Friends, there’s a lot happening in this post. Bread. Ricotta Cheese. Oranges. Let’s break it down.
Early in January I found this really cool no-knead bread recipe. I was super-excited to make the dough one Friday night (gives you a glimpse into my social life), but I made a tactical error by sifting the flour and the bread was a fail. I shelved the recipe for a bit, tried again a few weeks later and to my delight, everything came together and worked like a charm. The technique is incredibly easy. You can find a complete tutorial here, but essentially, you combine four very basic ingredients that you likely have in your kitchen right now, cover the dough with plastic wrap, let it rest for 12 – 18 hours (overnight is fine), preheat your oven at a high temp for 30 minutes, preheat your Le Creuset (or cast iron pot) for 30 minutes and then bake the dough for 45 minutes into a beautiful and rustic boule.
The bread was delicious with almond butter and jam, but I knew right away what I really wanted – homemade ricotta cheese. This is one of my favorite recipes because it is beyond simple and absolutely delicious. I realize as I sit here typing that this recipe only calls for four ingredients, as well – cream, milk, salt and white wine vinegar. You bring the first three ingredients to a boil, add the vinegar, allow the mixture to curdle and then strain through a colander over cheesecloth. Eventually you’ll taste the most buttery, fresh ricotta that is perfect for pasta, salads, pizza or bruschetta. I usually mix in a handful of fresh chives, parsley and basil, but this time I broiled thinly sliced blood and cara cara oranges with turbinado sugar, thyme and olive oil and made the most beautiful and fragrant breakfast crostini. This would also be really nice with berries and a drizzle of honey and I can’t wait to try it this Summer with tomatoes from the farmers market and syrupy Balsamic vinegar.
Rustic No-Knead Bread
Original recipe from Simply So Good
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast (do not sift the flour). Add warm water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 10 – 18 hours.
Heat oven to 450 degrees. When the oven has reached 450 degrees place a cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let set while the pot is heating. Remove hot pot from the oven and carefully drop in the dough. Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.
Original recipe by Ina Garten
2 cups whole milk
1 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons good white wine vinegar
* These measurements can easily be doubled.
Place a large sieve or strainer over a deep bowl and line with 2 layers 2 of cheesecloth or a very thin dishcloth.
Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel pot. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into curds and whey.
Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. I like mine on the thicker side. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. I’ve been told you can use the whey for soups, however I have never tried this. Serve immediately (it is incredible warm) or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.