Tag Archives: ricotta

Homemade Ricotta, Easier than Pie (guest post by Ally Chang)

PIC 2 ricotta

How did I get so lucky to have two of my talented friends blog recipes on Cheese and Toast this spring?  First Johanne Durocher made Saag Paneer and now my friend Ally Chang (another cheese obsessed cohort) will show you how to make homemade ricotta–it is SO GOOD–especially warm, and Ally  also added her ricotta pancake recipe.  How good is it to live at her house?  Enjoy,  SR.

How to make Ricotta Cheese      by Ally Chang

Making ricotta cheese is so incredibly easy and it tastes so much better than store-bought too.  I have modified a couple of recipes to make it even easier – I like recipes that call for things I have on hand, not specialty items that I have to buy.  So if you have milk, cream, salt and lemons you are in cheese making business.  We eat some of this warm, fresh ricotta in the morning for breakfast with fresh fruit.  I then use the rest to make Lemon Ricotta Pancakes the next day.  The pancake actually freeze well so the left-overs go into a Ziplock and into the freezer and I have a quick and easy breakfast option for my kids during the busy weekday mornings.

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If you do not have cheese cloth is available at most grocery stores or the bulk store.

Ricotta

Bring the following ingredients to a gentle simmer:

1 litre (4 cups) of 3.25% milk (I use organic but you can use non-organic)

1 1/2 cups whole (35%) cream

1 tsp salt

Then add:

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp white vinegar

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Draining the ricotta through cheese cloth.

Let this cook for 1 minute and you will see the curds separate from the whey.

After 1 minute, drain the cheese through a cheese cloth (doubled) that has been placed in a colander.  Let it sit in the colander to further drain for a few minutes.

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Enjoy warm with fruit or let cool then store in a container in the fridge.  The next day you can make Lemon Ricotta Pancakes.

PIC 1 FInal Pancakes

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 

Whisk the following ingredients together:

3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cups Red Fife flour (which will add a lovely nuttiness or use all purpose)

2 tsp baking powder

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp sea salt

1 1/4 cups milk

1 egg

2-3 tsp lemon juice

Then fold in 1 cup of homemade ricotta.  Cook pancakes on a medium low heat (you can keep them warm in the oven set at 200).  Serve with blueberries and warm maple syrup.

**Ally has also told me that these freeze really well for make-ahead, instant breakfasts.

RICOTTA

Originating in Italy, the name “ricotta” comes from the Latin recocta or “recooked,” reflecting the fact that the whey is reheated after being “cooked” once already when separating the curds and whey.Ricotta can be made from sheep’s, cow’s, goat’s or water buffalo’s milk and is a fresh, loose cheese with a mild flavour that can sometimes have a slightly granular texture (ripened and smoked varieties also exist). Some ricottas are made with skim or whole milk, which increases fat content and makes them more moist and creamy.  (Like Ally’s recipe)

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Fruli Strawberry Wheat Beer chills out with Italian Cheese

Do you feel like you could take a sip?  Tempting, isn’t it.

When it gets as hot as it has been, I don’t like to turn on the oven.  Removing things from the fridge on the other hand, that I can do.    I had some Fruli Strawberry Wheat beer chilling  and had been planning on doing a cheese pairing.  No time like the hottest day ever.  Fruli is a Belgian fruit beer that is fermented with 30% real strawberries. It’s also scented with coriander and orange peel.  If you find beer too bitter but cocktails too cloying, this might just hit the sweet spot. It’s refreshing and easy to drink (and only 125 calories per bottle–ideal during bathing suit season, unless you have a wrap, in which case go for it with the iced Frappucinos).

The Fruli is fruity, sweet, with a soft carbonation and a little bit of tang.  A classic pairing would be to serve chevre, with it’s creamy texture and smooth acidity.  But I wanted to indulge myself. (Hey, if the beer’s only 125 calories…)

Piedmonte’s La Tur is made with a perfect balance of cow, sheep and goat milk

I treated myself to a wheel of La Tur which is also a bright, tangy cheese (aged about 10-15 days before hitting the market) with a buttery mouthfeel.  Made in Piedmont, Italy, it has a wrinkled bloomy rind and ripens from outside in, usually firm in the centre. There is an earthyness to the cheese and mushroom notes at the rind which worked nicely with the natural fruit flavour of the beer.

La Tur, wedge

The Fruli’s bubbles cleansed the palate between bites–allowing me to enjoy what is a fairly rich cheese for a humid, hot day.  The sweetness of the strawberry beer contrasted nicely with the tang of the wedge.  This combination would make a great finish to a special meal. (Or just at any time of day–like Tuesday at 4:17 pm).

Ricotta Salata, Italy

Ricotta Salata (salata means salty) was my second pairing.  This is a sheep’s milk ricotta which is pressed and aged about 3 months giving it a firm, slightly spongy texture.  The salt-factor was a perfect counterpoint to the sweet flavours of the beer but the cheese itself was mellow and milky so didn’t overpower the Fruli.  This cheese goes well with grilled veggies and I think the strawberry wheat beer, this ricotta, fresh bread and some grilled zucchini would make a fine, fine meal.

Also a very portable and picnic friendly match–cheese in one hand, Fruli in the other.  Someone rubbing sunblock on your shoulders.  That’s the life.

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My tomato bowl runneth over

My bounty

I have four tomato plants in my backyard.  I used to plant six but that just caused grief.  They got big, they intertwined, they bent over in despair.  I was too overwhelmed to help them.  Those tomato “cages” are not easy to put around a 4 foot plant with a tomatoes growing on it.  (I suppose putting it on when it was a small seedling would be easier).

I always plant cherry tomatoes and this year I had two of the small round yellow tomato plants (upper left), one of the small green kind (upper right) and one of the lumpy yellow ones (bottom).

I wish with all my heart I remembered the names of the tomatoes–especially the lumpy yellow one as it they are so sweet I can barely stop eating them, even half-ripe.  I knew the names when I bought them and did not write them done.  “I will remember these names,” I thought, which is about the same as waking up in the middle of the night and thinking, “I will remember this dream”.

Four plants has provided a good crop for us.  We’ve been enjoying tomato salads all August and now with the branches full of ever ripening bounty I have been making tomato sauce.

not pretty but pretty darn yummy*

So here’s what I do when I get a bowl full (about 4-5 cups?).  I get out a large pan, sauté a finely chopped onion in olive oil and mash in some fresh garlic once the onion has softened.  Then I pour in the tomatoes and let simmer them until they pop, soften and release all their juicy insides.  I continue simmering  until the sauce thickens a bit and just season with a bit of sea salt.  THAT IS IT.

I always buy good pasta for these late summer meals and in this case I topped with whole milk ricotta which cut the acidity of the sauce and makes it even better.

I realized fast that I am much too lazy to blanche and peel cherry tomatoes but it actually doesn’t matter.  The sauce still tastes amazing.  It is such a perfect example of using simple, good ingredients.  And some mysteriously fertile soil at the side of our garage.  Our Macedonian neighbors are so jealous.

Tomatoes = Sauce

I am cooking up another batch today.  And thinking of my friend who started out the gardening season with a ridiculous amount of seedlings–300?  He’ll be laughing if it’s a long winter (but stressed right now as he spends the wee hours bidding on stockpots through ebay ).   And I think he’s much more likely than I to not make sauce with tomato skins in it.  Life it tougher for the perfectionists.  But if you’re really fussed you can strain the sauce through a colander which will catch most of the skin I suppose. Or just don’t eat at my house.

*that is my son’s hand ( in the photo)  stealing my food.  We had a talk, don’t worry.

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