Friday Dance Party – GaGa’s You And I

This is another edition of Friday Dance Party on Acorns On Glen.  It’s the time where we give thanks for making it through another week and for being alive and present here on Earth.  How do we celebrate another week of living?  We dance.  So, are you alive this Friday?  Are you and your family safe and sound?  Take a few seconds now to be in the moment and realize what a great life you truly have.  Did you give thanks for that?

Good, now let’s dance.

This weekend we are off to Pennsylvania to see some old friends that I grew up with in Iowa all those years ago.  While we have been out of Iowa for a long time, we have remained close through the years and try to see each other at one of our homes as often as possible.  It’s funny, when we all get back together it is amazing how easy it is to catch up as if we had just seen each other a few days before.  I guess that’s the beauty of having close friends.  To honor our Iowa roots, I thought we could dance this week to Lady GaGa’s ‘You and I’.  It seems that she is traveling back to her country roots to find and reclaim a lost love?  I end that sentence with a question mark because after watching the video a few times I’m not quite sure what to think about her mission.  It’s a great song and a great video….I can’t take my eyes off of it.  If it makes sense to anyone, please let me know.  Mermaids and farm country….you tell me!  So take a few minutes to be in the moment and be happy for another week of living.  You’ve made it through and deserve to celebrate.  Turn up those speakers and dance with GaGa.  Let loose and be a little monster for a few minutes.  What are your plans this weekend?

The Last Of Our Fall Bloomers

This is Colchicum ‘Water Lily’ and it is one of the last things to bloom for the season here on Glen Road.  It’s hard to imagine Fall without the appearance of our Colchicums.  Their bright blooms rise without warning and shine in the sharp light of Autumn.   We planted our bulbs at the base of our Japanese maple trees several years ago.  Colchicum ‘Water Lily’ produces several double, lilac-pink flowers.  Their silky texture is a great contrast to the ruddy complexion of Fall.

Sometimes called the Autumn Crocus, the Colchicum is a one-of-a-kind wonder in the flower kingdom.  They grow from corms, which are available in late summer, and the astonishing thing about them is that they will flower without being planted at all.  Just setting them on a sunny window sill is enough.  They can, however, be arranged in a shallow dish of gravel, pebbles, etc.  The best thing to do is plant them like we did outside in shallow soil in a sunny area where they will not be disturbed so that you can easily enjoy them on a yearly basis with minimal, if any, work involved.

Colchicums come in various tones of pink and lavender and never fail to surprise with their delicate appearance amid the rougher weather of Fall.  It all starts in Spring, when a clump of broad, deer-proof leaves emerge, stay for a while and then vanish by midsummer.  Then in Fall, these dainty flowers emerge to show off their brilliant color.  Here is an older shot of their Spring appearance.  See their leaves on the right?

So we are officially near the end of the 2011 garden season with the blooming of our Colchicums.  It is a good feeling mixed with some sadness.  Like the plants, all gardeners need to re-energize during the Winter, but we will miss all of the pretty blooms that we have seen over the Spring and Summer.  What final blooms do you see in your garden that signal the end of the growing season?

Fried Ricotta Cheese – Two Ways

This is the question-if you decide to fry ricotta cheese, do you make it a savory appetizer or a sweet dessert?  That was the decision we had in front of us and so we decided to do both in the same meal.  This means we started off our little dinner party with a savory fried ricotta dish and ended the meal with the same fried ricotta made into a sweet dessert.  Most people equate fried cheese to the fried mozzarella sticks you get in your typical bar or tavern fare.  However, our Italian recipe for fried ricotta, known as ricotta fritta, has a subtle texture and flavor that works better being turned into a first course or dessert than its more famous mozzarella cousin.  The creamy texture of the ricotta fritta also cannot be beat.  So here is our recipe for ricotta-two ways.

Ingredients:

  • 15 ounces fresh ricotta , drained overnight
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Savory:

  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • Fresh basil leaves

Sweet:

  • 2 cups fruit jam or preserves (I used a jar of cherry preserves)
  • 1 cup whipped cream

Directions:

Put the drained ricotta in a bowl.

With an ice-cream scoop, scoop out tablespoon-sized balls of ricotta, and set them on a parchment-lined tray or sheet pan (you should have about twenty-four ricotta balls total).  Set the tray in the freezer, and chill the balls until firm, about 30 minutes.

Spread the flour on a small plate and the bread crumbs on a large plate. Whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt in a wide, shallow bowl.

Dredge the balls in the flour and gently flatten them into thick patties.  Coat the patties in egg, then dredge them until well coated in the bread crumbs, but not heavily so.  Return the breaded patties to the parchment-lined tray.

When you are ready to fry the patties, pour the vegetable oil in the skillet and set over medium heat.  The oil is ready when the tip of a patty sizzles on contact.  Drop the patties into the skillet in batches, so they are not crowded, and fry for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown and crispy.  Lift them from the skillet with a slotted spatula and drain briefly on paper towels.  Serve ricotta fritta while still hot.

For a savory appetizer or main course:  spoon a pool of hot marinara sauce onto each serving plate, set 3 fried patties in the sauce and scatter basil on top.

For a dessert dish:  top 3 patties with warmed preserves (or any fruit jam or poached fruit) and whipped cream.

In our little experiment, we found we liked the sweet version the best which is surprising because most of us at the dinner are not real dessert lovers.  Somehow the sweet taste of the preserves and cream played nicely off the creamy and tangy flavor of the fried ricotta.  Don’t get us wrong….there wasn’t any of the savory fried ricotta left over, so it must have been a crowd pleaser as well.  We’ll definitely be giving this versatile dish another go in our kitchen.  We hope you will too.  Do you have any cheese recipes that you use for dessert or for an appetizer that you would like to share?