Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rocket Recipe - Guest Post by Leah - Homemade Ricotta with Macerated Strawberries, Rosemary & Black Pepper

Rocket Kitchen is a supper club started by Sonya and me about two years ago. It’s based on our belief that food should be nourishing, interesting, and shared. Our goals are to foster experimentation and to create a community dining experience different from a traditional restaurant. We’re based in the East Bay, but the actual event is nomadic. In essence, we want to bring together great people with great food that is produced with ingredients directly from our community. Mostly though, it’s just an excuse to have fun! For this week’s Rocket Kitchen, we served goat’s milk ricotta drizzled with honey and paired with strawberries to compliment both the season and our main dish of fennel crusted roasted pork loin.

In Italian, Ricotta means, "to cook again" or "twice cooked." It’s a soft, smooth, fresh and un-ripened Italian cheese usually made from the whey of cow's or sheep's milk. In our case, we used goat’s milk to give it a tangy flavor. The traditional recipe uses the whey that remains after removing the curds when making hard cheese, but since we hadn’t gotten farther than buying the rennet (the enzyme used in making cheese that coagulates the milk, causing it to separate into curds and liquid whey – Little Miss Muffet, anyone) from Rainbow Grocery we decided to make non-traditional Whole Milk Ricotta instead.

It was served as the final dish, drizzled with honey from the farmer’s market and paired with strawberries macerated in sugar, rosemary, and black pepper. Inspired, if I do say so myself!

Whole Milk Ricotta
This recipe is taken from the Fiats Co Farm web page.

2 - quarts whole Cow, Sheep, or Goat milk (do not use “Ultra-Pasteurized’)
3 – Tablespoons White Vinegar OR ¼ Cup fresh, strained lemon juice
Cheese Cloth

In a heavy pot, over direct heat, slowly heat 2 quarts of whole milk to 200 degrees. Add the white vinegar OR lemon juice. Make sure to bring the temperature back up to 200. You will see very tiny white particles (the albumin protein) floating in the whey. The heat and acid from the ripe whey has precipitated the protein.

Remove the pot from the heat and set it, covered, to rest undisturbed for about 15 minutes.
Line a colander with very fine cheesecloth, called "butter muslin". You must use a very fine cloth here, or your cheese will pass through. If you do not have fine cheesecloth, use a clean cotton cloth (like a pillow case). Place the colander over a big pot so you can save the whey and carefully pour the whey into the colander. Be very careful because the liquid will be hot. Bring together the ends of the cheesecloth together and hang the ricotta to drain for up to an hour or so (the longer it hangs the "drier" your finished cheese will be.) We left a bit of liquid in the cheese so it would have a creamier and have a less “cottage cheese” like consistency.

When it has drained, place the ricotta in a bowl, break up, stir and add salt to taste (1/4 tsp.- 1/2 tsp.). This Ricotta will keep for about a week in the fridge.
Macerated Strawberries with Rosemary and Black Pepper

1/2-cup sugar
3 pints (baskets) strawberries cleaned and quartered
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary
1 ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Muddle the rosemary and sugar together with a mortar and pestle or with the back of a wooden spoon to release the essential oils of the rosemary into the sugar.

Pour the sugar over the berries and mix carefully to combine. Let sit for 25-30 minutes. A good deal of liquid will release from the berries, leaving you with amazing syrup you can reserve or pour over the ricotta when serving.

Just before serving crack a bit of black pepper into the macerated berries and mix gently to combine.

And finally, a few more pictures from the evening. All photo's in this post taken by Elizabeth Minor:

Post by Leah Zonis

No comments:

Post a Comment