My intention was to make Louisa’s cake, which I’ve craved since I first saw it two years ago. And since I had no ricotta at home I thought making my own, as I’ve also been wanting to do for a long time, would be the perfect, lazy Saturday morning, we’ve-been-away-and-I-haven’t-cooked-in-a-week sort of project. So I set forth, resolutely and with a tinge of excitement, salting and boiling cream and milk, when I realized there was no cheesecloth at home, either.
Perhaps it was the slow pace induced by a gorgeously sunny, cold week by the sea, cycling, walking, eating, and generally just being, but I was completely stumped. Not for a moment; for many minutes, an hour maybe. Just standing there in the kitchen, wondering what in the world I might do with two liters of salty milk, and what dessert might be on a post-vacation weekend. The invitation was a last minute thing, too.
I thought about the stewed fruits, something I used to make often, in winter especially, but rarely do anymore, for no particular reason. We usually have dried fruit around the house, and though a bit short on prunes to my taste, there was a good enough mix for my purpose.
A few hours had gone by, the morning behind us, and the milk still on the stovetop, so I decided to make a very dense, creamy yogurt to go with the fruit, as I’d done before.
All went quite well from then on. I added bay leaf to my usual recipe, and was very pleased with the result. Of course, the yogurt was nowhere near being set in time for dinner, but I had some commercial greek yogurt handy, too.
My salty yogurt is still sitting in the fridge. I’ve been thinking of making cheese, but for that I’d need some cloth.
This dessert is very good and extremely easy. Adapted from Jüdische Küche by Elizabeth Wolf-Cohen.
200-250 g (1 1/2 cups) dried figs
200-250 g (1 1/2 cups) dried apricots, preferably unsulphured
200-250 g (1 1/2 cups) prunes
100-150 g raisins
(Also dried apples, pears, unsweetened dried pineapples, as desired, adjusting the quantities to have enough syrup to cover all the fruit)
4 Tbsps honey
6 or 7 cloves
1 or 2 cinnamon sticks (depending on their size)
About 20 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
Make a syrup with 2 l (8 cups) water, the rind and juice from the lemons, the honey, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the figs (and pears if using) and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the apricots (and apples and pineapple if using) and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Finally, add the prunes and raisins and simmer for a final 10 minutes (total stewing time 30 minutes).
Let the fruit cool in the liquid then refrigerate for a few hours at least before serving with thick yogurt or crème fraîche. (Remove peppercorns, cloves, and bay leaf before serving, or warn your guests.)