Saturday, November 25, 2006

Easter 2005

I know that was a while ago but I was just cleaning off my cookbook bookshelf (which I know that I cleaned since Easter 2005) and I found the recipe of one of the items that I cooked that day. I had decided to do an Eastern Orthodox menu instead of the normal American one. The certainty is that we would have lamb of some type. I decided to do a little research online and found this wonderful recipe for fresh cheese and honey tarts from Santorini.

2 - 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup light olive oil
1/4 cup safflower oil
1/2 cup beer
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese, drained overnight in a cheesecloth lined colander
1/3 cup honey, preferably thyme honey
About 1/2 teaspoon (2 pieces) ground mastic (I didn't have this in my pantry)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
Ground cinnamon for sprinkling

Make the Pastry
In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of flour with the baking powder. Add the oils and the beer and mix briefly with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until soft, oily dough forms. If it is too soft, mix in a little more flour. Shape the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Flatten the dough with your hands. Place it in a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and press it evenly over the bottom and up the sides. Line with aluminum foil, and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove the foil, prick the dough with a fork and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, or until set but not colored. Let cool.
Make the Filling
In a food processor (or using an electric mixer), combine the ricotta, honey, mastic (if using) and cinnamon. Process (or mix) for 30 seconds to combine. With the motor running, add the eggs one at a time, processing (or mixing) until smooth.
Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the filling is golden brown and set. Sprinkle with cinnamon and let cool before serving.

Instead of one large tart, you can make 30 individual tartlets. Divide the dough into 3 pieces and shape each into 10 1/2 inch long log about 1 inch in diameter. Cut each log into 10 pieces. Work with 1 piece of dough at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered with plastic wrap.

On a lightly floured surface, pat each piece into a 4 1/2 inch round. Put 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of each round and pinch the rim to make a star-shaped crown around the filling. Bake on baking sheets in batches for about 25 minutes, or until light golden.

As I said before, I was planning to cook lamb to go along with the pastries. Therefore, I bought some fresh rosemary since that's the perfect spice for lamb. I even went to a gourmet grocery store to get fresh meat. When I got home, I read the label of the package that I had been given after pointing to the meat counter. It was veal! Well, unfortunately, that's not the first time I've chosen the wrong meat but I'll tell that story another time. The issue at hand was what to do with this veal. The rosemary would overpower it. I didn't know anything about wiener schnitzel. I don't remember exactly what spices we used but I do know that we put the meat on the grill and it turned out quite nicely. And, those pastries were wonderful for the rest of the week (30 pastries is a lot for 2 people!).

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