Italian seaside and ricotta tart with nectarines

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Off to Isola del Giglio for the annual beach holiday: lazy cappuccini at the bar, morning swim, lunch in the garden, relaxing in the shade, afternoon swim, apertivi and Aperol Spritz, and a great dinner with friends. Rinse and repeat: an excellent week of doing very little.

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Rome had been hot: not an African heat, as the papers claim, but warm enough to make sleeping difficult. A week of sleeping with sea breezes and waves (and the occasional Italian live bar music from across the bay) was perfect.Some nights we went out for dinner, some nights we cooked in: BBQ, pasta con vongole in seawater (one part seawater to four parts fresh water, we discovered last year that 1:2 was far too salty.) I really enjoyed being in a kitchen with a view and a cool breeze, not sweating in an Accra kitchen. One day I made ricotta tarts with nectarines, one gluten free tart and one regular, basically the same but one with gluten free pastry and gluten free flour.

Ricotta tarts with nectarines

One package of ready made puff pastry (pasta sfoglia)
450 gr fresh ricotta
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs flour
3-4 peaches, sliced into wedges

This was in an old gas-heated oven, which chars things from below so I did not blind-bake the pastry. Use pie dishes of about 24 cm, line with parchment paper if not included with bought pastry. Mix ricotta, whisked eggs, flour and sugar and pour into pastry shell. Add wedges of nectarines (or apricot halves, peaches, cherries: whatever you have.) Bake at 180-200C for 45 min or so, until filling is set. Cool and enjoy.

Note: I should have used electric grill to make the top a little golden – tasted great though.

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Cherry pancakes

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Back in Accra, counting down to holidays. It’s a nice cool Sunday and I have been doing some DIY, fastening the TV to brackets and hoping they hold. There are pillows strategically placed on the floor in case of sudden bracket failure… No need for much groceries as I leave again in ten days, though the thought of yet another overnight flight is not appealing. I had a small box of fresh cherries, brought from Rome, and had plans for a clafoutis today before they go moldy. However, a flatmate is roasting a chicken and it is resting in the oven while she is at yoga (as it is not quite done), so a tortilla-style cherry pancake was the solution. This was breakfast today, and will be dessert in my lunchbox the next few days.

Cherry pancakes (2 large ones)

Batter:
2 medium eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 pinch salt
1 tsp baking powder

1 cup pitted cherries
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp butter

Mix all ingredients for batter and let it stand for 10-15 minutes. I was hungry and did not wait, which made these a little rubbery. Next time, patience!

Tip half the cherries in a hot skillet with a teaspoon of butter and a teaspoon of sugar. Gently fry them for a few minutes, then pour half the batter over. Once the pancake is set and hopefully slightly golden, slide it on to a dinner plate. Quickly invert the plate and slide it back into the skillet. This was quite a robust pancake, easy to do. Cook until you think it is cooked through. Then repeat with the other cherries and remaining batter.

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Note: Not so pretty, and I had no icing sugar to tastefully dust over it, but tasty. These cherries are very sweet, otherwise you might want to add a bit of sugar in the batter. A little vanilla sugar or almond paste might be nice with these.

As usual I came back from Rome with well-packed suitcases: for friends, biscotti, parmesan, stroopwaffels. For me: ant traps, muesli, running shoes, olive oil, capers, migraine medications. Availability of items has gotten much better in Accra, by all means, but quality and cost of imported goods can be an issue. Now I’ll be looking for some nice Ghanaian products to take back on holiday: local chocolate, plaintain chips (Sankofa ones are very nice), and dried mango.

 

Banana bread with yogurt and chocolate chips

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Right before Eid I made two banana breads for the office: one with butter, lemon and yogurt, and this one with yogurt and chocolate chips. Both were assembled based on the bananas and yogurt I had to use up, and both were very nice! The chocolate chips were courtesy of my American flatmate, and much appreciated: otherwise coconut chips or nuts would have been nice too.  Though I am not a banana fan, they come my way (canteen desserts, office coffees) and are good and plentiful here, and they do freeze well unpeeled. As our next chest freezer is already full (mainly due to ant invasions), I thought banana breads were a better destination for these.

Banana bread with yogurt and chocolate chips

2-3 small very ripe bananas, mashed (I used about 145 gr peeled)
150 grammes plain yogurt (here there is only full-fat local yogurt, but very good)
2 medium eggs
50 ml vegetable oil
250 grammes all-purpose flour  (until I thought the batter had right consistency)
125 grammes sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
a restrained handful of chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a medium loaf pan with parchment paper (mine is maybe 20x5cm). Whisk together eggs, bananas and oil. Whisk in the rest, and stir in a handful of dark chocolate chips or chopped baking chocolate. Bake at 180C for 50-55 minutes or so. I test with a wooden chopstick, this one took a bit longer than the lemon cake. This would probably be faster if not baking two cakes at same time. Cool on a rack for a bit before serving (easier to slice next day).

Here are the two banana breads, lemon and chocolate chip, freshly baked. Watched with an episode of Alias season 1, which is still enjoyable!  We have not paid for DSTV here, but not having actual TV is fine as long as you have hard drives and DVDs. I am really really forward to seeing Jennifer Garner in Peppermint. Most movies I watch on planes these days, though we did go see Deadpool 2 recently at Accra Mall, which has a very good cinema. DP2 was gory but very funny.

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