Torta Di Ricotta E Caffe (Coffee and ricotta tart) – Italian Home Baking

Coffee and Ricotta Tart

This is the first recipe I’ve tried from Italian Home Baking by Gino D’Acampo and I really must try more. I needed to make it further ahead of time as it was a little warm when I served it up as dessert. It was nice warm but it was really good the next day cold from the fridge. My picture isn’t great and the tart did come out rather more brown than the picture in the book.


For the sweet pastry

  • 190g plain flour
  • 100g unsalted butter cubed plus extra for greasing
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp cold water

For the filling

  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp Baileys liqueur
  • 1.25kg ricotta cheese
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 120g dark chocolate about 70 per cent cocoa finely chopped plus an extra 50g for decoration
  • 4 medium egg yolks
  • ½ tsp vegetable or sunflower oil


  1. Grease a 25cm x 4cm loose-bottom tart tin or equivalent springform tin with butter.
  2. To prepare the pastry, sift the flour in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar then pour in the cold water. Pinch with your fingers to form a dough and, if it seems dry, add a little more water. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and gather together into a ball. Cover with clingfilm and leave it to rest in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  3. Place the rested dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a thickness of about 3mm. Line the tin so that the pastry comes up the sides and trim the top. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate while preparing the filling.
  4. Put the instant coffee in a cup and dissolve in the water and Baileys. Set aside.
  5. Place the ricotta cheese in a large bowl and add the sugar, flour and salt. Mix everything together until smooth. Pour in the coffee mixture, the chopped chocolate and egg yolks. Stir until well mixed.
  6. Spoon the filling into the pastry shell and smooth the top. Cover with clingfilm and chill for up to 45 minutes.
  7.  Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/gas 4 (increase by 10-20C for non-fan ovens).
  8. Place the tin on a baking tray and bake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour. Turn off the oven, slightly open the door and leave the tart to cool in the oven.
  9. Place the remaining 50g of chocolate in a small saucepan and pour  over the oil. Stir and melt over a very low heat. Remove the tart from the oven and unmould onto a serving plate. With the help of a fork, drizzle over the melted chocolate. Slice and serve at room temperature with a nice cup of coffee.

Low-fat seafood pilaf – Waitrose Recipe Card

Seafood pilaf - Waitrose

I was wandering around Waitrose hoping for inspiration when their latest recipe card caught my eye. It combines seafood with roasted butternut squash and rice so what was not to like ? With recipes the idea is that the total is better than the sum of their parts and as I’ve being going through trying recipes I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how few failures there have been. But I’m afraid this is one of the failures. It was edible but seemed rather dry and we all left some of the butternut squash as it just didn’t feel like it worked with the other ingredients. The inclusion of the seeds was a bit ‘random’ and overall it felt like ingredients that were ‘good for us’ had been combined without any thought to the overall effect and flavour.

If anyone does want to try the recipe, it is @

Blueberry Muffins – Nigella How to be a Domestic Goddess

Blueberry Muffins - Nigella

Late night shop because I’ve been in London all day overseeing a DR test for a client which meant I wasn’t back until late and Waitrose were selling off packs of blueberries for 19p! Despite the late hour that could only mean one thing – blueberry muffins! Although I’ve used Nigella’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess cookbook a lot it has tended to be the same favourite recipes over and over so this was the first time for me to bake her Blueberry muffins. (I love the muffin’s from Muffins Fast and Fantastic but somehow those recipes didn’t feel quite right for a blueberry muffin). Even more fortuitously I had just the right amount of buttermilk in the fridge.

I love these muffins they are delicious freshly baked, light, just right degree of sweetness and bursting with fruit.


  • 75g unsalted butter,
  • 200g plain flour
  • ½ tsp bicarb of soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 75g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200ml buttermilk (or 100g yoghurt and 100ml semi-skinned milk)
  • 1 large egg
  • 200g blueberries


  1. Preheat oven to 200C/gas mark 6.
  2. Put 12 muffin cases in a muffin tray.
  3. Melt the butter and set aside to cool a little.
  4. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and in a measuring jug beat together the buttermilk (or yoghurt and milk), egg and melted butter.
  5. Using a wooden spoon and a light hand, pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix gently to combine. Don’t worry about lumps, the important thing is the mixture isn’t over-worked.
  6. Fold in the blueberries, again keeping mixing to a minimum.
  7. Spoon into the muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes, by which time the muffins should be risen, golden and firm on top.

Rye Bread – Paul Hollywood How to Bake

Rye bread PH

In a moment of enthusiasm a while ago I bought a bag of rye flour but then I had no idea what to do with it as I was pretty sure it wasn’t as simple as chucking it in the bread maker instead of my usual bread flour. Browsing through my cookbooks I was reminded I’d bought Paul Hollywood’s book How to Bake and not used it yet. It is a lovely book that probably includes every type of bread you might ever want to make and of course it includes a recipe for Rye Bread (actually it includes 5 Rye bread recipes). This is the basic Rye bread recipe from his book and it is as delicious as any Rye bread I’ve ever eaten in Germany. It does take effort and is best started in the morning as there is lots of proving but it is surprisingly easy despite the long list of detailed instructions.


  • 500g rye flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2 tsps yeast
  • 20ml treacle (optional)
  • 350ml cool water
  • olive oil for kneading


  1. Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the treacle if using and 3/4 of the water and turn around the mixture with your fingers. Continue to add the rest of the water a little at a time, until you have picked up all of the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all the water, or you may need to add a little more – you want dough that is soft but not soggy. Use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl and keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.
  2. Coat the work surface with a little olive oil, then tip the dough onto it and begin to knewad. Keep kneading for 5-10 minutes. Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft skin. You will find the dough feels different from a conventional wheat flour dough – less smooth and stretchy.
  3. Put the dough into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size – about 4 hours.
  4. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Fold it repeatedly in on itself until the air is knocked out. Form the dough into a smooth round cob by turning it on the surface and tucking the edges underneath until the top is smooth and tight. Generously dust the inside of a large round proving basket (I used the same mixing bowl) with rye or white flour. Put the dough into it with the smooth side down.
  5. Leave to prove for 2-3 hours; the dough will double in size eventually but will take considerably longer than wheat flour breads. Meanwhile heat your oven to 220C and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up. Line a baking tray with parchment or silicone paper (I greased and floured a baking tray and it was fine).
  6. When your loaf is risen, invert it carefully onto the prepared tray. Slash a deep crosshatch patter on the top with a sharp knife. Pour hot water into the roasting tray to create steam and put the bread into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. To test, tap the base of the loaf – it should sound hollow. Cool on a wire rack.

Tuscan Bean Soup – NCG A Soup for every Day

NCG - Tuscan Bean

Definitely soup weather here (we’re not used to snow in England) and although I love the red pepper and carrot and the Butternut squash soups I’ve been making recently we’ve had a lot of those so it was time to try something different. This is another Tuscan Bean soup (I’ve previously tried the Avoca cookbook Tuscan bean soup), this recipe from A Soup for Every Day (New Covent Garden Soup Company)is quite different to the Avoca recipe in part because everything is blended up together. I’d find to chose a favourite, This would be the better of the two for soup flasks but the Avoca soup looks nicer so would be the one I would make to serve guests.

Since we had two portions left over I decided to soak the rest of the packet of beans to make another batch tomorrow so the boys and dad can take some for lunch Monday. I’d put the cooking water aside from cooking kale for dinner tonight so will use that in the soup.


  • 275g mixed dried beans (I used 250g since my pack was 500g)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 small leek chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves crushed
  • 275ml vegetable stock
  • 900ml water
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 20g flat leaf parsley chopped (optional I didn’t have any and soup was fine without)
  • 75g mushrooms, sliced (this was 3 mushrooms)
  • 75g fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano (I used 2 tsp dried since only herbs)


  1. Soak beans in plenty of clean cold water overnight.
  2. Drain, then place in saucepan with plenty of fresh water and gently simmer for an hr until beans are tender then drain.
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan, add onion, leek and garlic, cover and cook gently until soft without browning
  4. Add the stock, water and cooked drained beans. Cover, then bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes, herbs, peas and mushrooms, cover and simmer for another 15 minutes until the vegetables and beans are tender
    NCG Tuscan Bean soup before blending
  6. Blend until smooth, then season to taste.
  7. Reheat gently for 10 minutes and serve.

Vegan Lemon Cake

Vegan Lemon Cake

The last dairy/egg free cake I made for tea was this Vegan Lemon Cake Vegan Lemon Cake. It was nice and and almost all went at tea (my god son took the remainder home). If I didn’t have to be dairy and egg free I prefer a Mary Berry lemon cake, as I felt this tasted closer to a commercial lemon cake but it was perfectly acceptable for non Vegans (and was still far superior to commercial cakes) so I will be trying it again. My lemons were a little dry so I will retry with juicer lemons.

Vegan Scones

Vegan Scones

When my god son came around for tea I also made vegan scones to handle his dairy allergy. Essentially they are the same ingredient list and made the same way as regular scones just substituting dairy free spread for the butter, dairy free milk for the milk and no eggs. I used a sunflower oil spread and rice milk. The scones were fine but tasted a little floury/dry inside. The rice milk was very thin, I think I’d try a different non dairy milk next time.


  • 225g/8 oz self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 75g/3 oz dairy free margarine
  • 40g/1½ oz caster sugar
  • 150ml/4¼fl oz non dairy milk (eg. rice, soya) plus extra for glazing


  1. Preheat oven
  2. Sieve self-raising flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Rub the margarine into the flour until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  4. Add caster sugar and mix in.
  5. Make well in ingredients add milk and mix well
  6. Knead dough, roll out and cut scone rounds
  7. Glaze with extra milk and bake for 15 minutes.