Monday, March 24, 2008

Rebels and Ricotta

I’m a rebel list-maker. I have this habit of making a list and then not completing the items written on said list. Let’s take a look at the latest unfinished items on my personal to-do list, shall we?

Sat., March 8, 2008

Work reading, 1h AM, 1h PM

Sun., March 16, 2008

Sort/file 4 pieces of mail
Balance budget: checkbook
Exercise: yoga later?

What, you might be asking yourself, is the point of making a list if you’re not actually going to follow it? I ask myself this question. For me, the main point of making a list is to harness all the wild thoughts in my restless mind and loosely pin them down on paper. I struggle with priorities sometimes: how do I know what I should be doing now? What if there is something more important I should be doing? It can be very stressful! But if I have a list, I can see all the things I need/ought/want to do, and it’s ever so calming.

The point of a list is not to impose draconian discipline on myself; the point of a list is to provide gentle direction and motivation. It also keeps my mail from piling up to the ceiling in my in-box.

Spring, apparently, is also a rebel. On Friday, the second official day of spring, we got six inches of snow. Oh, my. I was pelted by hail on my journey home from work that night—lovely! I’m feeling a little like a groundhog who has decided that since spring is apparently a no-show, I’m going to hibernate for another six weeks.

What if, though, I tried to redeem my rebel ways by looking back at a long-ago list from Life, Love, and Food and conjuring up memories of summer? The Summer Cooking Wish List was neglected worse than my personal to-do list, and that means we both missed out on some excellent recipes. Pardon my delay, but could I offer you some Coffee Ricotta Mousse? There’s nothing about this dessert that says it has to be eaten in the summer except that it is sweet, cold, and creamy. It’s also quick-as-a-wink to whip up: just a few ingredients go into the food processor, you buzz them together, and then spoon into serving cups. If your weather has been anything like mine, you can eat your mousse on the couch, a blanket over your legs, while you dream of sunshine, fresh blueberries, and warm summer breezes.

Happy Spring, friends.

Coffee Ricotta Mousse
Adapted from “Coffee Ricotta Mousse” in Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home
Serves 2-3 with somewhat dainty servings

This statement is probably obvious, but I’ll say it anyways: you must like ricotta cheese to enjoy this dessert. Specifically, if you enjoy the slightly granular and creamy texture of ricotta, and you like coffee, then you will love this mousse. I know I do! I also love how fast and simple it is: this recipe is literally a five-minute dessert, making it perfect for weeknights, if you don’t mind the possibly sleep-disrupting effects of caffeine-containing espresso powder.

The original recipe made four servings; I halved it because I live in a household of one. But the math is simple if you want to make a bigger batch.

1 c. ricotta cheese (I use low-fat ricotta, but you could try full-fat or no-fat ricotta depending on your preferences)
¼ c. powdered sugar
1 tbsp. instant espresso powder
¼ tsp. real vanilla extract

1) Place all ingredients in a food processor. Buzz until smooth. Taste for sweetness and flavor. Add more sugar, espresso, or vanilla if needed. Repeat buzzing and tasting as needed.
2) Spoon mousse into dessert cups. This small batch makes for two larger portions or three smaller portions, depending on how hungry your dessert-eaters are.
3) Either eat immediately or cover dessert cups with plastic wrap and chill until serving time.


Nick said...

Awesome! I have a great recipe for pumpkin mousse that uses ricotta too. I need to make it again and post the recipe. This sounds fabulous, good work!

- The Peanut Butter Boy

Rosiecat said...

Hi, Nick. I like it when the food processor does all the hard work! I'm looking forward to your pumpkin mousse when it makes its debut over at Peanut Butter Boy. Clearly your hint about this mousse inspired me here!

Nick said...

I know and I keep procrastinating....Now I want to make this kind first =/. By next week for sure! I wonder if unsalted cottage cheese would work too?

Rosiecat said...

Nick, is it too much to have two ricotta mousses in the fridge? I think not! But I also think that these desserts are good afternoon snacks, too, because they have a good balance of protein, carbs, and fat without being overly sweet or heavy. Plus I can't have Coffee Ricotta Mousse at night--it keeps me awake!

About the cottage cheese: I don't know. It could work. Ricotta and cottage cheese definitely have different textures; I would guess that cottage cheese would blend into smoothness rather than granular creaminess the way ricotta does. If you try it, report back!

boston girlie said...

I feel the EXACT same way about lists!!! It gets all of my whirling thoughts onto a page for me to organize, prioritize, and implement. And often, the result is that I realize I don't need to worry about (or even attempt to complete!) many things on my list. Yay for organization as a major stress-reliever!

Rosiecat said...

Hi, Boston Girlie! I'm tickled about your comment because you were my rebel list-making mentor, the person who really taught me that lists can be kind and pleasant. And I totally agree with your list-making philosophy; it's like creating this little island of organization in the midst of chaos. Lists help me a lot when I'm feeling really overwhelmed by either the magnitude of the job to be done (like writing a grant) or the number of things to be done.

I'm happy to report that since posting this essay, I have since sorted more mail, balanced my checkbook, read a manuscript for work, and done my yoga. I think I'm ready to make a new list!

JD said...

I only really make lists at work. Every night before I leave I flip over my planner to the next day and write down all the things I need to do that day. Sometimes there are 20 thins on the list, usually in summer. Thank the Good Lord for Franklin planners. Sometimes on the weekend, Wife and I will make to do lists, and they are always completed...just ask her :).

Rosiecat said...

Hey, JD! Ah, the old work to-do list. I have one of those as well. I try not to overwhelm myself with 20 to-do items in a single day, but hey, it happens.

I totally believe that you and the Wife finish your joint to-do lists! She is very goal-oriented, perhaps moreso than I am. I use her as my inspiration when I am lacking motivation to do things like wash the dishes or finish my work reading.

Happy List-Making, everyone!