Sunday, April 21, 2013

Maltese Cheese Pie

Maltese Cheese Pie
(Recipe yields 2 Cheese Pies)

 Many years ago when I was in Malta with my family, my great auntie Paulie made us her famous Cheese Pie. Maltese Cheese Pie is different from North American Cheesecake since it is savoury and made with ricotta. I can still remember the taste and texture of that pie. It had a flaky, buttery, pastry with smooth ricotta cheese filling and fibrous beans. This recipe uses phyllo pastry as a light alternative to the rich density typically found in Maltese Cheese Pies. The filling is rich and smooth while the beans add depth and substance to this dish. This recipe can stand alone with a cup of coffee or served with a side of green salad.     

What you need:

8 Phyllo pastry sheets
1 container of ricotta cheese (425 g)
1/2  c fava or broad beans
1 egg
1/4 c melted butter
1 tsp. black ground pepper
1 tsp coarse sea salt
Coarse sea salt for topping

How to make it happen:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

2. In a separate bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, salt and pepper.

3. Next, thoroughly rinse the beans in a strainer and remove any excess water. Add the beans into the cheese mixture and stir ingredients together. Place the cheese mixture into the refrigerator to chill. 

4. Line your counter surface with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Take a single phyllo sheet and lay it flat onto your work surface; the longer side should align with the edge of the counter's surface. Use a brush to spread a thin layer of melted butter on top of the pastry sheet.

5. Take the second phyllo sheet and place it on top of the first. Spread another thin layer of melted butter on top of the pastry. Repeat this step for the third and fourth remaining pastry sheets. (Note: Ensure to cover the unused phyllo sheets with a cloth to keep them from drying out).

6. Remove the cheese mixture from the refrigerator and place half of its contents along the short side of the phyllo sheets, vertically. Ensure to leave one inch of pastry space around all three sides of the cheese filling. 

7. Fold the edges of the three sides of the phyllo over the cheese mixture. Next, gently fold the filling side over the phyllo, ensuring that the filling stays in place.  Make sure to brush the phyllo with melted butter after each fold.

8. Fold the end of the pastry sheet on top of the cheese pie and ensure to brush with the remaining melted butter to seal the phyllo pastry together. Sprinkle a pinch of coarse sea salt over the top of the cheese pie. Repeat step four to eight with the remaining four phyllo sheets and cheese mixture. 

 9. Bake the cheese pie at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.   

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