ISLE OF CALYPSO FARE Lets go GOZO and make gbejniet and then qassatat!
Fresh Goats cheeselets – ġbejniet friski
For these you will need the special ‘baskets’ which can be bought from a good agricultural shop like BSS on the outskirts of Zebbug (Malta) there are several sizes. I am lucky to have inherited the original rush baskets which were used in the old days. However the modern plastic baskets are easier to clean!!
For 4 large cheeselets or 6 small ones
1.400ml /2 ½ pints full cream milk, preferably sheep or goats milk (if you cant get this, use full fat cows milk)
3 – 4 teaspoons good rennett from a chemist or a cheese making kit or in Malta from Borg Cardona pet shop in Balzan
2 pinches salt
4 large or 6 small gbejniet baskets, rush or plastic
Heat the milk in a clean heavy saucepan to body temperature (37 C /90F) Stir constantly so the temperature is uniform. Remove from heat, and add the rennett and salt. Stir once then leave for one hour covered with a clean cloth.
Spoon the resulting curd into the four baskets which you have placed in a colander, set over a deep dish to catch the whey. You may have some curd left in the pan. Use this to top up the baskets as the whey draws off. After six hours the gbejniet should be fairly set. Turn each cheese over in its basket and refrigerate overnight or for a few hours. The whey is discarded and the cheeselets are then ready to be served on a bed of lettuce or rocket and some sliced tomatoes, drizzled with some good olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rock salt and pepper accompanied by crackers or farmhouse bread.
NB Any uneaten cheeselets can be ‘dried’ and when hard can be grated over pasta or even coated in freshly ground pepper and preserved in oil to be eaten as a cheese at a later date or use for the following recipe.
To make these, you need 6 ġbejniet that have been left to ‘dry’ for several days till they are no longer liquidy. Make your own as above and leave to dry in the fridge, or alternatively buy ready prepared ‘soft dry’ ġbejniet from a good source, and mix these with ½ kilo Maltese ricotta. You can in the absence of ġbejniet, you can make these qassatat with a whole kilo of ricotta.
Makes 12 – one per person
6 soft/ dry ġbejniet
½ kilo Maltese ricotta
500g plain flour
125g stork margarine
125g white fat like TREX (GS Supermarket Naxxar)
1 teaspoon salt
some oil or extra margarine
handful of sultanas
handful of fresh broad beans (ful)
3 very dry ġbejniet
extra margarine or oil to brush over pastry – about 2 tablespoons
pre-heat oven to 180c fan
First make the pastry;
Sift the 500g flour and a pinch of salt, into a large bowl, then cut up the fat into small squares, and add these to the flour. Rub this in with your hands, until it resembles breadcrumbs. Now mix one egg yolk into half a cup of cold water and mix this into the flour mixture and mix altogether with your hands until you have a firm but soft dough. Wrap this in greaseproof paper and put in the fridge while you make your filling.
Divide three eggs into yolks and whites and put into different bowls. Now put your ġbejniet and ricotta into another bowl, add the egg yolks, and beat the egg whites till very still (forms pleats when lifted), and add these too, to the ricotta mix. Add salt and pepper, and now separate your filling into two. Into one half put the handful of peeled broad beans which you toss in heated butter adding some salt and pepper, and into the other half add the handful of sultanas.
Now take your dough out of the fridge and bring to room temperature and on a floured surface, roll out the pastry. Onto this spread some margarine or some olive oil, then roll up and roll into two three balls and then again into 6 balls and then 12. Roll out these balls to form circles into which you put your fillings, one filling in ½ of the circles, and the other filling for the second batch. After each circle is filled into 2 thirds of the circles, brush the outer edges carefully with the remaining egg (beaten) press the circle edges together to form a ‘money purse’ shape, leaving the centre showing through. Brush this with more of the beaten egg, and the put your ‘pies’ onto greased oven trays, putting these into a pre-heated oven and bake till golden and pastry is cooked all round (about 25 minutes) Allow to cool slightly, then eat warm or at room temperature.
All images by Ray for GOURMET August 2014