Learn from a Pro

There is much to love about being a blogger. It keeps me in touch with Mom and Sharon, it keeps me writing and cooking every day and it keeps me engaged with a community of like-minded people. It has also connected our family to wonderful people from our past and present in a new way. We are sometimes offered great products or even trips, but the friends I have made are the greatest thing to come from ThreeManyCook since we started the blog 18 months ago.

Recently I went to visit my friend Jennifer Perillo in Brooklyn. She writes a blog called, In Jennie’s Kitchen. Jennie has a wonderful husband, two beautiful girls and is always writing or tweeting about the delicious things she has made (from scratch) for her family. But Jennie, an Italian-American girl raised in Brooklyn, is known for her ricotta.

I’m on a bit of a dairy kick these days so ricotta is coming up a lot in recipes I’m making. I realized I didn’t know how it was made and wanted to try and make it myself. But I suspected that if you could get a hands-on tutorial from the Queen of Ricotta, it would probably help. Jennie kindly offer to teach me.

Needless to say, our time together was wonderful. Jennie had shopped and prepped, she had a carafe of hot coffee waiting. Let it be known that she is not much older than me, but she was so patient and maternal – the best kind of teacher. Everything was set up but she let me stir, mix, measure and pour. She involved me in every step of the process – so that I would have something to do, yes, but also so that I would remember. Internalize.

As I suspected, there is a measured science to making ricotta, but it’s also something you feel. To watch her make it, to have her show me the “signs” and when the curd look big enough.  How you let it sit and then how long you drain it depending on what you want to make. It was amazing. And yes, it’s easy. I don’t think I will ever buy ricotta again.

Then (because ricotta is so easy and quick to make) we threw together some of her biscuit muffins (based on this recipe). Once the ricotta had drained and the muffins had cooled, she and I sat down to eat creamy, warm ricotta on slices of bread, drizzled with honey and warm Lemon Blackberry muffins.

This experience had an impact on me. I realized there is so much I buy just because I think I can’t make it. But more often than not, you can. Especially if you have a little help from a pro. Is there something you want to learn to make? Find someone who is the expert and ask them for a lesson. If they’re anything like Jennie, I’m sure they’d be only too happy to teach you.

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  1. Pam says

    Not only do I love Jennifer’s ricotta (until last week I had never made it homemade before) but I love Kevin’s illustration.

    You’re right, Maggy, it’s very rewarding to be part of the food blogging community. This is not the first time I’ve observed that it’s takes a village to raise a cook, so thank you, Jennifer, for taking Maggy under your wing and teaching her (and me!) something new. I hope I can do the same for your girls some day.

  2. says

    Maggy, it was a pleasure having you in the kitchen. You’re words are so kind and sum up exactly what I’m trying to do—show people that cooking with real food is easy and fun.

    I can’t wait to see you in the kitchen again (hopefully very soon)!

    Pam, I can’t wait to meet you next month and give you a big hug. I hope my girls grow up to be as loving and caring as Maggy (and I’m sure Sharon too).

  3. says

    Siera – links to our recipes are always at the bottom of the post. Or you can click on the photo of the recipe on the sidebar! :) Here is the ricotta recipe though! http://threemanycooks.com/recipes/nibbles-and-drinks/jennies-homemade-ricotta/

  4. says

    Maggy, this sounds like such a fun day! I had chatted w Jennifer on twitter a few weeks back about the homemade ricotta and your post is inspiring me to try it on my own. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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