Tag Archives: ricotta

I guess I’m on a ricotta roll…

Crostata with coffee and sambuca-flavored ricotta
Crostata with ricotta, coffee, and Sambuca

A couple of days after I vowed to brave the heat of the kitchen and bake like nobody’s business, the day temps dropped just enough to make life bearable and rainclouds arrived to drench our sun-parched surroundings. I used the broiler element, made pizza, bread, baked a mussel and rice casserole, and lastly, Casatella Terracinese, another crostata from one of my favorite blogs on Italian cuisine – Polenta e Baccala. This one mentions the use of sheep’s milk ricotta but I used the regular type, undrained, and flavored it with the coffee, cocoa powder, cinnamon and Sambuca called for in the recipe. I used my own sweet pie dough pastry as I prefer less sugar.

If you have time, do take a look and read more about this dessert from southern Italy. It is so good that it does not last long in our house.

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If I’m going to ‘bake’ in this heat, may as well go all the way

Sheep milk ricotta and cherry jam tart
Sheep’s milk ricotta and cherry jam tart

Weather alert! We go through this every summer when the digits edge past 30°C, the humidity is up to 70%, and all I can think of is getting through the day without being too much of a grump for dealing with the heat. We don’t have air-con (it’s just not done in your typical Italian home and it is expensive!), and while an inflatable pool brings some relief, the wasps feel the same way and come around for a drink while we’re in it.

What to do then? Well, for awhile I was content to do the minimum of household work, garden stuff, and catching up on tv series, but that gets old real fast for what is morning coffee without homebaked goods to go with it? For the rest of the month I intend to try recipes, be it sweet or savory, from a long list of bookmarks. The only criteria is that it must include turning on the oven.

First off: a delicious sheep’s milk and cherry jam crostata by Polenta e Baccala. A crostata is equivalent to a tart, and if you don’t have sheep’s milk ricotta, no worries, regular ricotta works fine too. Recipe/post in english.

Table d’hôte à Le Moulin

Table for 2 at Le Moulin
Table for 2 at Le Moulin des Aravis – view large

If you’ve been reading the previous entries with a keen eye, you’ll have noticed a few french expressions peppered throughout my posts. Bordered by France to the west, Switzerland to the north, signs in two languages and the occasional glimpse of lavender fields, Valle d’Aosta can feel like you’re anywhere but Italy. Naturally, ça va sans dire that if your neighbors speak french then so do you, and the valdostani either have a good handle on the language or they speak it fluently. It made me think of our trip to Provence earlier this month, especially when we arrived at an agriturismo restaurant in Valle di Champorcher and the sign says Ouvert.

Le Moulin des Aravis
Agriturismo Le Moulin des Aravis in Valle di Champorcher

Situated along the Ayasse river and surrounded by lush forest, the agriturismo, at one time, was both watermill and sawmill. The owners did an impressive job of restoring the building into a place to relax and get in touch with nature, but since we were there only for Sunday lunch, be forewarned that this is going to be a food-laden, photo-heavy, and detailed post.

Tris di affettati Beets and croutons
Lardo d’Arnad, mocetta, pancetta (or coppa?) and a composition of cubed beets and croutons

We made reservations not knowing that it was table d’hôte (aka menu fisso in Italy). The set menu was literally just that, as some of the antipasti were already in place when we arrived. Btw, lunch commenced at 1pm for all guests, which makes a lot of sense if serving the same thing to the whole room. Start counting.

Salignoùn
Salignoùn or Salignon – of walser origin. It is a mixture of fresh ricotta, herbs and spices to be spread on bread or crackers.

Chestnuts and butter
Cooked chestnuts and butter – the simplicity was too delicious to believe.

Borage flan with a sauce of Bleu d'Aoste cheese
Borage flan with a sauce of Bleu d’Aoste cheese – this was actually called sformatino which is a souffle-like dish but less airy. Bleu d’Aoste is not as piquant as roquefort, but possesses a pronounced flavor that added oomph to the borage flan.

Saffron risotto with silene Beef braised in red wine with polenta taragna
A primo of saffron risotto with silene and a secondo of brasato di manzo (wine-braised beef) with polenta taragna. In between this was another primo – cream of nettle soup – that didn’t make it in front of the lens because I just wanted to dig in. Are you keeping count? That makes 8 dishes up to this point, and to think that we were offered second helpings of both!

La brossa with polenta taragna
La Brossa – produced from the residual liquid after making butter or cheese, it’s like a thin buttermilk. It’s also a traditional breakfast food served with polenta, but we were given some as a tasting. I love that they did this, introducing a typical local dish as a way of sharing part of their culture.

Blueberry cake Lemon balm bavarese
And to end the meal – blueberry cake and lemon balm bavarese with strawberries. I was so glad that these were in discreet portions because we were absolutely stuffed. And guess how much? Along with water, 1/2 carafe house red and coffee – 61€. If I were to make one small negative comment, it would be the coffee which was quite bitter (or otherwise burned). Other than that, this is one place worth a repeat visit for a big Sunday lunch.

One last thing…

Before lunch we made a stop in Torgnon (Valtournenche) to check out a Vespa and Topolino gathering. What a cute, cute automobile. The Topolino stole the show as all cameras focused on “the Mickey Mouse car”. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Topolino