Feta Ricotta Kadaif Nests with Spicy Roasted Tomato Dip
The only way to announce such a thing is to blurt it out. The Kosher Spoon becomes Gather a Table. I am not adding any exclamation marks because not matter how many I’d add, it would never suffice to exclaim how huge this news is. Plus I’m trying to keep things classy around here even though I feel like a giddy teenager. You’re likely wondering why. I’ve asked myself that numerous times throughout the process and the simple answer is that this new brand is the direction I want to take things.
I started blogging in 2011 as a hobby and a way to develop my photography. I didn’t imagine it would last this long or grow like it did. I’m not a professional blogger and if you’ve been around long enough you could tell. My posts get sporadic, life things take over, motivation and inspiration wanes. Although you could argue that the latter are acquired skills, and I’d agree, but nope, no matter how many creative self-help type of things I read, it hasn’t happened for me. Sometimes the writing feels so difficult that I contemplate pressing delete on this whole situation and calling it a day. But I don’t and I can’t because this space is precious to me. It’s a platform I can best share what I’m most passionate about; good food around a table full of people.
So you know, a drastic change wasn’t planned. I was contemplating switching platforms for a while because the one I was using was getting limiting. And being a digital do it yourself-type, I prefer the freedom of customizing things on my own. So I started building a squarespace blog to suit my needs. And then I deleted it. And then I had a dramatic soul-searching conversation with myself, a typical occurrence for this introvert, about why I spend my time doing this. There are countless blogs, some much more engaging and talented than mine. And there are many bloggers, who are impressively devoted and creative. But they aren’t me. Even though that doesn’t sound so humble, in the midst of a barrage of negative self talk and hopelessly comparing my work to others, it’s the only way I could keep going. When I know that you are here to cook something or get inspired, it inspires me to keep giving. Plus it’s a more efficient way to scream to the world, “Make this! It’s sooooo tasty!” because isn’t food one of the greatest pleasures we were gifted? So I built a new blog again, asked two friends for input, only one was actually helpful. And when I contemplated a new name, it made so much sense to me. I got a vision of how things could look, a clarity of potential for the future. I felt so inspired I thought I could sprinkle others with this sublime creativity. Once I got working and everything was ready, I thought this feeling would continue pouring out as I launched things. Rather, I was faced with such self-doubt that my motivation dropped, sharply. I pushed through and here I am, excited about this new endeavor. Though maybe I won’t gain that same initial bang, there’s a steady stream of joy that will shower being in this new space, kind of like how any relationship begins and blossoms.
I’m aware summer is halfway here, and though the season’s food is one of my favorites, I’m bringing you something not specifically summery but it makes for a splendid light dinner. It was my first time using shredded kadaif, and those thin vermicelli-like noodles make a perfect cocoon for creamy ricotta and feta. A stepped up borekas, you could say. I’ve seen these noodles names’ vary from kanafe, to kadayif and kunafah. And there are recipes from different cultures that take things the sweet or savory route. I think the creamy, almost sweet ricotta contrasted by the feta’s salinity and freshness of the parsley, is a worthwhile way to enjoy them. The butter crisps ups the noodles and adds its magic so I wouldn’t skip that in the name of saving the melting step. Once they’re out of the oven, a spoonful of the spicy tomato dip and a scatter of chopped kalamata across ties it all just so. Happy summer and I’m so happy you’re here.
Feta Ricotta Kadaif Nests with Spicy Roasted Tomato Dip
Feta Ricotta Kadaif Sticks
250g ricotta cheese
125g feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
Chopped Kalamata olives, for garnish
Spicy Roasted Tomato Dip
4 large tomatoes, halved
1 bell pepper
1 red onion, quartered
1 chili pepper
3 cloves of garlic
Handful of parsley or cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400F.
Place the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, chili and garlic in a baking pan and roast for 10 minutes. Remove the chili and garlic, turn the tomatoes, pepper and onion over and roast for an additional 30 minutes, or until charred.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool before transferring to a food processor.
Process the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, chili and garlic along with the parsley, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper until a paste forms. Transfer to a jar and reserve.
In a bowl, mix the ricotta, feta, parsley, eggs, salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 350F. While you are preparing the sticks, keep the kadaif covered so it doesn’t dry out and work in batches.
Take 1/8th, about 50g, of the shredded dough and place in a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture and stir to coat.
Spread the bundle on your work surface into a 5inch square and spread 2 tablespoons of ricotta mixture in a single line in the middle. Gently tuck the edges in and fold each part of the kadaif over the ricotta mixture, and place onto an oiled baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Brush whatever butter is left onto the formed kadaif sticks and bake, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes or until the tops are golden and crisp. Serve along with the dip and chopped kalamata olives.