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If you need one pasta dish that you can make over and over again this winter, be ready to bookmark this yummy spinach and ricotta recipe by Chef Jamie Oliver. The filling can be used to stuff cannelloni tubes or layer between lasagna sheets and can be varied to suit your preference or to put that bit of leftover roasted chicken from yesterday’s dinner to good use. I like the idea of filling these pasta tubes ahead and saving them for those bad hair days when you come back tired from work and cannot be bothered to cook or do anything else. With this simple bit of pre-planning, you simply have to place the pre-filled cannelloni in an ovenproof dish, spread the tomato sauce on top, sprinkle with cheese and pop it in the oven for half an hour baking time while you slowly unwind from the stress of a hectic day by soaking your tired limbs in a hot, fragrant bubble bath.

SPINACH & RICOTTA CANNELLONI

Ingredients:

400 g spinach

Extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 large brown onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, squashed

2 x 400 g tins of tomatoes

1 bay leaf, optional

1/2 bunch of basil leaves

1/2 lemon, grated zest of

250 g fresh ricotta cheese

1 free-range egg, beaten

2 teaspoons grated parmesan

150 g cannelloni, about 14 tubes

2 x 125 g mozzarella balls, sliced

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Put the spinach and a drizzle of olive oil in a large pan over a low heat.

  • Add nutmeg, season with salt and pepper. Leave to sweat. Stir occasionally till spinach is cooked down.

  • Place in a bowl and set it aside to cool a little. In the same pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil over low heat.

  • Gently sweat the onion until soft. Add the garlic, tomatoes, bay leaf, a few basil leaves and lemon zest.

  • Let it gently simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly. Season with salt and pepper.

  • Squeeze the moisture out of the spinach into the bowl. Place the spinach on a board so as to chop it up.

  • Return spinach to the liquid in the bowl and stir in ricotta, beaten egg and parmesan. Season to taste.

  • Sit the piping bag in a jug, fold its edges over the rim, then carefully spoon the spinach mixture into it.

  • Pipe the spinach-ricotta mixture into the cannelloni tubes and lay them in a 20-cm x 25-cm oven dish.

  • Spread the tomato sauce over the cannelloni. Scatter over most of the basil, lay mozzarella slices on top.

  • Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and season. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 35 to 40 minutes.

  • The top should turn golden and the pasta is tender; if the top browns too fast, cover the dish with foil.

  • Remove from the oven and let stand for few minutes before serving with the remaining basil. Serves 6.

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

APPLE & FIG FLAPJACKS

Ingredients:

450g apples, peeled and cored

25g golden caster sugar

Zest of 1 small lemon

100g dried figs, chopped

140g butter, cut into pieces

50g light muscovado sugar

140g golden syrup

250g porridge oats

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

25g walnuts, chopped

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 190 oC. Slice the apples into a small pan and stir in the caster sugar.

  • Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes until apple is soft, stirring occasionally.

  • Stir in the zest and the figs and cook for another 15 minutes, uncovered. Stir mixture often.

  • When the figs are softened and the mixture is quite dry, remove from heat and cool slightly.

  • Whizz the cooked apple and fig mixture into a smooth puree in a food processor, set aside.

  • Melt butter, muscovado sugar and syrup into a heavy based, medium saucepan over low heat.

  • Do not let it boil. Stir in the oats and cinnamon and mix well to form a loose, sticky mixture.

  • Press half of the mixture into a shallow 18 x 18cm square baking pan. Spread puree on top.

  • Cover the puree with the remaining oat mixture and sprinkle the chopped walnuts all over.

  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until it is golden. Remove from oven, cut into squares and serve.

Apple & Fig Flapjacks from BBC GoodFood

Welcome to our April Bakealong challenge. Each month, we’ll announce a new recipe for you to try, along with helpful tips and step-by-step instructions here on our blog. We invite you to bake, then share a photo of your creation, tagging it #bakealong. The New York Times says making it is “no casual undertaking.” Noted food writer David Lebovitz offers a recipe for a stunning version he enjoyed at Honey & Co. in London. Dean & DeLuca sells it online — for $28 a loaf. What is this mysterious bread, and is it really worth it? Take our Chocolate Babka Bakealong challenge, and find out!

Chocolate babka, a dense, rich loaf swirled with an equally rich chocolate/butter/sugar/nut filling, is a classic eastern European Jewish bread. Here in the U.S., chocolate babka has gradually spread from its native big city bakeries into suburban bistros and coffee shops — and thence to the kitchens of those of us who enjoy an interesting yeast bread project. This Chocolate Babka #bakealong offers everything you need to create a spectacular loaf. While we agree baking babka is “no casual undertaking,” it’s also attainable by bakers of any skill level — even beginner. Simply follow the steps one by one and before you know it, you’ll be pulling a couple of gorgeous loaves out of the oven.

CHOCOLATE BABKA

Ingredients:

For the Dough

1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water

2 large eggs, room temperature

6 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup milk powder

2 tablespoons instant yeast

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons kitchen salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Filling

1/2 cup muscovado sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup cocoa, Dutch-process or natural

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

1/4 cup melted unsalted butter

1 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate

1 cup diced pecans or walnuts, toasted

For the Glaze & Topping

1 large egg, beaten with a pinch of salt

4 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup all purpose flour

Method:

  • Combine all of the dough ingredients (starting with 1 cup water), mixing until everything is moistened.
  • Add extra water if necessary to enable dough to come together. Cover and let dough rest for 20 minutes.

  • Then mix/knead it until it is soft and smooth. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and cover bowl.
  • The dough is going to rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until it is quite puffy. Now gently deflate the dough.

  • Divide the dough into halves. Set the pieces aside, covered with plastic wrap, while you make the filling.
  • To make filling, combine the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, and espresso powder and stir in the melted butter.

  • The mixture will look grainy and slick. Shape each half of the dough into a 9″ x 18″, 1/4″-thick rectangle.
  • Smear each piece of dough with half the filling, coming to within 1″ of the edges. Scatter half of the nuts.

  • Then add half the chopped chocolate over each piece. Starting with a short end, roll each piece into a log.
  • Seal the seam and ends. Working with one log at a time, use sharp knife to cut the log in half lengthwise.

  • Be careful to prevent filling from spilling out. With exposed filling side up, twist the 2 pieces into a braid.
  • Tuck the ends underneath. Repeat with the other log. Place each log in a lightly greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

  • Brush each loaf with the egg glaze. Mix the topping ingredients till crumbly and sprinkle over each loaf.
  • Tent each pan with plastic wrap, and let the loaves rise until they are puffy for about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.

  • Towards the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 300°F. Bake for 35 minutes and tent lightly with foil.
  • Bake for another 15 to 25 minutes (for a total of 50 to 60 minutes); loaves should be deep-golden brown.

  • Remove the loaves from the oven, and immediately loosen edges with a heatproof spatula or table knife.
  • Let the loaves cool for 10 minutes, then turn them out of the baking pans onto a rack to cool completely.

  • Slice babka and serve at room temperature or rewarm individual slices briefly in a toaster before serving.
  • Store any leftovers, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days or freeze them for longer storage.

KAF April 2017 Challenge

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Mauritius

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