This beautiful young lady is Laura Neally. I met Laura “virtually” a few years back when District 300 was in the fight of its life with legislators. She had no skin in the game except that her niece and nephew attend the school district. I was very proud to know her through that experience. Laura has a long line of Blackhawks fans following her on Twitter. She’s always hilarious and point on when it comes to politics.
Laura is a 36-year-old professional from the northwest suburbs of Chicago. She is a proud aunt, passionate Blackhawks fan, and lover of all food. Please don’t ask her to bake. I asked Laura if she’d like to do a guest post because she often posts her culinary art. She’s providing 4 recipes today, so impressive, one feeds the other. In fact, it’s an entire 3 course meal.
Fresh Ricotta 3 Ways
Although I spent some years growing up on a dairy farm, cheese making hasn’t been in my kitchen repertoire until recently. When a recipe has called for ricotta I always reached for the familiar white plastic tub in the dairy case at the grocery store. Once the process was demonstrated to me I realized it was easy to make and tasted far superior to the store bought version that I had grown accustom.
Making my own ricotta has inspired me to simplify my heavier wintertime Italian dishes into modern springtime fair. It is fit for a dinner party or mid-week supper. Ricotta is made relatively quickly and a single batch can be split into several different recipes. Leftovers can be stored in the freezer for later use. Without a doubt homemade ricotta sounds impressive and makes a familiar or simple dish something extra special.
First you’ll want to find a heavy pot or saucepan. I’m partial to my Calphalon 6.5 quart stockpot. The handles make for easy transfer to the sink and safe pouring. Mix together the milk, heavy cream, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring occasionally. In a small dish mix together the lemon juice and vinegar and add to the boiling milk mixture. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. You’ll notice the curd is separating from the whey and forming grainy chunks.
Allow the whey to drain from the curd for about 15 to 20 minutes. If you’ve over-drained your cheese you can bring it back to a creamy consistency by stirring in a splash of milk or cream.
Now dust some flour on your nose (all purpose will do just fine) and come out of the kitchen like you’ve accomplished some complicated culinary gymnastics. It’s as simple as that! The ricotta can be immediately used in a recipe, refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or sealed in freezer bags and store stored in the freezer for up to 2 months.
It’s really hard to keep your hands off your first batch so here are a few simple dishes for some inspirations:
Printed Versin: 2016 LTC Ricotta
Ricotta Yields about 3 cups
- 6 ½ cups whole milk
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 ½ tablespoons white vinegar
- In a large saucepan, combine milk, cream, and salt.
- Stir occasionally while bringing to a boil.
- Mix lemon juice and vinegar in a small bowl and add to the boiling milk mixture.
- Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Pour into colander lined with a tea towel or a double layer of paper towels.
- Allow to drain until desired consistency, about 15-20 minutes.
Toast thin slices of French baguette, top with ricotta, sprinkle generously with sea salt and good quality extra virgin olive oil.
Mix ricotta with desired amount of finely minced garlic and chopped fresh basil. Spoon on top of warm pasta just before serving.