Instagram Instagram

« In equal measure | Main | Happily. Handily. »

Ready and witty

It just so happens that two people, especially important people to me, are far away right now. One will be back soon enough, soon I'll be able to count down to their arrival on the fingers to one hand. But the other, well, for her return I would have to count all my fingers and my all toes many times over before the day comes that I can give her a proper hug.

That return feels every bit as far away as it is.

In the meantime, I'm keeping the wistful glances at the calendar at minimum by keeping occupied with the imagined agendas of that homecoming. I'm squirreling anecdotes and stories away in the back of my mind, ready and witty, for the conversations that we'll have.

This dearest friend is also with me in the kitchen, or at least her influence was, when I was making this baked ricotta today. Light but with a gentle creaminess, dotted with pretty green bits of herbs and zingy with lemon, it reminds me of so many meals we've shared over the years of our friendship. On a plate between us, a meal that doesn't mind if it's forgotten when the gossip gets really good.

You'll know this is for you when you read it, so I promise that when you're home I'll make it for you - don't worry, I'll leave out the chili. We'll eat it with garlic-scrubbed shingles of grilled bread, drink something sparkling and catch up.

It will be the best time. Keep safe until then. Hugs to you.

Savory Baked Ricotta
In testing for doneness, the cheese should not be completely dry in the middle. Similar to baking a cheesecake, the ricotta will swell slightly and retain a lazy wobble when set. As it cools, it will firm up some more, so keep that in mind while baking. Individual rounds can be made in muffin tins, and are pretty platemates to a simple salad.

1 garlic clove, a fat and juicy one is best
Olive oil for greasing the dish
8 ounces fresh whole milk ricotta
1/4 cup grated Grana Padano cheese
3 tablespoons minced mixed fresh herbs, I used (in order of most to least) chives, parsley, thyme
Zest from half a lemon
Pinch of red pepper flakes or minced red chili (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1 large egg white, lightly whisked

Preheat an oven to 350°F (175°C). Cut the garlic clove in half horizontally and rub the cut sides against the interior of a 1-cup capacity ramekin. Use a pastry brush to lightly coat the inside of the dish with oil. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, Grana Padano, herbs, lemon zest and chili (if using). Taste, then season with kosher salt and black pepper. Stir in the whisked egg white. Spoon the ricotta mixture into the prepared ramekin and place on a baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven until the cheese is puffed and almost set in the centre, and beginning to brown in spots, around 35 minutes depending on the dimensions of your ramekin. Remove from the oven and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Serve either in the dish or run a knife around the edge of the cheese and invert onto a serving plate with crackers or bread alongside. And maybe some wine too. Surely one with bubbles. Best warm or at room temperature.

Makes 1 baked round, serving 4.

I am simply without the words to express my feelings for those who won't be coming home after the devastating earthquake in Haiti. My heart breaks for those left behind.

If you are able, please consider giving to aid organizations working to help rebuild. Yele Haiti, Médecins Sans Frontières , UNICEF and CARE and are just some of the many organizations working tirelessly on behalf of those who need it most right now.

Julie is also spearheading a project to bring together food bloggers to raise funds; I'll share more details as they come, but read the announcement of Blog Aid here.

The Canadian government has committed to matching Canadian donations, dollar for dollar, towards the relief effort and I hope we take full advantage of their promise.

Reader Comments (26)

She is lucky to have you as a friend too! And to have food as a connector.

January 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLa Tartine Gourmande

tara-this recipe is perfect! i have leftover ricotta sitting in the fridge and i've been debating what to use it for!

January 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermichaela

Oh when I saw your pic earlier today I KNEW I'd love this. Perfect idea for having people over; something new. The suggestion of making them MINI is also intriguing :) one lucky friend!!

January 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSara

What a a great idea, I have never heard of anything like this before!

January 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaterina

I baked ricotta to cut into triangles and garnish a soup. They looked nowhere near as beautiful as yours. I love the idea of baking them in muffin tins. Stealing that idea!

January 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDana

I'm feeling so sad about Haiti, too-as we all are. Strange to be cooking, blogging, living, while so many people are suffering. It's a good time to be a world citizen--our differences seem trivial at a time like this.

January 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Leftoverist

Hey Tara! I've just discovered your blog and the only thing I can say is- gorgeous. I love your photographs. And the baked ricotta, what a brilliant idea, I love it. I have to give it a go soon.

January 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSari

What a remarkable post! -It felt so reassuring to open your blog and find your thoughts on the very topics that are on my mind today.

I dropped a loved one off at the airport just this morning... I'm going to borrow your idea and start anticipating his return.

And my thoughts are also with the people in Haiti - and with the folks who have loved ones there. Such heartbreak is hard to even comprehend. Thanks for the links.

January 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

Please consider UNICEF, half of the population in Haiti is children and youth.

January 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLucia

Oh, I bet this would be nice the next time I make homemade ricotta. What a treat!

January 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

Wonderful recipe to share and lovely words.

It's devastating what is happening in Haiti right now. I have a friend whose parents live there--it's utterly heartbreaking. Thank you for providing info to some of the organizations out there. =)

January 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlisa @ dandysugar

Thank you for your wonderful post. It's hard being separated from the ones we love. My thoughts and prayers are with those in Haiti and with those whose loved ones won't be coming back.

I love this recipe. simple and delicious!

January 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHalf Baked

thanks for the recipe... looks fantastic!!!

January 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElie's Papel

Oh yum. I love the addition of lemon zest to the ricotta and herbs...what a lovely combination that must be. Thank you for sharing, Tara. Your friend is very lucky to be able to sit across a table from you when she returns!

January 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

Lovely, both the dish and the sentiment served up alongside.

January 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermolly

What a sweet post, really heart warming. Love your blog, it's so heartfelt.

And, the baked ricotta looks amazing. Sort of like the ricotta layer in lasagna, which is my favorite!

January 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNadia

Sweet post. I love the way you describe the cheese retaining a lazy wobble - your prose is a pleasure to read.

January 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterzested

I love this recipe! Never have seen it before and I can't wait to try it. Your photo is mouth-watering.
Thanks for mentioning Haiti and ways to donate- it is so much on everyone's mind right now.

January 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

it is such a comforting thought to be cooking with someone in mind. your friend is lucky to have you and it seems you feel blessed to have her, too. the spiced ricotta looks really beautiful, i love the additional of grana padano, btw. and of course the specks of red chilli. another beautiful post, Tara. best wishes, shayma

January 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commentershayma

what a wonderful post + recipe. thank you for sharing! xoxo

January 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersimplesong

This looks delicious and very unique! I am going to have to try it. Thanks for sharing! Yum.

January 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterASHLEA

Hello everyone! Sorry that I've been so behind on the chat; it's been a birthday week around here for more than a few of our family and friends.

I'm So happy to see this humble ricotta received with such a welcome, despite its simplicity. I'm even more heartened by the support and thoughts expressed towards those touched by the earthquake in Haiti.

You're all such kind folks.

January 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertara

I've been meaning to tell you that in the two weeks since you have posted this- I have made it three times. I've gone a little overboard on making homemade ricotta, and this is where it has all been going. Everyone who has tasted it has loved it, and has abandoned the bread for a spoon. So thank you for giving me a new absolute staple...

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteralanachernila

my comment is a bit overdue but I must say, I come back to this post from day to day. it's somber, but in the most appropriate sense of the word. you miss two people that are dear to you... and don't I know that feeling. I was so happy the post was paired with such a comforting recipe. xox

February 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEmily Greenberg

YUM!!! Where is a life without cheese? It is a sad life, I'll tell you that. This looks so amazing. Totally trying it at the nearest opportunity!

February 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergreylikesweddings

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>