The importance of nearly

The beautiful thing about having wine with dinner every night is that there is inevitably some left over to cook with.  Last night I made a red wine reduction (2 parts wine to 1 part sugar and a little orange or lemon zest in a single piece with no pith until is nearly syrupy in consistency–as it cools it will continue to thicken.)  It is perfect to drizzle over roasted pears or underneath a chocolate souffle, but last night we had a ricotta cheesecake with the crunch of a buttery crust underneath.  The secret is to be gentle with the egg whites.  Instead of beating them beyond their strength, go only until they begin to show a mere suggestion of a peak.  Fold them (6 whites) into a pound of ricotta, 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, 6 egg yolks, 3 tablespoons of sifted flour and some lemon and orange zest.  Pour this ontop of a crust of (do the crust ahead of time) 1 stick of butter, 1 cup of flour, 1/4 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt that you crumb together with your fingertips until nearly uniform. Bake the crust first at 400 degrees until golden, then once you have the ricotta mixture together and poured over the crust, turn the oven down to 350 degrees until a wet crumb clings to a knife inserted between the edge and the center.  It was divine.

Today is a free day.  There are some that are back to Cortona, and some that have already found tableclothes at the impromtu market in Mercatale and will go on to Passignao to take the ferry at 11:50 across to Isola Maggiore and back again.

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