AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Homemade Ricotta DATE: 9/24/2008 12:48:00 AM ----- BODY:

It first occurred to me to make fresh ricotta when I was approached to teach a class at Williams-Sonoma. I was going to demonstrate how to make fresh mozzarella (which I learned at Restaurant Nora). To give the class a theme, we decided on “Homemade Cheeses.” I had never made ricotta before, but I was a quick learner.

Since then, I’ve revised my theme to “The Ultimate Homemade Lasagne.” With the exception of the parmesan, I can make everything from scratch: pasta, Bolognese, ricotta and mozzarella. I can even use the tomatoes and basil from my garden! It’s truly rewarding to do it! The satisfaction of making a meal entirely from scratch, but also how deliciously amazing lasagna can be… the ultimate homemade is really a different beast.

Ricotta is the simplest recipe of the whole process. And it doesn’t require any special ingredients: just milk, cream, salt and lemon.

Combine ½ gallon of whole milk with 1 pint of cream and 1 tablespoon of salt in a large pot, stainless steel pot. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat.

While the milk is heating, squeeze enough lemon juice to yield ½ cup. Line a colander with cheese cloth or coffee filters.

When milk starts to simmer, stir in lemon juice. Stir just enough to combine. The more you stir, the smaller the curds (which is a bad thing). Let sit for 20 minutes to let the curds separate from the whey. They whey will be a translucent, white liquid.

Scoop out the curds into the colander and let drain for about 1 hour, or until the curds are dry. Keeps for about three days. Yield: 3 cups.

Serving suggestions:


CROSTATA di RICOTTA

Crust
1 cup sifted all purpose flour, plus extra for “dusting”
6 tbs. butter, room temp
2 egg yolks
4 tbs. sugar
4 tsp. Marsala
1/2 tsp. freshly grated lemon peel
1/4 tsp. salt

Ricotta filling

2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. freshly grated orange peel
2 egg yolks
3 tbs. raisins, rinsed and drained
2 tbs. slivered, blanched almonds or pine nuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Make the crust: In a large mixing bowl make a well in the flour. Drop in the butter, egg yolks, sugar, Marsala, lemon peel and salt. Mix the ingredients together, but don't overwork the dough. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it is about 1” around wider than the pan, and about 1/8" thick.

4. Lightly butter the sides and bottom of a 9 1/2" false bottom pan. Carefully, press the pastry into the bottom of the pan and around the sides. Be careful not to stretch it. Trim excess.

5. Combine cheese with sugar, flour, salt, vanilla, grated orange peel and egg yolks; beat until they are thoroughly mixed. Stir in the raisins. Spoon the filling into the pastry shell and smooth with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the top with slivered almonds or pine nuts. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 1/2 hour, or until the crust is golden and the filling firm. Remove from oven and let the pie cool before serving. Garnish with fresh strawberries, if you like.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger giz DATE:9/24/2008 07:52:00 AM This recipe falls into a category that I would call just dreamy. Making your own ricotta - wow - I bow before you. In my mind I always think it's something I would love to do - it feels so organic - yet when it comes right down to it the ease of picking it out of the store cooler just wins. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Bernz DATE:9/24/2008 09:08:00 AM What about the recipe for the lasagna? O, Wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied? ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger samaBlog DATE:9/24/2008 11:48:00 AM Isn't this kind of cheating? I mean, isn't ricotta supposed to be made with teh leftover whey after having made other cheese already? ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger melissa DATE:9/24/2008 06:39:00 PM I actually have a recipe for this jotted down from Michelle at Thursday Night Smackdown. I will make it for the autumn for my homemade lasagna, definitely.

I remember telling my husband I was all excited to make it for him and he made a face (he doesn't like cheese) and said "why would it be something I would care about?"

"Ummm, because I use ricotta in a lot of our pasta dishes."

Doofus. :P ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:9/24/2008 11:11:00 PM My cooking group loved it when you taught us to make this! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:9/25/2008 06:53:00 AM Giz, It is truly easy -- you should try it at least once. And the difference is amazing!

Bernz, I can't give it all away at once! Gotta keep you coming back for me. Stay tuned.

Samablog, I had heard about this, but have never seen a recipe that makes ricotta in that manner. I feel like I'm cheating because I'm not using rennet as some recipes call for.

Melissa, Can't wait to hear about your lasagne. And you can explain to your husband that fresh ricotta is a totally different beast and he should try it!

Lydia, Thanks! I had fun with your cooking group that night! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Sylvie DATE:9/26/2008 06:09:00 PM Samablog - yes indeed, original ricotta was made using whey left over from mozzarella. You re-"cooked" the milk (or rather the whey) to make the ricotta (that's what ricotta means, by the way, "re-cooked"). Today most ricotta is made from milk, not whey, just as most buttermilk is not what's left after butter is made...

How do I know this? I started to make my own Mozzarella and Ricotta last month... so of course, I had to research the process.

I love it! I will be posting some recipes featuring those cheese soon. Lasagna and ravioli are definitively there, now that the weather is really cooling off!

Sylvie
www.LaughingDuckGardens.com/ldblog.php ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger cook eat FRET DATE:9/29/2008 10:08:00 AM beautiful!
now if you can find sheeps milk, you just MUST make it with that ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:9/30/2008 08:12:00 AM ceF - what a great idea! I'll definitely look for some sheep's milk. Have you tried it before? ----- --------