Ricotta strudel

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The strudel is a traditional Austrian dessert: a very thin pastry filled with apples and spices. Like every successful recipe it has tons of different alternatives both for the pastry and for the filling. Today I’m sharing with you a very creamy and delicate strudel, with ricotta cheese & raisins filling and a “no butter” pastry, very light and not greasy at all.

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The strudel is perfect if served warm with a nice glass of milk :-)

Here you are the ingredients for a long strudel (6/8 servings):

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And that’s how to proceed:

– verse the dried raisins in a cup filled with warm water. set it apart.

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– on a flat surface (I used a wooden cutting board) place the flour and create a volcano shape. In the central hole add the oil, the egg, a pinch of salt and mix with a fork/spoon slowly adding the flour from the sides to the center.

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– slowly add the lukewarm water, a bit at the time.

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– keep working with a fork/spoon up until the mix will be easy to knead with your hand

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– knead the pastry with one hand, pushing your palm down and than forward, repeating the same movement again and again. It will take 4/5 minutes for the mix to get elastic, shiny and yellow.

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– wrap the pastry dough in some plastic paper and place it in the refrigerator for 30 min.

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– using two bowls divide the egg yolks form the whites. Add a pinch of salt to the withes and using an electric beater whisk them until stiff creating white firm peaks. Set it apart.

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– Take the other bowl with the egg yolks and add the yogurt, the ricotta cheese, honey, lemon zest, vanilla extract and coconut oil. Whisk everything in order to obtain a smooth cream. It is very important to drain the ricotta cheese from any liquid. It should be thick and compact. Otherwise the cake filling will be too running and it will be difficult to roll the strudel.

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– Slowly add the egg whites. Mix slowly with a spoon.

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– Remove the pastry dough from the refrigerator. Place it on a flat surface in between two parchment paper foils. Roll it with a rolling pin in order to obtain a very very thin layer, thin like a paper foil.

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– Spread the ricotta mix on the pastry dough. Remove the raisins from the water, they should be very soft right now. Squeeze them to remove extra water and distribute them on top of the ricotta mix.

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– Slowly roll the pastry dough from the short side. You will obtain a long cylinder, that’s your strudel. Place it on a parchment paper on a baking sheet.

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– brush the strudel with some milk in order to obtain a shiny final look. You can use also an egg yolk in order to have a golden crust. Or sprinkle on top some sugar crystals to have a sparkling crust.

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– Bake the strudel in the preheated oven at 400F/180C for 35 minutes. Let it cool down few minutes and enjoy still warm!! You can decorate with some powdered sugar on top, simple and elegant.

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posted on April 24, 2015

Zucchini and rice pie

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Rice has a special space in my heart. It reminds me my childhood and my home town in Italy.

I remember that my grandma had a friend who owned a rice farm (“risaia”) in the Piemonte region. Every time this very kind lady came to visit grandma, she used to bring with her as a gift a huge fabric bag of “Good” rice. I have always been fascinated by the brown fabric used as a rice packaging: it had a thick rural look with one color prints on it. I wish they still used them ;-)

I still remember my grandma’s risotto. wow. Creamy and full of flavors. Her specialty was the Italian sausage risotto with Parmesan cheese. Simply delicious.

Risotto is the very traditional dish in Northern Italy, there are tons of different recipes using fish, meat or vegetables. The kind of rice, indeed, is always the same: either Carnaroli or Arborio rice. Thanks to the quantity of starch and to the texture of the grain that, once cooked, will have a very soft surface but a firm core, these two rice varieties are PERFECT for risotto. And, I would add, for many other recipes….like the vegetable rice pie I cooked today :-)

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Following the spring weather I used rice with zucchini, fresh thyme and ricotta. A nice, delicate and tasty mix. For the crust I decided to go for a light option using phillo pastry: crunchy on top and very thin and soft at the bottom. Perfect for little toddlers’ palates.

The rice&zucchini pie is wonderful if served warm, but I really like it cold too.

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This is all you will need for 6/8 servings:

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And that’s how to prepare it:

– preheat the oven at 400F/180C.

– fill a big pot with water. Let it boil. When the water is boiling add the rice and let it cook for 10 minutes. Drain.

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– Finely grate the zucchini

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– in a big sauté pan add two/three tablespoons of grape seeds oil and turn the heat on at medium. Add the diced onions, stir and let them cook for 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and adjust with a pinch of salt.

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– Stir and cook the zucchini for 8/10 minutes. You want the zucchini to release their water and dry out nicely.

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– Meanwhile place 5/6 phyllo pastry sheets on a flat surface. Lightly brush every sheet with some grape seeds oil and layer them one after the other in a ceramic baking pan

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– In a big bowl mix the rice, the milk, the ricotta cheese, the minced fresh thyme, the grated pecorino cheese, the eggs and the zucchini. Stir.

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– Place the zucchini&rice mix in the ceramic baking pan. Level the surface and “close” the phillo pastry on top of the rice mix forming a rim.

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–  bake the zucchini&rice pie in the oven for 40 minutes.

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Enjoy!!

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posted on April 17, 2015

How to thin baby food – How to use breast milk or baby formula to cook for your baby

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When you prepare a baby puree’ you always need a certain amount of liquid to thin it in order to achieve a nice creamy texture for your little one. I would like to share with you some basic information about how to thin a baby puree: quantity needed, kind of liquid to add, using breast milk or baby formula. Let’s start from the beginning:

HOW MUCH LIQUID TO ADD?

The quantity of liquid to add really depends from your baby’s taste: some babies like very thick purees, others prefer a more running consistency. No worries. Meal after meal you will be the perfect judge to know exactly how creamy your baby food should be. Just follow the directions that you will find in the baby recipe and add more or less liquid pending your little one taste.

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WHICH KIND OF LIQUID?

Well, you have few options listed below. They are all good and safe. Pick up the one you like more pending what you have available in your refrigerator/freezer/pantry ;-)

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1) Warm water:

easy and simple, always at your disposition. Only one note: water doesn’t give any additional nutrients to your baby food. That’s not a bad thing, just a consideration.

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2) Cooking liquid:

You can use the same liquid you cooked the food in: if you steam or boil some vegetables you can use the residual cooking water to thin the baby puree. The good thing is that the cooking water contains some nutrients coming from the vegetables as they cooked. That’s why the cooking water usually has a very pale color, typically green or yellow.

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3) Vegetable broth or chicken broth (if you are cooking on the savory side)

I deeply suggest to prepare a good quantity of both broths and store them in the freezer. As you are cooking for babies you want the broth to be without salt and only with few fresh seasonal ingredients. If you want to check the vegetable broth or the chicken broth recipes click the links.

Homemade chicken broth

Click on the image

 

Homemade vegetable broth

Click on the image

 

4) Unsweetened organic apple juice (if you are cooking on the sweet side)

It’s safe and gives a naturally sweet taste to the puree that babies really like.

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5) Breast milk or baby formula

That’s a wonderful way to thin you baby food as you are really boosting in all the powerful nutrients contained both in formula and breast milk.

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Just few notes:

  • Never use previously frozen breast milk or baby formula as you might end up freezing your baby food and you never freeze twice the same food, even if you use it as an ingredient.
  • On the contrary, when you add freshly made baby formula or breast milk to your baby food you can freeze it without any problem. The nutritional value of both breast milk and baby formula will not be compromised nor there will be any safety issues.
  • In the case of baby formula the only thing that will happen is that during the freezing process the fat will separate (like it happens with cow milk). Once the baby food will thaw you will be able to warm it and mix it so that you will have the original texture back.

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I hope these information will be helpful, please note that I’m a mom and not a pediatrician, so I’m sharing my knowledge, research and experience about baby nutrition and development. Should you have any other questions, I will be more than happy to reply!

ciao,b

posted on April 10, 2015


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