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.
Easter is the perfect time of year to share this ‘Spicy Marinated Carrots’ appetizer! Stolen (with permission!) from my good friend Kathleen, this recipe is incredibly easy & enormously flavorful! Traditionally made with cut carrots, the elegance & beauty of whole carrots with their bright green tops, make this so much more special, & tasty enough to please Bugs Bunny himself!
Spicy Marinated Carrots
1 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup sugar
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 t dried thyme
1 t dried basil
1 bay leaf
1/4 t red pepper flakes
2# carrots, peeled & cut into sticks or use whole baby carrots!
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c country dijon mustard
1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped
Put all the ingredients except the carrots, oil, mustard and parsley in a pot and bring to a boil. Stir to combine and to melt sugar. Toss in the carrots, drizzle with oil and cook 30 - 40 minutes covered, at a simmer, until fork tender, keeping crisp but absorbing liquid. Remove from heat and let cool in the liquid for 15 minutes or so. Drain liquid and toss with the mustard. Let come to room temperature. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.
I have had some ‘not so great’ veggie burgers lately. Some are too mushy and some too dry. Here is my version, developed for an entry in a Food Network challenge……wish me luck! I served it on a toasted whole wheat bun with some melted cheddar, organic arugula & a thick slice of locally grown tomato. I had to use leeks as an ingredient in the contest so I fried them and added them to a garlic aioli mayo……..
really yummy, hence the……….
2T olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1 yellow onion chopped to 1/4 inch dice
6 oz cremini mushrooms, chopped coarsely in food processor
8 oz cauliflower, chopped coarsely in food processor
4 eggs, beaten
3 cups cooked wild rice blend, cooled
2 T fresh parsley, chopped finely
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
a pinch each of cayenne, dried basil, dried thyme & celery seed
1/2 t each salt & freshly ground pepper
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
Sauté the garlic, onion, cauliflower & mushrooms in the olive oil until lightly browned and flavorful, about 10 minutes. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and spread into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes until firm and lightly browned. Cut into 8 pieces and serve warm on a good bun with your favorite additions!
I was going to write a blog about figs but every time I leave the house and return, it’s as though the Easter bunny (aka my friendly gardener & friend Annie) has come late and deposited beautiful colors of eggplants on my doorstep!
I love to use eggplant to make ratatouille, it is the perfect dish for using up the garden’s bounty, but I wanted to find something more interesting to make. Here is what I came up with:
Roasted Eggplant w/Honey, Jalapeño, Garlic, Cilantro & Lime
6 Japanese style eggplant, cut down the middle lengthwise or 1 large regular eggplant, cut in
half & sliced into half moons
3 T olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1/3 cup honey
2 jalapeno, sliced crosswise into rings
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
cilantro, whole or torn leaves to scatter over
1 lime, squeezed over the eggplant before serving
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the eggplant, garlic and jalapeño in the olive oil, salt &
pepper and spread out cut side down on a sheet pan. Drizzle w/honey and roast for 20 minutes.
It should be nice and brown and caramelized, almost candied. Let cool for 15 minutes then
squeeze lime over and sprinkle w/cilantro. Eat!
And…for your Summer recipe box
Wratatouille (Wren Ratatouille)
1 large eggplant cut into 1” chunks
1 red onion, cut into wide slivers
2 squash, zucchini, yellow, whatever kind you have
1 large or 8 mini peppers, all colors
4 large cloves of garlic, chopped roughly, about 4 tsp
4 T olive oil
salt and pepper
2 t herbs de Provence
In a large skillet put a tablespoon of the oil & heat until hot, toss in one vegetable at a time,
cooking each one separately adding salt & pepper and 1 tsp of the garlic. Sprinkle with the
herbs, about 1/2 tsp. After sautéeing each veggie until al dente, place in a large bowl together
and toss. Beautiful!
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!"