Friday, March 20, 2009

Welcome, Spring?

The calendar tells me it's the first day of spring, but take a look at the photo above -- that was taken at 6:45am today on my back deck -- snow! A spring snowfall is not that unusual, but we did have temps near 60 just a few days ago.

Ah, but why quibble? We have officially left winter behind and moved onto spring. To celebrate, as I write this tonight I am having my favorite warm weather drink: V&T, otherwise known as vodka and tonic, with a handful of wonderful Spanish Marcona almonds. I didn't plan ahead too well because I forgot to buy lemons at the market just an hour ago, but I will make do with a wedge of frozen lime from last summer for my drink (tip: take lemons or limes, cut into appropriately-sized drink wedges, pile into a zip lock and freeze; not only do they flavor your drink, they act as little fruity ice cubes). The sun is setting out my window and I already feel a slight lift off my shoulders from the burdens of the work week.

To make this a little more interactive, I've got a couple of questions for you:

1. What are you doing to celebrate spring?
2. What is your favorite spring recipe?

Post your comments below by clicking on the little envelope.

I'm not sure I have a favorite spring recipe, but to welcome the advent of warmer weather, on Sunday (when it is supposed to be near 60 again) we are going to grill up a few links of fabulous chicken sausage from the Goffle Road Poultry Farm in Wyckoff, NJ. The chicken sausage here is like no other - the taste and the texture is way above par. Along with maybe a nice helping of sauteed spinach, terrific potato salad, and crusty bread, and we've got the makings of a great "Welcome, Spring" dinner.

Of course, when I think spring, I think Easter. And when I think Easter, I think back to my childhood Easters with my Italian family. Which inevitably leads me to ricotta. We would always have a ricotta pie or cheesecake at our Easter celebrations. And while I could supply you with a traditional ricotta cheesecake recipe, I thought you might like to try something a little different. The recipe below is straight out of Nigella Lawson's book, Feast. I will be making these for our Easter meal this year. What I like about these is that you can serve them as part of a brunch or dessert after a big meal. They are not too heavy so you can pop two or three and not feel guilty (who needs that?).

Enjoy the weekend!

Baci di Ricotta (Ricotta Kisses)

Makes 30


1 cup ricotta

2 eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder pinch salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar to serve


Put the ricotta and eggs into a bowl and beat until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat the mixture to make a smooth batter.

Fill a wide, shallow pan with about ¾in of oil. Heat the pan of oil until a tiny blob of batter sizzles when dropped into the hot fat.

Drop rounded teaspoons of the ricotta batter into the pan, about five or six at a time; don’t be tempted to make them bigger, boring though this is — they will puff up on cooking. You need to turn them over quite quickly, so it’s best to do a few at a time. You don’t want to get too frantic around all that hot fat. As they turn a golden brown, flip them over and leave them for a minute or so on the other side.

As you lift them out of the pan, place the cooked baci di ricotta on some paper towel, just to remove the excess oil. Then pile the balls of heat-bronzed ricotta on to a plate in a rough-and-tumble pyramid shape, and push the confectioners’ sugar through a small sieve evenly but thickly over them. Eat straightaway. As if…


  1. Have you ever come across Panzanella, a Tuscan salad the main ingredient of which is bread? Traditionally it's the bread leftovers of the household that instead of going to waste, would find themselves transformed into this refreshing salad. The bread is soaked for 10 minutes, water squeezed out and other ingredients added. The rest is really up to what's in the fridge but the basics are tomatoes, onions, basil, olive oil and vinegar. I find that olives and the wild capers I find growing on rubble walls in Malta give it that extra bite. A simple search on google will give you more ideas on what to include.

  2. Hi, Aldo. I have never made Panzanella, but I have enjoyed it. Thanks for reminding me about it - it's a great dish. Thanks for reading The Cook's Tour. I see you live in Malta - any other Spring dishes from Malta? Thanks!


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