I’ve been super MIA lately, I haven’t posted anything on Instagram or my blog in a little over a week and it feels very strange. But hey, I have a legitimate reason why: I’ve been in the kitchen this whole time! It’s due to two things. 1. a ricotta and mozzarella cooking class I took with my friend Andie at Sur La Table. And 2. all the produce I’ve gathered from my garden. (Two zucchinis, two large summer squashes, over five tomatoes, and a ton of fresh herbs.) The Sur La Table class was fun and easy and I couldn’t wait to make ricotta at home. So, I did! The ricotta turned out great and left me with a huge pot of whey. (Which is apparently good for you and can be used in a variety of dishes.) With that, I made probiotic lemonade and summer squash soup. The ricotta I used to make a “vegie dip” to stuff my tomatoes with and a candied lemon ricotta ice cream. It all turned out super delicious and was immediately devoured by Rob and I, so I apologize in advance for the hasty images below.
First thing is first, the ricotta. Don’t be afraid to make it – I promise it’s an easy process. The ricotta can be eaten right away, stored in the fridge for five days, or frozen in an ice cream form.
ricotta (recipe from sur la table)
Half a gallon of whole milk (pasteurized, but not ultra-pasteurized)
1/2 teaspoon of very fine sea salt (or cheese salt, if you have that)
2 cups full-fat buttermilk
Place milk in a large saucepan over medium to high heat.
Stir constantly until milk comes to a frothing boil.
Turn off heat. Add salt and buttermilk.
Stir the mixture in one direction until the curd and whey separate.
Remove the pan from the heat, put the lid on, and set aside for 5 minutes.
To separate the cheese from the whey, pour through a strainer lined with a cheese cloth.
Leave the curd to strain from 15 to 30 minutes (I chose to squeeze it a little because I have no patience and it turned out fine!)
2 large tomatoes
1 cup ricotta
1 small zucchini
¼ cup corn
1/8 cup panko bread crumbs
Salt, pepper, thyme, oregano
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the top of the tomatoes and scoop out the insides. Add a bit of salt in the tomatoes and place upside down over a paper towel.
Cut the zucchini into little pieces while the tomatoes dry out.
Place ricotta, zucchini, corn, and spices in a small bowl and mix with a fork. On a separate plate, place bread crumbs for later use.
Scoop the mixture into the tomatoes until it reaches the top. Turn the tomato upside down and on to the bread crumb plate.
Bake the tomatoes for 10-15 minutes or until the bread crumbs begin to brown.
candied lemon ricotta ice cream
candied lemons – ingredients
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¾ cup water
Boil water, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan.
Slice the lemon into thin slices and place in the water mixture. Make sure they don’t overlap so they all get a chance to simmer in the syrup.
Cook for 20 minutes while occasionally flipping them over.
Place on top of wax paper and let cool completely before using.
ice cream – ingredients
Candied lemon slices
Lemon zest from two lemons
½ cup heavy cream
1 ½ cup ricotta
½ cup mini chocolate chips
Place ricotta, heavy cream, milk, vanilla extract, and sugar in a medium bowl and mix with a fork, or place in a food processor if you’re feeling lazy.
Transfer the mixture into your ice cream machine.
In the meantime, zest your lemons and thinly chop the candied lemons.
Remove from the machine once the mixture has become a soft-served ice cream consistency. Transfer to a freezer-friendly bowl and mix in chocolate chips, candied lemon, and lemon zest.
Freeze for a few hours to make it into ice cream or eat it as it!
Now that you’ve used up your ricotta, you can focus on making the whey the star! To be completely honest, I rarely like to follow recipes word-by-word unless it’s for baked goods. Playing around with other recipes, adding/eliminating what you want not only makes it your own but also makes it what you want to eat. (Isn’t that what cooking is all about?) The recipe for the summer squash soup is based on what I had in my pantry and garden. It’s a vegetable soup people – let’s not make it too complicated. P.S. I didn’t include the ingredients for a reason, so just follow the directions with your favorite vegetables and herbs, a summer squash, one cup of whey, and some milk (around half a cup) and I promise it will turnout just right!
summer squash soup
Cut the squash and any other hard veggies like zucchini into quarter pieces and cook in a pan over medium heat with PAM, olive oil, butter – whatever you want. Add all the spices and herbs (paprika, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and turmeric are a few of the ones I added) and cook until you can pierce a fork into it without resistance or until it begins to brown on all sides.
Place squash and other veggies, milk, and whey into a blender. Cover the blender with a towel and mix until smooth. (Covering the blender with a towel instead of with its top will prevent the pressure build-up to blow the top off/cause the food to explode and possibly burn you.)
Optional: when serving, add crumbled goat cheese and parmesan to the soup. I don’t know about you, but I love adding cold cheese to a hot soup and let the magic happen!
(To make the croutons, simply cut up a few bagels, season them olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme and pop in a 350-degree oven for a few minutes – until they begin to brown.)
6 cups water
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh whey
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 cup water, sugar, and honey over medium heat.
Remove once the honey/sugar has fully dissolved.
Pour the honey water, the rest of the water, whey, and lemon juice into a large bottle and chill.
Tip: If you make the candied lemons from the ice cream recipe above, feel free to add the leftover syrup in here as well – it will taste delicious!