New Year, New Favorite Places

So far this year I've given you a recipe for unbelievably good ricotta, my newest pasta obsession, and a brownie parading as a cake  -- you're very, very welcome --  so now that you have a few things to cook as you get acquainted with 2019, I'm here to give you a few places to try, too. In theme with the new year -- which is just nearly a month old, aww! -- I wanted to share some of my new favorite places in Rome, ones that have opened not so long ago and that have quickly become some of my Top Favorite haunts in the Eternal City. As always: whether you're vacationing in Rome for a bit or living here like me, keep 2019 going in the right direction and pay a visit to all of the below, okay?

ALTROVE RISTORANTE
Address: Via Girolamo Benzoni 34 (Garbatella neighborhood)
Hours: Tuesday 8am-8pm; Wednesday-Friday 8am-midnight; Saturday 9am-midnight; Sunday 9am-4pm. 
If you're looking to shake things up in a city of spaghetti alla carbonara e cacio e pepe, Altrove -- meaning elsewhere, in Italian -- is just the place. A little background: Altrove's staff comes from Matemù, a center where immigrants, refugees, and other marginalized young people can not only participate in  language classes and recreational activities, but also take courses that gear them towards a professional career; in this case, a career in the restaurant sector. Altrove therefore has an extremely multicultural (and incredibly talented) staff, with chefs and pastry chefs from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Its menu reflects this diversity; here you'll find dishes inspired by all sorts of different cuisines, making for an interesting, unexpected menu, hard to come by in Italy. Pictured below: an amuse bouche of fried shrimp, fennel, and spicy sauce; a spin on Sicilian caponata, where the caponata is shaped in to a cylinder and fried in oatmeal flour, served with an almond sauce; tuna with a bell pepper sauce; kofta, or lamb meatballs with a pistachio and feta sauce, roasted beets, carrots, and onions; and finally, roasted quail with cranberries and escarole. The desserts were similarly fantastic, and actually quite American, the highlight being the Twix, "revisted," a shortbread base covered in salted caramel and chocolate. Need I say more?! Bonus: I've only been for dinner, but Altrove also is bakery and cafe' during the day, and is open at lunch, too, where they offer a buffet. 


MARIGOLD ROMA 
Address: Via Giovanni da Empoli 37 (zona Ostiense)
Hours: Open Tuesday-Thursday from 8:30-5pm; Friday from 8:30-11pm; Saturdays from 9:00-11pm; Sundays from 9:00-5pm. 
Ahh, Marigold! Where to begin?! I have so many things to say about this restaurant/micro-bakery that I could easily go on for a whole blog post, but I'll try and fit it all in here. First things first: Marigold is brand new (opened only in December 2018) and owned and run by Sofie (Danish) and Domenico (Italian) a couple who, up until recently, put their immense talent to use holding pop-up dinners in their home and selling baked goods out of their own kitchen. Lucky for all of us, they've expanded into a professional space in the form of Marigold, serving breakfast, brunch (weekends), lunch, and dinner (Fridays and Saturdays). Marigold's food is unique, creative, interesting in a sea of classic cucina romana, offering dishes like slow cooked pork belly with fennel and apple; tortelli with ricotta, lemon, and kale pesto; chickpea and cannellini bean soup with za'taar and yogurt; and pan-fried quail with roasted pumpkin, sage, and broccoletti to name just a few of a spectacular many. Lunch and dinner aside, there's also BRUNCH, you guys, which is probably the most exciting part for me. Yup -- finally, finally, there's a real brunch place in Rome, and an exceptional one at that, one that serves up buttermilk pancakes and waffles with syrup, omelettes and toast, homemade sourdough bread with homemade butter, and even eggs benedict (!!!) The best thing you can order at Marigold, though, at least in my humble opinion?! Sofie's homemade cinnamon twists, fragrant with cinnamon and lots cardamom, soft but still a bit crisp from the caramelized sugar that seeps out while baking, a dream when eaten fresh out of the oven. Bonus: It's not just Marigold's food that's wonderful -- everything at Marigold is spot-on, terrific, from the effortlessly chic less-is-more décor to the best-of-the-best ingredients to the incredibly lovely staff. If I could go there every day, I would; I think you'll feel the same way too.







SEU PIZZA ILLUMINATI
Address: Via Angelo Bargoni 10-18, Trastevere neighborhood
Hours: Closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Open all other days 7pm-midnight.
Within seconds of entering Seu, it becomes clear that this is not just any pizzeria -- this is a pizzeria where people take pizza very, very seriously. Their motto -- inscribed in impossible-to-miss neon pink writing on the wall -- is "In Pizza We Trust," and I think that about sums it up. Seu is run by Pier Daniele Seu, pizzaiolo illuminato, or rather an enlightened pizza maker, which may seem like a weighty claim, until you try the pizza, at which point it all makes sense. First things first: Seu's menu is divided into 3 sections, starting with "Le Classiche" (with classic pizzas like la margherita and la marinara, for example) "Old School" (spicy diavola pizza, decadent 4 formaggi,) and "Seu"(creative pizzas like "La Indiviata" with endive, mortadella, ricotta, pistacchio, and nutmeg). Under the toppings there is the crust, one that is neither traditionally Roman (thin, crisp, borderline crunchy crust) nor traditionally Neapolitan (thick, fluffy crust). Instead, it's sort of via di mezzo, or a compromise, one that is medium in its thickness, incredibly soft ad slightly chewy, and it's divine. All pizzas, in my opinion, should be preluded with a good set of fritti. like the suppli' pictured below, an assortment of bruschette, if you prefer. Bonus: If you find yourself around Mercato Centrale at the Termini station -- another places that deserves a mention in a blog post somewhere, as its one of my very favorites -- Seu has another pizzeria there, too. 


TRATTORIA PENNESTRI
Address: Via Giovanni da Empoli 5 (Ostiense neighborhood)
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 7pm-11pm. Open for lunch Friday-Saturday, noon-3pm. 
On my 30th birthday I took my sister's sage advice and made a reservation for our celebratory dinner at Trattoria Pennestri -- and gastronomically speaking, my third decade of life couldn't have gotten off a better start. Simply put, the food at Trattoria Pennestri is just so, so good, Italian cuisine, yes, but a sort of elevated Italian cuisine. There's gnocchi, taken to the next level wtih the addition of shrimp and stracciatella; familiar pasta e fagioli, finished off with smoked peperoncino; classic Roman coratella, prepared with lemon zest and topped with ricotta salata; and duck breast with apples and juniper, to name just a few. Pictured below: an amuse bouche of of sheep's milk ricotta drizzled with olive oil; pumpkin hummus with primo sale cheese and yogurt; pici pasta with broccoli rabe and crunchy crispy pangrattato; the aforementioned cozy, warming pasta e fagioli. Had we had room for dessert (next time for sure!) we would've opted for a multi-chocolate mousse, which is one of the restaurants signature ends to the meal. Bonus: You couldn't ask for a nicer staff or a cozier ambience -- all around lovely experience. 


ZIA RESTAURANT
Address: Via Goffredo Mameli 45 (Trastevere)
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 7:30pm-10:30pm. Thursday-Saturday, lunch from 12:30-2:30pm.
Zia Restaurant -- which opened just under a year ago -- has been on my Favorites list for a while now, and having already covered the sweeter side of the menu, I thought it was about time I shared the savory side of it with you, too. The dishes at Zia -- run and owned by the incredibly talented Antonio Ziantoni -- are creative, beautiful, and delicious in that way where a telltale hush falls over the table as all parties take their first bite ** gazes off dreamily in to the distance.** The current menu boasts dishes like savory foie gras macarons; scallops with leeks and almonds; gnocchi with pumpkin, melty castelmagno cheese, and rosemary; tortelli with mushrooms and sea urchin; and even barbecue beef. To finish the meal, pastry genius Christian Marasca offers desserts like the oh-so-magical Nocciola, or Hazelnut, consisting of hazelnut mousse, vanilla caramel, and praline and hazelnut cookie; the Tourbillon, or a swirly, intensely vanilla-y tart; homemade chocolates; and currently on my radar and begging to be tried, La Mela, or vanilla mousse filled with a filling made with both cooked and raw apples and shaped and decorated to look just like an Golden Delicious (!!!) Bonus: The staff are some of the nicest, most accommodating people you’ll ever meet. Note: Zia is a bit too dark to take photos fit for the blog, so I've borrowed some from Instagram. Photos below courtesty of www.instagram.com/ziarestaurant and www.instagram.com/christianmarasca_. 

 
 









































Brownie Ciambellone

In exactly 7,200 minutes, or 120 hours -- or, more to the point, exactly 5 days -- I will turn 30 years old, and thus officially leave my twenties, a decade which has, all things considered, been quite important for me. After all, they've covered everything from my days as a college student to a magnificent year abroad in Bologna to a spur of the moment nose piercing and a dose of dark hair dye; they were the years in which I first experienced falling in love, a subsequent broken heart, and true loss. In my twenties I moved to Rome, experienced living on my own for the first time without my twin sister, started working -- first as an English teacher, then as a program assistant, and now at the UN -- and also launched this blog. In short, a whole lot has happened in the past 10 years, and all of it has been formative, meaningful, crucial to my personal growth and development. When I think of who I am at 29 compared to who I was at 20, the change I see is immense; I feel like two completely different people. 

So: 30 years old! Frankly speaking, I can't exactly say that I've been been looking forward to the 27th of January -- 30 is a weighty age, at least for me (note that the jury is still out on this, however: when I told my 92 year old grandmother my thoughts on my upcoming birthday, she laughed in my face). While in Italy being 30 means you're still a ragazzina, or a kid, it most certainly has a far different weight in the United States (ahh, cultural differences!) In my home country, reaching 30 comes with a whole series of checklists. By the time you start your third decade of life, you should have have completed a masters degree and have already embarked on a promising career; you should be married, with a house and a mortgage to boot, and extra points if you already have your first (or even second!) kid. In short, it is a tall order, but one that I see many of my friends back home completing -- social media makes sure to let me know this -- which leaves me feeling a bit perplexed, something along the lines of: wait wait wait! you're engaged?! you've bought a house?! since when?! should I be worried?! should I be doing that too?! etc, etc. 

A year ago on my last birthday, when I turned 29, I was rather reflective, a bit hesitant about approaching 30. While it's true that I still feel a bit unsure about entering this new phase, and unsteady with the knowledge that I'm not exactly following the path of my peers back home, I find that my perspective has changed. Sure, I may not be married with a house with a white picket fence, but I have my own share of things to be excited and proud of: at 30, I've managed to create a life for myself from scratch in the capital city of a foreign country, and make it my second home, not at all a small feat; I speak Italian with a fluency my 20 year old self would have never imagined; I have a group of spectacular friends here who make life all the more beautiful and fun and rewarding; I have this blog, a passion project that I love to bits and that keeps my creative juices flowing; I translated a book; this year I'm moving in to a new apartment soon, am planning trips to Lake Como, Sicily, and Portugal, and have a whole lot of goals and projects for the new year. Simply put, I've realized with some reflection that I have accomplished just as much as perhaps the "typical" American my age, with those accomplishments being not less or more, or better or worse, but just different, and still wonderful. As I go in to this new stage of life, I'm feeling optimistic, fortunate, excited to see what not only the new year brings (the upside to a January birthday!) but also who I'll meet, what I'll learn, what else I will achieve, and who I'll become in the next ten years. Lots to think about, no?!

Okay! Sentimental bit of this post closed now, promise.

The recipe! Ladies and gentleman, in honor of my fast approaching birthday, I give you cake, this Brownie Ciambellone, one of my very favorite sweets that makes frequent appearances in my kitchen. First things first: a ciambellone is a common treat in all of Italy, a plain, simple ring shaped cake usually eaten at breakfast or as a snack. Most all Italians have a recipe for ciambellone, and this is mine, one that, in true Italo-American style, crosses this traditional Italian cake with the American brownie. On the brownie side, it's rich and fudge-y and intensely chocolate-y -- melted chocolate, a dash of cocoa powder, and a generous amount of chocolate chips ensure this -- but still simple, humble, versatile like any good ciambellone should be, as at home with a cup of coffee as a typical sweet Italian breakfast as it is as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea. It comes together in a snap -- no softening or beating of butter, no frosting or layers here -- and it's a lovely cake that wears many hats, one whose functions include, but are not limited to: 30th birthdays, birthdays in general, middle of the week cake cravings, sudden chocolate cravings, extra special breakfasts, a simple dessert with a dusting of powdered sugar, a sweet way to say I love you/I'm sorry/Congratulations/just-because-I-wanted-to-make-a-cake/TGIF, etc etc. Whatever your reasoning may be, I do recommend you start 2019 off right and make this cake. ASAP. Really.

A couple of notes: You can also make this cake with white chocolate instead of semisweet and leave out the cocoa powder and chocolate chips, if you want to take it in a completely different direction; if you make the white chocolate version and add raspberries or blueberries, you won't regret it. I have never baked this in a muffin pan to make individual cakes, but I think you most certainly could. Don't leave out the sprinkling of mini chocolate chips on the top -- it really adds something special to the cake.

Looking for more chocolate cake recipes? I have this 1940s Wacky Chocolate Cake, this Wellesley Fudge Cake, this Chocolate Fudge Souffle Cake, these Chocolate Lava Cakes, this Chocolate Loaf Cake, this Torta Caprese and this German Chocolate Cake. Looking for more brownie-esque recipes? I have these Brownie Cookies, this Brownie Pie, these Fudge Brownies, and these Dulce de leche brownies. For more ciambelloni: this Lemon Ricotta Cake, this White Chocolate Blueberry Cake, and this Apple Cake


BROWNIE CIAMBELLONE

Ingredients:
10.5 ounces (300 grams) semi sweet chocolate, chopped
7 ounces (200 grams) unsalted butter
1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (195 grams) flour
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 35 grams) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (175 grams) mini chocolate chips

Powdered sugar for serving (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325F/160C. Grease a bundt pan with some butter and set aside. 
Place chocolate, butter, milk, and sugar in a bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl, and stir occasionally. You can also just do this on a pan on the stove (that’s what I usually do) as long as you’re careful the chocolate doesn’t burn. Remove the pan from the heat when chocolate and butter have melted, and stir mixture until completely smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Allow mixture to cool at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Add the vanilla and eggs to chocolate mixture and whisk until well combined. In a large bowl mix together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Add one cup of the flour mixture to the chocolate and stir until a smooth paste forms. Repeat with another cup of the chocolate mixture. Add remaining chocolate mixture and stir until mixture is smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake for 45 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean without any batter. If the cake is browning too much while baking, cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Allow cake to cool on a wire rack to room temperature before turning it out of the pan. Serves 10-14, depending on how big the slices are.




Orecchiette con cime di rapa, salsiccia, e pangrattato

I have a distinct memory of a conversation with my second grade classmates, where Elliot M. -- class troublemaker, for the record -- excitedly told his audience of fellow 8 year olds that his mom was taking him to Applebee's for a dinner of chicken fingers and fries. This was a big deal -- what kid doesn't love fried chicken and potatoes, right? -- and sparked a conversation among us about what the rest of our moms would probably make for dinner. The answers were numerous; hamburgers! grilled cheese! steak! When it was my turn, I told them all about the pasta my mom was going to make, with my nonna's ragu', and lots of Parmesan. "Pasta?" remarked one. "We never eat pasta in my house." "Me neither!" said another. I was baffled. At my house, we ate pasta all the time -- we loved pasta! We had a whole cabinet dedicated to pasta in my kitchen, filled with not just spaghetti but also linguine and farfalle and gemelli; at only 8, I knew that pasta should be cooked in salted water and only until it reached al dente; my favorite shape was rigatoni. I didn't know that there were people who didn't eat pasta, and that day, I remember thinking: how lucky was I to be able to eat glorious, glorious pasta, any time I wanted?

I can't remember a time I didn't adore pasta, and it has, strange as it sounds, played a part in many of my nicest memories in my (nearly!) 30 years so far: my grandmother's tomato sauce over spaghetti; comforting bowls of pastina in broth when I was sick with a cold; making lasagna with my nonno at Christmas; discovering tortellini in Bologna, and bucatini all'amatriciana in Rome; learning that gnocchetti sardi weren't at all gnocchi, but shell-shaped pasta, during a summer trip to Sardinia; dining on agnolotti al plin in Torino with my dad; learning to make fresh ravioli with Carla Tomasi not so long ago. And these are just a few! I could go on and on, which is pretty remarkable given that pasta in itself is a pretty simple deal, just a little bit of flour egg and and water, without much flavor of its own to speak of. That being said, it's exactly this blank-canvas quality that makes it so versatile, that allows it to tangle up with a paired down olive oil and garlic as easily as it does with rich egg yolks and guanciale, and similarly, fits in to all sorts of instances and memories in my own life thus far, if that makes sense -- pasta for me is everything from my go-to get-well dish to my most nostalgic lunch tradition with my grandparents to a cooking class with one of my favorite people. In short: pasta knows no boundaries, my friends. 

So! My history with pasta is long and rich, and deliciously varied, and continues to flourish in the present (living in Italy definitely encourages this). Today's orecchiette is one of my new favorite pasta dishes, one that I ate alongside my sister on a rainy Sunday in Rome at the beginning of the new year. This is a dish that's got everything, a perfect 10 in my books: there's a bit of heat from the chili and and a subtle flavor boost from the garlic; the sausage adds richness and meatiness that is balanced out nicely by the bitter greens, all captured and held by the orecchiette. The whole thing is tied together beautifully with a shower of freshly grated Parmesan and a good handful of crispy, crunchy, garlicky-spicy breadcrumbs, and eaten all together, it's a true pasta masterpiece, one I'll be adding to my regular rotation for sure. Whatever your history with pasta, storied or not -- pleaseeee do yourself a favor and make this.

A couple of notes: I used orecchiette here because they're one of my favorite shapes but use whatever pasta you like best. You can use either spicy or sweet sausage. If I had had some wine hanging around I'd probably have added a splash of it to the pan to deglaze it after I cooked the sausage - will try this next time. A little bit of lemon zest mixed in with the breadcrumb mixture is also lovely. If for some reason you want a side instead of a main, you can leave out the pasta and sausage here; the cime di rapa and breadcrumbs make for a lovely side alone. Finally, you can substitute broccoli or any other green you like for the broccoli rabe, if you prefer.

Looking for other recipes with leafy greens? I've got this scarola e fagioli, this chickpea, kale, and sausage soup, this cicoria ripassata alla romana, this torta pasqualina, this spaghetti with garlicky greens, and this turkey, spinach, and white bean soup. Looking for another pasta/breadcrumbs recipe?! Of course you were! I've got this pasta con tonno, pangrattato, e limone

ORECCHIETTE CON CIME DI RAPA E SALSICCIA 
Serves 4

Ingredients:
Olive oil
4 sausages
400 grams (a little less than a pound) broccoli rabe 
4 cloves of garlic
Dried or fresh chili or chili flakes (I used dried chilis)
1 cup (60 grams) bread
300 grams pasta orecchiette or dried pasta of your choice
Parmesan cheese or this homemade ricotta for serving

Directions:
Prepare the broccoli rabe; cut the leaves and broccoli from the stems and put in a bowl. Next, peel the stems and chop them up, and add them to the bowl. Rinse the broccoli rabe off an set aside. 
Next, remove the sausage from their casings and break in to smaller pieces. Coat a large skillet with a little olive oil and cook the sausage until well-browned and cooked throughout. Let the sausage drain on a paper-towel lined plate and set aside.

While your sausage cooks, work on the breadcrumbs. Using a food processor, process the bread until it turns in to breadcrumbs. Heat a good amount of olive oil (3 or so tablespoons) 2 cloves of garlic and a dried chili in a medium skillet over medium-low heat until you can start to smell the garlic. Add the breadcrumbs to the pan, and cook them until toasty and golden brown. Discard the garlic cloves and chili. Set aside.


Pour most of the fat from the sausage out of the skillet and put it back on the stove. Add a little extra olive oil to the pan if needed and add your remaining garlic cloves and a chili. As you did with the breadcrumbs, Sautee the garlic and chili in the oil until fragrant, and then add the broccoli rabe. It may seem like a lot of greens, but they'll cook down quite fast. In the meantime, cook your pasta according to package instructions for al dente pasta.

Cook the broccoli rabe for 10 minutes, adding a few tablespoons of water if you'd like to help the greens wilt. Season the broccoli rabe with a little salt (keeping in mind the sausage might be on the salty side) and then add the sausage back to the pan. 
Heat the sausage throughout along with the greens. Remove the garlic cloves from the pan and discard. Toss your cooked pasta with the sausage and greens mixture, then serve sprinkled with a good amount of breadcrumbs and a generous grating of Parmesan cheese -- or, if you're lucky, a dollop of that homemade ricotta I told you about last week. Enjoy!
 







































Homemade Ricotta

Happy (belated) New Year, everyone! After 2 weeks in the U.S I'm back in Rome and in the throws of jetlag -- so much so that the barista greeted me with buonasera when I went to get my morning cappuccino, whoops -- but thankfully, I'm not due back at work until January 14th. I'm happy to be back in the Eternal City, but no trip back is ever free of mixed feelings, and this time around, they were 10x more so. At nearly 30, I am fortunate to still have both of my paternal grandparents -- Nonna Ada is 92, Nonno Jim is 97 -- and I've been lucky, spoiled even, because for the most part, neither one has ever shown much sign of their age. My nonna is sharp as a tack, switching from English to Italian with ease, making bread from scratch with authority, and giving hugs with a fierceness that you wouldn't think possible from such a tiny lady. She's doing well. 

My Nonno Jim is one of the most interesting, engaging, and wonderful people you'll ever meet. He made the journey to the tiny state of Rhode Island from the even tinier town of Grotteria (Calabria) when he was only 14 years old; the trip on the boat lasted 9 days, and he was alone. He joined his father in the U.S, where he worked in the family grocery store, attended American high school, went from being called Vincenzo to Vincent to Jim, and adjusted to life in his new country. And adjust he did; by the time he was 28, he'd founded his own company, Supreme Dairy Farms, which specialized in making Italian cheeses, with ricotta being their biggest seller. Given the many Italian immigrants in Rhode Island, plus pizzerie and Italian restaurants, there was a good market for these products, and the company took off. Nonno Jim owned and very successfully ran his business up until he was 85 years old, and true businessman that he is, loved every minute of it. He is the epitome of the American Dream, and I have told his story to anyone who will listen more times than I can count.  

In the present day, we Skype from his IPad (from letter writing to Skype -- how much he's witnessed!) and during our catch ups, he is eager to hear how work is going for me and my sister, what we've had for dinner, where we're planning to travel next. He loves to watch La Prova del Cuoco on RAI, knows more about Italian politics than the average Italian, and ardently hates Trump; at 97 his teeth are perfect, he has a good amount of hair, and the prescription in his glasses is far less than mine. His memory is incredible -- he can tell you all about his school band back in Calabria where he played the piccolo, his first moments in America, the first time he drove a car -- and he's always had the mind of someone my age rather than his. Given all this, his recent stints in and out of the hospital and now a sudden decline in his health -- including his memory and ability to speak and eat -- have been startling for all of us, jarring. He has always been a source of inspiration and confidence for me (if he had the courage to cross the ocean all alone on a boat, I can be brave enough to do anything!) and his story is, by now, a part of who I am. When in Rhode Island, I visited him nearly every day -- and, I'm happy to report, many of those days were good days for him -- but leaving him this time was difficult, far more painful than it usually is. 

I had a few ideas about what my first post of 2019 would be -- cold weather friendly lentil stew? cardamom scented cinnamon buns? cozy risotto? -- but in the end, after my visit home, I knew that I wanted to make ricotta, just like my nonno used to do. As I followed the recipe -- measured the temperature of the milk, stirred in the lemon juice, strained out the whey -- I thought a lot about him. Sure, he had made his ricotta in the U.S, and I was making mine in Italy, the very country he had left, and he had made huge batches of it every day to sell, while I was making just a small portion. But still, I felt a lot closer to him, knowing that he had carried out the same steps, and that something as simple as ricotta -- a humble, flexible cheese, so unlike over-the-top burrata or super sharp Parmesan -- had brought him so much in his adopted country. I think he would be pretty darn proud of the ricotta his granddaughter made, too -- this recipe made for ricotta that was rich and creamy and perfectly smooth, lovely eaten on toasted bread with a drizzle of olive oil, or a handful of sundried tomatoes, or along side these pickled zucchine, or dolloped on pasta -- the possibilities, I found, are endless. My favorite, however? Spread on toast and drizzled with honey and a grind or two of black pepper. I think my Nonno would approve.

This post is for you, Nonno Jim. I love you!

A couple of notes: The recipe as originally written calls for the 4 cups of whole milk; however, to make it a little richer and smoother, Deb Perelman suggests substituting some of that milk with heavy cream, which is not exactly traditional, but downright delicious (my nonno was intrigued by this addition). I liked this ricotta better with the cream than I did with all milk, but the choice is up to you. This is fresh cheese, so shouldn't be kept in the fridge too long, probably just 2 or so days. That being said, I have no idea how long it lasts, as we've gobbled up most every batch we've made (4 so far)!

HOMEMADE RICOTTA
Recipe from Tasting Table via Smitten Kitchen.
Makes 1 generous cup.

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups (875 ml) whole milk
1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy cream 
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions:
Pour the milk, cream and salt into a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan. Attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer. Heat the milk to 190°F (that would be about 88 degrees Celsius) stirring it occasionally to keep it from scorching on the bottom. 
Remove the pot from heat and add the lemon juice, then slowly stir it once or twice. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. Smitten Kitchen note: At an hour, you’ll have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, almost like cream cheese. It will firm as it cools, so do not judge its final texture by what you have in your cheesecloth. 
Discard the whey, or, if you're crafty, use it for something else (I myself will be using mine to make bread; stay tuned). Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.