A Cheesemonger's Wife

Friday, July 10, 2015

Raw Milk Ricotta

Emily Nichols may be new on the blogging scene but she has been in the kitchen her whole life.  Growing up in central Massachusetts amid farm stands, apple trees and cider donuts, this young 30-ish foodie discovered early in life that baking a cake in the company of a friend was a far better way to spend an afternoon than almost anything else.  After a degree in Anthropology, and an adventurous experience WWOOFing in Spain where she volunteered on an organic farm, she went on to pursue a graduate degree in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition. Her day job finds her working a measured thoughtful pace in public health which is a nice counter to the "hedonism and indulgence of food blogging," as she so expertly quips.

Newly married to husband, Tripp, a hometown boy she met at age 11 (though they fell in love much later), Emily's passion for food found a new outlet in the form of blogging when she turned 30. Her site, Hungry in Love, documents original recipes inspired by New England and her travels with Tripp, a cheesemonger, as they go on cheese-buying missions to farms and dairies around the U.S., and this summer to Switzerland, France and Italy.

Food blogger and cheesemonger - a happy pairing.

A carrot and feta salad.

Everyone loves pizza. This one has greens, grilled corn and hot honey!

This strawberry crostata will be served with basil whipped cream.

Emily advises to choose a feta, preferably one soaked in brine from your local farmer's market, to enhance the flavors of this watermelon salad.

Emily Nichols - public health worker by day, food blogger by night.

Going straight to the source at a local farm.

Raw Milk Ricotta
Yields ~ 2 cups ricotta, 6 cups whey
·         1/2 gallon (8 cups) fresh, raw milk
·         1/3 cup lemon juice, about 1 lemon's worth (vinegar may be used as a substitute)
·         1 tsp salt
·         Set a colander lined with 2 layers of cheesecloth over a bowl  (if you don't have cheesecloth a thin weave cloth or napkin or even a paper towl can stand in)
·         Pour milk into a heavy bottomed saucepan and add salt
·         Heat milk until it just comes to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent it from burning
·         Turn off heat
·         Add lemon juice (or other acid you're using)
·         Stir gently to distribute lemon juice; curds will begin to form immediately
·         Let sit for 5-10 minutes to allow curds (milk solids) to come together and separate from the whey
·         Pour the curds and whey into the lined strainer
·         Allow to drain anywhere from 15-30 minutes. The length of time will depend on how moist you prefer your ricotta. Try tasting at 15 minutes and decide whether to let it keep going. The ricotta in these photos strained for 20 minutes. If after straining, you find that the ricotta is too firm for your liking, stir a bit of whey back in one tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency
·         Viola! You're ready to enjoy homemade cheese. This ricotta will keep in the fridge for about 5 days.
(On Toast)
There are an infinite number of ways to enjoy ricotta on toast and of course, no rules. In these photos I toasted bread from a pullman loaf which is sufficiently dense so that cheese won't slip through any crannies. A naked slather is divine. I also like to add:
·         Olive oil with salt and pepper (pictured)
·         Drizzle of honey and cayenne
·         Dollop of jam or preserves
·         Pesto or oilve tapenade (a lazy lady's pizza!)

Draining the ricotta.

The beautiful and luscious finished product.

Slow Roasted Cod
Serves 2-3 (can easily be doubled or tripled)
·         1 lb. fresh cod filet (Salmon or another white fish like halibut would make good substitutes.)
·         1 Tbs. whole capers (If packed in salt, rinse well)
·         1 Tbs. finely diced preserved lemon rind (Follow the link for instructions on making your own, orpick some up here.)
·         1 red chile (The jar of preserved lemons we had included a beautiful mirasol pepper; we tossed it in since we like a little heat but it's not essential)
·         1/3 cup olive oil (This amount can be reduced. Really the fish should just be well coated. We like a heavy pour so we can dip bread in the warm, infused oil)
·         Place fish in a baking dish and salt; let sit for 30 minutes or so to come to room temperature
·         Preheat oven to 250 degrees
·         Rinse capers and dice preserved lemon
·         Pour olive oil over fish and scatter with capers and preserved lemon
·         If using chile, place in baking dish
·         Bake for 30-35 minutes until cooked through (when pierced with a fork or knife fish will flake and be opaque)
·         Top with salsa verde and serve immediately

Salsa Verde
Salsa verde is awesome on fish, and equally if not more awesome for bread dunking while you slow roast. This is Alice Water's recipe with orange zest swapped in for lemon. Both are great.
·         1/3 - 1/2 cup chopped parsley
·         Zest of one orange (lemon zest is more traditional but we had an orange on hand)
·         1 Tbs. capers, rinsed and finely chopped
·         2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
·         1/3 cup olive oil
·         Combine all ingredients and let sit for 30 minutes or more for flavors to come together
·         Taste for salt before serving; depending on your capers you may or may not need it.

Slow Roasted Cod - a New England favorite.

Carrot Chocolate Chunk Bread
This recipe is from The Fearless Baker by Emily Luchetti and Lisa Weiss. I stumbled upon it on NPR's Kitchen Window series when looking for a carrot bread that incorporates both pureed and grated carrots (most call only for grated). The addition of chocolate was my only modification.
Makes two 8 1/2-inch loaves (recipe could be easily cut in half to make only 1 loaf)
·         16 carrots
·         2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
·         2 tsp. baking soda
·         1/2 tsp. baking powder
·         2 tsp. salt
·         12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
·         2 cups granulated sugar
·         4 eggs, at room temperature
·         2/3 cup buttermilk
·         10 oz. good quality chocolate, roughly chopped (I used Mast Brothers Brooklyn Blend)
·         Preheat oven to 350 degrees
·         Butter and flour two 8 1/2-inch loaf pans
·         Peel all the carrots
·         Take 6 carrots, chop into small rounds and cook in salted, boiling water until soft (about 10 minutes). Drain and puree in a blender or food processor.
·         Grate the remaining 10 carrots and set aside
·         In a small bowl use a whisk to combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
·         In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together until smooth
·         Stir eggs into the butter/sugar mixture one at time until combined
·         Stir the buttermilk, pureed carrots, and grated carrots into the egg mixture
·         Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients
·         Fold in the chopped chocolate
·         Divide batter between the two pans and bake for 60-70 minutes (check for doneness by inserting a thin knife; bread is done when it comes out clean)
·         Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from pans
·         Let cool completely (if you can stand it) before slicing
·         Store at room temperature wrapped in plastic; will keep for four days this way or freeze for up to two months

Carrot Chocolate Chunk Bread 

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