Cooking, like anything else in life, is a passion. If there is no passion in the dishes prepared (or in life), it's tasteless and drab. And who wants tasteless or drab dishes - or life for that matter.
I am a very passionate person and most of the tasks I do are done with enthusiasm and drive. I have always believed that there is something to be learnt from each task, enriching me with new experience.
So, I never give up a chance to learn something new. Especially where it comes to cooking.
I'm here in wonderful Dubai, where the temperatures are simply perfect. An early spring, leaving Germany in the cold and covered in snow, we have been enjoying the sun, beach, pool and of course, the food at my dad's hotel. We arrived here on early Friday morning. My family are the typical foodies. They live through the day from mealtime to mealtime. In between we discuss what we should eat for the next meal!
So, it was no surprising that one of the first discussions we had on Friday was what we should do for dinner. We decided to go to the new fish restaurant at my dad's hotel. The last time we were here it was being renovated. This time I was craving some grilled lobster.
Meals with my family are fantastic. I love them. We all sit and chat for hours about God and the World! This time it was very special because the entire family, including Tom and my brother, were together.
Over mezzas of humus, baba ghanoush, tabouleh, vegetables salads, vine leaves filled with seafood and other great Arabic starters we caught up on each others stories. I had ordered grilled Omani lobster in garlic sauce served with creamy spinach and rice. It was simply exquisite. However, the orgasmic part part of the dinner was still to come. Yes, I really said orgasmic. There is no other superlative to describe what I indulged in. Creamy, smooth, with a slight crunch in the flavors of pistachio, vanilla and mango. Sound good so far right?
As I said at the beginning of this post - I am passionate and was not satisfied with just tasting this elegant dessert in front of me. I requested my dad to set up a date with the pastry chef so he could not only give me the recipe but show me how to make it. Never give up a chance like this!
This week I have sweet date with the pastry chef. I'll be armed with my camera, notepad and pen to learn how to make the most delicious dessert I have had in a long time. What it was? Well of course I will be sharing it with you - but until then I will tease you a little.
In the meantime, I am sharing a wonderful dish with you. A pot pie made with flaky puff pastry, filled with spring vegetables like green asparagus, carrots and sweet potatoes, scented with ginger and garlic and coated with creamy ricotta. A delight in every way. Making homemade puff pastry makes this dish sensational but you can use any store bought puff pastry too. I like making the puff pastry in large batches and then freeze them in portions to use whenever I want to make something light and flaky.
The Monthly Mingle gets fruity this month! My guest host Abby has chosen a spectacular theme for this month - Spring Fruit Sensations. So get out your colorful fruit creations and send them over to Abby.
Deadline: April 7th, 2008
Printable version of recipe here.
Makes 4 single-serving pies
500 - 700g puff pastry
2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
6-8 green asparagus, cut on the diagonal in about 2 cm pieces
3-4 carrots, sliced
1 sweet potatoes, cut into small cubes
200g ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon ginger, mashed
2 garlic coves, mashed
1 small onion, finely chopped
15-20 red peppercorns
Salt and pepper
Herbs de Provence, dried
2-4 tablespoons vegetable stock
2 tablespoons olive oil + more for the pie forms
1 teaspoon cream
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Brush the ramekin forms with olive oil.
Roll out the puff pastry so that you have enough to line each of the ramekin, plus more to serve as a lid for the pie. Line the forms with the puff pastry and cut out the shape to fit the top of the dishes. Set aside.
To make the filling, steam or blanch the asparagus for 1 minutes. Put in ice cold water to cool. This preserves the lovely bright green color of the asparagus. Steam the sweet potato cubes until slightly soft but still with a little crunch.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large pan on medium heat. Sauté the onions, ginger and garlic until they release a wonderful aroma and become translucent. Add the carrots, sweet potatoes and sauté for a further few minutes. Throw in the asparagus, green onion and the red peppercorns. Stir well. Salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat and stir in the ricotta. Season with the herbs de Provence.
Check the consistency of the filling. If you would like to make it more liquid-y add some of the vegetable stock to the filling. Stir wee to incorporate the ingredients with each other.
Divide the mixture into each ramekin form. In a small bowl whisk the egg with the cream. Brush the edges of the form and puff pastry lining with the mixture and cover with pastry lid. Finally brush the lid with the egg-wash and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the pastry has puffed up nicely and is golden.
Served with a light green salad this is a fantastic dinner. I love the wonderful fragrance of ginger and vegetables. The red peppercorns gives it a hint of sharpness and the herbs de Provence the air of a lovely warm French vacation. Soeren loves the puff pastry together with the creamy ricotta he scoops up the crunchy vegetables till the last bite. Tom prefers this slightly liquidy, I like it more dry - so as they are served in individual ramekin forms you can serve the pies according to anyone's likings.
You might enjoy these pies and tarts too:
|Caramelized Vegetable Tarts|
|Pumpkin Feta Tart|
|Tomato Olive Tart|
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