I want to live in Italy. I’d like a modestly renovated old Villa in Tuscany. I’d tend to my own garden- full of vegetables and herbs. I’d have chickens to give me fresh eggs and goats for making fresh goat’s cheese. If I lived in Italy, I’d scour the markets daily for fresh ingredients I can’t seem to find here in the United States. I’d search for the country’s best cheeses and meats and keep my kitchen well-stocked at all times.
If I lived in Italy, I’d eat Nutella pastry for breakfast with a miniature cup of espresso. I’d hang out with old Italian grandmothers during the day and learn the secrets of Italian cooking. I’d ask them to share their tricks for making breads with a wonderful, crusty exterior and tender middle.
If I lived in Italy, I’d drink red wine every day… maybe even have the sparkly variety with lunch. I’d sample a new Gelato flavor every week… conquering 52 flavors in a year. But I’d be skinny, because I’d only be sampling.
If I lived in Italy, I’d sip Prosecco at 5 o’clock every day. I’d serve up prosciutto-wrapped melon as an afternoon treat.
If I lived in Italy, I’d cook up fresh ricotta every week and make pastas by hand.
If I lived in Italy, I’d I’d take in the beauty of the landscape and the art, and I’d learn to speak Italian (there’s an App for that). The stress and worry that I experience living in Southern California would disappear… because I’d be living in Italy.
Last week I was in Italy visiting cheese companies. I learned more than you can ever imagine about cheese and how it’s produced. The quality of the cheeses was so amazing that I don’t think I will ever be able to eat a mainstream, mass-produced cheese again. The first thing I did when I came home was make homemade ricotta cheese. I can’t believe I’ve never made it before… from beginning to end it took about 20-25 minutes. Unlike the ricotta-in-a-tub dry stuff that you purchase in the market, the homemade version turned out rich and creamy. I can’t wait to use it tonight in an authentic ravioli recipe that I managed to wrangle from one of the cheese company gals that I dined with in Italy. I’ll be sharing that one with you too
There are a whole lot of homemade ricotta recipes on the internet… all seem to be slightly different. I went with a recipe that I found on Jennifer Perillo’s blog: In Jennie’s Kitchen. I’ve met Jennifer, and I know she’s a talented food writer and recipe developer. Her method for making ricotta was just perfect.
My instructions can be printed out here: Fresh Ricotta Cheese.
And my adventures in Italy… visiting all of those cheese companies… you can expect some posts sharing my experiences coming up soon!