The kitchen has always been my refuge. I still remember too clearly when I used to come back home tired or demoralized from the office: there was no other place in the world I’d rather be but within the four walls of mum’s kitchen. Usually I didn’t even take time to change my office clothes. I would jump directly into the kitchen, open the fridge and search for calmness there, wrapped by a thin cold light. It had the same effect of a steaming cup of black tea in a rainy afternoon, a warm hug from inside. I could finally think again with my own rhythm, my values.
I was suddenly waken up by mum, who would ask me to please wear at least my home clothes before starting to cook, otherwise she would have to fight to remove the grease stains from my good shirt or pullover. You know, I’ve always been clumsy in the kitchen.
So, defeated, I would run to my bedroom to wear comfortable clothes, often directly my pyjamas, and then back in the kitchen, my realm, to move reality as I wanted. There everything was possible. I was finally able to direct the events, just as I was doing with fresh pasta and risotto, nothing could scare me.
I asked myself many times if this feeling of comfort would changed once I could turn my kitchen into my office, my photo set, my cooking lab, a table which could gather chats and laughter, a window from which I could look at the world outside and dream. In the last two years my kitchen has become all this in the same time. So I keep on wandering, is it still my shelter? The answer is yes, one hundred time yes.
Even if I am short on time, I have to meet one too many deadlines and test (and often re-test) five recipes per time, even if the light in my pictures is not as pure as I would like, even if reality sometimes is more difficult than I would have imagined, I come back here, to choose one recipe for me, for my blog, for you.
I suspend for a while the on line frenzy and I plunge myself into the yellowish pages of an old cookbook, Pellegrino Artusi. Now, next to my grandma Marcella’s old cookbook, there’s another copy, my great-grandmother Raffaella’s book. She was my granddad Biagio’s mother, a tiny strong woman from the South of Italy, snow white hair and a long long life. The book reached me from Melfi, carefully wrapped in a protective bag, a gift I was given because my relatives thought I would have known how to use it and protect it.
Nothing more wrong. It is not me protecting the book, it’s the book who’s saving me, comforting me, making me feel part of a strong family devoted to the sacred art of cooking since ever. A few days ago, feeling again in times of trouble, I took the book from the shelf, leafed through the aged and well known pages and chose a recipe for my loved ones.
663. Budino di ricotta – Ricotta pudding
I opted for a pudding with no-frills, which can also be served as it is, is self-sufficient with its subtle aroma of grated lemon zest and almonds. Choose the best ricotta you can find, and the result will amaze you. Once cold it has the same silky texture of a baked cheesecake, each bite will melt in your mouth slowly, reconciling you with the world.
- 300 g of ricotta cheese
- 100 g of icing sugar
- 100 g of blanched almonds
- 5 eggs
- A dash of lemon zest
- Butter and breadcrumbs for the mould
- Crush the almonds as fine as possible in a mortar with one of the egg whites.Pass the ricotta through a strainer if it is hard or lumpy, then mix thoroughly with the almonds. Beat the rest of the eggs separately and then fold into the mixture along with the sugar and the lemon zest.
- Now pour the mixture into a pudding mould greased with butter and dusted with breadcrumbs.
- Heat oven to 170°C and bake for one hour until golden and quite dry inside: test the doneness with a skewer. Unmould and serve cold.