Tag Archives: ricotta

Homemade Ricotta with Herbs

I made my own ricotta! Another item added to my “I never thought I’d make my own…” list. I don’t know if Ina Garten just used a shortcut, or if this is legit. But it is legitimately delicious.

All you do is boil a little milk with cream, a dash of salt, then stir in some white wine vinegar to curdle it all. Then you strain into cheesecloth and voila! Mix with your favorite herbs and swirl into pasta or plop on a piece of toast, just as I have.

Adapted from Ina Garten.

Homemade Ricotta with Herbs

Ingredients:

  • 4 c. whole milk (one medium carton)
  • 2 c. heavy cream (one small carton)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 T white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons minced scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
  • 3 T chopped fresh basil

Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.

Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel or enameled pot. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.

To continue with the recipe…

Mix the ricotta with your herbs; set aside.

Heat broiler and drizzle sourdough bread slides with EVOO and sprinkle with S&P. Broil on both sides until lightly browned, then rub one side with a garlic clove.

To serve, dollop 1 spoonful of ricotta cream on each piece of toast. Top with a little extra S&P, if needed.

The ricotta is so smooth and creamy – way more so than store-bought. Like a cool little cloud with flecks of herbs.

I served my herbed ricotta bruschetta as an appetizer for a dinner party and people went nuts over it. I’ve been asked to bring it to another holiday gathering this weekend.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Ciabatta Bread

Well hello again, you! Please excuse my sporadic summer blogging – what with my vacation schedule and work rolling into the busiest months, it has been difficult for me to cook, let alone blog. But here is something I baked and took on a mini-vacation for a delicious appetizer snack.

I’m no bread maker. And while this recipe turned out tasting great, especially with the toppings described later, it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. I’m blaming that on the fact that I didn’t have a spritzer for spritzing water on the bread every few minutes, as suggested. Psh, who has time for that kind of babysitting?

Here is my Cook’s Illustrated recipe for chewy ciabatta bread:

Ciabatta

Ingredients – sponge

  • 1 c. AP flour
  • 1/8 tsp instant (rapid-rise) yeast
  • 1/2 c. room-temp water

Ingredients – dough

  • 2 c. AP flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 3/4 c. room-temp water
  • 1/4 c. room-temp milk (I used whole milk)

Combine sponge ingredients in medium bowl and stir until a uniform mass forms, 1 min. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for at least 8 hours (overnight).

Place sponge and dough ingredients in stand mixer bowl fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on low until roughly combined, about 1 min. Scrape down sides. Increase speed to medium-low and continue mixing until dough becomes uniform mass that collects on the paddle, 4-6 min (note: I added at least another 1/2 c. of flour because mine was still too wet). Change to dough hook and knead bread on medium until smooth and shiny, very sticky, about 10 min. Transfer to large bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temp until doubled in size, 1 hr.

Spray rubber spatula with cooking spray and fold dough over on itself from the edges inward at 90-degree turns – do it a total of 8 turns around the edges. Cover again and let rise 30 min. Repeat folding, cover, let rise another 30 min. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-mid position and heat oven to 450.

Place parchment paper on 2 baking sheets. Transfer dough to floured surface and divide in half. Turn one piece cut side up and dust with flour. Press dough into rough 12×6-inch shape. Fold up the sides to the center to form a 7×4-inch loaf. Place seam-side down on parchment sheet and dust with flour. Repeat with second loaf. Cover loaves with plastic wrap and let sit at room temp. for 30 min.

(Here, CI asks you to transfer loaves to a new rimmed baking sheet, but I just put them straight into the oven). Using fingertips, poke the entire surface of each loaf to form a 10×6-inch rectangle (mine were more like blobs), then spray loaves lightly with water (which I didn’t do). Bake, spraying with water twice more during first 5 min. of baking, until crust is deep brown and center of loaf is 210 degrees (seriously?), 22-27 min. When tapped, the center of the loaf will sound hollow.

Transfer to wire racks to cool to room temperature.

There was a bit too much flour on the bottoms since I didn’t transfer the loaves to a baking stone, but I didn’t care at this point. I had been baking far too long to care.

Best way to eat this bread? Name it!

My friend Krissy is always handy with her appetizers, and this one I blatantly stole from her – ricotta mixed with scallions, basil, S&P; along with chopped tomatoes with more basil, garlic and olive oil. Can you tell we have a lot of basil on hand?

I sliced and lightly toasted my bread, along with a sprinkle of EVOO and a little S&P. Then we spooned on the ricotta and followed with the tomatoes. I love the cold creaminess of the ricotta topped with the fresh, juicy tomatoes. Then the heat of the garlic and floral loveliness of basil.

It is definitely too hot to bake bread this weekend, so we are heading to the mountains, where I will be basking (and baking?) in 70-degree temps.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Baked Manicotti

Sometimes, a girl just craves a baked pasta. Big noodles rolled around a creamy ricotta/herb filling and then smothered in a spicy garlic tomato sauce. Making one’s own tomato sauce is key here, because you want the right amount of moisture for the noodles to absorb but not so much that the dish becomes soggy.

This recipe did all the proper testing you would need to get it right, and baking the noodles in a loaf pan is genius because it’s just the right size.

I couldn’t get enough of these manicotti, so I made a double batch and enjoyed the leftovers for lunches. It is simply wonderful if you’re craving that kind of thing.

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated.

Baked Manicotti

Ingredients – Sauce:

  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)
  • 1 T EVOO
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (or more…)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 T chopped fresh basil

Ingredients – pasta:

  • 3 oz. part-skim ricotta
  • 3 oz. whole-milk mozz. cheese, shredded (3/4 c.)
  • 2 oz. Parm cheese, grated (1 c. )
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 T chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 6 no-boil lasagna noodles (use Barilla brand)

Preheat oven to 400.

Process all sauce ingredients except basil in food processor until smooth, 10 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and stir in basil. Set aside.

Combine ricotta, mozz, 1/2 c. Parm, egg, basil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Fill large bowl or pan with boiling water, slipping the noodles in one at a time. Let soak about 5 min., separating with a knife if needed. Remove from water and drain on paper towels.

Spread 1/2 c. sauce over bottom of a greased bread loaf pan (brilliant!). Spread 1/4 c. of the cheese mixture over 3/4 of a noodle, then roll up starting at the cheese end. Place in loaf pan, seam side down. Repeat with rest of noodles to fill pan. Spoon remaining sauce evenly over the top, then sprinkle with 1/2 Parm.

Cover with foil and bake until bubbling, 25 min. Remove foil and bake until cheese is lightly browned, 10 min. Let cool 15 min. before serving.

These are my firmed-up leftovers, but the night you serve it, they will be much softer and ooze goodness. Finger-licking good.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo