Monday, August 27, 2012

Baci di Ricotta- The Recipe for Happiness

I am one of those people that seriously hates it when other people are on a diet. Seriously. It always goes down the same way. We are all out, having fun, when someone suggests we go somewhere and get some dessert. We all laughingly agree, and then there is that one killjoy in the crowd, “I am on a diet.” She says, with that little toss of her head that tells the rest of us she feels superior. You run through the list of excuses, “You’re not fat…” “You could just get coffee.” “Maybe they have something you can eat…” “You could just have a few bites….right?” To no avail. She purses her lips and sets her jaw. Nothing will persuade her. The night is ruined and we all go home grumpy.
Dieting not only makes your friends unhappy, but it also makes you unhappy. Whenever I am sticking to a strict eating plan I sink into an unhappy quagmire of despair. I snap at people,  randomly, and take little or no pleasure in cooking, which is one of my favorite sports. I look longingly at recipe books, coveting a bite of bread and butter or a rich dessert. Slow braised meats and rich, hearty stews call to me, beckoning with their siren’s song to have just one bite. Vegetables, a usual favorite, quickly lose their luster when they are consumed in ungodly quantities. Even fish and chicken start getting on your nerves, their pale, white flesh mocking the lack of red meat in your diet. For food is one of the simplest, yet most pleasurable things we can enjoy in life.
This is why, when I watch a skeletal food TV personality, who might be on crack, frying up an appetizer that consists only of bacon and honey, I glare. I know she doesn’t eat like that. As a matter of fact, I would guess that a piece of bacon hasn’t crossed her lips since she gave birth to her child, until, of course, somebody behind the camera insists she takes a bite. I watch, carefully, to see if she swallows, or chews until the camera pans away and then perhaps spits it out. If you can’t enjoy eating, and enjoy food, maybe a food show isn’t right for you. Nobody wants to watch the skeleton queen cooking. I like watching real, chubby people cook. Just kidding, but I do think we need to stop feeling guilty about eating dessert, enjoy the food we make, and realize that after we have kids there is no getting back the body you had in college. Eat healthy, engage in physical activity, and enjoy indulging. That’s the recipe for happiness.

Another recipe for happiness are these baci di ricotta. They are just amazing, little, fluffy Italian doughnuts that you can sprinkle powdered sugar on and enjoy as they come out of the hot grease, searing your lips in the process (I would advise that you wait a minute before shoving them in your mouth). I would assume you could use yogurt instead, without sacrificing too much of the flavor or texture, or even cottage cheese, if you were so inclined. I just happen to have a pound of homemade ricotta in my fridge, waiting for my designs. 

Baci di Ricotta

1 cup ricotta
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

vegetable oil for frying
powdered sugar for dusting

Put the ricotta, eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl and whisk to blend. Heat 3/4 inch of oil in a deep pot and heat until it is shimmering, and a small drop of batter sizzles when dropped in.
Drop the batter in by teaspoonfuls (it will puff up) and cook until light brown on one side and flip over. Prepare a plate with paper towels and transfer dumplings to the plate when they are brown on both sides. Dust with powdered sugar.

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