I've never been to Italy. It's quite a shock to think it out loud, and to write it down. Never been. Fanny would be horrified. I love to travel, as she did, and love to hoover up food wherever I go, as she did too. I love Italian food, just like Fanny. So, it just seems odd to have never even considered heading to the home of pasta, pizza, risotto and gelato. Perhaps it's because Italian food is everywhere, there's no need to search it out? Perhaps it's because it's relatively simple to recreate at home? Perhaps it's because Fanny made it so commonplace? Perhaps I need to remedy it in the near future at any rate - watch out Italy I'm coming your way (maybe).
Not only do I love cooking and eating Italian fare (or at least my version, and Fanny's take!) but I love trying new things. Last year I headed to the Eat Drink Discover Scotland event in Edinburgh in search of more new things. My house is full of new things. And old things really, just full. I'd been following the adventures of the Big Cheese Making Kit folk, so was delighted to snap up one of their kits to make my own vegetarian (all their kits use veggie rennet) cheese at home. Who would've thought it? I plumped for Mozzarella and Ricotta. I made the Mozzarella straight away and was impressed with the result. The geek in me was impressed with the process too. The science-y bit.
Fanny uses Ricotta in her final recipe to follow all that pasta - Italian Cream Cheese Iced Pudding, or Gelato de Ricotta, and I'm sure she'd be delighted if her student were to make their own cheese, wouldn't she? It's fairly easy, everything you need is in the kit, except the milk. I've gone 'best' here and am using Grahams Dairy Gold. Use the best you can find. The Ricotta is easiest of all, just add citric acid and salt to the milk and heat until the curds separate from the whey, strain (I hung mine over the kitchen tap) and it's ready. Really fresh, really creamy. Really perfect for an Italian dessert.
Fanny makes a kind of ice cream with hers - blending it with sugar, chocolate chips and chopped glacé cherries. I'm tempted to say Tutti Frutti or Neapolitan, it's neither but maybe a bit of both. Fanny also adds vanilla and a little Crème de Cacao from a miniature bottle. I use some vanilla paste and Pure Chocolate Extract from Little Pod as a substitute. No alcohol, but it does come in a little bottle. What's wrong with me - no alcohol? Once combined it's popped in the ordinary domestic deep freeze. No churning or fancy machines again for Fanny.
To serve, Fanny chooses an old favourite, the Swiss Roll. Oh, not very Italian then. I wondered if I might be able to encase the Ricotta Ice Cream in the roll like that old 1970's favourite Arctic Roll, but even after a full day in the deep freeze, the Ricotta Ice Cream wasn't quite firm enough. Fanny makes a kind of cake with hers, but I simply slice and plop the ice cream on top. It's a bit wonky, maybe inspired by the leaning Tower of Pisa? Tasty though, with a great texture. The added chocolate and cherries go well. It's not the most attractive looking dessert, but looks aren't everything. Fanny smothers hers in sifted icing sugar as with all things, so it's hard to see what it looked like for her. She serves a slice on scented geranium leaves, which I don't have, but I'm learning to adapt. I'm not sure if I ever do make it over to Italy that this is what they will be eating, which has never really concerned Fanny, but until then I'm in ignorant, cheesy bliss. Perhaps it's brain freeze...