The Principality of Monaco is the second smallest country in the world with Prince Albert II as the head of state. The House of Grimaldi have ruled Monaco, with brief interruptions, since 1297. A treaty was agreed in 2002 that if the reigning Prince failed to leave dynastic offspring, then sovereignty over the Grimaldi realm would revert to France (no pressure there then Princes of Monaco!)
In 2014 it was noted about 30% of Monaco’s population was made up of millionaires and it is the third most expensive country in the world. From a brief internet search I managed to find a 4 bedroom villa for sale, overlooking the harbour for a nice sum of 45 million pounds. Well, we can all dream!!
Tourism and gambling drive the economy with millions flocking to Monaco each year for the luxurious beachfront hotels, the extensive yacht harbour and the famous Monte Carlo Casino. If money was no object, you could lunch at Louis XV, Monaco’s most prestigious dining address, spoil yourself with a gold dust bath at the Thermes Marin de Monte Carlo, take in a performance by the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra or shop till you drop at the famous 5 Pavillions shopping area.
When it comes to the food, there are 237 restaurants in Monaco serving any and every type of cuisine you could wish for. Traditional Monegasque dishes include Brandamincium (salt cod pounded with garlic, oil & cream), Pan Bagnats (Monegasque sandwiches) and Socca (chickpea crepes). I opted to make Barbajuans (pastries filled with cheese and chard) and they were very tasty, a little fiddly to make, but worth the effort.
Makes 12 – 14
Prep time: 25 mins + 1 hour chill time
Cook time: 20 mins
For the pastry
125g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For the filling
1 tbsp onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp leek, finely chopped
3 stems swiss chard leaves, stems removed, chopped
1 tbsp parmesan, freshly grated
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 egg beaten
1 1/2 tbsp ricotta
1/2 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper
Mix the flour with water (at room temperature) salt and extra virgin olive oil. Start mixing with a fork first, then with your hands until ingredients are perfectly blended.
Knead vigorously on a floured surface until smooth, around 8 – 10 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball and wrap it in cling film. Place in the fridge for 1 hour.
Heat olive oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat.
Fry the onion and leek about 4 mins.
Add chard, oregano and fry for about 8 mins until tender.
Transfer to a small bowl and mix in cheeses.
Season with salt and pepper, mix in 1 tbsp egg.
Set aside to cool.
Roll out dough on floured surface to 1mm thickness and cut out 12 – 14 rounds using 2-2 ½”” cutter.
Place 1/2 tsp. of filling in center of each round.
Brush edges of rounds with egg.
Stretch the dough out and fold it over, forming half-circle, pressing the edges with a fork to seal.
Place pastries on baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.
Pour vegetable oil into large skillet to depth of 1 ½”” and heat to 375°F.
Working in batches, fry pastries until brown and crisp, about 5 min.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer pastries to paper towel and drain. Serve warm or at room temperature.