“A tavola non si invecchia”. - Italian proverb (At the table with good friends and family you do not become old).

Sharing authentic Italian recipes entrusted upon me through the privilege of being invited into many Italian homes and kitchen’s abroad. I travel, cook, eat, share, learn and photograph my experiences, a truly soul enriching journey. There are now over 100 recipes on this blog to search from. I am a Melbourne born girl who now resides in Pietrasanta, Italy. Sharing my love for food and all things Italian with you. I am not a professionally trained chef, just a person that really loves cooking and has made my passion my reality! Through talent and drive I now work as a private chef in some of the most prestigious private villa`s here in Tuscany, Italy!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Ricotta di casa (homemade ricotta)

There are so many Italian dishes that call for ricotta! I personally use ricotta to make popular Sicilian deserts, cannoli (refer to my recipe) and ricotta baked cheesecake. I also use it often to fill ravioli. However there is a endless amount of dishes that ricotta can be added to, such as lasagne, crepes, cakes, cassata, calzone, and pizza. But why add ricotta to dishes when you can enjoy it fresh and warm on a crusty piece of bread.  Simply spread a generous amount on top and sprinkle with a little cinnamon, honey, citrus peel or pistachios!
I had the pleasure of being invited to collect fresh goats milk on an Italian island last year. This entailed hiking up a steep mountain in the wee hours with an empty bucket. The joy was returning down the mountain with a full bucket of warm milk and returning the kitchen to commence the ricotta making process. I will forever remember fondly the aroma of warm milk being cooked. After we collected the curds, I was offered a full cups of hot whey to drink as it is a high source of protein. My cooking companion had such a look of delight as he offered the glass, as if he was presenting me liquid gold.
Remember little Miss Muffet who ate her curds and whey. Well ricotta is made when a chemical process occurs when a milk product is mixed with acidity.  That is why it is so easy to make at home, as it is  simply case of removing the curds from the whey once the acidic is added. You can use lemon juice or vinegar as your weapon of acid.
It is a certainty that the ricotta available in Australia is made from cows milk. However in Italy varieties include goat, buffalo, and sheep milk (it can be confusing at times to choose). I prefer sheeps milk for its delicate flavour and I use it for most of the dishes I make.
Homemade ricotta tastes so much better as it is creamy, rich yet delicate. I also think the love needed to make it certainly adds to the flavour. It is so rewarding.  I guarantee once you make your own you will be hooked, and even a little chuffed with yourself.
What you need:
one litre full cream organic milk
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
one teaspoon salt

How to make:
Step 1: Bring milk to 180-185 degrees, pre-boiling point
Place the milk in a large heavy pot, using a thermometer bring the milk to 180-185 degrees.
Step 2: Add vinegar & salt to milk, curds start to form
Remove the pot from the heat and add the apple cider vinegar and salt, stir gently for about a minute. Cover pot with a cloth and top with lid.  Let it sit untouched for two hours.
Step 3: After two hours resting, scoop out curds
 Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the curds from the whey, they will be visually obvious.
Place the curds in a strainer lined with fabric moistened by warm water (muslin if available, if not a clean cotton tea-towel). Use your hands to remove excess liquid.  Then either cover and let sit or tie in a ball.  Hang the ball over a bowl and allow any liquids to drain.  The ricotta should be set and be ready to eat after two hours. Eat while it is still warm. It can last in the refrigerator for about five days.

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