mushroom ricotta quinoa bake with hot smoked salmon

quinoabake

I do a bake of some sort every couple of weeks.  I love the simplicity of a “one bowl & bake” dinner and the resulting ready-made lunch for the next day. Pasta and rice are obvious choices for this dish but I used quinoa for our dinner last week. You could just as easily use brown rice, freekeh or couscous. Don’t have ricotta? Use sour cream or cream cheese instead. Some bacon, anchovies or chorizo sauteed with the mushrooms would be delicious if you choose. Like most of my recipes, this one is so easily adapted to what you have in your fridge or cupboard so make this meal work for you.

mushroom ricotta quinoa bake

  • 2c cooked quinoa (from about 1c raw)
  • 300g button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 sprigs lemon thyme (or chopped parsley or basil)
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 2 big handfuls kale or spinach
  • 1c frozen peas
  • handful of olives
  • 250g ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • about 1/3c grated parmesan (or cheddar)
  • salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 180’c. Saute the mushrooms on high heat in some olive oil until golden and cooked through. Add the garlic, thyme and zucchini and cook until aromatic. Season well. Throw in the spinach and peas and stir over the heat until the spinach is wilted and peas are hot. Tip this mushroom mix into a large bowl and add the cooked quinoa and the olives. Leave to cool a little and adjust the seasoning. Whisk the ricotta and eggs  together and add to the quinoa mixture. Mix until combined. Place mix into a 20cm baking dish, sprinkle with 2 pinches of parmesan and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the remaining parmesan and crisp green salad. We enjoyed this bake all warm and cheesy for dinner and then the next day with hot smoked salmon and a lemon mustard vinaigrette.

deep, dark chocolate beetroot cake

chobeetslice

I am so pleased to share this gorgeous one-bowl recipe with you. This is a special occasion cake, decadently rich with dark chocolate. Even if the special occasion is simply that you made it through a craptastic week, then curl up on the lounge with a cup of tea and congratulate yourself.

The beetroot isn’t here to make you feel virtuous. It adds the earthy sweetness that makes beetroot so beautiful and keeps the cake deliciously moist. This cake can be served topped very simply with creme fraiche but I strongly recommend gilding the lily with a dark chocolate ganache.

beetspoon

I use a rather small (16cm) cake ring for my weekend baking.  This gives me 8 elegant portions and means our weekend treat remains just that. If you are using a larger cake tin (20cm) then increase the recipe below by a third and allow 10-20 mins extra baking time. This recipe is also divine baked as individual gooey-centred chocolate puddings.

deep, dark chocolate beetroot cake

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c rice malt syrup (or maple syrup)
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 2/3 c beetroot puree   (1 large beetroot, baked in foil until soft, peeled, pureed)
  • 160g chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids, melted
  • 1c almond meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Preheat your oven to 180’C. Whisk the eggs, syrup and olive oil together. Add the beetroot puree and whisk until combined. Add the almond meal and baking powder and mix until combined. Scrape the batter into a lined 16cm cake tin/ring and place into the oven. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 160’C and bake for 30-40 mins. The cake will be ready when an inserted skewer or knife comes away with very moist crumbs – the centre should only be just cooked. Serves 8.

dark chocolate ganache

For a 16cm ring, heat 1/3 c cream or coconut cream with a pinch of salt and pour over 80g chopped 85% chocolate. Whisk until smooth and allow to cool before spreading on top of the cake. For a larger cake, use 1/2 c cream to 120g chocolate.

If the 85% chocolate is too dark for your taste, you could use 70% – but I love the bittersweet intensity of the darker chocolate against the sweetness of this cake.

parsnip buttermilk pancakes

 

parsnipfritters

There is such comfort to be found in cold-weather cooking. Creamy porridge, hot soups, hearty stews and warm bread attain medicinal status when it is cold outside. But just as soothing, in my mind, is the way we cook in winter. We take the time needed . We braise slowly, simmer gently, roast until meat falls off the bone and vegetables caramelise.

What to do then, when warming comfort food is needed and time is short? Reach for those root vegetables that you would normally roast and grate them instead. Parsnips make truly delicious fritters – creamy and nutty on the inside and golden brown on the outside. Serve them with avocado and roast tomatoes, prosciutto and a dollop of creme fraiche or hot smoked salmon and aioli.

This lovely recipe is from a blog called “Seasonal Ontario Food”. These pancakes are so delicious that I suggest this recipe makes only enough for a quick breakfast or lunch for 2 or 3 people. The mix can be made the night before.

Parsnip Buttermilk Pancakes

  •  1.5 c loosely packed finely grated parsnip (2 large or 3 small parsnips)
  • 1/4c wholemeal flour (I used spelt)
  • 1/2 tsp salt flakes
  • black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4c buttermilk (OR 1/4c milk and 5ml apple cider vinegar)

Mix the parsnip, flour and seasoning in a bowl so that the flour is evenly dispersed. Make a well in the middle of the parsnip. Add the egg and the buttermilk and mix them and the parsnip with a fork until combined. Cook in a hot pan in a little olive oil until each side is golden brown. Place the cooked pancakes on paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Makes 8 pancakes.

good is good enough – a baked ricotta

 

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I found these gorgeous flower sprouts at the markets a couple of weekends ago. They are a cross between Brussels sprouts and kale and are soooo beautiful. The size of Brussels sprouts but with purple-tinged, frilled leaves, they inspired so many recipe ideas. The problem was, I thought these little babies were so lovely that not just any dish would warrant their sacrifice into the pan.

A warm salad with hazelnuts and speck?  Tossed with mushrooms and ricotta through buckwheat pasta? Baked into a gratin with gruyere? Nothing seemed perfect.

So my lovely little sprouts sat in the fridge for a couple of days until I stopped letting perfect get in the way of  good. And baked a simple ricotta.

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Baked Ricotta, Flower Sprouts, Bacon

  • 2c fresh, full-fat ricotta (500g)
  • 1c finely grated parmesan (about 100g)
  • 2 eggs
  • salt & pepper
  • OPTIONAL: lemon zest, chopped chili
  • 2 bacon rashers, diced
  • 10-12 flower sprouts or Brussels sprouts, core removed and pulled apart into “petals”
  • handful pine nuts
  • handful fresh basil leaves

Mix the ricotta, parmesan and eggs together. Season and add the lemon zest and/or chili if using. Scrape into an oven-proof dish and bake @200’C for 20 minutes or until golden and slightly puffed. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Place the bacon and sprouts on a lined oven tray and bake for 5 minutes. Add the pine nuts to the tray and bake a further 2-3 minutes until bacon and sprouts are cooked and nuts are lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and mix bacon, sprouts and nuts so that the bacon fat coats everything well. Season with salt, pepper, basil and a squeeze of lemon juice and scatter over the baked ricotta.

Kitchen notes: any leftover ricotta is delicious the next day. Crumble it through a salad or slice it and serve as part of an antipasto plate. In fact, I prefer this ricotta at room temperature so feel free to bake this ahead of time.