Ricotta, coffee and cocoa tart

Acra

The temperatures are creeping up in Accra, but I have been walking to work (a very sweaty couple of kilometers). There is always something new to see, like these rubbish bins. They appeared this summer, but now have sponsorship banners. I confess, I am dubious when I see  politicians promising to make Accra Africa’s cleanest city, but this is a step in the right direction.

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Coconut water on offer.

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Anyway, I had ricotta stashed in the fridge, and really needed to make room for a flatmate coming back with a brussel sprout stash for Thanksgiving. With a lunch invitation pending, I thought – aha! Time for a ricotta tart! I had bookmarked this Crostata with ricotta, coffee, and Sambuca from the always delightful Rowena at Rubber Slippers In Italy. She had made hers following the Casatella Terracinese from Polenta e Baccala, an excellent blog recommendation. This is a humble homage to them both, without the anise liqueur that should be included. I only had amaro,  and I was not sure how that would go with cocoa. The cocoa powder was Ghanaian, and excellent quality. Bake this the day before serving, if you have time.

Ricotta, coffee and cocoa tart
Pasta frolla base: I had shop-bought sweet shortcrust pastry crust from Rome, or try this one from Polenta e Baccala.

For the filling:
500 g ricotta
150 g white sugar
2 eggs
50 ml strong black coffee
1.5 tbs cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground coffee

Whisk eggs and sugar, stir in cold coffee, cinnamon, cocoa and coffee, until smooth.

Roll out your pastry: I had a 26 cm pie dish, and keep a little aside for lattice stripes on top. My commercial pasta frolla was in baking parchment, very easy to roll out into the pie dish. Otherwise roll it out carefully and pour in filling. It will rise while baking. Add some decorative pastry lattice stripes. Bake at 180C for  40 minutes, on the lower part of   your oven. Cool tart overnight, and serve with  dusting of icing sugar (this also helps hide shoddy pastry lattice).

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The tart wilted quickly in the humid Accra heat, so the icing sugar dusting is vanishing, but it was very good. Please do try the original recipe for Casatella Terracinese at Polenta e Baccala. I will definitely make that one day, with anise liqeuer.

Spaghetti with zucchini, ricotta and chicken sausage

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Thanks to travelling, I had zucchini again. They can be found in Accra, but as those were imported and cost 17 cedi each (USD 3.45), they are just too expensive for me. This was an impromptu dinner, a cross between pasta con ricotta e salsiccia and spaghetti tossed with fried zucchini, garlic and cheese. A friend had chicken sausage, so we added that and hey presto, dinner!

Spaghetti with zucchini, ricotta and chicken sausage

300 gr spaghetti
2 tbs good olive oil
3-4 chicken sausages  (or other meaty sausage you like)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 zucchini, sliced into medallions  (not too thick)
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of chili flakes

to serve:
250 gr ricotta

Boil the pasta in salted water. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and fry the sausages. I like to squeeze the meat out of the sausage casings, into bite-sized pieces. The chicken sausage was not very greasy so I added olive oil. Add chopped garlic. Once the sausage starts to be cooked through, add the sliced zucchini to the pan and continue to fry until they are cooked through. Add a little salt and pepper, and some chilli flakes. If you have some leftover wine, a splash would be nice.

Drain the pasta, keeping a little cooking water, then put it back in the pot off the heat. Spoon in ricotta, and stir through the zucchini and sausage. Add a little starchy pasta cooking water if it looks dry. Serve with grated pasta.

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And from Accra: the ex-Ghana Airways plane which is now a restaurant was painted white over the summer.

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Zucchini carrot ricotta-pesto rose tart, #3, and clothes shopping

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Fall! Crisp underfoot, leaves, pumpkin, bonfires…… Here in Accra there is no sense of fall, just temperatures creeping up after the rainy season and unseasonably early Christmas decorations in the supermarkets. Trees are flowering and I am so glad I stocked up on allergy medications while recently in Europe. As usual I brought some ricotta, which ended up in this rose tart. I first made this in 2013, which seems like ages ago. A little fiddly to make, but very satisfying.

Zucchini carrot ricotta-pesto rose tart, #3

One package ready-made puff pastry
3 zucchini
3 carrots
120 gr fresh pesto
250 gr ricotta
Salt, pepper

Roll out your dough into a pie dish. (Here it came with carta al forno, baking paper.)  Slice the zucchini and carrots lengthwise into long thin strips, with a potato peeler or a mandolin. Here I used a cheese slicer, which made the slices a little too thick. I doubled the ricotta and pesto and soldiered on.

Mix pesto and ricotta, half of each, with a little salt and pepper. Spread some ricotta-pesto mix on the strips of carrot and zucchini. I did this directly on the pastry. Roll the strips somewhat tightly together, so they looks like a rosebud. (Yes, albeit a pesto-smeared, green one.) This time I smeared some ricotta mix on the pastry base, which made it easier to assemble the rose roll when cooking alone.

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This is finicky, but the rolls held together well. Alternate carrot and zucchini, rolling until you have a good sized roll. Add last strips to fill the dish. Tuck the pastry edges over.
Bake at 180C until it looks done. Twenty minutes or so? Slice into wedges and enjoy. We did!

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For some colour: shirts at the small craft market at the WEB Dubois center. My wardrobe contents are gradually getting replaced by locally made clothes, generally tailored, but the craft markets are fun. After almost three years in Accra, sweating through clothes at least once a day, my old work tops are fraying and fading. However, my dress sense and current outfits are definitely getting brighter after three years in Accra. This time I bought a dark blue batik jacket with bell sleeves, relatively sober: definitely too hot for Accra, but this will be good for work trips where the airconditioning can be fierce (or absent), and layering can be key. This cost 120 Ghana cedis, which is about … 24.5 USD, with a bit of a discount. I find it hard to bargain as a privileged foreigner here, but love these textiles.

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Soon to be seen at a workshop somewhere!