Tag Archives: ricotta

party food : duck and persimmon kebabs ; pear and ricotta croutons

22 Nov

Fruit isĀ  healthy, obviously, but you don’t care about your guests’ waistlines. More importantly and superficially, it’s pretty. Next to your sombre piece of duck, a bright cube of persimmon takes all the glory. Add a round red tomato and you are in business. And a skinny sliver of pear makes a boring piece of toast as elegant as a spring hat.

(Am newly addicted to persimmons. Like a winter melon, neon orange and full of juice. Pairs with lots of things: cheese, chicken, prosciutto.)


Duck and persimmon kebabs

As my mother used to sigh during her cooking classes: yes, it will work equally well with chicken. I happened to have a packet of duck wing bits, already deboned, in the freezer.

Marinate the duck overnight: about 200g of duck breast or deboned wings. Lie the meat flat in a shallow bowl and top with equally generous sloshes of soy sauce and rice vinegar. Add a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of tamarind paste. Add lots of pepper, chili if you like it and a teaspoon of something sour: mango powder is good.

The next day: quickly fry the duck in a large frying pan with a touch of oil until still slightly pink. Chop into bite-sized pieces and thread onto cocktail sticks with cubes of persimmon and halved cherry tomatoes.


Pear and ricotta croutons

The chutney is the key to a strong and interesting flavour here – pick a good sharp one: tomato-chili or red onion would be good. I used Indian date and ginger, delicious.

Cut some squares of white sliced bread. Melt a little butter in a large flat frying pan and fry the bread to golden and crisp croutons. Alternatively, drizzle melted butter over a tray of bread squares and bake for 10 minutes.

Mix some ricotta with enough salt and pepper to give it a bit of bite. Quarter, core and slice a couple of pears wafer thin, lengthwise to make a nice long point. Leave the slices in a bowl of cold water with a squeeze of lemon so they don’t brown. When you are ready, top each crouton with a teaspoon of ricotta, a slice of pear and a little blob of spicy-sweet-sour chutney.

pannacotta with vanilla and ricotta, pineapple caramelised with sichuan pepper

5 Oct

For me, cooking at home is kinda slow. Stirring figure of eights in cream as it gently heats. Dicing fruit in neat cubes. Smoothing milk chocolate over a slightly uneven banana cake.

But work does not go that way. Dozens of pannacottas at a time. Ten kilos of flour to hoist onto the scales. Quickly, because someone is waiting behind with neon-yellow curry bread, or a stack of figs and fennel seeds. Breakfast now takes about twenty seconds, the separate buttery layers of pain au chocolat squashed in between filling tarts and airbrushing scones. (Not like photoshop; for maximum efficiency, a hosepipe and fine spraygun blow egg yolk with an angry growl.)

Sometimes I get lucky. The other day I had pannacotta for breakfast. Eaten with a spoon, it takes longer. Breathing time. I like them with just the soft scent of proper speckly vanilla, which always makes sweating over a flan or riz au lait much more bearable. But this time, instead of the classic red fruit coulis, it came with a heap of pineapple cubes. Marinated in sugar syrup and sichuan pepper overnight so it absorbs all the extra sweetness and spice, the pineapple gets caramelised quickly in a pan and turns golden brown. Luxury. Slow cooking luxury.

I’m not sure what the rules are yet about “borrowing” recipes from work. So you will have to look up a pannacotta recipe elsewhere. But the principle is simple:

Heat cream, ricotta, sugar and vanilla. Soak gelatine leaves in cold cold water. When the cream bubbles, whisk in the gelatine until thoroughly melted. Pour into glasses – about 100g per person is good – and leave to chill.

Dice the pineapple: literally dice-sized cubes. Heat an equal amount sugar and water, add your spices of choice (star anise is nice, peppercorns will give it a good kick). Pour over pineapple. Leave for 24 hours. The next day, heat the pineapple in a dry pan until dark and caramelised. Serve over pannacotta.


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