Recipes for family, friends

Feasting, by Amanda Ruben, is published by Hardie Grant Books, $55
Feasting, by Amanda Ruben, is published by Hardie Grant Books, $55

Drawn from her Jewish heritage, Amanda Ruben's recipes are made for bringing family and friends together.

Ruben has a shop and cafe in Melbourne's Ripponlea called Miss Ruben.

The recipes in her new cookbook, Feasting, reflect the food she cooks for her own family and friends and the food they cook for her.

''Based on seasonal produce, these are simple, modern recipes from the heart of my little shop and cafe.''

A former journalist, Ruben has followed in her mother's footsteps to make food a full-time occupation.

''This is ... a tribute to all those women, like my mum and her mother before her, who filled their tables with a feast of simple, delicious food.''

She also includes some menu suggestions for special occasions. The book is set out in chapters based on starters, salads, mains, sides and desserts and urges people to mix and match to suit.

Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied
Salted choc chip tahini cookies

This recipe is also from Seed + Mill, the sesame concept store in New York.

Makes 12

115g unsalted butter
110g tahini
230g (1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
150g (1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
305g (1¾ cup) dairy-free
dark chocolate couverture buds or small buttons
115g (¾ cup) sesame seeds
pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, tahini and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy.

Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and beat for 5 minutes.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and combine with the tahini mixture. Add the chocolate buds and stir.

Line two baking trays with baking paper. Shape the cookie dough into 70g balls and roll each ball in the sesame seeds before placing on the trays. Gently flatten them to about 1cm thick. Space them 3cm apart, because they do spread. Refrigerate for 1 hour before baking.

Preheat the oven to 190degC .

Bake the cookies for approximately 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Be careful not to overcook them, because they are better when they're a bit gooey on the inside.

While the cookies are still warm, sprinkle them with pink salt and serve.


Grape, goat's cheese and onion jam pizzette

If you've never tried roasted red grapes, you're in for a treat. Teamed with goat's cheese, onion jam and fresh thyme, these super-thin pizzette make a very sophisticated snack and are especially good teamed with a glass of rose.

Makes 3

400g strong flour
2 tsp fast-acting or instant dried yeast
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
1 tsp salt
240g (¾ cup) onion jam
200g goat's cheese
200g small red grapes (if large, cut them in half)
6 thyme sprigs
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
sea salt, for seasoning

In a large bowl, combine the flour and yeast with the olive oil and salt.

Add 250ml (1 cup) lukewarm water and use a spatula to bring the mixture together to form a dough.

Tip out the dough on to a lightly-oiled surface and, with lightly-oiled hands, knead the dough for 5 minutes, or until it is soft and elastic.

Divide the dough into three pieces - approximately 200g each - then cover with a damp tea towel (dish towel) and leave to prove in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until nearly doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 250degC and line two baking trays with baking paper.

Stretch each dough ball into a rectangle measuring approximately 12cm-36cm , and transfer to the baking trays.

Spread the onion jam evenly on each rectangle of dough. Top with dollops of goat's cheese, grapes and a few sprigs of thyme on each. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and season generously with salt.

Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until the crusts are slightly browned on the edges.

Remove the pizzette from the oven, drizzle each with a little more extra-virgin olive oil and serve immediately.

Pumpkin and ricotta kugel with home-made pasta

Kugel is a Yiddish noun meaning baked pudding or casserole; mine gets a modern makeover with home-made pasta bound by a light ricotta custard.

It's a beautiful celebratory dish. If making pasta isn't your thing, ensure what you buy is good quality.

Serves 8-10

2.5kg butternut pumpkin, cut into
1cm-2cm cubes
3 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

2 eggs
200g Tipo 00 flour or plain all-purpose flour
semolina for dusting

Caramelised onions
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely sliced
sea salt for seasoning
1 Tbsp light brown sugar

Ricotta custard
400g full-cream ricotta cheese
5 eggs
1 cup milk
200g pecornio, grated
pinch grated nutmeg
sea salt and cracked pepper

Preheat the oven to 175degC.

Spread the pumpkin cubes on a lined baking tray, drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix until evenly coated and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the pumpkin is tender and caramelised.

Remove from the oven and set aside 310g (2 cups) of the pumpkin. Mash the remaining pumpkin roughly with a fork. Set aside to cool. Leave the oven on.

To make the pasta dough, combine the eggs and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Mix until just combined. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Lightly dust a surface with semolina and roll out the pasta dough to a 2mm thickness. Cut the dough into 5cm strips, then cut into triangles.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta, in small batches, for 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl as you go, and drizzle in a little olive oil to stop the pasta sticking together.

To make the caramelised onion, heat the oil in a frying pan over low heat. Add the onions and a good pinch of salt and cook very slowly for at least 20 minutes, until soft and golden. Add the sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes, until sticky and caramelised.

Combine all the custard ingredients in a bowl. Add the cooked pasta and mashed pumpkin, and mix well.

Line a 25cm springform cake tin with baking paper. Pour in half the pasta mixture and dot with half the caramelised onion and roughly a third of the cubed pumpkin. Repeat with the remaining pasta, onion and another third of the pumpkin, reserving the last third.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the cover and bake for a further 15 minutes or until firm. Transfer to a platter, garnish with the remaining pumpkin cubes and slice into wedges to serve.

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