Foodie Blog

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bad Blogger - homemade Ricotta, lobster, pasta

Note:  I was going through posts and realized I had a draft of a post that I never published.  Unfortunately, I think I erased the pictures I took of the ricotta and other things but I thought it was worth it to post this at least for the recipes.  Oh, I wrote this back in June.

I know, I've been a bad blogger.  I haven't been inspired to post anything lately.  The sun seemed to be playing hide and seek here in New England, mostly hiding.  But now it's out!  So I cooked up a storm this weekend.  Lucky for everyone who reads this.  I hope.
Anyway, the first thing I was inspired to make it was homemade ricotta after reading about it on Smitten Kitchen.  I admit, I've never been a huge fan of ricotta.  I've always had the ones sold in the supermarket, in the tubs with all the water.  The ones the consistency of a rubber brick.  Now tell me, how can anyone be a fan of that awful stuff?  After seeing the pics posted, I knew I had to make it.  Plus, it only requires 4 simple ingredients and takes less than half an hour of active attention.  Anyway, I used it in my pasta that I made.  But first, on to the recipe!

Homemade Ricotta
Makes about 1  cup of ricotta

3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream (or you could use 3 1/2 cups of milk and 1/2 cup of heavy cream)
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pour the milk, cream and salt into a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan. Attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer. Heat the milk to 190°F (I found that when mine reached this temp, it was at the point when the milk starts to rise up like it's almost going to boil over), stirring it occasionally to keep it from scorching on the bottom. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, then stir it once or twice, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
Line a colander or a strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. At an hour, you’ll have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, almost like cream cheese. (It will firm as it cools, so do not judge its final texture by what you have in your cheesecloth.) Discard the whey, or, if you like to make bread, I found several sources which say they've used it when making bread which I might try.  Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Obviously, with this softer and richer ricotta, I was inspired to make, as Picky liked to call it, an inside out ravioli.  I just called it adding the cheese to the pasta really.  There's not much to say about my pasta dish, except that or the cup of ricotta, I would only use about half the package of pasta instead of the whole package.

Pasta with Ricotta, tomatoes, basil and garlic

Serves about 2 people

1/2 a package of pasta (instead of linguini I would use something with nooks like rotini)
A couple tablespoons of olive oil
1 package of cherry tomatoes, preferably from a farmers market, cut in half
A handful of dried crumbled basil or fresh basil, cut into thin ribbons
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of homemade ricotta
Salt and pepper to taste
More olive oil to taste

Boil pasta according to package directions in salted water.  While it is boiling, add olive oil to a hot pan.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add the tomatoes.  After a few minutes, add the basil.  When the skins on the tomatoes start to wrinkle a little, add the garlic and cook for a minute.  Add the cooked and drained pasta to the pan and add the ricotta as well.  Add salt and pepper to taste and toss all together until well coated.  Add more olive oil if desired.

While Picky was eating his pasta, I had some lobster.  Living by the ocean, I can get a fresh live lobster for under $10.  So after living here for so many years, I finally bought one.  But I couldn't bring myself to kill it.  I made Picky do it.  Basically, you position the knife somewhere between the eyes and beginning of the tail and push the point of the knife all the way through, then bring the rest of the knife down through the front of the head.  Then toss it in boiling salted water.  The lobster was only a little over a pound, so I boiled it for 12 minutes.  After that, I removed it and let it cool.  I used a tenderizer to smash open the claws and the knife to crack open the tail.  Then I squeezed some lemon juice and ate the yummy lobster.  I wasn't prepared for the roe that came along with the female lobster, however, I might make a roe aioli the next time I come across it.

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