#HomemadeWithLove : Lunch with Jennie

Layout 1Disclosure: I openly received the luncheon invite and gifts without any writing obligations. 100% my honest opinion. Affiliate link included. Recipes copied with permission from author. Disclosure policy here.

In the elevator.

Pushing a button for the 19th floor.

“Where IS this event?”

The elevator doors open and immediately, the comforting smells of home cooked food waft through the hall, exciting the senses.

“I have to be getting close.”

I soon found myself standing outside of an unmarked hotel suite.

A small door knocker awaits an alert.

“Knock. Knock. Knock.”

It gave the feeling that there should have been a secret knock. The feeling that someone should have opened a little peekhole, asking “What’s the passwoid?!”

Slowly, the door swung open. There was a smile, greeting us with a friendly welcome.

Faint music.

Home made ricotta cheese on buttery, baguette crisps and chickpea, parmesan & fennel salad.

Ladies having lively conversation, sprinkled with laughter.

Mushroom bolognese and roasted chicken.

Jars of pink tulips and deep chocolate cupcakes.

I was here at a luncheon cooked by Jennifer Perillo (of In Jennie’s Kitchen),  herself. A one-woman show, cooking for an event celebrating the launch of her cookbook, Homemade With Love. She did all of this in her hotel suite. IN.HER.HOTEL.SUITE, you guys. I’d be lucky to get that much done in my own kitchen, little alone in a hotel.

The luncheon was simply lovely. The cookbook? Absolutely gorgeous. Homemade With Love is, by far, the most beautiful cookbook I’ve ever seen (I’m not just saying that because she gave me a personally signed copy.) From the text to the layout to the short stories that prelude every recipe, it’s a complete work of art. Let’s not forget to mention the photos by Penny De Los Santos, which perfectly capture the essence of each dish. That night, I actually went to bed reading this book, savoring each and every page.


More than the cookbook itself, I was inspired. Inspired to try something new. Inspired to think of my own stories that make MY recipes heartwarming. Plain, old inspired.

Right away, I knew I needed (not wanted, but NEEDED) to make home made ricotta. I read the recipe, wondered if it was really THAT easy and an hour later, I had ricotta. Not grainy old store ricotta, but creamy, buttery, flavorful ricotta. The only problem was, I couldn’t stay out of it. “Home made ricotta is life changing,” said my friend Vanessa. She is right. Life changing for sure!

While I was boiling and waiting and straining and waiting for the ricotta, I put slow-roasted tomatoes in the oven. I didn’t have lemon thyme so I added lemon slices and regular thyme.Probably a bit more citrus-y than they should have been, but still rather divine, I must say. When everything was finished, I topped organic stone ground wheat crackers with a schmear of ricotta and a spoonful of roasted tomatoes and oil. If not for knowing my family would like to taste the ricotta, I gluttonously might have eaten the whole thing.


I foresee myself slowly making my way through this cookbook. Thanks to Jennie’s sponsor, Kitchen Aid, I also went home with a 13 cup food processor, which I won. Now I can make my own chickpea, parmasan and fennel salad with no effort at all. Between the luncheon and the gifts, I left feeling overwhelmed with inspiration and kindness. Apparently, that’s just the type of feeling that Jennie exudes. “[Her book] More than a cookbook, it’s a love song; an ode to family and life on life’s terms, and the nourishing and healing power of food prepared with joy in the heart,” says Melissa d’Arabian, host of the Food Network’s Ten Dollar Dinners.

I have to agree.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Creamy Homemade Ricotta
  • 4 c. Whole Milk
  • 1 c. Heavy Cream
  • ¾ c. Buttermilk
  • ½ t. Sea Salt
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a 4 qt. pot over medium heat. Bring to a gentle, not rolling, boil. As the curds begin to separate from the whey, you'll see little white flecks pop to the surface and the milk will turn into a cloudy, water-looking liquid. Let it cook for 1 to 2 more minutes until larger curds begin to form, then remove the pot from the heat. Place it on a back burner and let it sit for 30 minutes to help the curds develop further.
  2. Meanwhile, line a sieve or fine mesh strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a deep bowl or pot. Spoon the curds into the cheesecloth-lined strainer. Resist the temptation to pour it into the strainer all at once. Gently ladling the curds keeps them fluffy. Once all the curds have been ladled into the strainer, pull the sides of the cheesecloth up and over the ricotta to cover it so it doesn't dry out or form a skin on top. Let it sit in the cheesecloth to drain the excess liquid for 15 to 30 minutes. The length of time you drain it depends on how creamy you'd like your ricotta - the longer, the drier. If using it in a baked recipe, you'll want a drier texture. If serving it "straight up" on a cheese board or spreading it on toast, you'll want it to be on the creamier side. The ricotta may be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

If you’d like to see what other people are saying, check out these posts:
Chickpea, Parmesan, and Fennel Salad from Gina from Bowl Licker
Flexing my Mussels in Jennie’s Kitchen from Ilina from Dirt and Noise
Food and Friends from Selfish MomBaking with my Kids from Homemade with Love from Selfish Mom
Easy and Delicious from Homemade with Love from Selfish Mom
Bruschetta with Homemade Ricotta and Slow Roasted Tomatoes from Chefdruck: French Foodie Mom
Dude, I Made the Best Pizza Last Night from Kim of House of Prince
Food is Delicious When It’s Homemade from Kim of Hormone Colored Days
Homemade with Love from Jessica of Momma’s Gone City

6 Responses to #HomemadeWithLove : Lunch with Jennie
  1. Vanessa @FrenchFoodieMom
    April 17, 2013 | 2:10 PM

    So glad you came Toni and that we finally got to talk for more than a few seconds in passing. Also so glad you met Jennie who is such a genuine and lovely person. Who else would fly to Chicago and cook for us?

    • Toni
      April 18, 2013 | 3:58 PM

      It was so nice visiting with you Vanessa…I hope we can do that again soon (maybe involving alcohol next time? lol) Jennie was such a cutie…I feel very lucky to have been able to meet her. I hope it’s not the last time. Oh? I’m smitten with her book. 😀

  2. Samantha
    April 19, 2013 | 6:47 AM

    Cannot wait to try this! Everything looks SO delicious!

    • Toni
      April 19, 2013 | 6:48 AM

      I’m making the panzanella salad tonight…I cant’ wait :)

  3. Shannan
    April 19, 2013 | 9:45 AM

    That sounds and looks so good! And you have me looking forward to lemon thyme – it’s my favorite herb to grow in the summer and my daughter (also on only child :)) loves it, too.

    • Toni
      April 19, 2013 | 10:33 AM

      I’m definitely going to grow some too! Herbs are my favorite plants in the garden. I love quiet Sunday mornings when I can just methodically clip and prune the plants. Oh, I can’t wait. 😀

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