I have learned my lesson. I will not try to write out the entire Sunday Night Dinner in one over- sized post. Frankly, even I don't care to read an entry that long. So I have decided to take a page out of Clotilde's book, and post the dinner piece by piece, in the order in which it was served (although not necessarily prepared).
To start this Sunday's dinner, I made fresh ricotta-topped crostini with radishes. Fresh ricotta seems to be much in vogue these days. I had a very similar dish at Marco a little while ago (another one of the 590 posts that I have yet to write up). There was also a recipe for ricotta crostini in this month's Food and Wine, which is the one I followed.
It really is remarkably simple for something that sounds so involved. Boil milk, add acid (lemon juice) and drain the curds. That's it! My dorkhood was shining through on this one. We had to do a very similar experiment in orgo chem lab in college. The acid precipitates out the protein in the milk. Mmmmm. This was much tastier than the orgo lab version, I promise.
Heat 2qt of whole milk, add 3 tbsp of fresh lemon juice, stir for three minutes. Let sit off the flame with the lid on for 5 minutes.
Transfer the curds to a cheesecloth-lined colander using a slotted spoon and let drain for 15 minutes. Gently turn the curds over and let drain for a further 15 minutes. Season with salt.
To assemble the crostini, brush bread (I used a baguette) with olive oil and toast under the broiler. Scoop the ricotta on top of the bread. Top with thinly sliced radishes simply dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. Finish with coarse salt and cracked black pepper.
Fresh ricotta has little in common with the salty, grainy stuff you buy in plastic bins at the grocery store. When made fresh, it is very mild and subtly sweet, and in this case, with a hint of lemon flavor in the background. The ricotta matched well with the radishes (slightly softened from the lemon juice, both in taste and texture) and black pepper. What I made wasn't as creamy as what I had at Marco, but I forgive myself. Unlike the chef/owner of that establishment (Mark Orfaly), I do not have a James Beard Award... Yet.
The crostini were light, crunchy, and creamy all at the same time. They were a great lead-in to the rich risotto I made for the next course... But that's another post.