Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sunday Funday In The Kitchen

What a beautiful weekend it was in the Big Apple. I couldn't believe how nice it was when we're supposed to be suffering through winter. This time last year, it seemed like it would snow every other day and it was bitter cold. I am not complaining one bit that the sun was bright and warm over the weekend, that's for sure. I filled it up with good friends and, always most importantly, good food! I'd been itching to get back in the kitchen for a full day so I dedicated Sunday afternoon to making a couple of new recipes. After a lovely brunch with Allison and Colleen, I was excited to put on good music and cook the day away.

During my trip to Sicily, I was introduced to what ricotta cheese - real ricotta cheese - should taste like and I vowed that I'd try my hand at making it when I returned. One of my favorite memories of the entire trip was spending the morning at beautiful Emanuela's summer home by the sea where she invited us over for an authentic Sicilian breakfast. One of the signature dishes was bread and homemade ricotta served in a bowl with a ladle of whey right over top:
It was one of the most delicious things I've ever had, truly. My trip was in September which means far too much time has gone by without me making good on my promise to try it homemade. That said, I decided Sunday was the day. If I'm being honest, I've gotten myself back in the kitchen more recently for a couple of reasons. I'm keeping up with my resolution to do so, but I'm also testing a few recipes for when Bryan is in town (less then 3 weeks, hooray!). Having a boyfriend in Denver obviously greatly limits time in the kitchen together, something he and I enjoy so much, so I want to have several homemade things waiting on him when he arrives. I'm pretty sure the two of us could exist on bread and cheese alone - okaaaay maybe wine, too - so what better treat than to eat said cheese that's homemade?!

I wrote previously about my new obsession with Smitten Kitchen and this is exactly where I got the ricotta recipe from. It's also where I got the fabulous oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe from as well that I made while waiting on the cheese to finish, mmm. I followed the ricotta recipe to the letter and it couldn't have been easier, really. It simply requires some extra care but it was overall a cinch. Milk, cream, salt and lemon juice - that's it. I had fun testing this out:
After you've added the lemon juice, you strain the mixture through cheese cloth for 1 - 2 hours which separates the curds and whey:
The result? An absolutely delicious, rich ricotta cheese. It has full flavor, a beautifully creamy texture and it didn't need one single thing extra:
Colleen, are you proud of me for my all natural light photo?! I was, considering how awful I usually am, haha. I was so excited it turned out well. I have several crostini ideas in mind to test out using different acids that I think will cut the richness perfectly so I'm psyched to give them a whirl.

Though I'm not a sweets person, I'm working my way through some recipes that sound terrific yet easy and I'm having fun doing so. While the cheese was straining, I baked the previously mentioned cookies and those were delectable, too:
These cookies were reminiscent of the holidays for me. They have accents of clove, nutmeg and cinnamon with the bright addition of fresh orange zest. I left the pecans out of mine and the only thing I'd do differently is add more oats. Other than that, they are perfectly chewy and delightful. Deb, you're three for three so far in my recipe book. First, the vibrant grapefruit cake I made last week and now these two. I might just be in love with you.

It was a good day to be a guest in my kitchen. Just ask Allison. :)

1 comment:

Allie A said...

Considering I had to leave your house in order to avoid eating the entire dish of the ricotta and then ate all 5 cookies you gave me that same night, yes, I would have to agree it was nice to be a guest in your kitchen!