What's hard for my mum about me including her recipes in my current (Italian-style) manuscript is that she tends to cook from 'feel' rather than instructions. So she's been trying to write down the recipes for me, then second-guessing herself and making the dishes as well to make sure she's remembered all the steps!
Above are some pics she sent me when testing her (modern) ricotta recipe, plus how my nonna used to make it. Why not try one of the recipes, below, for yourself? Beats paying for the exxy supermarket stuff and tastes a heap better, guaranteed ;)
Nonna’s homemade ricotta
1 litre of full cream milk
1 large twig off a fig tree
Clean twig. On the base, cut two deep cuts, forming a cross about 2” deep, so that gum can be released.
Place milk in a saucepan and warm to almost boiling point. Then keeping on the hotplate on very low, stir with the twig until the milk separates. Once separated, take off the heat and keep stirring until the whey has become clear and the ricotta has formed. Place into cheesecloth so that the liquid drains away. Once cool, place in a container in the fridge. Use with poached fruit in place of cream.
*This method makes a very soft ricotta, almost to the consistency of cottage cheese and can be sliced. It has quite a strong taste unlike the version made with vinegar.
*Great way to use up any excess milk!
1 litre of full cream milk
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of vinegar
Olive oil, dried oregano and cracked pepper to taste
Place milk in a saucepan and warm to almost boiling point. Take off the stove, add salt and vinegar, and stir until the milk separates. Strain the mixture in a fine sieve, allowing all the liquid to drain off.
When cool, place the ricotta in cheesecloth (or sieve) and squeeze out any moisture. Put in a container and refrigerate overnight. Next day, cut into required pieces, dress in olive oil, dried oregano, and cracked pepper. Use on dry biscuits, in salads or as additional sandwich fillings. Keeps for a week in the fridge!
This Easter Sunday we celebrated with a small family gathering at my parents' place. Since the grandparents have passed on and great-grandkids have been added to the mix, the family get-togethers are more splintered, smaller events, though my mum still cooks for an army!
At Easter, my mum's mum used to make traditional chicken-shaped Easter bread featuring eggs wrapped in dough (which looked a bit like this). I never used to appreciate the effort that would have gone into making these as a kid as I was too interested in devouring the choccie eggs, but now it's a tradition I remember fondly - and one that is likely lost forever!
Still, there was plenty of other food to go around, including roast pork and crackling, spinach fritters, potato bake, home-made pita bread, and tonnes of yummy salads and desserts. I'll spare you the video of all the kids - and adults! - doing an impromptu performance to Joe Cocker's You Can Leave Your Hat On using dad's hats as props. But check out the pics of my dad, Rocco, in his prized veggie patch.
Happy hols - and hope the Easter bunny was kind to you (and didn't advocate quitting chocolate this year.) :)
Finding my inner peasant...