Listening to early-’90s punky stuff while stuffing my face with homemade popcorn tossed with cheese and white truffle oil and trying futilely to focus on writing sensible documentation for the hosting world about blog tools…lordy, what have I become? Yet I find myself wondering, What is Plaid Retina doing right now?
The link between music and food is obvious and has been discussed at great length, certainly, but I’m not convinced that the relationship between, say, Jawbreaker and chopping greens for soup, or Nuisance and a lovingly rolled-out pie dough have been fully examined.
Speaking of which, I finally decided to go for it and, though giving up my aspirations to ever make one like Lino’s, put together a homemade torta della nonna. Honestly, the ubiquitous pie can’t really ever be that bad, loaded as it is with lemon and pine nuts and (dreamy) ricotta.
(Actually, a side note: This pie is, I believe, often made with pastry cream, which may explain why some tortas have a puddinglike texture, while mine is fairly dry. Also, I may love photography, but I do not know how to take pictures of food. Side image is for reference only. If you want food porn, visit Nordljus.)
I can’t get enough ricotta, so I don’t know why I don’t make it weekly, but the time is certainly right when it’s the star of the plate. (I also forget that when made with cream, especially, homemade ricotta takes no more than a couple of hours to cook and drain.)
Mario Batali includes a recipe in Molto Italiano that asks for pine nuts in lieu of what I thought were standard wheatberries, which worked for me, since I didn’t have either time or inclination to schlep over to Rainbow in the rain for said wheatberries The dough is a lovely-feeling pasta frolla made with butter, olive oil, egg, vanilla, flour, salt, and sugar, though I’m convinced that Mario’s measurements are short on liquid — it wouldn’t come together without an additional sprinkling or three.
Rest the dough, mix together your ricotta, egg, lemon, and sugar, roll the dough, and line the pan. If you have a removable-bottom tart pan, this is the time to use it — I looked to a nonstick springform for straight sides, and found it simply too slippery and way too high to grip the bottom layer while it awaited filling (I also probably overheated the dough). A royal pain in the ass, in any case.
Still, after a short fight, the crust was laid and filled, and the delicate top layer placed and crimped. A short bake revealed a beautiful golden crust (thank you, olive oil) and puffed filling, just sweet enough to enjoy with coffee but restrained enough to pair brilliantly with some of that dessert wine languishing in my cabinet. (It also works well with framboise, I learned last night….)
But the best praise of all came unexpectedly when Ty, who doesn’t even like sweets, accepted a sliver and announced that that he loved it. (And as an excellent post-script, I brought the rest to work and appeared to make some coworkers happy, other than poor Justine, who made the mistake of asking me for advice on cheesecake. I talked her ear off.) It’s no Lino pie, but that’s not bad.