Two Dark Days meals this weekend, both involving homemade ricotta. I have made ricotta in the past, but added it to my list of things to do before I turn 30 because there were a few recipes in particular that I really wanted to make with homemade ricotta. It really couldn’t be much simpler – some whole milk, sea salt, and lemon juice. Some recipes call for heavy cream, but I didn’t have any on hand and wanted to try it without. The only real difference I could tell is that it took longer for the curds to separate from the whey than when I’ve made it in the past with heavy cream, but I don’t know for sure that the absence of the heavy cream is the reason it took longer. Now that I’ve made it a couple of times, I don’t have any intention of going back to the tubs of mediocre ricotta from the grocery store. Although the primary reason I made ricotta this weekend was for pizza (I’m on a quest to perfect my white pizza), I made enough to make lasagne and ricotta pancakes as well.
The lasgane wasn’t exactly a success. I had the brilliant idea that if I sliced the squash fairly thinly, it wouldn’t need to be cooked ahead of time and would get soft as the lasagne cooked, keeping the dish from getting too much liquid in it. Uh, yeah. Not so much – after an hour and a half in the oven, the squash was still pretty crunchy but everything else was getting brown. A few slices were soft, but the majority of it was picked out and fed to the dog, much to his delight. The nettles and the ricotta made for a really fantastic combination though, and it’s one I’ll be making again soon since I still have some chopped nettles to use up before this year’s crop gets going. Next time I’ll skip the squash and go with some dried tomatoes or a tomato sauce (so much for my brilliant idea – the few pieces that were actually soft enough to eat really didn’t add much to the dish, and I think we’d rather just eat the squash by itself). Oh well, you win some, you lose some. At least this was edible – as kitchen failures go, this was a pretty minor one.
The lemon ricotta pancakes alone are absolutely worth the few minutes of stirring the homemade ricotta requires. I had a small jar of raspberry curd (hmm, call this my Tea Austen Weaver tribute breakfast, I guess) I’d stashed away in my freezer for a particularly grey winter day; combined with the bright, airy pancakes, this was almost a breakfast to convince me it was the middle of summer. That is, until I looked out the window at the rain. Unfortunately, the pancakes got a little darker than I’d intended, but they were still very, very good. Now if I only had more raspberry curd in the freezer…next year I’ll have to be a bit less generous with it!
Sources for this week’s meals:
Ricotta: Raw whole milk (Christipaul Farm, Gig Harbor, WA), lemon from my aunt’s tree (hand-carried home from California), exception: sea salt
Pancakes: Homemade Flour from MT, homemade butter (cream from Fresh Breeze Dairy, Lynden, WA), homemade ricotta, eggs from Mountain View Farm (Belfair, WA), lemon from my aunt’s tree, exceptions: vanilla, sugar, salt
Raspberry curd (from the freezer): Raspberries grown by my in-laws up the street, eggs from Mountain View Farm (Belfair, WA), exceptions: butter (this was before I discovered just how much fun it is to make my own butter), lemon juice, sugar, salt
Squash, Nettle, and Ricotta Lasagne: Delicata squash grown by my in-laws up the street, nettles from my backyard (by way of the freezer), homemade ricotta, homemade pasta (eggs from Mountain View Farm & flour from MT), exceptions: mozzarella and parmesan cheese
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