Sunday, June 7, 2009

Baked Ricotta

Yesterday I was talking to Anne at Saxelby Cheese while picking up some sheep milk ricotta. Sometimes I don't have the money to spend on a big cheese course for a dinner party, tonight we have 4 people coming over and I thought instead I'd make a baked ricotta.

This is my adaptation of a recipe I got from The River Cafe cookbook. They call for bufala milk ricotta which until recently has been very hard to get here, the only place I could ever find it was at Boun Italia and then it's in a plastic container flown in from Italy. Luckily now there are the wonderful Bufala di Vermont people at the market, unluckily I missed them this week, which is to say I didn't see them when I did my market shop so I went to Anne and got sheep milk ricotta, which is $15.99 a pound, I got a little less then a pound and spent $13.91, a cheese course would have cost me at least $30.

It's important to note here not all ricotta works for this recipe, the really processed store bought ones are too creamy, creamy is great for a lasagna filling, for this you want a drier ricotta that holds it's shape, creamy just flattens into a puddle in this instance or sheep milk or bufala are the way to go.

Once home I started some bread so we can have it with home made fresh baked bread (or you can make crackers they work just as well and are super easy) and because it's in the fridge I can pull out the smoked blue fish pate, rhubarb pickles, and pickled ramps and hell that's almost a meal!

Baked Ricotta

Preheat the oven at 425 degrees.

In a nice baking dish, I use a Spanish Clay Dish, generously oil the bottom of the dish with about 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Mound the ricotta in the center. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of dried oregano (wild if you can find it) and 2 crushed dried arbol red peppers all over the outside of the ricotta ball, grind generously with black pepper, sprinkle with salt and drizzle generously with olive oil.

Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop 2 tablespoons of fresh oregano and 2 finely minced fresh hot peppers (Jalapeno would be a good place to start, seeded) place in a small bowl of approximately 4 tablespoons of olive oil.

Take the dish out of the oven drizzle with the fresh herb and pepper mixture (I leave some for people to add their own, some people are pepper hot phobic). Place promptly on a table with bread, crackers, etc and enjoy!

Remove from oven and sprinkle with , roughly torn or chopped and optionally,

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