I actually did it.
I baked something recently just for the sake of it and enjoyed every minute of the experience–almost. Kitchen solitude for an entire day, going through the motions, cleaning as I worked–it was lovely. This confirms that starting a baking group and looking forward to baking at least once a month was a perfect decision. Ah, but then there’s the writing that accompanies it.
Simple Jam Tart
I looked over at my husband a few evenings ago as we sat in our usual places after dinner in front of the television — he in his chair, ever present laptop casting a blue white glow on his handsome mug, and I pressed into a corner of the sofa, pillows wedged beneath me, iPad screen black and lacking my attention. I’m not sure what urged me to bring it up, but I told him to not worry about Valentine’s Day, to not bother with running to the store for a card or flowers — that I didn’t need a day created to sell cards to remind me he loves me. And then I had to confess I’d forgotten I had already purchased a card for him last week and watched him fake a pout and I laughed over the whole thing. We’ve celebrated “us” quite a bit in the last couple of months and I’m currently planning our trip to Paris and Germany for later this spring, so Valentine’s Day seems to have been lost in the shuffle.
I love ricotta, but I’ve never had truly fresh ricotta, so I decided to make my own. It requires very little time, no special equipment, and few ingredients, so I was able to prepare it one evening, then drain it over night for use the next day. I had no idea what I might make with it once it was finished, but that’s the story of my life right now. How bad could it be to simply nibble on fresh ricotta sprinkled with sea salt and perhaps a drizzle of fruity extra virgin olive oil? Of course, sprinkling it over a nice salad could be fabulous as well. Perfectly simple, right?
Simple seems never to be in my repertoire.
With less than a week until Easter and no real plans for a holiday meal in the works, I decided to look for dessert recipes that included ricotta and almost immediately found quite a few for a traditional Easter Pie, or in some cases, Pasteria. It’s like a cheesecake, but it’s made with ricotta and grain. Although the grain is most often wheat, some recipes use rice. Others are made with a crust and latticed top — but some are completely without either — and leave it to me to make one in the least traditional way possible, lacking crust, wheat, and candied fruit.
This small dessert is perfect for spring, or when berries are at their best.
I’m pleased to say that I’m on a roll with Mark Bittman’s “101 Simple Salads for the Season” and surprisingly ahead of my original plan. My twelve-page print out from the New York Times, as many of my other cookbooks, is beginning to look respectfully used. With four recipes completed in five days, and a fifth on the menu for tonight’s dinner, there are bits of this and that splashed on the sheets, paper edges are beginning to curl, and my notes are scrawled on the salads I’ve tried so far. Clearly, I love this project.
Since we’re clearly in the time of plenty with respect to ingredients, I seem to be following the recipes in the Vegan category primarily. My fridge is packed with fresh veggies all vying for my attention, so they’re getting it. Hence, my second salad, No. 13 which was to have been a red salad.
Clearly, I chose a different route. There will be red, however. Wait for it…
Some of you may know that I was asked to do a guest post for Tartelette. You know, The Tartelette?
Yes. I know.
Of course I had a few moments of the puffy ego syndrome after an initial self-indulgent happy dance before I snapped out of it and began to fret about what to make. Ohhhhhh, the sweet agony of making this particular decision. I’m a meat and veggie type of person, comfortable with trying a bit of this and a bit of that. I have a fondness for salad and greens, and a little addiction for the perfect muffin. But making something special that would look like it belonged up front and center on Tartelette’s site?
Well. You have no idea the fuss I made over this. You’d have thought the Queen of England was coming to dinner. Seriously. But I had so much fun. Far more fun than I’d have had if I’d needed to choose a little black dress for an event as swanky as that.
I don’t do little black dresses. Ever.
But I learned quite a bit making A Pavola for Tartelette — or Helen, who is quite the amazing person if you’re fortunate enough to know her.
I hope you take some time to visit her, read my post, and decide what you think of my Pavlova — definitely more of a tutu than a little black dress if you ask me.
And no, I don’t do tutus, either. It just might conjure images of dancing hippos instead of ballerinas.