YUMMY Recipes!

September 18, 2017
This is about...
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        WHO KNEW? RICOTTA, that yummy cheese you usually find in lasagna and cannoli, is RIDICULOUSLY EASY TO MAKE! It’ll take you less than an hour, and you’ll have real homemade cheese in your fridge for up to a week—that is if you don’t eat it all on the first day! All you need to do is bring some milk and cream with a little salt to a boil, stir in some white vinegar to curdle it, then strain it through cheesecloth. And Voila! You’ve got a thick, creamy spread that tastes way better than that stuff you find in a plastic container at the supermarket.
        RICOTTA MEANS COOKED TWICE IN ITALIAN. Traditionally it’s made from whey, the watery liquid that’s left over after making cheese. But because our U.S. milk is mostly pasteurized—making it from whey won’t work. Don’t fret though, it works great with milk and cream, as long as you steer clear of the ultra-pasteurized versions.
Plus you can control how dry or creamy you want the ricotta to be simply by how long you drain it.
        Now, it’s time to eat! I WAS ORIGINALLY LOOKING FOR A WAY YO USE UP SOME OF MY TREASURED NEW JERSEY TOMATOES. They’re delicious layered on top of thin slices of baguette, spread with this fresh, light ricotta and a small dollop of pesto. I like a thick layer of it on toasted brioche that’s schmeared with nutella and a couple of sliced bananas too. You could stuff a spoonful in an omelette with sauteed spinach, and mushrooms. Then there’s always a simple plate of spaghetti with marinara sauce transformed by a creamy swirl of it.
        ONE OF MY FAVE WAYS to use it is in these PANCAKES – LIGHT AND AIRY AND VERY SOUFFLE –LIKE. EASY TOO. It’s basically a dump and stir recipe. Even though you need to separate the eggs, the whites only need to be beaten with a small whisk or a fork until they’re foamy. And, THE BUBBLES ON THE TOP METHOD OF FLIPPING THE PANCAKES DOESN’T ALWAYS WORK. Just let them lightly brown on the bottom for a minute or 2, then flip.
        Sweet summer berries, or a light drizzle of honey is enough sweetness to let these pancakes shine. A heavier syrup like maple is too strong for these guys, and masks their delicate flavor. That’s why for me, JUST A SPRINKLE OF CONFECTIONERS’ SUGAR AND A SQUEEZE OF LEMON IS PERFECTION.

LESSONS Learned:
1. Make sure to check the label for pasteurized milk and cream and NOT Ultra Pasteurized ones.
2. Cheesecloth sounds intimidating to find and use, but it isn’t-- any hardware store or supermarket carries it.
3. Watch the milk mixture! It can easily boil over the pot if you walk away and leave a big mess to clean up.
4. If you just can’t bear to throw the whey out.....it’s a nice addition to a creamy soup.
5. The creaminess will depend upon how long you let the ricotta drain. If you like it on the drier side, let it drain the full 25 minutes or more, creamier start tasting it at 15 minutes.
6. Also, be aware that the pancakes will be a little different depending upon the ricotta’s consistency. But, they will all be delicious!

Homemade RICOTTA

4 cups whole milk, Pasturized only, Not Ultra-Pasturized
2 cups heavy cream, Pasturized only, Not Ultra-Pasturized
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 Tablespoons white vinegar

Make the ricotta:
       Place a large sieve over a deep bowl and line with 2 layers of cheesecloth.
       In a large heavy pot, add the milk, cream and salt. Over medium heat, bring just to a full boil, stirring occasionally. Begin to watch the pot when small bubbles begin to form around the edge. When it comes to a full boil, immediately turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Let the mixture stand for 1 -3 minutes. It should curdle immediately, separating into chunky curds and watery whey.
       Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth lined sieve. Let it drain for 15-30 minutes. If your strainer is low in the bowl, occasionally pour off the liquid in the bottom. The longer you drain the ricotta, the thicker and drier it will be. Pull off the cheesecloth and store in the fridge for up to week. The whey can be discarded, or kept for another use.

Makes about 2 cups.     YUM!

(adapted from Nigella Lawson)

1 cup full fat ricotta cheese, why not try the recipe above?
½ cup whole or 2% milk
2 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose four
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter for frying
1 cup berries, honey, and/or fresh lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar for serving (optional)

Make the pancakes:
       Set out 2 bowls, one small and another medium size. Separate the egg whites over the small bowl, and add the yolks to the medium size bowl. Using a fork beat the whites until foamy and set aside. In the medium size bowl, add the ricotta, milk to the egg yolks and combine well. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. Gently stir the foamy whites into the batter.
       In a large non-stick frying pan, heat the 1 Tablespoon of the butter and drop in to the pan either tablespoon size dollops for silver dollar sized pancakes, or heaping tablespoon size(2 Tablespoons) for 3 inch pancakes. Lightly spread the batter in the pan. Fry on one side for about 1-2 minutes until the undersides are golden. Flip and cook on the other side for another minute or 2. The bubbles on the top method of turning them may not work here. Fry the rest in batches using additional butter when needed. Keep the pancakes warm, on a warmed plate under some foil. Serve with berries and honey and/or a squeeze of lemon juice and a generous sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar.

Makes 2 dozen silver dollar size or one dozen 3”-4” pancakes.     YUM!
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