Movie

Movie
Movie Inspired Recipes

Television

Television
Television Inspired Recipes

Book

Book
Book Inspired Recipes

Slow-Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes & Homemade Ricotta Salata (two components to my perfect meal)

I know, I know...how many times can this chic say that bread, wine, and cheese make the perfect meal!?  Endless, I say...ENDLESS TIMES!  Can't help how I feel.  I would walk around armed with a sturdy yet totally awesome bag slung over my shoulder at all times, if I could.  This bag would contain a beautiful, yeasty loaf of handcrafted bread...a bottle of enchanting wine...and a wedge, hunk, container of cheese.  From time to time it may also have a stick of salami, a jar of something pungent and salty, or some juicy fruit nestled in between those necessities.  Of course it would also contain some sort of blanket or cloth for impromptu dining...a corkscrew...some linen napkins...and a book.  Oh, and a notebook w/ a pencil and my camera.  Whew, my bag is getting heavy. 

Let me just lay out my spread of the day...a fresh loaf of warm French bread from a local bakery...a bottle of Chardonnay...a little round of creamy, stinky, fabulous Boursin...a min-wheel of homemade Ricotta Salata, finished with Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt...and a jar of homemade, slow-roasted heirloom tomatoes, scented with basil and garlic.
Let's start with the tomatoes... oooohhhhh maaaaan, the tomatoes!  My garden is churnin' 'em out faster than I know what to do with them.  Not that I'm complaining...I'll figure something out.  I decided I wanted to gather up a bunch of the Tigerellas and slow-roast them.  They're bigger than a cherry tomato, yet smaller than your "average" tomato...just perfect, really.  The deep, sweet flavor that is concentrated by the slow heat is shocking!  The essence of summer permeates your entire being with each bite...a jolt to your system...conjuring memories of summers past...
Slow-Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes w/ Basil & Garlic
slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Tigerella tomatoes, halved crosswise
garlic cloves unpeeled
fresh basil, chiffonade
olive oil
salt
pepper

Preheat your oven to 225° F.  Line a sheet tray with foil or parchment paper.  Lay the tomato halves, cut side up, on prepared tray.  Lay the garlic cloves around and in between.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Sprinkle with basil and a very light sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Place in oven for ~4 hours, or until shriveled...with glistening juices resting in those wrinkled halves. 
I recommend removing the garlic cloves after about an hour or so and squeezing the soft garlic from its skin...and spreading it gloriously onto warm bread...or saving it to add to the tomatoes once they're finished. If you leave it in the oven for the entire time, it'll be brown and crispy...and rendered basically unuseable...and that's just heartbreaking.
Glorious when eaten warm or cold!!  If you want to store them, simply pack them into a jar, cover with olive oil, and refrigerate.

Moving on to the fresh, creamy cheese in my spread of the day... Boursin.  Creamy.  Herby.  Garlicky.  Fantastic.  I picked it up at the local market, so recipe here.  Second cheese... Ricotta Salata.  This one I made...in an all too common cheeseslutty mood.
To make Ricotta Salata, you begin by making Ricotta...the easiest cheese to make in the whole wide world.  There are many methods for making ricotta, many using the whey left over from making other types of cheese...but if you just want to make Ricotta, follow this simple recipe.

Ricotta
from HTCEV by Mark Bittman

½ gallon whole milk
2 c. cultured buttermilk
salt

Put the milk in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over med-high heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until it bubbles up the side of pot, ~10 mins.  Add buttermilk, stirring constantly until mixtures separates into curds & whey.  Remove from heat and stir in a pinch of salt.  Pour all into a cheesecloth-lined colander set over a bowl.  Let sit for ~30-60 mins.  Scoop into a container and store in fridge.

So...that's easy enough, right.  To turn it into the firmer, saltier Ricotta Salata, it just needs a bit of pressing and aging.  It can then be sliced and eaten...or crumbled and tossed into a pasta dish or over soup or salad.  It should be used within a week of making.
-----------------
.
Ricotta Salata
from jam it, pickle it, cure it by Karen Solomon

1 c. fresh Ricotta curds
4 tsp. kosher salt, or more if needed
To make a press, simply remove the top and bottom lids from a 28-oz. can and wash them well. 

Place the fresh ricotta into a press and press at room temperature for 3-4 hours.

Remove from press and coat the pressed cheese with at least 2 tsp. of the salt.  Wrap it in a clean kitchen towel, set on a plate and refrigerate for 2 days.

Remove wrap and rub with another teaspoon of salt.  Re-wrap with a clean kitchen towel and return to fridge for another 2 days. 

Repeat this process one more time.  The cheese should firm up considerably during this process.  I finished with a coating of Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt that my friend Deb sent me...from Hawaii!
Both cheese were awesome shmeared onto the warm bread...either alone or topped with one of the slow-roasted tomatoes.  Oi, my stomach is totally screaming at me all over again!!!
Here's a gratuitous cheese shot for you...or for me, if that's not your bag...
I think it's time to pack up another bag...and trek out into the perfectly crisp and sunny Autumn afternoon...
*This post is linked to:
IHCC forgingfromagebutton2