Eating freshly made ricotta cheese is one of the best simple pleasures.

Recently, I had an unopened 1/2 gallon of milk left over from a  party I catered and thought, hmmm, what can I make with this?

I immediately thought ricotta cheese would be the best use for this extra milk.

With a few minutes and a bit of stirring, a plain, 1/2 gallon of milk will turn into fresh, milky, delicious ricotta cheese — a lot faster than trying to find an Italian deli, fancy cheese shop or gourmet market that makes their own.

Freshly made ricotta lends itself to fast and easy hors d’oeuvres… try ricotta with pea pesto the next time you entertain.

It’s creamy and very easy to prepare.

To jazz up a chicken breast entree, place a scoop of ricotta on top.

For dessert, just put a scoop of ricotta cheese in a bowl and top with honey and candied almonds.

I promise you that once you make your own ricotta cheese, you will never buy the packaged, store-bought brands again.

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Basic Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta Pea Pesto

Chicken with Wild Mushroom

and Ricotta

Ricotta with Honey and

Candied Almond*

*Recipe Not Given

Basic Ricotta Cheese

1/2 gallon whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Special Equipment:

Sieve, fine-mesh

Cheesecloth

1. Line a large sieve with a layer of heavy-duty (fine mesh) cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl.

2. Slowly bring milk, cream and salt to a rolling boil in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.  

Add lemon juice, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles, about five minutes.

3. Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain for one hour.  

After discarding the liquid, chill the ricotta, covered; it will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Ricotta with Pea Pesto

(Makes approximately three cups)

12 oz. frozen peas, thawed

1 oz. Parmiggiano-Reggiano

cheese, grated

1 cup packed fresh basil,

plus more for garnish

1 garlic clove

1/4 tsp. fine seat salt

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil,

plus more, as needed

1 cup ricotta

Flaky sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper,

to taste

Crusty bread

1. Spread the peas out on a clean dish towel and blot them dry.

2. In a food processor, place the Parmesan, basil, garlic and sea salt; process until finely chopped.  

Add the peas and the olive oil and process until you have a chunky paste.

3. Spread the ricotta on a plate and top it with dollops of the pea pesto, swirling it so some of the two mixtures combine.  

Drizzle with olive oil, scatter more basil on top and sprinkle with flaky sea salt and black pepper.

4. Serve with sliced crusty bread.

Chicken with
Wild Mushroom and Ricotta Cheese

(Serves 3-4 people)

Spray oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

3 oz. wild mushrooms,

soaked overnight

1/2  cup of Marsala wine

4 white button mushrooms,

thinly sliced

1 cup beef or chicken stock

2 large boneless chicken

breasts, cut into 4 pieces and

pounded

1 cup ricotta cheese

1. In a large pan, spray the oil and sautee the shallots over medium heat until golden.  

Add mushrooms and sautee for 5 minutes.

2. Add chicken and lightly brown, about three minutes per side.

3. Add Marsala and stock, cover and cook until chicken is cooked, about eight more minutes.

4. To serve, place chicken and mushrooms on a plate and top with a scoop of ricotta cheese.

Alexandra Troy is owner of Culinary Architect Catering, a 35 year-old, Greenvale-based company, specializing in private, corporate and promotional parties.  

If you make any of these recipes, please share your photographs with me at [email protected]

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