Sweets for my sweet, sugar for my honey

Muttabaq (2)

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Muttabaq Pistachios (1)

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.

Oranges & Rosewater (1)

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.

Roasted Tomato Tart with Chard and Home Made Curd Cheese

Beware the Giant Fork!

The great thing about writing a blog and reading other blogs is that inspiration comes from all around you.  Not so long ago I got into a dialogue with ChgoJohn over at From The Bartolini Kitchens about cheese.  He makes all sorts of cheeses and has posted a fantastic recipe for ricotta.  It reminded me that I hadn´t done this for quite some time, although my version doesn´t use cream.  Unfortunately we just can´t get anything other than UHT whipping cream or a chemical mix which masquerades as single or cooking cream here.  A shame, but that´s how it is.

A freezer clear out to make room for all my lovely beans that are growing, rewarded me with a packet of filo pastry.  Time to get making something tasty.

Here´s how I made my curd cheese.

Bring one litre of milk (I used semi skimmed) almost to the boil (when little bubbles start to appear round the edges).

Bubbly milk

Turn off the heat then add citric acid, lemon juice or white wine vinegar (about 2 – 3 tablespoons but add it gradually) whilst stirring with a wooden spoon.  Once curds start to form, put a lid on the pot and leave to stand for about 10 minutes.

Beautiful Curds

Drain and leave for a few hours or overnight. 

The Waiting Game

Stir in salt to taste and you´re done! Don´t forget to save that whey for making soda bread.

Lovely Curd Cheese

To make the tart I lined a loose bottomed tart tin with four sheets of filo which I brushed with olive oil (but you could also use butter).

I put in a layer of chopped, wilted chard (with all the water squeezed out) which I had mixed with two beaten eggs, 3 tablespoons of grated parmesan and seasoning. You could substitute the chard with spinach or beets.

 Then I added a layer of curd cheese and then a layer of halved roasted tomatoes.  You could also use thinly sliced raw tomatoes.  Finally I folded over the filo sheets and added two more to the top, brushed the whole thing with a little more oil and baked for 30 minutes at 180ºC.

Lots of flaky, crispy crumbs!

It was delicious warm, but just as tasty (although not quite so crunchy) cold the next day.