19 October 2015

SWISS CHARD CAKE - AUTUMN ON A PLATE

SWISS CHARD CAKE

Since a couple of weeks I have an irresistible urge to wrap things in green leaves. It all started with a bunch of Swiss chard. Admiring the beautiful colourful pink, yellow and orange stalks, veins and contrasting dark leaves, I thought that there had to be a better way to do them justice than to just wilt them down in the pan.

SWISS CHARD CAKE

Then I remembered the Chou Farçi photo I had seen on Mimi Thorisson's blog Manger, and there was my answer (and the beginning of my leaf-wrapping addiction): Cake! Everyone loves cake! Turns out even a green one. I wasn't quite sure if this would work with chard, so googled it and found an interesting Lebanese Chard cake, stuffed with rice and spices. In the end, my recipe is a combination of my mum's 'Kohlrouladen' (cabbage rolls), one of my child-hood favourites, stuffed with rice and meat, Mimi's Chou Farçi, and the Lebanese Swiss chard cake, and we just love it! Swiss chard has a rather strong perfume and flavour and, due to it's oxalic acid content, is a little sharp-tasting, and so maybe not everyone's favourite. But in combination with the spicy meat and rice filling a dream. 

SWISS CHARD CAKE

The leaves add a fantastic, unusual perfume and taste to the dish. We like it so much that we made it three times in one month, and we are looking forward to our next. It's also so beautiful and great for dinner parties, especially as you can prepare it in advance. It's a little elaborate and time-consuming, and you do need a lot of chard leaves, the more the tastier, as they wilt into nothingness during cooking. And what you don't need for the outer cake 'wrapping', you can put as layers between the rice-meat filling. 

SWISS CHARD CAKE

Fresh from the oven it's best to leave the cake to rest for a little and allow it to set. Not only is it nicer when it's cooled a couple of minutes, but also it gets more compacted and therefore easier to cut into neat slices. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge. To re-heat, cut the required number of slices and heat them in the microwave for a couple of minutes. I think it's just as nice cold or at room temperature. Meanwhile, still subjected to my leaf-wrapping addiction, I have even made a Broccoletti-Italian-Sausage-Rice-Fennelseed cake, but more of that another time... Must find more big green leaves...

SWISS CHARD CAKE

Recipe inspirations: 
The fabulous 'Kohlrouladen' (stuffed cabbage leaves) of Mutti/Omi/Li (recipe to follow)
Chou Farci, Mimi Thorisson, Manger
Swiss Chard Cake, Youmana, Taste of Beirut

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Makes 1 cake, app. 22 cm diameter
(for a 25cm cake tin double the ingredients below and use 3 large bunches of Chard)
½ cup Arborio (or Risotto, Paella, or other round corn rice)
2 big bunches Swiss Chard, approx. 20 large leaves, washed and thick stems cut out
400-500g mixed beef and pork mince
1 medium red or yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp grated parmesan
handful fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 egg
freshly grated nutmeg
salt
pepper
olive oil
Also: a 22cm springform cake tin

Bring approx. 1 litre of water to a boil, salt, then add the unwashed rice and cook until almost done, app. 15 minutes. Drain very well, then put it into a large bowl and leave to cool. Bring water in a large pot to a boil, add salt. Add the Swiss chard leaves, a few at a time, to the boiling water and blanch until they begin to wilt, then remove them with the aid of large kitchen tongs and lay them flat to dry in a single layer on kitchen towels.

SWISS CHARD CAKE


Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the ground beef, season with salt and freshly milled black pepper and fry until nicely browned and fully cooked. Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon or spatula, add it to the bowl with the rice and leave to cool. To the same pan add another Tbsp of olive oil then fry the onion until soft, but not browned. Add the garlic and fry for another minute. Add the fried onion to the bowl with the rice and meat and leave to cool slightly.

SWISS CHARD CAKESWISS CHARD CAKE

Add the egg, chopped parsley and Parmesan to the bowl with the filling, season with grated nutmeg, salt and freshly milled black pepper, and mix well. Taste and season with more salt and pepper or nutmeg if necessary. 

SWISS CHARD CAKE

Cover the bottom of the cake tin with a disc of baking parchment the size of bottom of the tin, then brush the bottom and sides lightly with olive oil. Place a couple of the nicest looking blanched chard leaves with colourful veins on the bottom of the pan (these will later become the top of the cake so be as creative as you like), then add a couple of leaves (1-2 layers) on top to cover the whole bottom. Place more beautiful large leaves along the entire rim of the pan so that they are half hanging over the sides. At the end, the rim should be completely covered with overhanging leaves, with no gaps showing along the rim.

SWISS CHARD CAKE

Add a third of the meat-rice filling into the tin and distribute evenly, making sure that the filling goes all the way into the bottom rounding of the pan. Cover with a layer of chard leaves, followed by another layer of filling, chard leaves, etc. End with the remaining chard leaves on top, compacting and flattening the layers a little to make sure the cake keeps together well after baking.

SWISS CHARD CAKE

Finish by neatly folding the overhanging leaves over and on top of the cake, making sure that the cake is completely covered.

SWISS CHARD CAKESWISS CHARD CAKE

Brush the top of the cake with a little olive oil, then cover it with a disk of parchment paper, the size of the cake tin, pressing it lightly onto the cake. This will make sure that the top leaf layer will be nicely steamed and not dried out during baking. Alternatively cover the tin with a layer of aluminum foil.

SWISS CHARD CAKESWISS CHARD CAKE

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 40 Minutes or until the cake can easily be pierced with a toothpick or the tip of a sharp knife, meaning that the leaves are soft. Remove the cake from the oven and leave it to cool a little inside the tin. Carefully run a small knife between the rim and the cake to make sure that the cake is not stuck, then invert it onto a large plate: to do so, first remove the outer ring, then place a large plate on top of the cake and invert both cake and plate together. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

SWISS CHARD CAKE

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SWISS CHARD CAKE



SWISS CHARD CAKESWISS CHARD CAKESWISS CHARD CAKE

Makes 1 cake, app. 22 cm diameter
(for a 25cm cake tin double the ingredients below and use 3 large bunches of Chard)

½ cup Arborio (or Risotto, Paella, or other round corn rice)
2 big bunches Swiss Chard, approx. 20 large leaves, washed and thick stems cut out
400-500g mixed beef and pork mince
1 medium red or yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp grated Parmesan
handful fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 egg
freshly grated nutmeg
salt
pepper
olive oil

Also: a 22cm springform cake tin

Bring approx. 1 litre of water to a boil, salt, then add the unwashed rice and cook until almost done, app. 15 minutes. Drain very well, then put it into a large bowl and leave to cool. Bring water in a large pot to a boil, add salt. Add the Swiss chard leaves, a few at a time, to the boiling water and blanch until they begin to wilt, then remove them with the aid of large kitchen tongs and lay them flat to dry in a single layer on kitchen towels. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the ground beef, season with salt and freshly milled black pepper and fry until nicely browned and fully cooked. Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon or spatula, add it to the bowl with the rice and leave to cool. To the same pan add another Tbsp of olive oil then fry the onion until soft, but not browned. Add the garlic and fry for another minute. Add the fried onion to the bowl with the rice and meat and leave to cool slightly. Add the egg, chopped parsley and Parmesan to the bowl with the filling, then season with grated nutmeg, salt and freshly milled black pepper, and mix well. Taste and season with more salt and pepper or nutmeg if necessary. Cover the bottom of the tin with a disc of baking parchment, then brush the bottom and sides lightly with olive oil. Place a couple of the nicest looking blanched chard leaves with colourful veins on the bottom of the pan (these will later become the top of the cake so be as creative as you like), then add a couple of leaves (1-2 layers) on top to cover the whole bottom. Place more beautiful large leaves along the entire rim of the pan so that they are half hanging over the sides. At the end, the rim should be completely covered with overhanging leaves, with no gaps showing along the rim. Add a third of the meat-rice filling into the tin and distribute evenly, making sure that the filling goes all the way into the bottom rounding of the pan. Cover with a layer of chard leaves, followed by another layer of filling, chard leaves, etc. ending with the remaining chard leaves on top, compacting and flattening the layers a little to make sure the cake keeps together well after baking. Finish by neatly folding the overhanging leaves over and on top of the cake, making sure that the cake is completely covered. Brush the top of the cake with a little olive oil, then cover it with a disk of parchment paper, the size of the cake tin, pressing it lightly onto the cake. This will make sure that the top leaf layer will be nicely steamed and not dried out during baking. Alternatively cover the tin  with a layer of aluminum foil. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 40 Minutes or until the cake can easily be pierced with a toothpick or the tip of a sharp knife, meaning that the leaves are soft. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool a little inside the tin. Carefully run a small knife between the rim and the cake to make sure that the cake is not stuck, then invert it onto a large plate: to do so, first remove the outer ring, then place a large plate on top of the cake and invert both cake and plate together. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

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4 comments:

  1. I was just gifted with about 14 Swiss chard plants for my garden (and have several already planted) and was thinking.."What am I gonna do with all this chard?!" Now I know ;) Looks delicious! Can't wait to try this recipe. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Oh wow! Great to have them in your garden! Well, this recipe needs plenty, the more the better. Hope you like it, Eva :-)

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  2. Anonymous16.10.16

    Hi Eva, it was nice to meet you & your family last night. Your blog looks really lovely and delectable! When you can, I would be very interested in your pizza recipe, including the kind of sauce you use .... Have a nice evening, Cecelia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cecelia, it was lovely to meet you and your husband too! :-) And thank you for visiting my blog! The pizza post has been in the making since quite a while, will see if I can post it soon, otherwise will send you what I have via mail. Have a nice evening! Eva x

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