Tag Archives: Bubbachoo

Polenta Crust Spinach & Ricotta Tart

This tart was an experiment of combining two recipes and it worked a treat! It all came about after dedicating precious hours, during Rafaela’s nap, to clean the pantry out. Prior to this I had found a trail of ants marching their way in and was baffled as to what they were after. A few months earlier, we had the same scenario and I realised they were all over the jar of honey!

So after pulling it apart and reorganising (also a very timely exercise since returning from Costco), I found too many half full bags of pastas, rice, noodles and polenta. I thought it wise to start fresh and finish them all off. In addition to this, the hubby had returned home with a bag of silverbeet earlier in the week. He actually thought it was spinach and for a long time so did I.

So what is the difference? Well sliverbeet is from the chard family, closely linked to beetroot. They have bigger stiffer leaves with white stalks and it needs to be cooked before eaten. This is due to the high level of Oxylic Acid. Spinach on the other hand has small, soft leaves and can be eaten raw in salads. Both are great sources of Iron and Folate. Depending on the recipe it can be pretty interchangeable; therefore a spinach pie or tart can easily use both.

It is just this scenario that inspired me to develop this blog. I would find all these various ingredients and just Google them in one sentence and see what comes up. I also reach for Stephanie Alexander’s ‘The Cook’s Companion’ to filter an expansive list of ingredients. I found a polenta crust from Donna Hay and a spinach & ricotta pie from Teresa Cutler’s ‘Healthy Chef’ blog. Added some lemon, garlic and parmesan (yep the freezer is pretty similar to the pantry at the moment, too many half full bags of cheese!) and we had a pretty tasty dish for the family.

I really liked the polenta crust, it was a great way to use the grain and it added a cheese like depth of flavour to the dish. I served the tart with a tomato and balsamic vinegar salad. It felt very light and fresh and best of all, Raff gobbled it down!

Polenta Crust Spinach & Ricotta Tart (Serves 12)

Polenta Crust

½ cup (75g) plain flour

1 cup (170g) instant polenta or cornmeal

120g unsalted butter, softened.

½ cup of water

Sea salt

Filling

500g baby spinach or silver beet (Swiss chard) – remove stalks and slice

1 leek sliced

1 garlic clove crushed

450g fresh ricotta

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind

½ cup of Parmesan

Handful of fresh basil

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt & Pepper for seasoning

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. To polenta crust, place the flour, polenta, butter, water and salt in the food processor and process until a dough forms. Press the dough into 24cm loose bottom tart pan (or grease a round cake pan). Top the dough with non-stick baking paper and fill with baking weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the paper and weights or beans and bake for another 10 minutes or until crisp.

To make the filling, sauté the leek and garlic in a pan with a splash of olive oil until soft. Add the spinach or silver beet to pan and season with salt & pepper, nutmeg and basil. Cook until wilted, remove for the heat and drain any excess liquid.

Add the ricotta, lemon, parmesan and mix through until combined. Spoon the filling into the pastry lined pie shell and bake for 35-40 minutes in preheated oven at 180 degrees until golden.

The making of the tart - Pie Crust, Finished Tart and Mixing up the Silverbeet

The making of the tart – Pie Crust, Finished Tart and Mixing up the Silverbeet

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Leftover Chicken Soup

It has been a while since I’ve posted any recipes, I must say the cold weather has taken its toll on the family. We’ve had a little sick monkey on our hands, well I am going to say it has been on and off for the last 6 months and it has just been exacerbated by the cold weather.  I am sure every parent goes through this battle, months of runny noses, ear infections and chesty coughs. I think the hardest thing is she can’t blow her nose. I think it would solve a great deal of her problems! She likes to make the noise and pull out tissues from the box and hold them to her nose which is all very cute, but isn’t helping!

Along with the sickness comes the teething, Poor girl has mini volcanoes all along the back of her mouth waiting to erupt. This all contributes to one upset little girl. Her appetite has definitely suffered, we have reverted back to the puree food so how timely that it’s soup season!

This is a great recipe to use up left overs, especially after a roast/BBQ chicken meal. You can make this with home-made stock or pre-made stock, just look for options that are organic and low in sodium (Salt). We have a cheeky weekend ritual; well it pretty much started when Andrew started renovating the house. We enlisted the help of many capable friends and family to help with a bit of coaxing – Lunch and beers. So began the trip to the best little BBQ chicken place in the hood.

So if you roast your own chickens of not, this is a great recipe from Donna Hay that uses up the carcass of the Chicken to make a beautiful, clear stock.

Left over Chicken Soup

1 cup of soup mix (Split peas, barely, lentils) or small pasta like Rissoni

Baby Spinach

Roast chicken, shredded

2 carrots

1 Zucchini

Chicken Stock

Cracked pepper and parmesan to serve.

Basic Chicken Stock Recipe

1.5kg chicken bones (still with some meat on)

2 onions, halved

2 carrots halved

2 sticks of celery, chopped

8 litres of water

8 black peppercorns

4 stalks of flat-leaf parsley

2 fresh or dried bay leaves

Sea salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the chicken bones, onions, carrots, celery in a large baking dish and bake for 1 hour. Transfer to a stock pot or large saucepan with the water, peppercorns, parsley and bay leaves. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer rapidly, uncovered.

Reduce the heat so that the stock simmers slowly but constantly. Skim the surface of the stock with a spoon occasionally so that it remains clear. Simmer for 1 ½ hours or until the stock is well flavoured. Add a generous amount of sea salt to bring out the flavour.

Strain the stock through a fine sieve. Allow to cool, and then remove any solidified fat from the surface. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze in ready to use portions. This should make 4 litres of Stock.

To make the soup, dice carrot, zucchini and any other vegetables such as potato and add to the chicken stock, cooking until tender. Meanwhile, cook the soup mix or pasta according to the packet instructions.  Add to the stock along with Shredded chicken and simmer for a few minutes, check for extra seasoning. Before serving, add baby spinach leaves and allow them to wilt. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a little cracked pepper and crusty bread.

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