Throw away a whole day.
Not because this meal takes a whole day. But it could….and that could be wonderful. One of my all time favorite quotes is by Thoreau:
“You must walk sometimes to be perfectly free, not prying or inquisitive – not bent upon seeing new things.
Throw away a whole day for a single expansion.”
Not bent upon seeing new things….something so difficult to imagine as we live in the days of information overload and addiction to scrolling. Don’t walk to explore, just walk. Don’t cook to try new foods, just cook. Cook to cook. I’m all about seeing new things, cooking new things, exploring new flavors. But sometimes I need reminded that doing one thing at a time – not for the sake of a specific outcome – is still worth doing. So yesterday I cooked.
The irony of it all was that we already had dinner plans. Even more motivation to cook for the sake of cooking. A lovely blog post by my all time favorite cook and food writter Smitten Kitchen got the day started. Parmesan Broth. What could be better than hard cheeses turned comfort food on a cold day. The house smelled like heaven.
Adam has a particular soft spot for parm and the other hard cheeses. While I love what finely shredded pungent hard cheeses do when broiled onto a breadstick, I could not believe my eyes the first time I saw Adam break off a large hunk of parm and eat it straight. That is love. So when I saw this recipe for making soup out of the rinds of Parmesan cheese I could think of nothing better to warm the house and try to help Adam beat his cold once and for all.
The broth starts with 6 cups of water and whatever cheese rinds, dried out cheeses or hard cheeses you have on hand. To save the pot from sticky scrubbing, it helps to tie everything up in cheese cloth. Then add 1 large onion quartered and 5-6 garlic cloves. Add a handful of parsley, a couple pinches of whole peppercorns, and dash of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer (bubbles still popping at the surface.)
While the broth simmers, pour a glass of wine and add French music. This is about to get fun. Yesterday the perfect song was J’ai Deux Amours by Madeleine Peyroux. Give it a try before the next steps.
I stirred together some pasta dough, and then began making some easy ricotta cheese. (Store bought would work fine too!) In a sauce pan combine 2 cups of whole milk, a half teaspoon cheese salt (or fine salt) and 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar but do not stir. Heat on medium to about 160 degrees or until the edges of the pan start to bubble and form a slight film. Remove from heat and stir gently for 5 seconds. Let set and as you see the curd and whey seperate spoon off the cheese curd into a strainer lined with a few layers or cheese cloth. If it doesn’t set up and seperate, heat a little more until it does. Let the ricotta drain until firm.
As it drains, roll out the pasta and cut into 1.5 inch squares. Add salt, basil, and oregano to the ricotta to taste. Add a little cheese to each square (no more than about a hearty half teaspoon – don’t over fill).
I like to get a little bowl of water to dip my fingers in and wet two adjacent sides of the square. Fold the opposite sides of pasta to create a filled triangle. Then fold the far corners towards eachother to make a ring with a tip. Dust with four if saving for later.
Otherwise, go taste the rich, lovely cheese broth and season further if needed. Strain the broth and return to the pot. Return to boil. Season if needed, and add what ever veggies or soup items on hand.
Mushrooms and ribbons of kale would be lovely. We just had carrots and celery on hand. Add tortelloni and veggies to broth and cook for just a couple minutes depending on thickness. While cooking, I used a hunk of our easy refridgerator bread dough starter to press out a rectangle about 10 inches by 3 inches wide and a scant half inch thick. I then cut in thirds length wise, and then in half. Drizzle dough with olive oil, sprinkle with Asiago, Rosemary, and seasalt. Pull to lengthen and roll and twist to trap in all the goodies. Place on a hot pizza stone, as hot as your oven goes. (I use convection bake at 500). Add steam to the oven and cook for ~5 minutes. When you think they are done have a sip of wine and wait 60 more seconds until they are perfectly crispy.
Kate + Adam