or, "what angels eat." i love to cook (obviously) but sam is something of a savant when it comes to coming up with ideas for food. i relish my ability to recreate a recipe, or pair flavors i've had before and create something new - sam, on the other hand, comes up with ideas for dishes that are so outside of my box of thinking that my immediate response is usually to scoff. such was my instinct when he came up with the idea for cheese-stuffed grapes. grapes are too small, it probably wouldn't really work well, i dismissed him with a certain i-went-to-culinary-school snottiness. but then last week, when planning a mini menu (more of this later,) i decided to give sam's amuse bouche a try. and oh. my. god. i'm not sure i'll every be able to appreciate a just-plain-grape again.
the first step is to make ricotta. i'd spotted a good-lookin' recipe over at smitten kitchen, so i can home from work and hopped right to it. it's a pretty simple recipe - you'll need
3 cups good, fresh whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 t kosher salt
3 T lemon juice
pour the milk, cream & salt into a big pot with a candy thermometer; bring it up to 190 farenheit, stirring occasionally so that the salt dissolves and nothing burns. add the lemon juice; let it sit for 5 minutes without stirring, then dump it into a strainer lined with a few layers of cheese cloth. (put a bowl underneath if you want to save the whey.) let it sit like this for an hour or two, depending on how thick you want it - i let mine go for about an hour and a half and got a delicious, creamy, but totally spreadable cheese.
now! for the grapes. admittedly, this is a little bit of a pain. i'd been hoping a melon baller would work, but my grapes were too small - if you can find those big, seeded grapes, i bet they would work great.
i sliced the top off the grapes to make a little lid, then used the sharp tip of a peeler and carefully cored out the centers. and ate them. delicious. then filled a piping bag with the ricotta and filled them to the brim, topped them each with a tiny mint leaf, and stuck the grape lids on top. and voila! this is maybe the most delicate, beautiful, creative pairing of fruit and cheese i've ever had the pleasure of ingesting, and it was 100% not my idea. thank goodness for my better half, eh?
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