Filo tart with zucchini and smoked cheese

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Our for a walk in North Ridge, we met some of our old neighbourhood goats. It’s still pleasantly cool, lovely to be able to walk without immediately dripping with sweat. Weekend mornings the streets are relatively quiet, many of the small shops are closed, and we can walk quietly, with an occasional honk from passing taxis. The goats were observed near +233 jazz club, where there is also a flat area used as a football training pitch.

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Here they sell lottery tickets or phone scratch cards? Not sure. Anyway, I am back in Accra for three weeks between trips. Traveling so much does disrupt cooking routines, like making sure there are fresh vegetables you feel like cooking with, but not accumulating food that will not keep until you are back. Here, I realized I had three packets of filo pastry, some precious zucchini and some scamorza (smoked cheese), so this was thrown together for a quick dinner.

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Filo tart with zucchini and smoked cheese

Filo pastry: I  used three oven-tray sized sheets, and froze the rest
3 tbs melted butter
3 zucchini, sliced in thin half moons
1 yellow onion
salt, pepper
250 grammes scamorza (smoked cheese), or another meltable cheese of your choice

Line oven tray with baking parchment or a silicon mat. Heat oven to 220C. Unfold two sheets of filo pastry on baking sheet, and brush top one with melted butter. Lay third filo pastry sheet on top, and brush with last melted butter. Chop the zucchini once lengthwise, then slice into half moons. Scatter the zucchini evenly across pastry. Chop the peeled onion, and scatter this across tray as well. Add some generous pinches of black pepper and salt. Chop or grate the cheese, spread it on top of zucchinis and onions, then bake at 220C until cheese is melted and golden. Use scissors to cut.

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Tro-tro (minibus taxi) of the week: Doctor Jesus.

doctor jesus

 

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!