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    Brunch with The Barefoot Contessa

    Beloved all over the planet (not only for her food), Ina Garten has become the inspiration in the kitchen for so many of us. Her ease, warmth, and grace make her shows as delectable to watch as her food is to eat. Ms Barefoot Contessa herself invited me over to cook and eat two recipes out of her new book How Easy is That?, released on Tuesday of this week (Who knew homemade ricotta could be on the table in 25 minutes?). Ina, her best friend, the wonderful Barbara Liberman (who served as photographer), and I sat down in the garden to enjoy the delicious brunch after what seemed like only 15 minutes of prep. It was one of my most perfect mornings ever.

    Love,
    gp

    Making Herbed Ricotta Bruschette

    Photographs by Barbara Liberman

    We started making the ricotta, mixing 4 cups of milk with 2 cups of cream and some salt.

    It quickly came to the boil and we added 3 tablespoons of vinegar. In 60 seconds it began to curdle.

    We strained it through cheesecloth, left it to sit for 20 minutes and voilà! Fresh ricotta.




    Then we stirred in the fresh herbs, which we had chopped.


    We made bruschetta and topped it with the cheese mixture. We made green salad to go on the side.


    A perfect brunch.

    Recipes from How Easy is That?
    Homemade Ricotta

    Yield: Makes about 2 cups

    • 4 cups whole milk
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 3 tablespoons good white wine vinegar

    1.Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.

    2.Pour the milk and stream into a stainless steel or enameled pot such as Le Creuset. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).

    3.Pour the mixture into a cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. (I tend to like mine on the thicker side but some prefer it moister.) Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.

    Herbed Ricotta Bruschette

    Serves: 6

    • 2 cups ricotta, store-bought or homemade
    • 3 tablespoons minced scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
    • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
    • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 round sourdough bread
    • Good olive oil
    • 1 whole garlic clove cut in half

    1.Prepare a charcoal grill with hot coals or turn a gas grill to medium-high heat.

    2.Combine the ricotta, scallions, dill, chives, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and set aside. Cut the bread in half and cut each half into 6 thick slices to make 12 slices total.

    3.When the grill is hot, brush the bread with olive oil and grill on each side for 1 ½ to 2 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from the grill and rub each slice of bread with the cut side of the garlic clove. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and spread with the herbed ricotta. Serve 2 warm slices per person with a green salad on the side.

    The goop collection

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