cheese: ricotta

ricotta cheese

Ricotta cheese is mostly thought of as an ingredient in lasagna, but do you know any more about it than that?

The word ricotta means recooked. This comes from the fact that ricotta is made using the whey that is a by-product during the making of other cheeses. Cheeses like the Italian favorite mozzarella. Italians make a lot of cheese and have for years. Disposing of the amount of whey left after an epic session of cheese making was an issue. Out of a problem comes a tasty solution.

The American version adds a bit of milk to the whey to get the wetter, and creamier ricotta you are familiar with at the grocery store. For this reason, some traditional Italian recipes you may suggest to strain your cheese so it isn’t as wet. It will be mentioned if needed, but keep it in mind if your dish comes out more running than you anticipated.

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Fun facts

  • Not technically a cheese because there is no starter, bacteria to make cheese, or rennet, an enzyme used to thicken cheese, is used in ricotta making. Because of this ricotta is considered a dairy product instead of a cheese.
  • Due to a short shelf life some ricotta can be processed further to increase shelf life. Ricotta salata, a firm salted variety; ricotta infornata, is placed in the oven to give it a brown crust; ricotta affumicata, is put in a smoker for a grey crust and smoke flavor; ricotta forte, is all the leftover ricotta fermented for about a year making a pungent spreadable cheese.
  • If you can’t get ricotta for your lasagna you can put cottage cheese in the food processor, drain off excess liquid using cheesecloth, and continue with the recipe.
  • Simple to make at home. All you need is milk, cream, salt, and lemon juice. Try the recipe from Epicurious next time you make lasagna.

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Where you can use Ricotta:

  • lasagna – a spicy italian sausage lasagna
  • gnudi - a ricotta dumpling similar to gnocchi
  • ravioli – honeymoon ravioli filled with all kinds of cheese
  • manicotti – for your next meatless monday
  • cheesecake – lemon ricotta cheesecake
  • cannoli – leave the gun take the cannoli
  • cookies – recipe here on Friday!

still plugging along, a life update

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It was all harder than I thought.

Move across the country, buy a house, get a dog, keep writing. I wasn’t at all prepared for the transition. I thought I wouldn’t miss a beat and that I would be able to keep up writing on the blog and stay consistent. I did ok when we first moved but once we started closing on the house things got a little off track, at least as far as the blog goes.

I have been largely MIA on the blog since February so a life update seems more than necessary. Let’s take it month by month shall we.

February

We closed on our house. February 27th to be exact. The month seemed like a crazy blur of getting papers and inspections in place.

March

We got a puppy. A whole new set of demands added to the schedule. I almost went crazy a few days trying to write a blog post and watch the dog. We did get some paint on the walls in our upstairs bedrooms. Project is still not finished completely, notice the lack of doors. Think that will be this weekends project.

April

Things started settling in a little bit. We went on an amazing trip to Chicago to see the Padres vs Cubs and ate our way through Chicago.

I decided I want to do a podcast and put it out into the world via facebook. I got some great response from people. There are a lot of people who are excited to talk about how they pass down their food knowledge and how it was passed down to them. This project is progressing slower than I had hoped, but still hopeful I will get it up and running by the end of the summer. If you are interested on being a guest and talking about how you learned to cook or how you teach others drop me a line.

May

I can’t believe we are almost through May. Olive went to puppy school which was a blessing for everyone. Now that she likes to play on her own a little more I am finding a little more time to get some writing done. I am also just sitting down and being more disciplined about my time. This should come as no surprise it is making me exponentially more productive.

As for the house we bought a lawn mower, we schedule to get a new deck built and we are planning some gardening projects.

Big news for June

I am starting culinary school on June 8th. I have wanted to go to culinary school for 12 years. I was actually accepted back then, but never attended. Over the last 12 years I have researched schools a half a dozen times, but the timing was never right. Now with the most supportive husband I am finally going to give it a go. I am starting out slow with only two classes, will still be working so blogging will be squeezed in between family, school and work.

My blog calendar is optimistically full of posts about ingredients, recipes to use those ingredients in and my favorite spots in Indianapolis. I hope I can get even half the things I have planned out into the universe.