Rockin’ Ricotta

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When you’ve been blogging for almost five years and many people read your blog, you start to receive things in the mail. Cookbooks, for example. I get many cookbooks in the mail, also general food books like books about oysters. I have a book about oysters on my shelf that I’ve never read.

Sometimes, though, you get sent something that excites you. And such was the case when I received a preview of Andrew Carmellini’s new cookbook, Urban Italian.

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Andrew Carmellini is the chef at A Voce (though rumor has it he’s leaving shortly). I visited A Voce two years ago (see here) and had a fantastic, memorable meal. Hence my excitement for this cookbook preview (it’s just a few glossy pages, like a magazine).

And the first recipe in this cookbook preview is the recipe that intrigued me most: Sardinian Sheep’s Milk Ricotta.

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It’s not a recipe for making ricotta from scratch; it’s a technique for what to do with Sardinian Sheep’s Milk Ricotta once you have it. But where would I ever get Sardinian Sheep’s Milk Ricotta? And what occasion would I have to try this technique?

Well on Friday, I was having guests over (see next post) and I made a quick visit to the Farmer’s Market to see what was around. And would you believe it, when I stepped off the train, what was the first thing I saw? A stand selling primarily ricotta. They were selling two kinds: cow’s milk for $12, and sheep’s milk for $15.

Was it Sardinian sheep’s milk? No. But it was sheep’s milk. So I purchased it and brought it home and before my guests came I whipped up Andrew Carmellini’s ricotta appetizer.

Here’s the thing. His book gives exact amounts and that kind of screwed me up a little. I didn’t how much ricotta I had, but I assumed it was 2 cups, so I dumped that in my mixer with 1 cup whole milk. Carmellini explains that the milk helps lighten it and make it “airy and fluffy.”

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Unfortunately, after whipping it for a while it was clear I’d made a sloshy mess:

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Still, when I tasted it (after adding a little salt) it was really wonderful: light, milky, clean-tasting.

And, perhaps this is nonsense, but after whipping it a while longer I think it got a bit firmer. The point is, when doing this at home, start whipping the ricotta without any milk and then add milk as you go to make it just light enough, but not too runny. That’s my advice.

Once whipped, pour into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, dried oregano and ground pepper. Serve with toasted bread (I used a baguette that I cut into slices, brushed with olive oil, and toasted in the oven):

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Even with too much milk, it’s a terrific way to start a meal. Light and refreshing; people loved it. Can’t wait for the actual book to come out–maybe they’ll send me that too!

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