Sunday, August 22, 2021

Anna Sultana’s Ricotta Pie

Oh, my! It’s almost September!
I hope it’s been a good summer for you.

It seems that we’re going to be a bit more normal this year.
According to the commercials the kids are really looking forward to seeing their classmates in person instead of on a screen.

Hope everything goes well and that everyone stays safe and well.

I took a peak at the ‘Top Recipes’ lists on the right side of this blog.
Carmela Soprano's Ricotta - Pineapple Pie (Cheesecake) is currently the top recipe for both last month and last week.
It was the ricotta pie that Carmela Soprano took to Joan O'Connell in hopes that she would write Meadow a recommendation into Georgetown.
Maybe it did the job.

I posted that recipe in February, 2013, and it sure has proven to be a winner.
But, I never posted Ma’s recipe for Ricotta Pie.
In my opinion Ma’s recipe makes a better pie.
Ma’s pie is lighter than cheesecake, more like a thick custard, and really good.

Ma usually cooked family-sized recipes.
There were times when she was cooking for seven people, so she wanted to get as much as she could for the time she had put into preparing her recipes.

Ma’s recipe for Ricotta Pie will give you two pies.
Don’t worry… it will get eaten long before it goes bad.
Sometimes we ate it for breakfast.
Yes, it’s just that nutritious… and good.

Cheesecake has had a long and interesting history.
The first cheesecake recipe was made around 230 A.D. by Athenaeus, a Greek writer.
Since then, cheesecake in one form or another has become popular around the world.

The New York cheesecake is a simple mix of cream cheese, cream, eggs and sugar, with or without a sour cream topping, while the Japanese cheesecake is a cross between a sponge cake and a souffle, and tastes more eggy than creamy.

A German cheesecake has a flour crust and quark, a dairy product made from sour milk, while the English make their cheesecakes with a crushed cookie crust and topped with a berry compote or lemon curd.

Every country has created its own special cheesecake… including the Maltese.


If you’re in a rush you can use a pre-made crust.

Ricotta is a soft bland cheese.
The texture is like a very well blended, smooth cottage cheese.
Ricotta is easier to work with than cream cheese which, if not fully softened to room temperature before blending, will result in a crumbly instead of a smooth cheesecake.

If you’d like you can add about 1/4 Cup mini-chocolate chips or 1 Tablespoon lemon zest per pie - more or less - to the filling before baking.

The pies do firm up in the refrigerator after they have cooled.
If you want a custard with more heft you can add 1/2 Cup rice to the filling before baking.
It is very traditional and will be more like a rice pudding, which is more filling.
Like I said, Ma wanted to get full value for the time she put into her baking.

The pies can also be topped with fresh fruit or canned pie filling, either blueberry or cherry or apple.
Or you can make the pineapple topping Carmela made for her Ricotta - Pineapple Pie.
This recipe is enough to top one pie:

Saving 1/2 Cup of the syrup, drain well
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple in syrup

In a medium saucepan combine
1/4 Cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch  
Stir in
1/2 Cup reserved pineapple syrup
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Cook, stirring until thickened, about 1 minute.
the drained pineapple
Remove from heat and let cool.

Spread the pineapple mixture over the pie.
Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving.

                                                Pat-in Pie Crust

Place in each of two 9-inch pie pan
1 1/2 Cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar         
3/4 teaspoon salt
Mix together.

Place in a measuring cup
1/2 cup oil
3 tablespoons cold milk
Beat together until creamy.
Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture in one pan and blend well.
Spread the mixture in the pan and pat in to line the pan.
Set aside.

Make another mixture of oil and milk and add to the flour mixture in the second pan.
Blend well, spread the mixture in the pan and pat in to line the pan.
Set aside.

                                                Ricotta Pie

Preheat the oven to 325º F

Ricotta Filling

Place in a large bowl
2 pounds ricotta cheese
6 large eggs
Stir together until smooth.
Stir in
1 1/4 Cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Cup heavy cream
1 Cup milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Pour the ricotta filling evenly into both pie pans.
Cover the edges of crust all the way around with foil.
Place pies in the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Take the pies from the oven and remove the foil.
Bake an additional 45 minutes, until the crust is golden and a sharp knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Cool completely, then refrigerate 2 hours before serving.
Garnish with whipped cream and lemon zest if desired (or see hints).

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Anna Sultana’s Marinated Cherry Tomato Pasta and Grilled Chicken with Fresh Herbs

Goodness!!! This has been an incredibly hot start to the summer of 2021.

Here in Manitoba the general rule of thumb is to have everything planted by June 10th so that the plants will have a good system of roots before the heat becomes a problem.

Even though the plants have had their usual few weeks to prepare for the heat, it’s a good idea to give them deep watering regularly.
Don't be fooled by those clouds.
They haven’t given us any decent rain since May.

In my garden a basil plant has become happily established surrounded by its two dozen cherry tomato neighbours.
The tomatoes aren’t ready for picking, but the basil plant has added a bit of flavour to a few of our meals.


About the Marinated Cherry Tomato Pasta…
If you're just cooking for two, no problem.
It’s just as delicious after being refrigerated 2 or 3 days.

The marinated cherries don’t have to be served on spaghetti.
Use any pasta you prefer, such as linguine, or anything you have on hand.

This pasta dish can be served warm, room temperature or cold.

About the Grilled Chicken with Fresh Herbs…
You can use other herbs, such as Thai basil, cilantro, mint or parsley, or a mixture of herbs.

If the herbs aren’t pureeing or the mixture seems dry, add a little more olive oil.

The marinade also works with cubes of chicken or pork, if you’d like to make kabobs.

The breasts can be marinated up to 8 hours.

You can make extra sauce to pour on the chicken after it has cooked.
If you’re making extra sauce, omit the salt and just add salt to taste.

The marinated chicken can be broiled. Perfect for when the weather gets cooler.
Yes, it will get cooler.
Place the marinated chicken breasts on a broiler rack about 6 inches below heat.
Broil 20 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
Brush the chicken occasionally with the marinade.
Serve very hot.

                        Marinated Cherry Tomato Pasta

6 people

Slice thinly
2 large shallots

2 garlic cloves

3 pints cherry tomatoes

Place the halved tomatoes in a large bowl and add
1/2 Cup extra-virgin olive oil
the sliced shallots
the minced garlic cloves
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/3 Cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Mix together until the tomatoes are coated with the marinade.
Cover the bowl and set aside at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours.

About 30 minutes before serving, place in a large pot
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
Stir in
1 pound spaghetti
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente.
Drain the pasta well and add the spaghetti to the bowl with the marinated tomatoes.
Toss to evenly coat.
1 Cup fresh basil, torn
1 Cup shaved Parmesan cheese
Toss until mixed.

                        Grilled Chicken with Fresh Herbs

Put in a food processor
1 1/2 Cups loosely packed basil
3 cloves garlic
1/3 Cup olive oil
1/3 Cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher or sea salt
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Puree until a smooth paste forms.

Halve, rinse and pat dry
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Place in a resealable plastic bag
the prepared chicken breasts
Add the marinade, seal and shake to coat the chicken surfaces.
Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat grill until hot.
Grill chicken 10 to 15 minutes on each side.
A thermometer inserted into the middle of the breast should read 165°F.
Serve very hot.