Posts Tagged ‘ricotta’

It’s National Pancake Day!

These pancakes, based on a recipe from chef April Bloomfield (The Spotted Pig and The Breslin in NYC), are made from fresh homemade ricotta cheese. Light as air…and really delicious! I’ve made a few batches of fresh ricotta cheese in my day, but when the family has a craving for these pancakes at the last-minute, a good-quality store-bought ricotta cheese will do.

 

 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I use Cup4Cup GF flour if I want to make these gluten-free)
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups milk
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup fresh ricotta

 

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, ricotta,  and egg yolks. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are stiff, but not dry. Fold gently into the batter.

Spray a non-stick griddle with a little cooking spray and drop about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes per side, until golden and fluffy.

pancake

These pancakes, based on a recipe from chef April Bloomfield (The Spotted Pig and The Breslin in NYC), are made from fresh homemade ricotta cheese. Light as air…and really delicious! I’ve made a few batches of fresh ricotta cheese in my day, but when the family has a craving for these pancakes at the last minute, a good-quality store-bought ricotta cheese will do.

 

 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I use Cup4Cup GF flour if I want to make these gluten-free)
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups milk
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup fresh ricotta

 

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, ricotta,  and egg yolks. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are stiff, but not dry. Fold gently into the batter.

Spray a non-stick griddle with a little cooking spray and drop about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes per side, until golden and fluffy.

pancake

My interest in food and cooking goes back to my first restaurant job as a teenager, at an Italian restaurant called Pizza City East in my hometown of Plainview, NY.  (There was also an original Pizza City on Crossbay Blvd. in Ozone Park, Queens.) It was there that I learned how to open clams by the bushel, how to make the perfect cappucino, and how to use basic restaurant kitchen equipment like the convection oven and the fryer. I peeled thousands of shrimp for scampi, washed barrels of lettuce for salads, and grated hundreds of pounds of mozzarella for pizza.

I also made baked ziti by the barrelful. It was much easier to make in large quantities than lasagna, and it basically contained all the same ingredients. No worries about making perfect layers. No pasta sheets sticking together. Just put all the ingredients in an oven-proof baking pan, mix them around and throw them in the oven. And it tasted great.

Now I make baked ziti, or shells, or elbows–whatever pasta I have on hand–at home, using gluten-free ingredients.

To make the perfect baked ziti, it's important to have a good helper.

To make the perfect baked ziti, it’s important to have a good helper.

I substitute whole milk for the usual bechamel sauce used in many lasagna recipes. Since this dish is gluten-free, I can’t use the flour required to thicken bechamel sauce, and gluten-free flour doesn’t work here.

1 lb. regular or gluten-free pasta
2 lbs. (32 oz.) ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
12 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup whole milk
1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon parsley

image

 

In a bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, half of the mozzarella, and the milk.

Pour  the contents of the tomato can in a blender and blend until smooth. Add this to the bowl and combine.

Add the granulated garlic, salt, oregano, basil, and parsley to the bowl and combine again.

Cook the pasta until just before al dente. You want it to be chewy because it will still bake in the oven. Drain the pasta and place it in an ovenproof baking dish.

Add the contents of the cheese and milk blend bowl to the pasta and stir thoroughly to combine. It’s going to be mushy.

Pre-heat the oven to 350°.

Top the baking dish with the rest of the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle a little oregano on top. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until the cheese on top has melted and it’s bubbling hot.

Let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

 

Baked elbows, this time with meatballs.

Baked elbows. This time, I added meatballs.

These pancakes, based on a recipe from chef April Bloomfield (The Spotted Pig and The Breslin in NYC), are made from fresh homemade ricotta cheese. Light as air…and really delicious! I made my first-ever batch of homemade ricotta cheese the other day, following a recipe from Iron Chef Michael Symon. He used lemon juice and zest in the recipe, which gave the cheese a stronger lemon profile than I had hoped for. But once I realized I could use that ricotta in a pancake, the lemon flavor really took the pancakes to a whole new level.

I use raw milk for my ricotta cheese. It’s not available here in Rhode Island, but it is in neighboring Massachusetts. If you can’t find raw milk, use organic milk. Just avoid anything that is ultra-pasteurized.

milk

Ingredients:

1.2 gallon of raw milk

juice and zest of 8 small organic lemons

salt

sugar

Always have top-notch assistants at your side to make sure you're doing it right!

Always have top-notch assistants at your side to make sure you’re doing it right!

In a saucepan, heat the milk to 180 degrees. Remove from the heat. Add lemon juice and zest, salt and sugar. Stir once and then let it sit for 5 minutes.

Pour the curds (solids) and whey (liquid) into a strainer lined with cheesecloth over a bowl. Discard the whey, if you choose, then place the remaining cheese in the fridge overnight to further continue drippage.

The next morning, the ricotta is ready to use!

Homemade ricotta cheese

Homemade ricotta cheese

Once you have the fresh ricotta, it’s time to put these beautiful rustic pancakes together…

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup yellow cornmeal

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups milk

2 large eggs, separated

1/2 cup fresh ricotta

 

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, ricotta,  and egg yolks. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are stiff, but not dry. Fold gently into the batter.

Spray a non-stick griddle with a little cooking spray and drop about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes per side, until golden and fluffy.

pancake