Recipe of the Week
PASTIZZI U QASSATAT
Cheese Cakes and Cheese Pies
The Maltese have a weakness for pastry and they try to include it in as many dishes and snacks as possible!
Pastizzi and Qassatat are little savoury pies filled with locally produced fresh ricotta cheese or with a slightly spicy mushy pea mixture. While pastizzi are traditionally made of puff pastry, qassatat are usually made of shortcrust pastry.
Pastizzi are known in English as ‘Cheese Cakes’. If you ever visit our Island, you will absolutely have the opportunity to taste Malta’s favourite tasty snack which is bought for only a few cents. These are sold, freshly baked, from local Pastizzeriji (pastizzi shops) and coffee shops. You will find at least one shop in every town and village in Malta and Gozo selling pastizzi. They are so popular that whenever you visit these shops, there is always a large metal tray with pastizzi coming in or out of the oven. They are produced by the thousands and sold by the dozen daily. Infact we have a Maltese expression which says “Jinbigħu bħall-pastizzi!” which means “They are sold like Pastizzi!”
Maltese emigrants have also produced this maltese speciality abroad especially in Australia, Canada and America. The demand for the Maltese pastizz in these countries is very satisfactory and is sold to both emigrants and locals. Infact a good number of pastizzeriji have been established in these countries.
Qassatat are similar to pastizzi but made of a lighter pastry and round in shape. You will also find these snacks in pastizzeriji and in nearly every old-fashioned bar where you will come across home-made versions.
For those who are more health conscious, pastizzi are very delicious but unfortunately very fattening, so one should go for qassatat. But, as an exception to the rule, especially during your stay in our sunny island, you definitely should not end your holiday in Malta without savouring these small, inexpensive Maltese delicacies.
For this week’s recipe, I am using shortcrust pastry for both pastizzi and qassatat. If you feel like using flaky puff pastry for the pastizzi, I suggest that you go for ready made pastry, as this is too laborious to make at home. This is easily found frozen from local supermarkets. I, myself, being very conscious of our health and waistline, I always serve homemade shortcrust pastry pastizzi to my guests. The empty serving plate is the proof of the good result and the praise for the chef.
1kg plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
400ml cold water
Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
Cut the fat into small cubes and add to flour.
Process fat and flour together until a breadcrumb like mixture is obtained.
Add water, gradually and start binding.
As the mixture starts to come together, continue binding by using your hands, until a round ball of dough is formed.
Wrap dough in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2 tablespoons grated cheese
Salt and pepper
Put ricotta in a bowl and mash with a fork until soft and creamy. Add one of the eggs and mix well. Add the grated cheese and mix until well combined. Finally add salt and pepper to taste.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon curry
430g tinned peas
Salt and pepper
Heat oil in a small saucepan and cook onion until translucent. Add curry powder and mix well. Add the peas and continue cooking over low heat while stirring the mixture well until peas are soft. Turn off heat, mash and add salt and pepper to taste. Leave to cool.
Preparing the Cheese Pastizzi:
Roll out some pastry. Cut the rolled out pastry into circles and put some ricotta filling in the middle. Bring the two sides to meet in the middle and press down the sides to resemble a boat. Pastry should not be totally sealed and the ricotta should remain visible in the middle. Place on a greased metal tray, brush with beaten egg and bake.
Preparing the Pea Pastizzi:
For these pies I used a dumpling maker.
Roll out some pastry, then with the bottom of the dumpling maker, push firmly on the dough to cut it. Place the punched dough onto the dumpling maker and place pea filling into the centre. Bring both handles of the dumpling maker together for about 5 seconds to ensure that the edges are sealed. Place on a greased metal tray, brush with beaten egg and bake.
Preparing the Qassatat:
Cut the rolled out pastry into circles and put some ricotta or pea filling in the middle of each pastry. Overlap dough edges over the filling, leaving the filling visible in the middle, and seal to form the qassata. Place on a greased metal tray, brush with beaten egg and bake.
Bake in a preheated hot oven (180°C) for approximately 30 minutes until pastry is golden in colour.
Alternative fillings for qassatat:
Anchovy pies consist of shredded spinach, cooked and drained well, peas, fried diced onion and anchovy;
Meat pies consist of minced beef, peas, fried diced onion and tomato paste.
Information and recipe contributed by the ThinkSite.eu Team
17th July 2009