Monday, April 02, 2007

When It's Cold Outside

Beef and Ricotta Pie

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.

Beef and Ricotta Pie

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.

Inside a Beef and Ricotta Pie

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)
serves 8

Beef and Ricotta Pie

2 tbsp olive oil
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 egg
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.
Serve warm.


Anonymous said...

Ooooh, now there's some hearty winter fare!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

This looks just too good! I'd have it winter, summer anytime!

Red Dirt Mummy said...

We live up past the 26th and I never thought I would miss winter but this post got me! These pies look wonderful - maybe I could turn the air-con way up high and pretend.

Cheryl said...

This looks warm and delicious.

I just looked through a Donna Hay book for the first time this weekend (I know, where have I been?), and it was so beautiful. I'm now a huge fan.

marias23 said...

o my lord, does that pie look good or what? the bubbly goodness is enough to make me try the recipe if it wasn't so warm out here already!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jen! This dish looks comforting and warming - regardless if winter temperatures are kind or not! Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

ooooh, this looks so good! i just read and it and had to make it. i ran to the store for supplies and its cooking as i type this, smells WONDERFUL! maybe i'll even post if i can get some good pics :) thx for the recipe!!

Julia said...

Looks very yummy and comforting - I think it'll be on the menu this week! Thanks!

Erielle said...

I love the juice drippping down the sides of the dish! I hope mine does that, too, when I make this, which I hope is soon, even though it's not winter here anymore.

anna/village vegan said...

mmmm, baked pie. I could use some of that right now! I've recently discovered your blog, and i love it. The pictures are SO good, and the food sounds great, too!

Anonymous said...

this came out FABULOUS! i posted it, i hope you dont mind, with credit to you of course. thanks so much for this wonderful recipe. everyone loved it! Yum :)

Peabody said...

So it is like Shepard's pie?

Jen said...

Ellie- Sure is, especially with the colder months coming upon us.

Meeta- Oh yes, I'm sure that it would be fantastic whatever season you're in!

Red Dirt Mummy- Thank you! I think turning up the air-con would be a plan, although, most days I'm not too enthusiastic about winter. But you enjoy the warmth up there!

Cheryl- The pie was definitely delicious. And yes, Donna Hay is amazing, I find myself always mesmerised by her food photos, the styling and of course her simple recipes. So glad you discovered her too.

Marias23- I have to say, the bubbly spillover is my favourite part of the pie. And I guess you could have the pie in warm weather as regardless, I can promise you it won't disappoint.

Gilly- Comforting and warming are indeed two words to describe the pie. Thank you!

Aria- Oh I'm glad that you are enthusiastic about it as I am, and it's nice to see that you enjoyed the pie as much as I did, perhaps even more. Nice!!

Julia- It's the perfect, quick and easy pie as you don't have to fiddle around with a crust. It's just what you would love to come home to after a hard day at work.

Erielle- I don't think the fact that it's not cold anymore should stop you from making the pie. I assure you, its great whatever season. And yes the drippings down the side are the best part, I think.

Village Vegan- Welcome. Glad you stopped by and thank you : )

Peabody- I guess it is like a shephard's pie although the topping is not made of potato, it's made of ricotta.

Anonymous said...

Interesting topping. I thought it was pastry at first, didn't realise that was only cheese and egg.

thisisnaive said...

I have that issue of Donna Hay magazine too, and wished the weather in London now is right for some hearty pies. Your photos are so pretty.

Rachael Narins said...

Would your "mince" be our ground beef?

Anyway...I totally agree about the weather. Anything less than balmy and I am out.


This looks amazing, as always!

Anonymous said...

looks perfect for today, i can almost smell it already. =)

Anonymous said...

very fine idea... definitely reminds me of shepherd's pie... and also of my winter comfort food ... macaroni cheese with a combination of taleggio, gruyere and a little soft goats cheese.

Jen said...

Windy- yes the topping can look a little deceiving, but it is definitely ricotta cheese.

Little Nutbrown Hare- Thank you, I think the pie is great in whatever weather, hot or cold, so give it try!

Rachael- Yes, mince is ground beef. And I cannot agree more, cold weather just makes you want to stay indoors.

Victoria- It's perfect any day : )

Stephanie- Yes it's up there with mac and cheese and I never realised how much it does resemble shephard's pie.

Anonymous said...

Hi jenjen,

It's still slightly cold here in Jersey so a pie is still very much in order. I will be making this for dinner tomorrow night.

Thanks for the recipe. :)

Anonymous said...

We just had it for dinner tonight. Ian enjoyed every single bite and polished off a rather large dish. He wanted his with mashed potatoes so i did a layer of mash and the ricotta cheese mix on top. Whilst i enjoyed the filling very much, i found out i wasn't very keen on the ricotta topping myself [it was soft and fluffy but kind off left a dry taste]. It was a hit with him so i'll definitely will be making it again! He already can't wait to dig in with the 2 dishes leftover. Thanks again for sharing the recipe. Yummy!