Spending my last post listing my current slew of WIPs seems to have shamed me into being constructive; I’ve spent the last week knitting away quite busily. I’ve finished my brown pullover and made good progress on both my scarf and one of the cardigans. This is a good thing, because I’ve been putting these things off for far too long. But it’s also a good thing because now I have Plans. And a Goal. Yes indeed.
I found out a few days ago that in a week’s time I’ll likely be house/cat sitting for two good friends who have unexpectedly had to move to the country for work. This will be a pleasant change of scenery, but of course while I’m gone I won’t be able to have zillions of project’s worth of craft stuff on hand. It would also be a nice point at which to start some new projects (well, any excuse, right). So, I have declared it to be time for a hardcore WIP purge. My (probably unfeasible) goal is to have my remaining two cardigans and scarf finished by the time I head off (a week from today). Whether I’ll manage this is another thing entirely – there’s a decent amount of knitting to be done, some of it in fingering weight yarn, several hundred thousand ends to weave in and some zipper installation to boot – but it will definitely be fun to try. I think? So in other words, watch this space for imminent gnashing of teeth.
And as this post would be kind of boring if it only contained talk of WIPs, here’s a bonus. I mentioned last post that I made a lovely roast vegetable and ricotta tart to function as a vehicle for my delicious basil puree. I made it again a few days ago and loved it so much that I thought I’d share it. It’s very easy and you can adapt the recipe in a million and one different ways. I’m sure that there are plenty of versions of this kind of thing around, but here you go: this one is mine!
- 2 sheets of frozen puff pastry
- 1 medium size brown onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- olive oil
- 350g ricotta cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
- 1 egg
- 2-3 ripe tomatoes
- 1 small red onion
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh basil, blended in a food processor with plenty of olive oil
Preheat your oven to “hot”, whatever this might be for you (it’s around 195 C in my fan forced oven). Grease a rectangular baking tray and on it, arrange your pastry; how you do this will depend on the size and shape of the tray you’re using, but as a general rule you want to cover most of the tray, leaving a little pastry aside for the edges. Cut this extra pastry into strips and lay them along the outside edges of the base, making a raised border (it’ll make more sense when you see the picture below). As you can see, I used about a sheet and a half for the base, and saved the remaining half for the edges. If you run out of pastry for the border, no big deal: just roll the edge up until you’ve got a double layer of pastry. Prick the middle all over with a fork to stop it from puffing up too much, then bake your base for about 15 minutes, or until the pastry has just started to brown very slightly (don’t turn the oven off yet). It should look something like this:
While the pastry is cooking, make the filling: Chop the garlic and onion very finely. I used my food processor because it was already out on the kitchen bench, but otherwise just chop them as finely as you have patience for! Fry the chopped onions and garlic in a little bit of olive oil until they’re just starting to brown. Mash the ricotta cheese in a medium size bowl and then mix in the egg (sometimes I add two eggs if I’m a bit short on cheese and need to bulk the mixture up a bit), dried basil, and some salt and pepper to taste. Then mix in the onion/garlic mixture. Spread the cheese mix over the pastry, trying to cover the base as evenly as you can.
Thinly slice your tomatoes and red onion and then arrange the pieces over the cheese. Do this however you like, adding as much veg as you please. You could also use different vegetables; I’ve added pumpkin to similar dishes and it was amazing. For that matter, you could also add other things to the cheese filling. Some grated parmesan might be marvellous, as would some fresh herbs. And I love lemon zest/juice with ricotta. So do experiment a little! When you’re done, put the whole thing back in the oven and bake it until the vegetables are cooked. Take it out, adorn with a generous amount of basil-y olive oil and insert it joyfully into your face. Omnomnomnom.