"Ricotta barely makes it as a cheese. Traditionally made from the whey left behind after the curds that will become cheese are removed and start their journey to the maturing room, this is the lightest, gentlest-tasting dairy product, next to milk." Nigel Slater
I am feeling completely uninspired today. It's one of those very dull days which doesn't help either. I first thought I would do a website post, but really wasn't inspired by the first four on my list. Indeed I crossed them off. I pondered on bits and pieces, but I haven't got enough of those. However, I am also worrying about the basket of ricotta I foolishly bought the other day. Ricotta is best eaten fresh, very fresh and it doesn't stay fresh long. So I have to use it. Fortunately I have the family coming for dinner on Saturday so perhaps I can do something with it then. So I thought that would be my starting point. Start and see what happens.
I'm pretty sure I've done ricotta before and rambled on about our trip to a Parmiggiano Reggiano and Ricotta factory in Italy in 2014. So I won't go on about that again here. Suffice to say those are the freshly prepared baskets, dripping out the excess liquid, and below is the wife of the duo scooping it out of the tank in which the whey had been heated, into the baskets. And yes we did buy one and made something with it. I'm not sure what. Something with spinach I expect.
I have a similar sized basket in my fridge now waiting for inspirational use. I'm really a bit boring with ricotta. Gnocchi, very rarely a cheesecake, stuffed pastry of several different kinds mostly with spinach and spinach, quiche. That's more or less my repertoire. Though I do know that there are many more possibilities.
So I started surfing. Here are a few random thoughts.
Lyricism from Nigel Slater for starters:
"I made myself a slice of thick toast, its crumb chewy, its crust as black as soot, then spread the surface with a snowy mound of ricotta and pieces of jelly-fleshed apricot. This treat never quite made it to the table and I ate it while standing at the kitchen counter. Then, a few minutes later, a second piece of bread, this time untoasted with a swirl of the ricotta, its crest pushed down into a hollow deep enough to hold a pool of olive oil. Unmediated, almost spontaneous. Eaten out of pure greed after coming home with a fresh loaf and white cheese as soft as cream."
I never do things like that. Why not? Well the simple answer I suppose is that I never think of it. He then goes on to list a whole lot of delicious suggestions - quick and easy ones - sweet and savoury. But I know deep in my heart that I am never going to do any of them. Though I might look for a recipe for Ricotta e caffe someday. I do love the taste of coffee in a dessert.
I shan't be trying his recipe of that day though - Baked ricotta with thyme - which is a sort of soufflé which he served with roast tomatoes. Why won't I be trying that? Because I just cannot bring myself to buy any tomatoes at the price they are these days. Well I might if they looked really wonderful like the ones below, but mostly they look hard and underripe and tasteless.
delicious. listed a whole lot of things - 52 to be exact although some of them were sort of duplicates. Hotcakes, fritters and pancakes caught my eye. I don't think I have ever done that. Though again, you'd probably be wanting to serve them with tomatoes. Bill Granger, who is, of course, the king of hotcakes seem to stick to sweet options - and I can certainly relish that idea - but Ottolenghi (and others) have savoury options:
"This dish makes for a great light supper, but there are endless other options to experiment with – burned aubergine flesh mixed with lemon juice, garlic and crème fraîche, say, or strips of roasted red pepper marinated in olive oil and hard herbs, and served with sour cream. " Yotam Ottolenghi
I am finishing this post the next day - I had to stop and cook yesterday's dinner - pumpkin soup - a David favourite - in an effort to cheer him up. And today I am just worrying about what to cook tomorrow if the family comes to dinner. Hopefully ricotta will be in the mix.
It will have to include something vegetarian and also something with ricotta, so when The Guardian newsletter came and I saw Rachel Roddy's Ricotta and semolina cake I thought that, or something similar might be a possibility. She suggested serving it with jam - and my grandchildren love my jam, and cream, so it is indeed a definite possiblity.
But then yesterday I saw Ottolegnhi's Ricotta Tart which looked stunning, and which David caught a glimpse of saying he thought that looked good. And those tomatoes are sun-dried ones, so yes, maybe that as my vegetarian option - which, of course, everybody else will tuck into. The problem then is, what else to cook for 11 hungry people, that will complement it? And even maybe include ricotta? Some vegetarian kind of meatballs perhaps. No meat just ricotta and something. Well I guess that's gnocchi. Well no Ottolenghi (oh dear, again?) actually has some Oregano and ricotta meatballs, which do look absolutely scrumptious. The link is to a fan's site and he or she has made a couple of adaptations - but they explain them, so you can go with it or not. And indeed I think that's what I'll do. An Ottolenghi meal. A ricotta tart as well would be a step too far I think, but definitely a cake of some kind, which can be made in the morning.
As always, decisions, decisions.