I have had it with the grainy, pasty tasting store bought ricotta! It is SO simple to make and the taste simply can’t compare. I will always make ricotta from scratch from now on and you should too! Spread it on crackers, use it for your lasagna, it’s simply fresh and delicious!
Fresh Lemon Ricotta Cheese
makes 2 1/2 cups
8 cups (1/2 gallon) best-quality whole milk
1 1/2 cups best-quality heavy cream
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons), strained to remove pulp
zest of one lemon, optional
Combine milk, cream, and salt in a 4- to 5-quart pot, and warm mixture over medium-high heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon to prevent scorching, until mixture registers 195 degrees on a candy thermometer. It should take about 15 minutes.
Add lemon juice, gently stirring until just combined. Remove pot from heat and let stand 5 minutes. The combination of the acid and the residual heat in the mixture will cause it to coagulate, or curdle — separating into a soft mass (curds) and a cloudy liquid (whey).
After lining a mesh colander with a triple layer of cheesecloth and placing it inside a deeper, slightly larger bowl, gently pour curds and whey into colander. Let mixture stand, pouring off whey occasionally, until most of whey has drained from still-wet curds, 20 minutes.
Gather up ricotta in cheesecloth and turn it out into a bowl. Add the lemon zest. Serve within a few hours, or refrigerate up to 4 days. For a denser ricotta, which can be preferable for baking, hang it to drain for another hour. Repurpose whey or discard it. (You can freeze the whey in ice cube trays and then add to your smoothies for extra protein!)
Serve with crackers or sliced baguette topped with good olive oil and fresh thyme leaves or use it to make for this tasty, seasonal tart!
Fresh Lemon Ricotta Asparagus Tart
Spring has finally arrived in the form of asparagus stalks in my garden. Well… it's not really MY garden but when there is an abundance of something growing, my neighbor and gardener friend Annie shares!!!! A handful of home grown asparagus was my inspiration for this seasonal and beautiful tart.
Fresh Lemon Ricotta Asparagus Tart
1 puff pastry sheet
1/2 c ricotta, fresh if possible
1 egg, beaten
14-16 stalks of fresh, raw asparagus, trimmed
2 t grated lemon zest, omit if you added in above recipe
2 T pine nuts
1 t fresh thyme
salt & pepper
olive oil for drizzling
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay out one sheet of defrosted puff pastry on a greased pan and pinch the edges a bit to make a crust. Spread ricotta over the surface. Pour the egg evenly over the top of the cheese layer. Lay the asparagus over the egg. Sprinkle with pine nuts, fresh thyme, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes until puffed and golden. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve with a green salad for a light lunch or add a poached egg on top for an elegant brunch dish.
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"