Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ricotta on Top

I came across this unfinished post when trying to think what I could do for the blog this weekend, so as not to fall hopelessly and irrevocably behind. I’m sure you will understand that even we over-responsible and over-perfectionist types must occasionally take the path of least resistance. A mostly written blog post, with a finished recipe and photos all done, is such a path—practically a highway.
So, I made what you see here sometime in July. As mentioned before, I do think that Olga’s thin pizza shells are a really good product; when I am in Little Compton, they are aRicotta crostini freezer staple, and I can make a pizza in minutes. This is a good, but somewhat dangerous, thing. I eat a lot of these little pizzas, in infinite variation, when I am in Rhode Island. 
Narragansett Creamery, which makes really good mozzarella, also makes nice ricotta; in fact, their hand-dipped cheese, made from unhomogenized milk, placed first in the Wisconsin World Championship Cheese Contest. So here is a white pizza using both their cheeses that can be assembled in seconds, not minutes. I prefer Olga’s white shells to the whole wheat, but the whole wheat works well here. You can use any leftover ricotta to make crostini with toasted French bread; sprinkled generously with salt and pepper, it is a light snack to have with a glass of white wine.Ricotta mix
Rhode Island White Pizza
This makes two small oval pizzas, enough to serve 4-5 as an appetizer or 2-3 for a light lunch or supper.
2 Olga’s whole wheat pizza shell (or your own)
1 cup Narragansett Creamery or other fresh ricotta cheese
8 oz Narragansett Creamery or other fresh mozzarellaRicotta cheese and garlic
1 large egg
1-2 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced  
1 oz parmaggiano reggiano, grated
5 or 6 large leaves of fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450F, higher if it will go.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
In a small bowl, mix the ricotta with the egg, salt, and pepper. Slice the mozzarella into 1/8” slices and grate the parm. Stack and roll the basil leaves tightly, then slice them thinly. 
For each pizza: Place the pizza shell on a cornmeal-dusted pan or, if you are using a pizza stone, peel. Spread with the ricotta mixture, leaving a small edge. Distribute the mozzarella and the garlic over the pizza shell and sprinkle with the parm and a little additional freshly grated pepper. Bake 5-8 minutes, depending on your oven heat; turn on the broiler and brown the cheese a little if desired. Remove the pizza to a board and generously garnish with the chiffonade of basil; drizzle with extra virgin if you like. Cut and serve.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blame It On Rio

Rio Chiquita Banana     Rio beach from Copa     Rio view from Tijuca
Rio caldo de canaIt is true that I always start slowing down on the blog at this time of year, when I leave Little Compton to return to the start of a new academic year. This is always a busy time, but this year it has been a bit more hectic than usual. I moved, as you know, to Tucson, which means I moved to a new university. This is the ultimate figure-it-out-yourself challenge, in terms of information about, well, anything. I’m fine with that, but it’s rather time-consuming and inefficient; seems there could be at least a tiny guide to tell you things like: here’s how you find your roster. Or that you have to request a course site because they are not, in contrast to prior experience, set up automatically. Or, here’s where we moved your room or your course time without telling you.Rio pastel
But I digress. The thing that really set me back is that I went to Brazil the second week of classes, and it took a lot of time to prep others for my being away, and then to regroup when I got back. So my absence from the blog: blame it on Rio. But thank Rio for the photo-essay.
The purpose of my trip was to give an invited keynote/lecture at a conference, but who goes all that way (it was about 30 hrs of travel door to door) Rio my lunchwithout a side trip at  small marginal cost? Not me. If you have not been to Rio, it is beautifully situated. I was fortunate to have met some academics at the conference who lived in Rio and who insisted on arranging a real tour of the city beyond the beach, and arranging a dinner at a restaurant along the lake. It was very nice.
Rio Small fish
Of course, for me the highlight is always the street. I like to walk around, and to eat odds and ends as I go. I came across a wonderful farmer’s market one day, and rather overdid it. Here are some photos, plus a few from the famous Feira Hippie (hippie fair), where hearty Bahia food is served. The  green drink is caldo de cana—pure sugar cane.    As you sit there, they stuff huge Rio fruitesugar cane stalks into a machine sort of like a chipper (a la Fargo), which squeezes out the sugary insides and pops the empty skeletons out the back. Don’t try this at home; it looked dangerous. But the cold, iced green liquid was delicious and refreshing. Oddly, not super sweet, but Rio sausagessmooth and vanilla-y tasting. The  fried square is pastel de queijo (cheese in a pastry), and the big pancake thing is tapioca flour, sieved right there before it went into the pan, coconut, cheese, and sausage; that is mine in the frying pan on the right. Desserts in Brazil are excellent.  Tropical fruits, eggs (flans, meringues), coconut, tapioca, and chocolate are common ingredients.
I will try to keep up the blog with all the good things here in Tucson. 

Rio flans 2    Rio bahiadessert    Rio meringue