Home-made ricotta recipe

So as I said in my primo sale post I set out to make ricotta at home. And I did it!. After making primo sale I took the left-over whey and made ricotta. I have to be honest, ricotta didn’t turn out as well as the primo sale, I think part of the reason is that I used 2% milk for ricotta instead of whole milk, so I will have to try again using whole milk. Anyway it was on-par with most of the ricotta you find at regular supermarket in the fridge section, just not as good as the good fresh ricotta you get from specialty stores. On the other hand it was much cheaper…

UPDATE: I made ricotta again using the whey from the first batch of ricotta and now it turns out great! So don’t despair even if the first round is not that great, you’ll get there!

Ingredients

  • whey leftover from making primo sale or some other cheese
  • 2 cups milk
  • lemon juice from 1 lemon

Directions

  1. Ricotta is pretty easy to make once you have the whey from making some other cheese. I just warmed up the whey mixed with some milk to about 195F and then added in the juice of 1 lemon. Kept mixing for a couple o minutes and then panicked… It seemed it didn’t work! there was sort of a white foam on the top, but I didn’t think it was ricotta… then I checked my sources and I read that ricotta looks like a foam: pfiui!
  2. With much relief, I poured the ricotta in a colander lined with a cheese cloth. About half an hour later the whey had drained out and the ricotta was ready to eat. I reserved the whey and froze it once cooled down. Apparently it keeps for about a month and can be reused to make ricotta. Haven’t tried it yet but hopefully it will work.
  3. UPDATE:I tried using the frozen whey. I added about 1 quart of whole milk to the whey and brought the temperature up to about 190F and the milk coagulated into ricotta without even needing to add any acid. And the result is much better than the last time! Needless to say, I saved the whey and am going to freeze it and use it again!
  4. Ricotta doesn’t keep long and is better eaten within the day.

Pasta with ricotta and celery

The other day I decided to bring pasta to a potluck kind of party. As usual when you bring pasta you should choose something that is good eaten cold, that doesn’t dry out, that doesn’t have any weired ingredient in that people might not like or recognize and so on. To this list I add my personal requirements: easy to make and cheap: after all for these parties is often more about quantity than quality. So this time I made a pasta salad with home-made ricotta and celery.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. pasta
  • 1 to 2 cups ricotta
  • 2 celery hearts
  • salt
  • pepper
  • EVOO

Directions

  1. I started out by preparing the ricotta according to my base recipe. Once you have the whey in the fridge or freezer it is really easy to prepare and won’t take you more than 30 min or so. Then I prepared the pasta. I used farfalle from Roundy (Rainbow private label) and I think this will be my last time working with that pasta. While I find that Roundy’s pasta is great for the price and a more than viable substitute to Barilla, they don’t know how to make farfalle: this farfalle break down a lot so that once they are cooked they are more like orzo. Anyway, while the pasta was cooking I sliced the heart of my celeries, including the leaves, and put it in my pasta bowl together with a bit of oil, salt and pepper and of course the ricotta. Finally when the pasta was ready I drained it well, I added it to the sauce and mixed well. If the sauce is too dry, add a bit of the cooking liquid from your pasta.
  2. The pasta was a success, I even saw someone using it as a dip for the tortilla chips……

Fusilli alla norma (with eggplants and ricotta salata)

The other day I was at Costco and I found ricotta salata. Ricotta salata is a cheese typical from sicily and is basically salted ricotta. fresh ricotta is salted so that it can be preserved for a longer time.

Of course I had to get some! And I had to cook it with some other typical sicilian ingredient like eggplant and create one of the most iconic sicilian dishes: pasta alla norma.

And of course I forgot to take pics until about half way through my meal, so sorry about the pics, but this pasta is so good I could not help myself!

I have just discovered Presto Pasta Night a great weekly event in which pasta from all over the blog sphere is shared with other bloggers and I decided there could not be a pasta event without me! So for my first participation I am sharing this pasta! Thanks to Simona of Briciole for hosting next week round-up

Fusilli alla norma (with eggplants and ricotta salata)

Fusilli alla norma (with eggplants and ricotta salata)

Ingredients

  • 3-4 oz pasta per person
  • 1 large or 2 small eggplants
  • 1/2 can tomato sauce
  • pasta
  • basil
  • ricotta salata
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

  1. Start by cutting your eggplant in thin slices or in dices. Put the eggplant in a colander and salt them so that they can loose the vegetation water. Let them drain for about 30 minutes and then squeeze the eggplant, rinse them and pat them dry.
  2. Warm some oil in a pan and shallow fry the eggplants until perfectly cooked (about 5 minutes) then fish the eggplant out and place them on a dish lined with paper towels to remove the extra oil. In the same pan where you fried the eggplants, warm up the tomato sauce after about 5 minutes add the eggplants in the sauce and add a couple of shredded basil leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let cook for about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook your pasta according to the instructions on the box. Choose short pasta such as penne, fusilli or rotini. Drain the pasta and dress with the sauce. Finally shave or grate ricotta salata on your pasta and serve hot.

Ricotta and spinach quiche

And we are to the second installment of world on a plate. For those of you that missed the first episode, World on a Plate is a monthly blogging event at which bloggers from around the world get together and share a typical recipe from their home country. Today we are doing picnic.

Picnics apparently are popular in all countries. What people do with picnics probably not so much… So Biren is going to tell us how they do it in Malaysia, Ewa about Sweden, Katherine about the US, Hyosun about Korea, Raymund about the Philippines, Sofie about Germany, Suchi about Northerm India and Vijitha about Southern India and I am telling you about Italian ones.

In Italy picnics are a outdoor business usually with no tables or utensils. People pack their supplies get somewhere nice. Walk for a while and settle down on the grass or on the beach to have their meal.

There is an official picnic day in Italy too. It is the day after Easter. That Monday is seen as the beginning of spring and people go have picnics in the country side, at the beach or on the mountains to celebrate the beginning of the outdoor season.

For this “pasquetta” (literally little easter)  picnic the menu includes 3 staples: salami, boiled eggs and torta pasqualina a quiche made with ricotta, spinach and boiled eggs. For other picnics we generally end up eating 1 panino or 2. Panino for us is just bread filled with cured ham and cheese. there is a grilled version that usually is eaten at lunch in bars, but the panino for a picnic is not grilled, not hot and not overstuffed, just a simple sandwich. There are a number of rules on panini, but since here I’m talking about torta pasqualina, head over to Paolo’s blog for a great overview of panini.

Back to torta pasqualina. The quiche has a special crust that is supposed to have 33 layers to symbolize the age of Christ. I have never bothered to make more than 3. And I have to say even 1 layer is good enough, if you do not want to bother with the layering.

The other special feature of this cake is the whole eggs. The eggs are cooked whole in the quiche. You place them in the quiche raw and they cook with the quiche and come out hard boiled. Awesome isn’t it?

Anyway, check out what people do for picnics around the world! I’m looking forward to discovering more!!

Ricotta and spinach quiche

Ingredients

Crust

    • 1/2 lb flour
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 2 sticks butter
    • 1 pinch salt

Filling

  • 1 packet frozen spinach
  • 1 tub ricotta
  • 4 eggs
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

Crust

    1. Quickly mix the flour, the salt and the butter until the flour comes together in crumbs.
    2. Add enough water to hydrate the mixture so the crumbs stick together. You will have to add between 1/4 and 3/4 of a cup of water. Stop as soon as the crumbles of dough stick together.
    3. Shape the dough in a brick and place in the fridge to rest for about 30 minutes.
    4. When the dough is well chilled, take it out and give it 3 or 4 folds. For the folds, roll out the brick of dough in a sheet about 3 times the length of the brick and just as wide. Fold the sheet in 3 to get a new brick about the size of the original one and turn 90 degrees. Repeat the rolling out and folding 2 or 3 times.

Filling

    1. Boil the spinach in salted water. Drain them as soon as they are cooked through and let them cool down.
    2. Mix the cold spinach with the ricotta and add salt and pepper to taste.

Assembling

  1. Divide the dough in 4 pieces and roll the out in very thin sheets. Place two sheets on the bottom of a spring form pan.
  2. Fill the crust with the spinach filling. Create 4 wells in the filling and break an egg into each one. Cover with the remaining 2 sheets of dough. Seal the borders and trim off the access dough.
  3. Cook in a 375F oven for about 40 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Serve cold.

Pasta alla ricotta e zucchine

Here the first recipe after the break. I like to start slowly, so I am going to go with a simple pasta recipe. One of those recipes that has about 5 ingredients and you can whip together in the time it takes water to boil.

I love it because it is fresh and creamy at the same time and it just feels like comfort food. Anyway, without further ado onto the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 3 oz. pasta
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 tbs ricotta
  • olive oil
  • thyme
  • ground black pepper
  • salt

Directions

  1. Boil water and cook pasta according to the box instructions. I like to use rotini so that the ricotta can get in the grooves of the pasta.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the zucchini in sticks and cook them by sauteing them in some hot oil. Season the zucchini with salt, pepper and thyme.
  3. Add the ricotta, mix well and immediately turn off the heat.
  4. Add the drained pasta to the sauce adding a spoon or two of the cooking water to dilute the ricotta cream if necessary.
  5. Enjoy!