Chris took off on another sailing adventure so I postponed my New Year's Resolution until he returned. It's no fun trying new recipes for just one after all.
Catching up on three weeks meant I got to do something I've been wanting to try - to make my own Ricotta Cheese! And then I picked two recipes that used that cheese. See, perfect timing.
Okay, the ricotta cheese recipe was from Cook's Illustrated magazine Sep/Oct 2013. It used simple household ingredients (no rennet needed) and took very little time to prepare. Texture was fantastic, taste was a bit bland, but that's what ricotta should be, so perfect. It made just over 2 pounds.
I then used 1 1/2 pounds of the ricotta in Pasta Shells with Ricotta Filling from Essential Pepin (page 96). Great recipe that will become the backbone of many future variations. Again, simple to prepare (though a bit time consuming to fill 36 shells) and it made LOTS of food (36 shells!).
Finally, I used the last 1/2 pound of ricotta to make Ricotta Dumplings with Red Pepper Sauce, again from Essential Pepin (page 102). I wish I could claim another winner, but this one had some issues. The red pepper sauce was thin although the flavor was quite good. Still, it wouldn't stick to the dumplings and it left us feeling dissatisfied (Chris ended up eating peanut butter and crackers *sigh*). I think it would have made a better appetizer rather than a main course. The dumplings themselves were super easy to make in the food processor and had nice texture and a mild flavor (from some fresh garden chives - hello summer!). I'll likely make them again but use them in a nice thick beef or chicken stew. I think they'd really shine there.
So, that's three weeks in one week. I'll definitely be making my own ricotta from now on - that was completely worth the effort.