Cheese Bleg

by Kate Steadman

from user chrisfreeland2002

from user chrisfreeland2002

This weekend I made the NYT’s ricotta recipe. It was surprisingly easy, but tell me expert IFA readers:  is this the best recipe?  It was good, sure, but not substantially better than store-bought.  It lacked…something.  So, do you have a homemade ricotta recipe you’re partial to?

Second, I now have a glut of ricotta. I made this, and it was fantastic.  But what should I use the rest for?

17 responses to “Cheese Bleg

  1. I like Mario Batali’s recipe but I lost it. So if anyone has that one please post it. It does not have the high buttermilk ratio and it uses lemon juice. I also add lemon zest to boost up the flavor.

  2. Use your ricotta to make fritters (aka croquettes or little fried things). The basic recipe is in the mushroom version below (and these are copied unedited from my emails to my olive oil customers, so ignore the local Portland references), but you can adapt almost anything else. Lightly cooked tender greens are perfect (spinach, beet greens, chard, arugula…process briefly or chop really fine).

    Mushroom Ricotta Fritters

    I’ve been buying the fresh ricotta from Jacob Creamery at the farmers market the last few weeks. While it’s good for a lot of things, I can’t seem to get past making fritters. The basic fritters without the mushrooms are delicious, and you can add just about anything to them.

    I used a blend of chanterelles and maitaake mushrooms from Roger and Norma at Springwater Farms. I tore them up a little, then roasted on parchment paper until lightly browned.

    Mix a half pint of ricotta with two eggs, a couple of tablespoons of flour, about a half cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, about three-fourths of a cup of bread crumbs, a cup of chopped roasted mushrooms, freshly grated pepper, and a good pinch of sea salt. Use two soup spoons or your hands to form patties about the size of an egg, slide them into a skillet slicked with a generous amount of good olive oil, and cook until nicely browned on both sides. Sprinkle with flor de sal and eat immediately.

    Squash Fritters

    Peel, seed, and cube a butternut squash. Put the cubes in a glass bowl with about a quarter cup of water, cover, and microwave for 4-5 minutes or until easily mashed (if you’re microwave-averse, steam them). Combine about a cup and half of the mashed squash with an equal amount (more or less) of ricotta, about a half cup each of cornmeal and bread crumbs, a couple of eggs, a handful of grated Parmigiano, a finely chopped shallot, and salt. The mixture should hold together but not be too dry.

    Use two soup spoons or your hands to form patties about the size of an egg or walnut, slide them into a skillet slicked with a generous amount of good olive oil, flatten gently with a fork, and cook until nicely browned on both sides. Sprinkle with flor de sal and eat immediately.

  3. That isn’t ricotta, it is farmers’ cheese.

    Wholly unrelated. The NYT is wrong.

  4. Ricotta is great mixed with honey, currants and sunflower seeds. Ricotta and honey reminds me of Italian cheesecake, but if I don’t have the wherewithal to make the cake, I go for the bowl of parts, which tastes great and is actually not bad for you!

  5. Found this recipe, via Serious Eats–ricotta pancakes with figs.

  6. I just eat it in a bowl topped with honey…hard to beat! You might want to check Ricki Carroll’s book “Home Cheesemaking” out…she’s got some great recipes in there. But honestly, DiPalo’s makes such excellent ricotta I don’t see any need to craft my own.

  7. Helena Montana

    Lasagna!

  8. Thanks everyone. I’ve been hearing that lemon juice is key to good ricotta. The fritters sound fantastic. I”ll post what I do if it’s ifa-worthy.

  9. steadwoman, curdling milk with an acid isn’t ricotta, it is farmers’ cheese (also called fresh cheese). This is a recipe for, say, paneer, not ricotta.

  10. as i understood it, after all the comments via the nytimes site. the process needed to be repeated a second time to make true ricotta. but either way i agree with you. the cheese was lacking something for me? maybe some salt or herbs?

    slightly related, what are you doing with the leftover whey? i’ve been thinking of making ginger ale but was looking for other suggestions.

  11. @Robert, so then how do you make ricotta?

  12. Real ricotta is made by adding acid to to the Whey leftover from making another cheese like mozzarella. A lot of people make ricotta from whole milk and citric acid though. This recipe is definitely more like a pot cheese. In episode I of my web show we visited a farm that makes ricotta and then the Lever House restaurant to make beignets from it–they were delicious! In the most recent short episode we made some fritters with Anne Mendelson with a cheese that should be pretty similar to what you have.

  13. mfree–close! True ricotta doesn’t reheat the cheese a second time, it reheats the leftover whey!

    This is why some folks say ricotta actually is not cheese, but a product made from the by-products of making cheese.

    As for making farmers’ cheese taste (this recipe) taste better, I like to put some coriander and black pepper in mine. I also found the best taste using lime juice, and washing it off as thoroughly as possible.

    The real reason this recipe tastes only so-so, however, is that farmers’ cheese just isn’t very tasty. Paneer is good mostly because its usually fried (and it is easy to fry because it is industrially pressed) and covered in a delicious sauce.

    Ricotta is harder to make, but much better. It is particularly good if you find some made from water buffalo.

  14. thanks for the help robert! sooo.o now i’m wondering the different making/process between ‘farmer’s cheese’ and mozzarella?

  15. mfree,

    I did a short introduction to mozzarella on my own blog:

    http://food.rlove.org/2008/08/mozzarella.html

    You are right that farmers’ cheese (pot cheese, paneer, et cetera) and mozzarella are both fresh cheeses.

    There are a few difference with mozzarella. First, the cheese is kneaded, stretched, and pulled from an original “clean break” of coagulated curds (this recipe). Second, the curds are then semi-melted. This gives mozzarella its consistency. As the cheese is stretched, it develops its characteristic stringy, wet form. It also causes whey to push out of the cheese. The cheese is stretched and pulled until the desired texture, then rolled into a ball.

    A third difference is the use of rennet instead of, or in addition to, a simple acid coagulate.

    Real, fresh, moist orbs of mozzarella di bufala are a gift. I really like the real thing from Campania, but there is a Vermont producer–they raise their own water buffalo!–that is deliciously-succulent.

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