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Thursday, 5 July 2012

Baked Ricotta with Pita Toasts

This easy fabulous dish is always a winner. We had a big family birthday dinner here last night for 12 and I served this with drinks beforehand. I made some pita toasts and grilled some eggplant and zucchini and threw some sun dried tomatoes on the plate as well. Very tasty but light enough not to spoil the main meal. The ricotta can be made a day ahead and keeps for a couple of days, well covered of course!
The pita toasts always get people talking! What are these ? How do you make them?  I will let you in on the secret, for those who don't already know! I have been making them forever and prefer them to most biscuits on a cheese or anti pasta platter. They are also great with soups and dips, or just by themselves. Years ago some food companies were making them and selling them in very appealing packaging...... but I have to say, not quite the same! They are so inexpensive as well, just be sure you are spending time in the kitchen when you set about baking them. The slightest distraction and you can   end up throwing trays of burnt toasts in the garbage ! These can also be made well ahead, as long as everyone doesn't eat them beforehand!!

Baked Ricotta

750 grams Ricotta cheese
3 egg yolks
150 grams grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cups freshly mixed chopped herbs like basil, parsley and chives are always good and easily found
You may also use fresh oregano, lemon thyme, or sage
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Rylstone olive oil to drizzle over the top

Place the ricotta in a bowl and mix in the egg yolks and parmesan, until combined. Add salt and pepper, to taste
Line an 8" round cake tin with glad bake , bottom and sides.
Place half the ricotta mixture in the cake tin and smooth over with the back of a spoon. Scatter the mixed herbs over the top and then layer the remaining ricotta over the herbs smoothing the surface. Sprinkle with the ground cumin and drizzle with the olive oil.
Boil some water.
Place the cake tin in a baking tray and fill with the boiled water to half way up the sides of the tin.
Bake in a 160C oven for 50 minutes.

Pita Toasts

1 packet large Lebanese pita bread with pockets
butter for spreading
the topping is entirely up to you experiment
dried tarragon or oregano, thyme
Herbies, Masterfood , McCormick's all do an amazing array of blended spices, like Family Friendly, All Purpose Seasoning, Moroccan, Lemon Pepper. I also use a Merquen seasoning which my good friend Louise brings me from Santiago. Slightly spicy it is on most tables in South America as a condiment as we would have salt and pepper! Basically there are no rules, experiment and see what you like. It must not be too much, to overpower the accompaniments you are serving it with.

Preheat oven to 175C.
Tear the pita pockets at the join so each pocket is now two pieces. Butter the pieces and sprinkle with your preferred seasoning, if you are using dried herbs spread them into the pita with the butter as they will fall off once baked. Sprinkle with salt and cut into small wedges, as you would a cake. I layer them, cut in half, then quarters, then eights. Don't worry if they are uneven in size or slightly ripped and torn. This all adds to their charm.
Place as many as can fit on oven trays and place multiple trays in the oven if you have a fan forced and cook for 6 minutes. Do not leave the kitchen and put a timer on! Store in well sealed plastic containers until ready to serve.

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