Thursday, 22 April 2010

Ravioli, chicken and a honey tart


Inspired by a dish I ate in a little trattoria in Bergamo a couple of summers ago, I thought I'd make ravioli filled with sausagemeat. I found Luganega sausages at David John's butchers in the covered market - wish I'd known they were there before, as I've been searching for them for a couple of recipes and had never thought - bizarrely - to look in the butchers famous for its sausages. Hmm. It wasn't authentic Italian Luganega, which is sold by the metre and not shaped into links, but its flavourings I think were similar. Anyway, I took the meat out of the casings, crumbled it into a pan with some garlic, tomatoes and fennel seeds, and just cooked it and put it into a bowl to cool. I made the ravioli with tomato puree, which I hoped would make it scarlet but actually just made it a sort of orange colour, but never mind. The filling went in the middle, I shaped it and crimped the edges with a fork, cooked it and served it with a sage butter sauce (quite literally melted butter with sage and black pepper) and lots of grated parmesan. It was lovely. 
Next I decided - in the spirit of this Ottolenghi phase I have previously referred to - to make one of his chicken dishes - chicken with sumac, lemons and za'atar. I found sumac and za'atar in Maroc Deli, although they were out of the smaller packets of the latter so I had to buy an absolutely enormous jar which I reckon will be enough to flavour everything I cook ever for the next ten years. It's a middle Eastern spice mix, consisting of dried thyme, salt, sesame seeds and other spices (I think this one had some aniseed in there). I'm pretty sure I now possess every middle Eastern ingredient I could ever possibly need. My friend the butcher kindly gave me two chickens for £7, so they were jointed and went in a marinade of sliced red onion, cinnamon, allspice, olive oil, sliced lemon, sumac, salt, pepper and water overnight. Then they just went in the oven in the marinade with some parsley and pine nuts with the za'atar sprinkled over. I had to turn the oven up quite high to get them to cook but it just gave them a nice crispy skin. Yum. We had it with couscous and a garlic yoghurt sauce that I made by crushing garlic into Greek yoghurt...except I added a bit too much garlic (convinced I couldn't taste enough when I tried it) and could still taste it while eating dessert. Oh well! It was delicious - the lemons and sumac were quite sharp and the meat was still juicy despite being in the oven at 220C. Clearly they were good chickens. Thank you, butcher man whose name I still don't know despite seeing you most days.


For dessert I made a sort of Greek variation on a treacle tart, with filo pastry. I baked the pastry case (filo sheets layered over each other and brushed with butter in a tart tin) and then poured in the filling, which consisted of two eggs, two yolks, the zest of two lemons, 150g breadcrumbs (which were quite large as my blender decided not to blend properly...but it didn't do the dish any harm), 8 tablespoons of creme fraiche, a tsp ground ginger (might add more next time as I couldn't really taste it...or some cinnamon would be nice), 150ml honey, and 250ml agave nectar. Agave nectar is marketed as a sort of "healthy" alternative to sugar, because it is much sweeter so you need less, and doesn't give you that sugar high and then low, or something. Apparently, anyway. Still, given that an entire bottle went into the tart, and it gave me a massive sugar headache afterwards, I still don't think it was that healthy. 

BUT it was absolutely sublime. One of my favourite desserts that I have made so far. The middle had a sort of cheesecake texture but a bit firmer, and was sweet and lemony and delicious, and I love the crispyness of filo pastry. Especially with some nice vanilla ice cream. Definitely making this again. I reckon it'd be nice with orange zest and cinnamon. Maybe with some candied orange slices on top. In fact, the thought is making me a little bit hungry. It's a good job I have two slices left over in the fridge...



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2 comments:

  1. Thought I'd leave you a comment (seeing as your blog is looking a little sparse on them!) to say thanks for dinner last night. Looking at all these photos is making me so hungry again though, really regretting not having another slice of that tart now!

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  2. YAY! How very considerate of you Oli. You really are my number one food voyeur - even if you do pick crumbs of "not JUST cheese" off the table! I would invite you round for the leftover tart - but I want it :)

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