Inspired by the Michel Roux ricotta tart which I have long wanted to make. It calls for the freshest most perfect ricotta and that from Mihai and Ioana Preotescu in the Spring is incredibly creamy and deserving of the term “unctuous”. As a follow on from a feast of goats cheese with freshly made flat breads, nuts and cheese a risk of lactic over indulgence? surely not. Superb ever trustworthy pairing of the Stirbey Tamaioasa Romaneasca Sec recommended by Richard Fox elevated the offerings.
400g ricotta – the best and freshest you have access to
edible flowers – elderflowers, honeysuckle, orange blossom
Good floral honey such as acacia or linden
MR adds pistachios and serves with wedges of lemon separately to heighten the flavour of the ricotta. This ricotta was so full of subtle flavours and real milk flavour that I didnt want to mess with it very much. I just used honey.
- Blind bake the tart case and let cool
- Mash the ricotta with a fork
- Dribble honey into the base of the tart case
- Spoon the ricotta over the top
- Decorate with the flowers
Cherries, strawberries and my favourite gooseberries lightly poached with some elderflower create a heavenly cheesecake
This is a sublime pesto all vibrant, pungent and aromatic. It marries gloriously with “Urda gnocchi” and equally is delicious slathered on rye & seed crackers. Its excellent as a pasta sauce – add chopped green beans or chunks of pre-roasted eggplant for fabulously tasty vegetarian main courses and a personal fave…use as a sauce for grilled halloumi. As the first green wild garlic shoots appear in the woods in Spring, grab them and make something to wipe away dark winter memories.
50-100g fresh wild garlic (including stalks)
50g parsley (counters the effects of the garlic and adds yet more chlorophyll)
40g walnuts or almonds
25g parmesan – cubed (optional – not a disaster if you do not add parmesan)
2 garlic cloves (excessive but good)
85ml of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The zest of 1 lemon 9I think the lemon is quite important to the taste – try not to omit)
Salt and pepper
Equipment: a blender, food processor or stick blender
- Put all the ingredients except the olive oil into your blender
- Whiz together and with the motor still running, pour the oil in until the pesto thickens. You may need to press down on the leaves to make sure they are processed.
- Store in a clean jar in the fridge covered with a layer of oil to prevent it drying out and oxidizing.
A long time ago I tried to make gnocchi. The plot involved an Italian boyfriend, sleep deprivation and a fabulous walnut sauce. The plot, alas, got lost: The gnocchi dissolved into something akin to prisoner of war camp potato soup or being more charitable: wallpaper paste. The fabulous sauce dried up and was never used. The boyfriend sneered. I sulked.
Fast forward a number of years, a desire to vanquish the gnocchi demon and a sneaking suspicion that some little dumplings made with “Urda” (a Romanian ricotta like cheese made from whey and very high in protein) and sexed up with a fabulous pesto would work. And work it does.
Gnocchi work well with all manner of sauces but they seem particularly delicious with a more piquant sauce…this garlicky, lemony, almondy sauce does the trick.
These gnocchi are fast, they freeze (use direct from the freezer) and they work with many sauces. Give them a go and you will have a wonderful earthy comfort food dish mastered perhaps a bit faster than I managed.