Breakfast part 1, Melbourne – ricotta hotcakes with prosciutto and orange maple syrup

I am heading to Italy in a couple of days and look forward to enjoying breakfast on the move Italian style – cornetto filled with jam and a short macchiato standing at the bar. I will also be exploring what the average Italian eats for breakfast and sharing it with you. They don’t know it yet but several of my relatives will be featuring on this blog from the comforts of their homes in Veneto and Friuli sharing their breakfast routines.

But before leaving I plan to eat my favourite Italian breakfast, which I know I won’t find over there. It is hardly traditional but there have to be advantages to being an Italian living in Melbourne. I can add my local spin on Italian ingredients. Regular readers will know of my love for ricotta by the recipes I have posted – from ricotta gnocchi to my mamma Livia’s ricotta cake. My Italian breakfast uses my favourite ricotta to make hot cakes. They are based on a Nigella Lawson recipe, which I have modified – light and fluffy with a hint of orange zing. I top these with salty crisp prosciutto after drowning the hotcakes in orange maple syrup. Sounds like a strange combination?! Yes – but the sweet, salty and citrus combination works really with the hotcakes. Mark and I share these hotcake stacks for long lazy Sunday breakfasts when we are planning on a day at home. It might not be very traditional, but this is what this Italian eats for a special breakfast.

See you in Italy!!

Ricotta hotcakes with crispy prosciutto and orange maple syrup
Serves 4
Syrup:
1/2 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
1 cup caster sugar
1 stick cinnamon
1 orange, peel separated with vegetable peeler, no pith
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
Hotcakes:
250g ricotta
125ml milk
2 eggs, separated
grated rind 1/2 orange
100g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon caster sugar
pinch salt
butter, unsalted, for cooking the hotcakes
4 slices prosciutto

For the syrup, combine orange juice and sugar with the cinnamon stick and orange peel in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until bubbling then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until thick and syrupy. Strain and stir in maple syrup. Set aside while you make the hotcakes.

To make the crispy prosciutto (I use italian Prosciutto San Daniele but you can substitute another good quality Italian prosciutto), place whole slices under a medium grill and cook until the prosciutto starts curling up and drying out (about a minute depending on the heat of your grill). Turn over and grill briefly. Watch it the whole time to make sure it does not burn. Set aside.

For the hotcakes – combine the ricotta, milk and egg yolks in a bowl. Mix in the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Once combined, add the orange zest. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold the egg whites gently into the hotcake mixture. Melt a tiny knob of butter in a small non-stick fry pan. Ladle some hotcake mixture into the warmed pan. Cook on medium heat, flipping the hotcake over after a minute – it should be golden. Cook the other side for another minute. Keep cooked hotcakes warm on a warmed plate covered in foil (I place mine in the oven at very low heat) whilst you cook the rest. Use a bit more butter each time you cook a fresh hotcake. I make 8 small hotcakes – two per person.

To serve, place hotcakes on warmed individual plates, spoon the maple orange sauce over them and top with crispy prosciutto. Serve with a glass of blood orange juice or coffee for breakfast.

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