- 2 quarts whole milk
- 1 quart goat’s milk (or a third quart of whole milk)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/3 cup lemon juice, about 1 large lemon’s worth
Pour the milk into a large saucepan. Add the sea salt and stir to blend it into the milk (the salt is very important for bringing out the flavor in the finished ricotta). Bring to a very low boil over medium heat.
Add the lemon juice and stir briefly to blend. Bring back to a very low boil and cook about a minute. You will start to see little white particles coagulate on the surface. This means the curds are starting to form.
Don’t let the milk cook any longer than about a minute or you may wind up with hard, dry curds instead of the soft, creamy texture you are after. Remove the pot from the heat, and cover.
Let the ricotta sit for about 20 minutes untouched. This will allow bigger, more substantial curds to form.
Line a colander or a tightly woven wicker basket with cheesecloth or a thin cotton cloth like a piece of bed sheet. Gently pour the ricotta into the cloth, being careful not to break up the curds too much (the best approach is to tilt the pot against the colander or basket right up at the rim; free-fall pouring may be too violent).
Let this drain, unrefrigerated, for about an hour. You will now have a rather moist ricotta, the way I like it. If you prefer it drier, you can tie and hang the cheese cloth over the sink or over a bowl so the ricotta can drain more thoroughly. The ricotta is ready to use. You may refrigerate it, but it will stay really fresh and sweet only for about two days. If you plan on baking with the ricotta, drain it well.
Makes 1 pound of ricotta.
1 pound loose spinach
12 ounces ricotta
1-1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano
Cook spinach in very little water. Drain and squeeze out all excess water. Chop finely. Place in a large mixing bowl and add ricotta, eggs, parmigiano, and flour. Blend well.
Bring to boil large pot of salted water. Lower to simmer. Season spinach mixture with salt and a generous grating of fresh nutmeg. Form ravioli by using a spoon or using floured hands.
Drop a few at a time into water. They will drop the bottom and then float to the top when done. Let simmer 20-30 seconds.
Remove with slotted spoon or ladle and place in an oven-proof dish until ready to serve. Serve with fresh sage leaves sautéed in butter until crisp.
Pour butter and sage on top of ravioli, toss gently, and serve with parmesan cheese or tomato sauce.
Photography by Trozbo
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds small white cipollini onions
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup water
Salt and pepper
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine all ingredients, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 40 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally so that the onions don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. The onions should be easily penetrated with a paring knife but should not be falling apart.
Remove the lid and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated and the onions are glossy and dark brown, taking care not to burn. Remove from heat and serve.
Photography by Pie in the Sky
1/2 kg ( 1 pound) 00 or pastry flour
100 gr (3 ounces) shelled whole hazelnuts
150 gr (3 ounces) sugar
80 ml (1/3 cup) milk
100 ml (1/2 cup) olive oil
grated rind of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon aniseed
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
16 gr (1 tablespoon) baking powder
Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Mix eggs and sugar until well amalgamated and then add all other ingredients. Add more milk if necessary to obtain a soft dough.
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured working surface and divide in two pieces. Using the palms of your hands roll each piece into a rope that must be about 5 cm (2 inches) in diameter.
Place the two cantuccini ropes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure that ropes are far enough apart to give them room to rise as they bake.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 min or until golden. Remove for the oven and cut each biscuit diagonally into 3/4 inch wide strips and return them to the oven, cut side up, until completely cooked and dry, about 20 min.
If you cut the cantuccini when still warm they will not crumble. Let them cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Makes 25 cantuccini.
Photography by Kochtopf
1 (10-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped (oil reserved)
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
2/3 cup dry white wine
8 ounces angel hair pasta
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the wine and sun-dried tomatoes and simmer until the liquid reduces by half, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the tomato mixture and toss to coat, adding some reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the goat cheese and parsley and stir. Mound the pasta into bowls and serve.
Serves 4 to 6 servings
From Giada De Laurentiis, Everyday Italian
Photography by ninjapoodles
For the Pastry Cream
2 cups whole milk
zest of 1 lemon
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unbleached flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Sauce
2.5 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 1/2 tbs. unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
To Layer and Serve
24 lady fingers
1/2 cup vin santo
1 pint raspberries
Cream: Bring the milk and lemon zest to a boiling point. Remove from the heat. Beat the eggs, egg yolks and sugar until creamy. Add the flour and vanilla as you beat and slowly beat in the hot milk. Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes or until thick. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for two hours.
Chocolate Sauce: Melt the chocolate, cocoa and a ¼ cup of water. Remove from the heat and add the sugar while stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Add the cream and stir more until smooth. Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes.
To Layer: Apply 12 lady fingers in a dish, drizzle with a quarter vin santo. Apply 1/4 of the pastry cream followed by a layer of the chocolate sauce and top with another layer of the pastry cream. Make another layer in the same manner.
Refrigerate for 3 hours and garnish with raspberries.
Photography by Frabattista
- 3 pounds fresh ricotta
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- 1/4 cup grated zwieback or biscotti
- 1 teaspoon plus 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream or mascarpone, optional
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Your choice of additional flavorings like 1 teaspoon Dutch-process cocoa powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water, or 1/4 cup chopped citron or 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest and 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, etc.
Place the ricotta in a sieve over a bowl and let drain for 1 hour. Butter the bottom, sides and rim of a 3-inch-by-10-inch leakproof springform or plain round cake pan. Mix the grated zwieback crumbs with 1 teaspoon sugar and coat the pan.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the ricotta in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at low speed until smooth. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until smooth. Beat in the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar. Continue to beat until mixture is very smooth. Beat in the optional cream or mascarpone, vanilla and any desired flavoring. Pour into the pan and smooth the top.
Place the pan inside a roasting pan whose sides are not higher than the cake pan and add warm water to the larger pan to within 1 inch of the top of the smaller pan. Place pans in the oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours, covering the top loosely with foil after 30 minutes. Remove and let cool to room temperature in the water bath. Lift pan out, dry it and remove the foil. Refrigerate overnight, and it will firm up.
To unmold, slide a thin knife around the cake edges. Release the sides of the springform pan. If using a plain cake pan, invert onto a large plate covered with plastic wrap, tap the bottom and the cake should slide out. (If it does not, soak a towel in hot water, wring it out and place it over the bottom and sides of the pan for 10 seconds.) Reinvert cake onto a platter. Refrigerate until serving.
Makes 12 servings.
Photography by Stuart Spivak
Farinata, that deliciously rich Ligurian street food rarely made at home, is a thick pancake made with a thin mix of chick pea flour, quite a lot of olive oil and some sea salt, cooked in a pan in a very hot oven until it is gold and crusty.
- 3 3/4 cups spring water
- 2 1/3 cups Italian chick peas flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Mix the water and the flour with a wooden spoon; make sure there are no lumps, add salt to taste, and mix again. Add the rosemary and let it sit for a while (one to three hours or even better overnight).
At this point add the olive oil. Remove the rosemary and pour in a baking pan (the right one is called testo, made of “tinned copper”). It should be about an eighth of an inch thick, perhaps a little more.
Put it in a preheated oven at 190-200° C (375-400° F). Remove from the oven when one of the corners (or the edge) starts to appear dark. Sprinkle plenty of pepper and serve.
It is of paramount importance that the pan is perfectly flat and level when in the oven, otherwise one of the corners will be thicker and will be undercooked when the opposite corner starts to darken.
Serves 10 people
- 1 cup flour (self rising)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (or white vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon milk
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup hot water
Photography by jspatchwork