I am not one for cold weather. It just doesn’t agree with me. I know Australian winters are hardly anything to talk about, and if anyone from Siberia is reading this post, I can see you already shaking your head, appalled. I’m sure our winters here would equate more to a Siberian summer than anything else, and you probably have no sympathy for this poor little Aussie suffering through her genial winter. But I have to say, as placid as our winters can be, I just cannot abide by the cold weather.
Freezing winds, chapped lips, numb fingers and frizzy hair, the penalty of winter. My only solace in these long months of frosty torment comes in the form of food and fashion. I love winter clothing, thick woolen scarves, boots, beanies, double breasted coats; layer upon layer of clothing concealing the fact that I just ate three croissants from Victoire, oh how I love it. Winter clothes are much more forgiving, there’s no hiding the fact that you had one too many slices of lemon meringue pie when you’re in a bikini.
And as for food, yes, ice cream and gelato are wonderful and berries in the summertime are pure bliss but when it comes to comfort, winter food has got it down pat. Nothing spells comfort more than escaping the chill and having the pleasure of filling your belly with something warm. Be it soup, a casserole, or a hearty pie, winter food is sheer indulgence. Don’t you just love the feeling warm soup snaking its way down your throat, or cutting into a warm pie and watching the steam escape? It’s those slight nuances of winter that I love most.
So what happens when the winter chill begins to descend upon you? Well, you leave work early to make yourself a pie. Well that’s what I did anyway, and the good news is, so can you- if you are in the southern half of the globe that is. You can escape the imminent icy reception with this beautiful Donna Hay- Mince Meat and Ricotta Pie. The filling is quite hearty but it’s the topping that I adore the most- a fluffy soft covering of ricotta, eggs and cheese.
This pie is a great option if you don’t have time for rolling out pastry. The topping can be made in a jiff and only needs to be baked for 15-20 minutes. And when the pies come out of the oven, their sides stained with its juicy overflow and the smell of baked ricotta hanging in the air, you won’t be able to resist. Just becareful not to overbake, as the ricotta can become rubbery, so you want to keep it moist and fluffy.
I adapted this recipe, adjusting the filling slighty to what was available in the fridge, and you can improvise yourself too. Just chuck in whatever you feel like eating that night and bake it in the oven, it’s that easy. I guess you could say, it’s as easy as pie.
Mince and Ricotta Pie
adapted from Donna Hay Magazine (Issue 28)
1 brown onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 cup fresh broad beans
750g beef mince
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
sea salt and cracked pepper
2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
1 tbsp chopped oregano leaves
¼ cup grated mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 220˚C.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan over high heat.
Add the oil, onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the carrot and broad beans and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Add the mince, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the mince is browned.
Add the tomatoes, worcestershire, salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes, until the mixture has thickened.
Turn off heat and spoon the mixture into 8 individual ovenproof dishes.
In a bowl, combine ricotta, egg, oregano and mozzarella.
Top the pie filling with ricotta mixture and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.