Monday, January 26, 2009

Homemade Ricotta!!

Give me a taste of fresh ricotta - the creamy, fresh cheese traditionally from Sicily where it is done with sheep's milk - and I am in heaven. The perfect way to indulge: on a slice of bread with honey for breakfast, adding a yummy creaminess to tomato sauces, as softly melting cheesecake.... so many opportunities!

Now you can try to make it at home with this recipe I got from an old Sicilian Mamma living in the US:

Homemade Ricotta
1 gallon of whole milk
1 pint of heavy cream
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup white vinegar (she recommended Heinz)

Keep milk at room temperature for 3 hours. Add all the ingredients and let the milk boil at medium flame stirring once in a while for about 50-60 min. When the mix starts to bubble or separate, turn the flame off for few hours and let it sit so the ricotta rises. Then use a strainer to scoop out the ricotta leaving the water behind, squeezing it lightly with your hands or in a clean kitchen linen.

What to do now?


1 box of my durum wheat pasta rigatoni shape (in The Scrumptious Pantry)
1 onion
1 celery
1 carrot
10 oz. ground beef
peel of 1 untreated lemon
24.5 oz. canned or fresh tomatoes
½ cup dry red wine (i.e. Chianti) – the rest is to be drunk with dinner!
1 tablespoon of Roberta’s sun-dried tomato spread (in The Scrumptious Pantry)
7 oz. fresh ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons dried basil (or a handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped)
3 tablespoons of Cosimo’s extra-virgin olive oil (in The Scrumptious Pantry)
Freshly ground pepper, salt and nutmeg to taste

Sautè chopped onion, carrots and celery in olive oil. When the onions are golden brown, add the beef and ground lemon peel and fry over medium heat for five minutes. Add red wine, and a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add sun-dried tomato spread, basil, and canned tomatoes, stir till all ingredients are mixed well, cover and let simmer for an hour. When almost ready, boil salted water for pasta and cook about 9 minutes - drain pasta and add to the sauce. Let simmer for two minutes on medium heat, so the pasta can absorb the sauce’s aromas. Add the ricotta cheese and nutmeg to taste.

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