Cheese puffs an old favourite

89ac9d3cbdd46230e5ea951a1070bf3f_resized2.jpgSHEMIRAN Younan has been cooking her ricotta puff recipe for 50 years.
It was so long ago that details of the recipe’s origins have become hazy and it has since evolved to suit her tastes.
“After you’ve made them over and over they become so quick to make and I’ve changed some of the ingredients so they’re nice and easy,” she said.
“You can eat them with ice cream or by themselves; they are beautiful.”
The Smithfield home cook moved to Australia from Iraq in 1977 and she brought many traditional Assyrian recipes that she still makes today.
“I moved here when I was 16 and all my family are here now,” Mrs Younan said.
She cooks most days, especially for family occasions which include her daughter, son-in-law and their three sons.
“Some of my recipes take a lot of time to make and only half an hour to eat,” she said. Her ricotta puffs are very easy to make.
“They take me less than 15 minutes,” Mrs Younan said.
“The hardest part is folding them.
“The puffs are like baklava but using ricotta instead of nuts.”
She makes the puffs for dessert along with baklava and Turkish delight.
“I love cooking sweets and the puffs are great for dessert at barbecues,” she said.
“I also make them for church meetings and Sunday masses.”
Her culinary repertoire includes other Assyrian dishes such as her favourite kibbeh (patties of bulgur wheat or rice and chopped meat) and dolmar (vine leaves stuffed with capsicum, eggplant and onion).
Vanilla ricotta pastries
1/2 kilo ricotta
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar
1 packet of filo pastry
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar
Crushed pistacchios
250g unsalted butter melted
Mix ricotta, sugar and vanilla sugar together and set aside.
To make syrup, boil sugar, water, lemon juice and vanilla sugar until it thickens slightly. Cool.
Preheat oven to 200C.
Cut all the filo pastry in half. Keep sheets of pastry covered with a damp tea towel.
Take a sheet of pastry at a time and fold in half. Place 1 teaspoon of filling in one corner of pastry, leaving a 1cm border. Don’t overfill triangles or they will split.
Gently lift pastry corner with filling and fold tightly diagonally. Continue folding, retaining triangle shape.
Place on to a baking tray opposite each other to form a square and continue until the tray is full and tightly packed.
Pour melted butter evenly over the pastries, do not use the bottom of the butter (milk).
Place into the oven and cook until golden brown.
Remove from oven and while still hot drizzle syrup (according to taste) over the pastries. Sprinkle with the crushed pistacchios and leave uncovered to cool.