So like. Did y’all know you can make ricotta at home? And that it’s better than almost anything you could buy at a store (unless you have access to some mom and pop Italian market that makes it fresh)?
It’s true. And it was SO easy to make, that of course I immediately had to make it again.
In the interest of full disclosure, the recipe for the ricotta itself is not mine – it’s Smitten Kitchen’s. And I love her, and so much of her food, and her cookbook is glorious. So I will not post her recipe here – I’m not sure what is good or bad Food Blog Etiquette but I like to avoid charges of plaigiarism where possible – but I will link you to it, and I will tell you about my experience with it, so here, go here and get the recipe and then come back here to see just what you can do with fresh ricotta (hint: it’s more than lasagna, stuffed shells, or baked ziti!)…
Ok, so now I’m assuming you’ve gone and come back and are ready to talk about making fresh ricotta.
How about that direction where you have to heat the milk and cream to 190 degrees F? Did that freak you out a little bit? Or was that only me?
I get panicked about cooking things to a certain temperature. WHAT IF THE TEMPERATURE GOES TOO HIGH?! WHAT IF IT NEVER REACHES THAT TEMPERATURE?! WILL I RUIN THE WHOLE DISH?! WHY IS THE RED INDICATOR SO HARD TO READ?! WHY CAN’T I STEP AWAY?! Internal dialogue assaults me frequently.
In my defense I suppose I was also freaked out by it because I had literally JUST (as in, the day before) packed up my candy thermometer and shuttled that box off to my mom’s, so I was without a proper temperature gauge. Until I remembered I kept my meat thermometer out. So I improvised.
Yes, I stood at the stove and held the probe in what I believed to be the center of the pot as the milk and cream warmed up together, and waited for it to reach 190 degrees F. My arm was tired. And I was pretty hot by the time it was all over. But hey. Some people suffer for beauty; I suffer for food.
If you don’t have a food-grade thermometer at all and have to guess at when to take it off the heat, I would advise against making this. Just go get a food-grade thermometer.
So anyway. I made this for a little event that we have with our friends a few times a year that we used to call “that thing where we get together and make a bunch of food and pig out”, but on this specific occasion we decided to call it “Slutfest”. After all, the whole concept of “slutty food” came from these friends. So yeah. Every few months we get together and make a bunch of food and pig out. Our friend Geoff is a total whiz in the kitchen. He’s the kind of chef I wish I could be. He does not follow recipes, he just tosses a bunch of things together and it tastes amazing. We, on the other hand, are more recipe followers, though we have been known to improvise once in a while as well. Geoff is just amazing at it, so I let him do that while I just try and find a recipe or two I’ve been dying to make and try out on some people. To give you an idea, on this particular night Geoff whipped up a cheese fondue, homemade onion rings, and cheeseburgers made with beef filet roast scraps (the parts of the filet roast that you wouldn’t cut into steaks – he ground those parts up and made cheeseburgers out of it – HEAVENLY).
So for the first Slutfest of 2016, I chose to make this ricotta. I didn’t think much about what to ‘top’ it with, because to me ricotta spread on toasted bread is just fine like that. But after seeing how easy it was to make, and how DELICIOUS it was, I had to invent new ways to eat it.
As we were stuffing ricotta-slathered bread into our faces all kinds of ideas popped into my mind about what else could go on top. Below you’ll find the recipes for what I found to taste amazing in my recipe testing!
1 recipe fresh ricotta
1 baguette, sliced
Minced rosemary + gourmet sea salt
Any other flavored gourmet salts you may have
Poached eggs + arugula
Slow-roasted tomatoes + basil leaves
1. Toast the baguette slices in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.
2. Slather the baguette slices with the fresh ricotta.
3. Assemble as desired!
My favorite of these ideas ended up being the balsamic strawberries. It was surprisingly sweet and amazingly delicious.
My favorite simple preparation is the minced rosemary + gourmet sea salt. This is how they serve it at one of my favorite restaurants, The Dandelion.
For ricotta toasts that take a little more effort and are more small-meal-like rather than snack-like, go for the poached eggs + arugula or the slow-roasted tomatoes + basil.