Tag Archives: ricotta

Red Light Green Light

There are TWELVE days of Christmas – all of you ever so eager to put those lights UP in November, don’t be in such a hurry to take them down – keep ‘em around at least until the 6th of January, the Feast of the Epiphany. That’s the day the Three Wise Guys, um, I mean Wise Men, finally get to the party. And let’s face it – January could use some low key good times, not to mention a little more light.

As for the red light….

Beets.

beetroot

Can’t beat them, so just enjoy them.

Last summer I used fresh tomatoes in salads and uncooked sauce for pasta. Once I found one recipe for uncooked tomato sauce, it seems as if there were thousands.

Or at least several.

Lidia!

lidia_bastianich_2014

Lidia Bastianich

Marian Morash!

vgcb

 

Total stranger from somewhere else!!

Newspapers and magazines…..

So when I got a new Italian cookbook (much of the Italian being American chefs in Italian restaurants…and the Italian cooking was restaurant cooking too.)

italian_intermezzo

 

AND

It came with music. To cook and dine with Italian music. The music was the deal-breaker.

As I was listening to Ciribiribin

– not to be confused with Chili Bean

 

I found yet another variation on the uncooked tomato sauce, but this one had a twist.

The variation called for beets.

RED LIGHT

That were cooked. For 1 1/2 hours.

Which is very different from uncooked. Or tomatoes.

So I really don’t know how this qualifies as a variation and not a whole new recipes.

BUT

I had beets….

GREEN LIGHT

So I scrubbed them, tossed them with a little olive oil and roasted them in a 350 oven for 90 or so minutes until they were tender.

I took them out of the oven and put some water on for the pasta…..

Alton Brown has embraced the cold water method for cooking pasta….

abeverydaycook

 

Cold water pasta is another post.

Anyhow,

While the pasta cooked

farfalle_pasta

Farfalle – butterflies!

I peeled the beets and cut them into a dice. Tossed with some olive oil wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Also some minced parsley and a little rosemary.

Added with the now cooked pasta and some ricotta, a 1/2 cup or so of the pasta water. Stir, taste, adjust, EAT.

It was pink…..and it was good.

It was NOTHING like the uncooked tomato sauce.

But it was delicious.

It was also good re-heated the next day.

 

 

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Filed under Books, Dinner, Italian, Recipe, winter

Cookies, eaten like grapes

header –Snail, Fruit, Nuts, Grapes, and Pinecones by Giovan Battista Ruoppolo, 2nd half 17th century. 

I was thinking about shortbread, a cookie I used to make, and then having made it for two years, it HAD to be made because we

ALWAYS

had it. Until it didn’t get made for a year or two, because new cookies joined the fray….I mean

TRAY

cookie_tray

According to Wikipedia, this is an American Christmas Cookie Tray.

I found a shortbread recipe….or four….or six…..some have splatters and some do not….from the many shortbread years. This will not be a shortbread year. Maybe next year.

I also found a recipe from my cousin Flora. She e-mailed it in 2006. This is her version, with some notes from me. I re-wrote the recipe in 2008, so I had made it several times by then. An easy add to the Holiday Tray.

RICOTTA COOKIES

Blend until creamy:

1 stick ROOM TEMPERATURE butter

1/4 cup ricotta (I actually put in about 1/3 cup)

Add and mix well

1 cup sugar

1 egg

Slowly stir in:

2 cups SIFTED flour (this is less than 2 cups flour sifted)

1/2 tsp baking soda (note from me – baking soda and baking powder are not the same thing, and aren’t really interchangeable. Don’t ask me how I know this, but I do, I REALLY do!)

1/2 tsp salt (note from me – don’t leave out the salt – it activate the soda to leaven)

Drop batter from a tsp onto a greased baking sheet. (I use RELEASE which I think is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I TOTALLY agree!)

Bake in the upper half of oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Tops will be white but bottoms will be brown. Makes 36 cookies. Cool and glaze. Store in a covered container and they will last for a couple of weeks (you won’t get to this point because they will be eaten like grapes).

Glaze: 2 cups sifted confectionery sugar

3 tbls orange juice or whatever flavoring you choose

sprinkles if you have them

Blend well (NOTE: the sprinkles go one the cookies after they have been glazed – don’t add the sprinkles to the glaze)

Bon Appetito!

forte-luca-still-life-with-grapes-1630s-copper-gettyStill Life with Grapes and Other Fruits by Luca Forte, Getty Center, 1630s

“eaten like grapes”

roses_boutons_fr_2012

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Whey Back Wednesday

Little Miss Muffet

Sat on a tuffet

Eating her curds and whey

Along came a spider

And sat down beside her

And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Making curds and whey at work, so the nursery rhyme is in the air.

Pretty remarkable the number of children who don’t know it.

“Little Miss Muffet Sat on her tuffet, eating her….

“MUFFIN”

or if I helped them

‘…eating her curds and…’

“CHOCOLATE”

Little_Miss_Muffet_2_-_WW_Denslow_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_18546So it seems that Miss Muffet is slipping out of the vernacular…..anyhow…

Curds and whey is pretty easy to make (are pretty easy to make? You can’t make one without the other….Is this a singular or a plural? Time to call the Grammar Police!) Grammar Police badge

To make curds and the resulting whey : take milk, add rennet (it’s an enzyme) and the milk becomes solid – that’s the curds – and liquid – that’s the whey…..Curds are the first step of making cheese. Many cheeses are pressed curds

Cabot-cottage-cheese-1lb

Cottage Cheese/ Curds and Milk – different names/same thing.

Cottage cheese is unpressed curds and milk..See – you’ve been snacking on curds like a tuffetless Miss Muffet all along!

Whey is also pretty common in the 21st century – as a powder. Dehydrate the liquid and Voila!

Whey_powder

Whey powder – an important component of a smoothies and power shakes and protein bars

Whey powder is also in Greek-style yoghurt.

Not in the Greek yoghurt, per se…..

Greek-style.

I went to buy some Greek yoghurt this week, to lunch with my granola. I reached for my familiar brand, and right next to it

SALE

I bought the brand on sale. I read the BIG print, not the fine print….shame on me.

Here’s what was in it:

Pasteurized milk, skim milk, whey protein concentrate, milk protein concentrate, live active yogurt cultures (Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus), Vitamins A,C,D,E.

And the taste? Chalky/gritty/ not nice.

Note to self – ALWAYS read the WHOLE label, even in a jiffy grocery run.

Then there’s true ricotta – that’s ‘re-cooked’ in Italian, made from re-heated whey and buttermilk,  which makes it the same thing as Gervase Markham’s  1617 “Whey Curds”.

Ricotta insaluta

Ricotta salata

07-506972

Happy Medieval cheese-makers – that basket cheese in the middle looks an awful lot like a modern ricotta basket…and that’s one handsome dog, too

Another version of the same scene

Another version of the same scene

Curds in Irish literature

The Vision of Mac Conglinne (14th century, Irish)

Stately, pleasantly it sat,
A compact house and strong.
Then I went in:
The door of it was dry meat,
The threshold was bare bread,
cheese-curds the sides.

Smooth pillars of old cheese,
And sappy bacon props
Alternate ranged;
Fine beams of mellow cream,
White rafters – real curds,
Kept up the house.

It’s not just the food, it’s the wheys

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Filed under Irish, Italian

FULL HOUSE

A card hand…

Full-HouseA TV series

Full_House_1987_TV_series_logoWhich leads to a house Full….

Full_House_-_The_Complete_Series

The complete TV series in a box shaped like a house

"The category if "Ful"...", says Alex

“The category is ‘Ful’ “, says Alex.

USEFUL

divisionBEAUTIFUL

greenway sculpture

String Sculpture over the Rose Kennedy Greenway

ARTFUL

Giovanni Battista Ruoppolo - Still Life of Fish with Char, Bass, Rockfish, Sea Bream and shells  - 17th century

Giovanni Battista Ruoppolo – Still Life of Fish with Char, Bass, Rockfish, Sea Bream and Shells – 17th century – the painter is from Naples and was born in 1629.

CUPFUL

a-perfect-white-cup-of-steaming-coffee_w520GRATEFUL

may10DrDyer

PLAYFUL

Right Whales right of the coast here - and 17 new baby whales!

Right Whales right off the coast here in May – and 17 new baby whales!

PEACEFUL

It feels like Winter is SOOOOOO (finally) OVAH - time for some Peaceful Meadows!

It feels like Winter is SOOOOOO (finally) OVAH – time for some Peaceful Meadows!

MOUTHFUL

SOOOO – If you have a bag of lemons, and you forget what inspired you to take them home in the first place

AND someone at work leaves a copy of Good Housekeeping on the table….

AND there’s a recipe for Spaghetti with Lemon Ricotta – that’s a sign, right?

Good House Keeping USA 2015-03_

AND I can organize my life….right

Basic spaghetti with ricotta sauce, nice lemon grated peel here… : spaghettini-lemon-ricotta-recipe

Now – I didn’t make my own ricotta, (and I would argue that what they have you make isn’t actually ricotta, although it sounds plenty GOOD) so I added a little extra lemon peel, and I juiced those yellow orbs because I’m supposed to use the peels and throw the fruit away????

I think NOT.

WASTEFUL

Lemon-edit1

Use the whole lemon – the rind can be dried; the juice can be frozen; the seeds can be planted….

It  was quick and easy, it was fine, it was OK. It was also a little….dull.

STIFLE YAWN.

Downright pedestrian.

BORING.

Indifferent Housekeeping.

Then there were the LEFTOVERS.

Some things are fine just re-heated or even served cold as part of lunch the next day, some things need a little more…..help.

For me leftover bascetti usually means

FRITTATA.

Spaghetti_spiral,_2008

Bascetti, a/k/a ‘spaghetti’

To make leftovers into lunch or another night’s supper:

  • Shop the pantry and fridge for flavor enhancers. I had a red pepper,and a green pepper that I cut up and tossed in a pan with some olive oil, a nice generous amount of olive oil. An onion chopped fine and a clove or two of garlic are not amiss here either. Celery would also work or in a different direction, mushrooms. Choices, you got choices. If you see things in your mind’s eye, do you taste things in your mind’s mouth? Ponder as you scope and chop.
  • The little grapes tomatoes (that were pretty large for grape tomatoes) and not entirely tomato-ish on their own were halved and added in towards the end, to release the juices and the flavor.
  • Beat half a dozen eggs with salt, pepper and grated Romano cheese.
  • Toss the leftover spaghetti with the eggs. I had a little more ricotta and added more lemon peel at this point. Basil would have been nice – or a handful of chopped parsley would have been a different green element way to go.
  • When the pepper mixture cools a bit, toss that in and around too.
  • How does it smell ? Adjust until it smells good.
  • Put more olive oil in the pan and heat it on medium for a minute…add the mixture, flatten it around, and give it a shake to settle it all to the bottom.
  • Let it fry up for two minutes without disturbing – then shake and shimmy the pan so that the uncooked egg puddles get closer to the heat.
  • Poke at the edges towards the center with a spatula so that it doesn’t stick.This makes so much more sense at the stove then it seems here on the page.There is a whole lotta cooking that’s learned by looking.

    Choose your poking/turning weapon of choice

    Choose your poking/turning spatula  weapon of choice

  • Turn the heat to low, put a lid on it, and leave it alone for a while. Go set the table,humming Italian songs along with Lou Monte on the CD player.

TUNEFUL

Lou Monte

So many songs in the language between Italian and English. If only I could write in that language!

PLATEFUL!

Frittata wiki

Frittata can be served warm or cold or even in a sangwich.

DELIGHTFUL

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Filed under Eating, Italian, Lunch, Supper

24 Carrot Gold

Exactly how  many carrots are to a pound depend on the size of the carrots, but if you have 24 lovely little carrots, or about 3 pounds (2 1/2 pounds for cooking and a 1/2 pound for snacking) you can make some carrot salad for the days that remind you that although the Dog Days are over, summer isn’t really over quite yet, and some carrot soup for the days can get chilly and tell you Fall is coming soon, just not as soon as all the pumpkin flavored everything that is available would seem to indicate.

More then enough carrots here to make both soup and salad

More then enough carrots here to make both soup and salad, and have a little carrot nosh in the interim

CARROT SALAD

¾ cup dried chick peas or white beans

1 or 2 garlic cloves

1 ½ pounds carrots

1/3 cup olive oil

¼ cup vinegar –wine or cider

¼ – ½ cup chopped parsley

1 or 2 cloves garlic, crushed

Scallions OR fresh cut chives or garlic chives (you might want to omit the garlic cloves if you go this route)

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground cumin or ground coriander

Optional –

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

And/or 1/3 cup minced fresh dill

  1. Cook the chickpeas or the beans with the garlic. Drain well.
  2. Peel the carrots, or merely scrub them well if they’re very fresh and thin skinned. Cut them into thin, flat matchstick pieces, 1½ inches long by ¼ inch wide. Steam them for 5 – 10 minutes – just tender.
  3. Rinse under cold running water and drain well.
  4. Combine olive oil, vinegar, herbs and spices in a large bowl.
  5. Add cooked beans and mix well.
  6. Add cooked carrots and toss gently.
  7. Cover tightly and refrigerate.

4-6 servings

Adapted from Mollie Katzan. Still Life with Menu Cookbook. Ten Speed Press. 1988. pp. 157-8.Still life with Menu

Carrots come in many colors and can be used interchangeably

Carrots come in many colors and can be used interchangeably

CREAMY CARROT SOUP

2 cup chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into rounds

4 cups broth

1 cup white wine

½ cup ricotta cheese

½ teaspoon celery seed or dill seed

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cook onions and garlic in butter over medium heat until translucent.
  2. Add carrots and cook. Covered, another 5-10 minutes, until the carrots start to sweat (the juices start to come out of them).
  3. Add broth and wine, raise heat.
  4. Bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer until the carrots are soft.
  5. Puree mixture in a blender or a food processor.
  6. Put the puréed back in the pan over low heat and add ricotta, celery seed and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Heat thoroughly and serve.

Makes about 2 quarts.

From A Musical Treat: Good Food is Music for the Palate. Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra Volunteer League. 1995. p.49.This is a recipe I contributed. It’s an amalgam of several different recipes that finally became mine.

carrot blossom-Daucus_carota_May_2008-1_edit

Carrot in flower – Queen Anne’s Lace is really wild carrot. It used to be known as Bird’s Nest. Those little flower ends keep curling up as they form seeds

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Filed under Books, Recipe, Summer

Homemade Ricotta

This is seriously easy and exceptionally good.

For REAL, authentic in every detail ricotta, first you milk your cow…..

Woman milking a cow - Karel Dujardin - 1650 Dutch

Woman milking a cow – Karel Dujardin – 1650 Dutch

or your sheep or water buffalo OR you could got to your favorite market and pick up a gallon – whole milk, please, regardless of beast of origin.

Modern Day Milk Jug

Modern Day Milk Jug

What I’m going to suggest isn’t EXACTLY ricotta, but 1,000 times better then anything in a plastic carton

The particular brand is not important - if you ave a local dairy that is making fresh cheeses, you may stop here and then there. Otherwise, keep reading.

The particular brand is not important – if you have a local dairy that is making fresh cheeses, you may stop here and then go there. Otherwise, keep reading.

I’ve been working a lot with curds and whey lately, partly as part of my job and partly because it’s the fresh dairy time of year.

A small time out before I go any further.

RICOTTA MEANS ‘RE-COOKED’

IT IS A CHEESE MADE FROM WHEY LEFT OVER FROM CHEESE-MAKING.

First you have milk, then you add rennet,then you have curds and whey, then you take the whey and with THAT you make ricotta (at last!)

Like other whey cheeses, it is made by coagulating the keratin proteins that remain after the casein has been used to make cheese, notably albumin and globulin. Thus, ricotta can be eaten by persons with casein intolerance.

Thus speaketh Wikipedia, the most complete and least technical explanation I could find. In English. True ricotta is more complicated and involved than what I’m about to suggest.

Two simple truths:

  1. It is easy to curdle milk.
  2. Fresh is better then packaged, especially for dairy products.

Cook’s Illustrated to the rescue.

Because I keep back issues, and because I’ve been reviewing them, I rediscovered  simple, easy homemade ricotta.

Cook's Illustrated September 2009. Influencer

Cook’s Illustrated September 2009. Influencer

The reason I LOVE Cook’s Illustrated  and consider them an Influencer?

Things like this:

This technique will yield 3 1/2 cups of a superior-tasting ricotta facsimile (true ricotta is made from whey created as a by product  of cheese-making) that can be used in recipes from lasagna to manicotti to cheesecake and ricotta pie.

And if this isn’t a lasagna/manicotti/ricotta pie time of year, when is?

Homemade Ricotta

1 gallon whole milk

1 tsp salt

2 lemons, juiced,  for 1/3 cup lemon juice plus another tablespoon (1/3 c lemon juice = 5 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon. 2 lemons = approximately  6 T)  OR 1/3 cup white vinegar

2 lemons should give you enough juice for this ricotta - wash them first so you can use the zest after. Warm them for 10-20 seconds in the microwave before squeezing and you'll get more juice out.

2 lemons should give you enough juice for this ricotta – wash them first so you can use the zest after for something else. Warm them for 10-20 seconds in the microwave before squeezing and you’ll get more juice out.

thermometer (or trust your impeccably clean fingers )

cheesecloth (flour sack towels work even better, cost less and wash up more easily, if you’ve got them. If you’re going to be making cheeses at home, you’ll want some of these. K-Mart, Vermont Country Store – they’re everywhere)

Flour-sack towels - evidently they're quite the thing with the cloth baby diaper crowd...You can also use them to boil up a Christmas Pudding or two.....or dry a dish.

Flour-sack towels – evidently they’re quite the thing with the cloth baby diaper crowd…You can also use them to boil up a Christmas Pudding or two…..or dry a dish.

 

  1. Juice the lemons and put the juice aside.
  2. Heat the milk and salt to 185° over medium high heat in a heavy bottomed pan. If you’re doing this  Old-School and not using a thermometer, the milk should be at a simmer, not a boil and not still still. Use your impeccably clean finger, dip it in and the milk should be hot  – not warm, hot, but not boiling. Heating helps, boiling hinders.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Add the lemon juice, stir it in.
  5. Allow it to stand, undisturbed, for 5 minutes.
  6. Solid white curds should now be visible above  liquid translucent whey.
    Curds and whey - where's Miss Muffet?

    Curds and whey – where’s Miss Muffet?

     

  7.  IF it is not setting up, add another tablespoon of lemon juice, stirring gently and let stand for another 5 minutes.
  8. Once there are curds,gently scoop them up with a slotted spoon and place them in a cheesecloth lined colander (over a pot or a bowl or in the sink; there will be more whey dripping).

    If it's very drippy, hang it over the sink till it slows...but get it into the fridge before to very long long. This is food prep, not science experiment.

    If it’s very drippy, hang it over the sink till it slows…but get it into the fridge before to very long . This is food prep, not science experiment.

  9. DO NOT try to speed things up by dumping the whole pot of curds into the colander – the weight of the whey will destroy the beautiful, delicate curds, you’ll have a mess and be stuck with buying packaged ricotta.
  10. Drain without pressing (which will essentially give you paneer, a soft cheese that can be sliced) or squeezing. Let drain overnight in the fridge over a bowl (do I really have to say that out loud? Since I’m the one not always good with The Obvious….at least for one)

    Ricotta draining baskets - you could invest or you could improvise....

    Ricotta draining baskets – you could invest or you could improvise….

  11.  Keep refrigerated and use within five days.
  12. Makes about 3 1/2 cups of ricotta.

 adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, September/October  2009, p. 31.

 

Go to University of Cincinnati Clermont College ricotta making site for Real Ricotta .

 

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