Tag Archives: Homemade Ricotta

A Whole Lotta Goodness @Everything Whole is New Again

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On a lazy Sunday afternoon two friends hatched a plan to trade one’s newly bottled homebrew for the other’s freshly caught stream trout. And they drank and they ate and they said it was good. So good, in fact, that they decided to share these fine things with 8 unsuspecting guests who knew not that they would be asked to eat frog legs and fish eyes, but who simply signed up for a dinner celebrating all whole foods. Everything Whole is New Again was on the calendar and the seats were full.

And so for the past six weeks, I was brewing, fermenting and bottling a 4 gallon batch of Yerba Mate Wheat, while Keith grabbed his fishing pole — and  frog net — and stockpiled our bounty. The rest of the menu was filled in with local, seasonal fare, a lot of handmade goodness, and, as always, an abundance of chilled beverages.

The Menu {use of hands encouraged}:

Local Market Bounty
w/  Bagna Cauda

Brown Butter Pond-Caught Frog Legs
Caught by Keith Gibson, Ghent, NY

w/ Yerba Mate Wheat Homebrew, NY

Balsamic-Drizzled Watermelon Steak
Topped with Feta, Rooftop Mint and Pistachios

 w/ 2012 Reichsrat von Buhl Pinot Noir Rose, Germany

Homemade Wheat and Spent Grain Bread
w/ Homemade Grass-Fed Milk Ricotta 
and Hand-Churned Salted Butter

Grilled Stream-Caught Wild Trout
w/ Lemon Butter and Green Garlic
Caught by Keith Gibson, Ghent, NY

w/ 2010 Blanck Pinot Gris, Alsace

Market Blueberry-Lemon Tart

w/ Banfi Sparkling Rose Regale, Italy

While the rain clouds loomed overhead, I poured the beer and tried to add a little brightness to the evening with an array of colorful market veggies — purple carrots and zebra heirloom tomatoes, oh my!

A Yerba Mate Wheat is born

A Yerba Mate Wheat is born

Local Market Bounty w/ Bagna Cauda

Local Market Bounty w/ Bagna Cauda

Remember that fancy side burner on the new grill? Well it got used. Keith’s prized frog legs, caught in upstate New York, did a little al fresco dance in a hot pan with a generous amount of butter and garlic scapes. The 8.ate@eight crew looked suspiciously over my shoulder as the delightful smell of brown butter wafted in their direction. All were good sports and took a tentatively tiny sampling on their plates. And then they tasted them. And quickly the platter was passed around the table for seconds leaving nothing but a pile of happily cleaned bones. It’s hard not to like something cooked in butter, but these little guys were beautifully browned and crispy on the outside and tender {dare I say like chicken} on the inside.

Brown Butter Pond-Caught Frog Legs

Brown Butter Pond-Caught Frog Legs

And because it was 90 and humid and we couldn’t rely solely on chilled wine to keep us from sweating, it was time for one of my absolute favorite summer salads. I discovered this genius whole preparation of a “watermelon steak” from the Umami Mart blog and then adjusted for a combination of flavors that I think were made to go together — a little salty feta to counter the sweet melon, the pistachios add a crunch to each bite that would otherwise dissolve in your mouth, a drizzle of aged balsamic for a touch of acidity and a sprinkling of fresh mint because mint and watermelon belong together.

Watermelon-Feta Steak

Watermelon-Feta Steak

Ok and now it’s going to start to sound ridiculous. While I heated the BBQ to grill our other Keith-caught prize — the main event, the stream-caught wild trout — I brought out the homemade bread {which used spent grain from our beer and sage-rosemary-thyme from the rooftop garden}, served with homemade butter and homemade ricotta. Amazingly, it was the homemade butter that threw people for a loop — seemingly difficult to many, I had to explain it’s really just overwhipped whipped cream. The key is excellent ingredients — I used Keith’s 100% grass-fed heavy cream from his farm, Grazin’ Angus Acres {@Union Square greenmarket on Saturday, @79th st greenmarket on Sunday}, and deliciously flaky Jacobsen Sea Salt from Portland.

Whole Wheat & Spent Grain Bread + Two Best Friends: Butter & RIcotta

Whole Wheat & Spent Grain Bread + Two Best Friends: Butter & RIcotta

And now the drum roll…an early morning trip to the market to pick up the prized trout

Our man Keith and one lucky fish

Our man Keith and one lucky fish

Please, please notice the amazing pink flesh shining through the beautiful skin. These fish are beauts! So happy together…

So happy together

So happy together

Even happier with some fresh garlic scapes.

Even happier with some fresh garlic scapes

Even happier with some fresh garlic scapes

A peek inside — pretty in pink! Simple seasonings — lemon, butter, garlic scapes and scallions.

A sneak peek

A sneak peek

Dinner is served

Dinner is served

Nothing but the bones remained. Even a dare to eat the eyeballs was met openly and with great confidence {perhaps this had something to do with the amount of wine that had been consumed.}

And we're done

And we’re done

Oh, and dessert. The simplest celebration of sweet seasonal blueberries in a savory tart shell.

Sara Moulton's Blueberry Lemon Tart

Sara Moulton’s Blueberry Lemon Tart

Thanks!

Thanks to Keith Gibson for wading through the stream and ponds to put dinner on the table. And for also raising amazing grass-fed everything that makes everything taste the way nature intended. Thanks to Ryan and Angela for helping with the brew process and storing a whole lotta beer at your apartment. Thanks to Allison and Kristin for all the help clearing our many empty dishes — and washing them {best roommates ever}! Thanks to Kristin for also snapping some pics while I was worrying about the rain. And I of course want to thank everyone who grabbed a seat at the table — it was lovely to have you all!

I’m ruminating on some future  events for the fall and winter, so stay tuned. If you aren’t on the dinner distribution list, email me at 8ateateight@gmail.com to be added. See you at the table!

Read About Past 8.ate@eight Dinners:
Boozy Robert Burns Night w/ The Tippling Bros. & Highland Park Scotch
A+ 8.ate@eight Back to School Nite
8.ate@eight Went Whole Hog and Hog Wild @ the Big Southern BBQ
Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!
Silencing of the Spring Lambs was Lambtastic!

The crew

The crew

8 Ate at Eight 2013-9

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recipe goodness :: homemade ricotta and melted leeks — the easiest winning appetizer you MUST make

Homemade Ricotta

Homemade Ricotta

I don’t typically like to tell people what to do. But I’m going to tell you — and you’re going to listen to me — you must make this NOW. Sure, I get a little more experimental in the kitchen than most, but when I tell you this will have you channeling your inner Italian Grandmother with ease and will also have you wanting to make fresh ricotta everyday, I hope you believe me. The beauty of this recipe is 1) how easy it is, 2) how proud you will be that you made YOUR OWN ricotta, and 3) it will have your guests ooh-ing and aah-ing over this deceivingly perfect flavor combo — let’s face it, this is really just onions and milk we’re talking about. It happens to also be an extremely inexpensive way to create an impressive appetizer, so with the holidays around the corner let’s get curdling!

I’ve included a few other variations in case you want to serve this different ways at all your holiday line-ups {everything can be made ahead of time, so you can enjoy a cocktail instead of sweating over a hot oven}. Plus 1.5 lbs of ricotta will probably get you through 2-3 evenings, depending on the size of your crowd.

Homemade Ricotta 

Makes ~1 lb post-drained ricotta 

1 pint whole milk {I use Grazin’ Angus Acres}
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup cultured buttermilk
Maldon sea salt

Equipment:
Large 1 gallon+ pot {le creuset if you have one}
Cooking thermometer that reads to 200 degrees
Very fine cheesecloth or clean tea towel
String
Colander and large bowl

  1. Using a large 1 gallon+ stock pot {I use my le creuset} heat whole milk, cream, buttermilk and a few pinches of salt on medium heat until it comes to a light boil. Stir milk frequently to ensure bottom does not scorch.
  2. Boil milk for 2 minutes, stirring, then remove from the heat and let rest in the pot for 1 hour to let the curds form some more.
  3. Place a large colander over a large bowl in the sink. Line the colander with very fine cheese cloth or a clean white tea towel so edges hang over the edge of the colander.
  4. Slowly pour the curdled milk into the colander/cheesecloth, letting the whey pour through to the bowl below and keeping the curds in the cheesecloth. You can use the whey to soften the cheese later or simply discard.
  5. Lift the colander out of the bowl and grab the edges of the cheesecloth/towel together. Hold up and let drain for about 1 minute+ until the the ricotta reaches the consistency you desire.
  6. Note: I like to keep it a little creamy so it is easy to spread, but if it gets thicker than you desire, you can always pour a few tablespoons of milk {or the strained whey} back into the cheese to soften.
  7. When you’re ready to serve, season with maldon sea salt to taste and prepare any of the variations below or your own inspired pairing.
Appetizer Variations:

  • Serve with water crackers or garlic crostini {recipe below}
  • Top with warm melted leeks {recipe below}
  • Top with drizzled honey or your favorite chutney
  • Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt, a drizzle of good olive oil and fresh thyme, destemmed
p.s. you can also make this ricotta for Homemade Gnocchi and Sauce: Channeling My Italian Grandmother

Melted Leeks

1 bunch leeks
1 stick butter
Kosher salt

  1. Cut off and discard root end and half way up the firm green stems. Slice each leek in half lengthwise to expose inner layers. Add leek halves to a bowl of cold water to release dirt. Use your fingers to check and clean outer layers.
  2. Pat dry and place each leek half flat-side down on cutting board and cut into 1/4-inch thick half-circle slices.
  3. Melt butter in a large pan on low-medium heat {or the cleaned le creuset you just used for the ricotta} and add leeks.
  4. Slowly cook leeks in butter until tender, ~10-15 minutes. Turn heat down if they start to brown before they are soft. Add salt to taste.
  5. Serve immediately while warm with the ricotta on the side or place in an airtight container and reheat in the microwave for 20 seconds just before serving to soften butter.

Garlic-Rubbed Crostini

1 baguette
Olive Oil for brushing
1-2 garlic cloves

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Slice baguette at a 45-degree angle, creating 1/4-inch thick slices.
  3. Place slices side by side on a baking sheet. Brush each piece with olive oil and place in oven for 10-15 minutes until toasted.
  4. Remove baking sheet and while the crostini are still hot, rub a whole garlic clove with 1-2 swipes on each piece of bread.
  5. Note: can be made ahead of time on the day you plan to serve and stored in an air-tight container or bag once cooled, until ready to serve.

1. Pour whole milk, cream and buttermilk into a large pot

2. Heat to 200 degrees F, or until it starts to boil, stirring frequently

2. Turn heat off and let rest for 1 hour

3/4. Pour ricotta into cheesecloth-lined colander over a large bowl in the sink. {Bowl shown next to the colander to show whey that runs through}

5. Gather edges of cloth and tie tightly with string, hanging to let drain ~1-2 minutes

6. Voila! Homemade Ricotta

Melted Leeks

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