Yesterday I realized I had an odd assortment of nearly postdated leftovers that, put together, would rock. What is more, though the top part of the dishwasher was full, the bottom was empty--a perfect time to use the food processor. So I got out Patricia Wells' Trattoria and adapted her recipe for ricotta cheesecake with pine nuts and raisins.
To produce four little custard cups of ricotta cheesecake, I threw this into the food processor: slightly more than a cup of leftover part-skim ricotta, 2 eggs, several shakes of cinnamon, several shakes of nutmeg, a teaspoon or more of vanilla extract, lemon zest, orange zest (I then had the orange for lunch), a Tablespoon or two of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, a couple of spoonfuls of sliced almonds (I had no pine nuts), a couple of spoonfuls of golden raisins.
I didn't use the sharp blade, by the way. I didn't want to pulverize the nuts and raisins, but I was too lazy to add them last by hand, so I used the bread dough blade (which I never use for bread dough) and it worked just fine.
The actual recipe, which is about four times bigger than my concoction, requires baking the batter in a 9-inch springform pan at 300 degrees for about 90 minutes until golden brown. Since I was using little ramekins, I baked mine for about 45 minutes until they were just beginning to brown. Any more than that and they would have turned into leather.
We had the cheesecakes with blackberries last night and will have the other two tonight.
I am not saying "Go thou and do likewise." The whole point of adapting leftovers is to use what's in your refrigerator. I am convinced that lots of recipes, like theologies, begin as tasty leftovers and then, favoring uniformity over adaptability and surprise, become codified.
Last night's frugal main course: Tostadas, sort of. I make my own corn tortillas--cheap, easy, quick, and incredibly delicious. I then heated up some olive oil and added a small onion, sliced; half a green bell pepper and half a red bell pepper, in chunks; chopped garlic, and, eventually, a can of black beans from Trader Joe's (89 cents), drained and rinsed.
Once everything was more or less stir-fried, I divided the mixture between two tortillas and then topped each with 1/4 package of Mexican farmers' cheese, crumbled. I diced a tomato and put that on top of the stack. Very tasty, and they went nicely with the bottle of pale ale we split.