Monday, April 5, 2010

Best to-do list ever.

A little ambitious, sure.

I knew I was going to be spending most of the weekend inside, working on a freelance editing project, and that I wouldn't have much time to do anything else, but I cooking actually works really well with this kind of project. I need to get up regularly to stretch and make sure I'm focusing my eyes on things that are more than 18" in front of my face, so checking on something in the oven or mixing up a quick batch of proto-ice cream is the perfect thing to get me out of the chair. Plus, I wanted to make sure I had plenty of good things to eat to make up for working all weekend.

The ricotta ice cream came about because of a conversation with some friends over Michelle's outstanding homemade strawberry ice cream. We were talking about our favorite places in the city to get ice cream (fwiw, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory and Il Laboratorio del Gelato are mine) and I mentioned that I had heard about a combination dry cleaners/gelato place in Bensonhurst that was supposed to be amazing. It turned out that it was actually a tanning salon/gelato place and that it's now closed, but my friend Rose's response to that post ("Ricotta ice cream! OMG") got me thinking. And then it got me googling. And then it got me, well, stirring and whisking; there's no actual cooking involved.
Ricotta Ice Cream
adapted from The Traveler's Lunchbox

1 c. heavy cream
7–9 T sugar
1 lb-ish container of the best ricotta you can find (the stuff I got at Sahadi's was a little under a pound, made somewhere nearby, and listed as its ingredients 'whole milk, starter, trace of salt')
1 c. milk
zest from 1 lemon
1/3 c. honey
1/4 t. cinnamon (you could increase this, even double it; I didn't want it to overwhelm the ricotta, but I couldn't even taste it)

Whisk the cream until soft peaks form, adding sugar gradually. In a separate bowl, whisk the other ingredients together, then fold the cream into the ricotta mixture gently. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. In the morning, stir gently if the cream has risen to the top, and run through your ice cream maker.

I was really, really happy with how this turned out. And the couple of people who stopped by over the course of the weekend who tasted it were also pretty pleased. It tastes like a frozen Italian cheesecake. The ricotta is pleasantly grainy on the tongue, the honey is a gentle, earthy-sweet undertone, and the little bits of lemon brighten it right the hell up.

Saturday afternoon, I roasted a chicken, which is something I've never managed to do well — until now. I was always so paranoid about cooking it all the way though that it ended up drying out. I followed Deb's directions for the Zuni Cafe chicken and even though the skin totally ripped both times I had to flip the bird over, it was easily the best chicken I'd ever made, all burnished skin and succulent, rosemary-scented meat. A friend stopped by for a late lunch after her shift at the Coop and we did a pretty good job of ripping the carcass to pieces after I snapped a quick photo.
Later in the evening, I took the remaining meat off the bones and made stock, which, honestly, is one of the homiest, coziest, making-love-out-of-nothing-at-all activities I know of. I've never thought my homemade stock was anything special when I've done it in the past (bone-to-water ratio off, maybe?), but this batch was kind of out of this world. I'm putting it in the freezer for now, but I think there's going to be some Very Serious Risotto in my near future.

I didn't make the stuffed mushrooms, since they were going to be my contribution to an Easter brunch I had to miss because I was still working on Sunday, but book club is meeting at my place this week, so I'll make them then. Ditto the rhubarb upside-down cake. I did make the hibiscus lemonade though, sort of. I had picked up some dried hibiscus at Sahadi's and brewed some strong tea from it (1/2 c. hibiscus to 3 c. water), added 2/3 c. lemon juice (three lemons' worth), 1/4 c. sugar and filled the rest of the pitcher with water. It's more just like lemony hibiscus tea, but very tasty and somewhere between neutral and very good for you. I didn't take a dedicated picture of it, but you can see it in the photo of my workspace here:
In addition to chicken and ice cream, I like beverages and tidy piles of paper.


Ashley Word said...

you consistently make the most amazing things! always so inspiring.

i have been craving hibiscus tea lately. i have some lonely fresh mint in the fridge that's just begging to be submerged in some. sounds so good that yours is lemony. i like to mix straight hibiscus tea with fresh lemonade and mint!

Michelle said...

Ooh, that chicken looks fabulous. Now I'm really hungry.