Monday, September 5, 2011

Homemade Ricotta and a Birthday Dinner

Catherine came over for her birthday dinner on Friday night, and I decided to go with a late-summer-bounty theme. Here was our menu:

Crostini with Homemade Ricotta, Caramelized Onions, Basil Oil, and Sea Salt
Grilled Red, Yellow, and Orange Peppers with Grilled Tomatoes and Onions
Summer Fruit Crostata with Vanilla Ice Cream

I was happy with everything, though the crostata cooked unevenly - burnt on the edges (I knocked them off) and a little underdone in the middle. I loved the combination of plums, peaches, and blueberries at their peak, though!

I've been wanting to try to make ricotta for a while, so I incorporated it into the appetizer. I put out a platter of toasted crostini (slice a very thin baguette into 1/2 inch rounds; bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes) and bowls of ricotta, basil oil (1/2 cup of oil; 1 cup of basil leaves, packed; and a pinch of salt whirred in a processor), caramelized onions, and sea salt. Guests could make whatever combination suited them.

Making ricotta was incredibly easy, and it tastes so much better than store-bought. It's creamy rather than gritty.

Homemade Ricotta

1/2 gallon whole milk
1 cup cream
1 t. salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Cook milk, cream, and salt on medium low to just under a boil. Add lemon juice and turn heat to low. Stir mixture until curds form - about 2 minutes.

Pour ricotta into a pasta strainer lined with a clean cloth napkin or cheesecake. If you want to save the whey, put a bowl under the strainer. Drain the ricotta for a few minutes, then transfer to a bowl and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

1 comment:

Alison... said...

Even your ricotta is home made!