FYI, I'm watching the Tony Awards while I'm typing this. CBS isn't streaming outside of the USA so I've got this pixelated postage-stamp sized square of live feed that I found with some judicious searching through Twitter. In 2010, that just feels wrong. Live streams should be for everyone! Nevertheless it's still very exciting. If things get a little bit "Cream the butter and sugar till fluffy ANGELALANSBURYILOVEYOU and then add the eggs ITHINKISAWIDINAMENZEL one by one" well, you've been warned. That said, Broadway and food blogging already co-exist most harmoniously here, so with any luck you probably won't even notice.
So, I found this recipe for homemade ricotta cheese. It's eyebrow-raisingly simple and after making it once you'll be so enthralled with the deliciousness of the results, that you may consider throwing in the job to become svengali of your own small-time cheese conglomerate.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
With thanks to Bell'Alimento for the recipe.
2 litres (8 cups) blue-top/whole milk (I used organic milk even, yusss)
250 mls cream (it comes in 300 ml bottles here, so I just threw the lot in)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice.
Get a colander and line it with muslin, cheesecloth or plain cotton (I went out and bought a big, undyed cotton serviette) OR, if you have it, a big coffee filter. Sit the colander over a large deep bowl and set aside.
Pour the milk, cream and salt into a big stockpot (seriously, use a big pot - it rises up a bit) and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. When it's at a good solid boil - don't be afraid to just let it bubble away, I know it looks freaky! - add the lemon or lime juice. Reduce the heat, and continue to stir while the mixture separates into curds and liquid. I continued stirring over a low heat for about a minute after adding the juice.
Carefully, carefully (with a buddy if you're clumsy like me) pour the whole contents of the pan into the cloth-lined colander. The liquid will flow through to the bowl underneath, leaving soft, white ricotta cheese in the colander. Allow this to drain for at least an hour then transfer to the refrigerator. As soon as it's properly cold, you can start eating it.
You should end up with about 500g of pure, fresh ricotta cheese. And how! It emerges from its cloth wrapping like a surmountable mountain of dairy joy, the only incline I'd be inclined to climb (long story short: I had a school camp once where we had to hike, and plough through plantations of cutty grass and so on - never again! Cheese mountains only for me from now on thanks.) It's tender, incredibly creamy but with a lemony lightness that makes you want to just eat it by the fistful.
While I have a lot of time for cheese, we never really eat all that much of it, because it's so expensive. Which is understandable - companies need to make money, and small, artisinal, niche products use a lot of dollars. You should totally support the companies who make the food you love, but now and then it's superfun to support yourself and get a giant pile of beautiful cheese for about $5. It's at its best eaten within around 48 hours but that's probably the one kind of pressure-filled environment I could thrive in.
A goodly wedge of the cheese went into these gorgeous Ricotta and Polenta Hotcakes from Cuisine magazine. The recipe is can be found here (I didn't make the syrup, by the way) They're straightforward enough to make but still a bit of effort - if you're looking for something more storecupboardy, that you can throw in a blender and make with your eyes closed then try Nigella's recipe instead. They were a completely delicious start to the day - the toothsome grit of the cornmeal with the warm chunks of ricotta bound in a soft, crisp pancake spiced with cinnamon and orange.
So, the Tony Awards. Watching them via some non-authorised stream is frustrating, CBS, but it still feels exciting to be watching it at the same time as everyone else. In 12-second increments.
You don't freeze up and start loading when Idina Menzel's on. Learn from this.
I'm really not much of a Tony commentator because I've never been to New York to see any of these musicals or plays, and generally the only coverage I get is whatever goes on Youtube. I enjoyed Sean Hayes (star of Promises, Promises on Broadway with Kristin Chenoweth, or you may know him as Will & Grace's Jack) as host, and there were some wonderful moments of theatre, but it does feel this year that they're being really heavy-handed with the Hollywood celebrity presence (and the fact that Glee's Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele were performing - they were on Broadway first, you know!) but what ya gonna do - they're bankable.
Title via: Nirvana's Big Cheese from 1989's Bleach. I just plain love Nirvana, and this is an excellent yet relatively underexposed example of their sinister sound.
Lunatic Fringe by Auckland's Drab Doo-Riffs. We caught them headlining at Mighty Mighty the other morning (ie, their set started around 1am) and they were a ton of fun. It's a scrappy mix of surf, punk, rock, probably some other stuff, and as I'm a sucker for surf-rock drums they suit me just fine. The two frontpeople Karl Stevens and Caiomhe Macfehin kept things moving at a cracking pace, and were both incredibly entertaining to watch. I'm sure they'll continue to do well, a) because girls can dance to it in that hunched-shoulder, foot-stampy way (hey, I was doing it too) b) their live sets are many and excellent and c) it's such good-time music.
Sherie Rene Scott's beautiful interpretation of Ricky Lee Jones' Rainbow Sleeves from her semi-autobiographical musical Everyday Rapture. I've never even seen Sherie Rene Scott live so what do I know but I was a bit sad to see she didn't win the Tony (Catherine Zeta Jones did, FYI...)
Next time: Mum sent me a giant parcel of giant, fragrant green limes which is very exciting as limes tend to also be really expensive. I was going to say that unlike ricotta cheese, there's no way of making your own limes, but then I remembered you can, you know, plant a lime tree. Sometimes I worry myself. Anyway, I'm looking forward to sussing out lots of recipes.