)
- A large handful of chopped pistachios
Then my additions
- About a dozen fresh dates, finely chopped
- About half a cup of chopped walnuts
- The grated rind of an orange
- A tablespoon of icing or caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
Using half the packet of filo, place layers of pastry in a deep baking dish brushing with melted butter between layers. Cut off any edges that curl up the side of the dish. Mix together the cheese, orange rind and sugar and spread over the pastry. Sprinkle over the dates and walnuts and then place the remaining pastry over the top in layers, brushing again with butter as you go. Tuck the outside edges of the top pastry section under the bottom half, brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle over the pistachios. Cut into squares, without cutting right through to the bottom
Bake for25 mins approx. at 225 degrees (or a hot oven) until golden brown. Meanwhile make up a lemon sugar syrup using 250g sugar, 90mls of water and the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.
When the pastry comes out of the oven, pour over the sugar syrup (it seems like a lot but just keep going). Serve just warm but it’s also good cold.
To accompany the Muttabaq I made a Moroccan inspired dish of sliced oranges sprinkled with chopped mint, pomegranate seeds, rosewater, sugar and cinnamon. Very pretty and fresh.
We talked for hours, we reminisced, we laughed…now that’s what I call a perfect evening. And now I wish all of you and your loved ones peace and joy over Easter and I hope you all get to enjoy some wonderful food, time and laughter together.