Recently something on Twitter caught my eye. As many chefs do these days, one starred chef had posted a picture of one of that day’s lunchtime dishes. It was a salad type affair, which used his own in house made ricotta. How novel I thought, but is it really that hard? I surfed the web and had a look around, it appears not, so I thought I’d give it a spin.
Normally ricotta is made with ewes milk (sheep), and takes its name from the Latin ‘recocta’ meaning recooked. In the recipes below, I’ve used goat’s milk, primarily because ewes milk isn’t that easy to get hold of where I live. This said, I think that the extra subtle dimension that goat’s milk gives the ricotta recipes is a nice addition.
The flavour pairings that go with ricotta, are one of the endearing qualities of this sadly overlooked cheese: Almonds; Chocolate; Garlic; Lemon; Vanilla; Mint; Black pepper and so the list goes on, which is why it can play a part in so many different aspects of meals.
How to make ricotta
- 1L Goat’s milk
- 2g Sea salt
- 25ml White wine vinegar
In a thick bottomed pan heat the milk slowly, with the salt, to 85°C.
Add the vinegar and stir continuously for 1 minute or until the curds start to separate. Maintain the 85°C for 5minutes.
Reduce the heat to a low setting, and allow the curds to gather momentum separating.
Next with a slotted (female) spoon gently lift out the curds and start the straining process, by either using a chinoise or a conical strainer. To extract the most of the curd, gently pour the whey/curd mix through the strainer. Repeat as necessary.
Leave the curds overnight in a cool place to strain & firm up.
In the morning transfer to the fridge and chill for a further 24hours. Then use within 3 days.
1L of milk yields 170 grammes of ricotta cheese.
So now you’ve made your own cheese, how about exploring some ricotta recipes ? The one thing that will become apparent, is the versatility it has.
Ricotta kisses (Baci di ricotta)
- 150g Ricotta
- 2 Medium eggs
- 70g Plain flour
- 45g Honey
- 6g Baking powder (about a teaspoon)
- Pinch of sea salt
- ½ Teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 Lemon, finely grated zest
Combine the ricotta and the eggs, and beat until smooth.
Add the remaining ingredients and again, beat until smooth.
Chill mix for 1hour.
Pre-heat deep fat fryer to 180°C. Heat a dessert spoon in the hot oil and scoop a spoonful of batter and gently drop into the hot oil. Repeat two or three times, dependent on space. Regularly flip each baci to ensure they are evenly cooked. Serve straight away with melon & vanilla jam.
Ricotta & Raspberry Parfait
- 250g Ricotta Cheese
- 75g Double cream
- 4 Egg yolks
- 145g Caster sugar
- 60ml Water
- 100g Raspberry purée
Combine cream & mascarpone & reserve in the fridge.
In a separate bowl whisk the yolks until @ ribbon stage.
Mix the sugar & water, & cook until 118°C (soft ball). Carefully add the syrup in a continuous thin stream to the yolks whilst whisking, & continue until cold.
Whisk the cream & mascarpone mix until at soft peaks.
Gently fold in the cream mix into the yolks & sugar, followed by the purée.
Place in a suitable mould & freeze overnight.
Finally, this is a recipe which I’ve used for many years, both as a garnish for roasted lamb dishes & for vegetarians alike. It is a version of a recipe which a friend of mine gave me, from is time at working at Paul Bocuse. Hope he doesn’t mind I’ve tweeked it.
- 150g Ricotta cheese
- 150g Gruyere, finely grated
- 2 Medium eggs
- 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
Combine all the ingredients and beat until smooth.
Sandwich between two thinly rolled sheets of fresh pasta.
Cook for 2 minutes in boiling salted water, drain and serve with a warm sherry vinegar dressing & rocket.