Ricotta Red Velvet Pancakes with Greek yogurt frosting (made with natural food coloring using beet powder)

There is something about red velvet desserts, so make your breakfast extra especial with these ricotta red velvet pancakes made with natural food coloring. Beet powder gives these their pretty color without artificial additives. They are super easy and perfect to treat your mom on Mother’s Day. Make them for brunch or just to make a normal day feel a little more especial.

When we were in Vienna, I bought some beet powder at the market. The color was just gorgeous and I had to get it. I wasn’t sure what to make with it but I thought it is always good to have some natural coloring in my pantry. And then I remembered that while we were in New York, we went to a donut shop and tried a donut stuffed with ricotta and covered in a beet glaze. It was so delicious. The ricotta and beet combination clicked in my head and I thought of making these ricotta red velvet pancakes with natural beet coloring.

You can always use artificial coloring if you cannot find beet powder, or you could also try buying some beet juice (if you don’t have a juicer). Then reducing it in a pan over medium heat until most of the liquid is gone and you are left with a thick syrup. I’ve done this with carrot juice to naturally dye some cream cheese frosting and it worked out great. Just remember that you’ll need about 1 litter of juice, because it reduces quite a lot. You need it to be thick because you don’t want to add too much liquid into the batter.

The amount of frosting for this recipe is just for drizzling the pancakes. If you want more, you can always double the recipe. I personally prefer mine not overly sweet.

This recipe makes 2 servings.

Ingredients:

For the pancakes:

2 eggs

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup of self-rising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 tablespoons of beet powder

2 tablespoons Cacao powder

Pinch of salt

For the Greek yogurt frosting:

2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt

5 tablespoons of icing sugar, sifted

½ teaspoon of vanilla essence

 

Start by making the pancake batter. Separate the eggs into whites and yolks. Place the yolks in a large bowl. Add the ricotta, flour, baking powder, milk, vanilla extract, beet powder, cacao powder and salt. Whisk until everything is combined.

In another bowl, whisk the egg whites till they begin to foam. Then add the sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold in the egg whites into the pancake batter.

To make the frosting, just whisk the Greek yogurt with the icing sugar and vanilla. If you like it sweeter, you can always add more sugar.

Brush a large non-stick pan with a bit of vegetable oil. You can also use cooking spray or butter if you want. Place it over medium-low heat. Once the pan is hot, pour some of the batter into it to make the pancakes. I prefer to make them small, but do it as you wish. Let it cook until the top part starts bubbling and the edges start to dry. Then flip it and cook until lightly brown. Repeat for the remaining batter.

Serve the pancakes with some of the yogurt frosting and fruit of your choice. Enjoy!

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Cauliflower & Ricotta Fritters with Radish Salad (fritters made with cauliflower & radish leaves)

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I have been following the amazing Sarah Phillips on Instagram (@food) for a while now. Not too long ago she created another account called Ugly Produce is Beautiful (@uglyproduceisbeautiful), to create awareness of how much food is wasted. It is a great initiative to educate people of how you can actually use produce that is considered imperfect or not good for sale anymore. And parts of produce that you might not know are edible, like radish and cauliflower leaves.

In an effort to promote less food waste, I created this recipe. I roasted the cauliflower (florets plus stem) with spices and olive oil and then mixed it with the chopped cauliflower leaves, radish leaves, ricotta and Parmesan. I finally served the fritters with a simple radish salad. It makes a delicious vegetarian meal!

This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

For the fritters:

1 small cauliflower

¼ cup of olive oil

1 teaspoon of onion powder

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

½ teaspoon of celery salt

Cayenne to taste

Salt

Pepper

Radish leaves (from the bunch for the salad), finely chopped

Zest of 1 lemon

2 eggs

125gr of ricotta

60gr of grated Parmesan

1/3 cup of bread crumbs

1/3 cup of panko

1/3 cup of cornmeal

For the radish salad:

1 bunch of radishes, julienned (I used a mandoline)

1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped chives

For the dressing:

1/3 cup of olive oil

¼ cup of white vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon of honey

1 teaspoon of mustard

Salt

Extra:

Olive oil for pan-frying the fritters

 

Preheat your oven to 230C/446F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the leaves from the cauliflower and finely chop them. Set them aside.

Finely chop the cauliflower, including the stem. Try not to leave any big chunks. Place the chopped cauliflower in a large bowl. Add ¼ cup of olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, celery salty, salt and pepper. Mix well and spread it over the prepared baking sheet. Place it in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, stirring half way through.

To make the dressing just place all of the ingredients in a jar, put the lid on and shake it. Set it aside.

Remove the cauliflower from the oven and allow it to cool down for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix the chopped cauliflower leaves, chopped radish leaves, lemon zest, ricotta and parmesan. Mix well. Then add the cauliflower, panko, bread crumbs, cornmeal and a pinch of salt. Mix to combine and then add the eggs. Mix everything well.

Pour about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Grab about 2 tablespoons of the cauliflower mixture and shape it into a ball, place it in the pan and repeat for a few more. Flatten it a bit with the back of a spatula. Cook until brown on both sides. Repeat for the rest. It’s better to make the fritters small so they don’t break while flipping them.

Add some of the dressing to the julienned radishes and chives, mix well. Serve the fritters with the radish salad and extra dressing on the side.

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Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni with Butternut Squash Béchamel

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It’s been too long since I’ve made cannelloni. I was at an Italian store the other day getting squid ink pasta for another recipe and when I saw boxes of cannelloni, I just had to get one. I stuffed them with ricotta and spinach, and made a butternut squash béchamel sauce to cover them. I could eat pasta everyday!

This recipe serves 4.

For the filling:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

300gr of fresh spinach

Pinch of onion powder

Salt

Pepper

500grs of ricotta

Pinch of lemon pepper

Pinch of cayenne

For the béchamel:

3 tablespoons of butter

Pinch of garlic powder

3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

5 cups of milk

1 medium butternut squash

40grs of grated Parmesan

Extras:

16 cannelloni

40grs of grated Parmesan for sprinkling on top

Fresh sage leaves (optional)

Vegetable oil to fry the sage leaves(optional)

 

For the butternut squash, slice the butternut squash into chunks. Take out the seeds and place the chunks on a plate. Cover the plate with plastic wrap and microwave for 9 minutes. Once the squash is cooked, be careful when you remove the plastic wrap so that the steam coming out doesn’t burn you. Spoon out the flesh of the squash and place it on a medium bowl. Set it aside.

Place the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the spinach, onion powder, salt and pepper. Cook until the spinach has wilted. Then place the spinach on a sieve with a bowl underneath and press to get rid of most of the liquid. Set it aside.

To make the béchamel, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add a pinch of garlic powder and the flour. Stir for 2 minutes. Then add the milk and stir until it thickens, about 6 minutes. Add the cooked butternut squash and Parmesan. Blend it until smooth using an immersion blender. Taste for salt.

To finish making the filling, mix the wilted spinach with the ricotta in a bowl. Add the lemon pepper, cayenne, pepper and salt. Mix well.

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F.

Place the ricotta filling in a piping bag and fill each cannelloni with it.

Grease with some olive oil a medium oven dish and add about 3 ladles of the béchamel. Spread the cannelloni over the sauce. Cover them with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle some extra grated Parmesan all over. Bake it for 40 minutes until golden.

If you want, you can fry some sage leaves in a small pan with vegetable oil, then place them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the extra oil. Then use them to decorate the dish.

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Fig, Ricotta and Gorgonzola Tart

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This is a nice way of using fresh figs before they are gone from the markets.  It is a savory tart with a bit of sweetness from the honey and salty goodness from the bacon. I also added a bit of wild peaches since I love the combination.  It’s a super easy meal.

Ingredients:

1 sheet of puff pastry (about 30x25cm)

250gr Ricotta

150gr Gorgonzola, cut into little blocks

100gr bacon (fried till crispy, then chopped)

3 figs, sliced into 6 pieces

2 wild peaches, sliced without the pit

1 egg

2 tablespoons of honey

¼ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of dry thyme (you can also use fresh)

Pepper

1 egg for the egg wash

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Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Cook the bacon until crispy, then chop it.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Extend over it the sheet of puff pastry. Using your fingers fold in about one centimeter of the edges to create a crust. Pinch the inside of the pastry with a fork.

In a small bowl, mix in the ricotta, gorgonzola, honey, egg, salt, pepper and thyme.

Spoon the ricotta mixture over the pastry. Sprinkle the bacon  and then arrange the figs and peaches.

Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg wash.

Bake until the edges are golden, about 25 minutes.

Serve warm. I like to eat it with a simple arugula salad.