O Cheese – whipped ricotta on a whimsical afternoon

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O cheeses that dance in the moonlight, cheeses
that mingle with sausages, cheeses of Stonehenge.
O cheeses that are shy, that linger in the doorway,
eyes looking down, cheeses spectacular as fireworks.

Sometimes you just want some cheese. Something soft, creamy, light-hearted. Nothing too heavy or stinky. Some days call for ricotta cheese.

On one of these days, I made goat ricotta cheese – strictly speaking goat curds: goat milk, lemon juice, cooked over the stovetop until curds separate from whey. As this might have been done for centuries and centuries by farmers and shepherds.

Then, I made whipped ricotta / curd. A cup of ricotta / curd, a good dollop of cream cheese, a drop of milk, a good beating with a wooden spoon (you can also do this in the stand mixer), and we had this.

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A bowl of this stuff went with crusty bread. Another dollop was used to stuff some dates. I barely needed dinner!

Whipped ricotta recipes abound on the interwebs. Some mix the ricotta with milk, others with cream cheese (as I did), some add sugar for a sweet topping, others add sea salt or salty feta cheese. As for serving and eating, many recipes suggest pairing it with crepes and pikelets, others also suggest serving with meatballs (!), or using it to make icing for cupcakes (maybe whipped ricotta icing for sunny-lemony ricotta cookies?)

O cheeses of gravity, cheeses of wistfulness, cheeses
that weep continually because they know they will die.
O cheeses of victory, cheeses wise in defeat, cheeses
fat as a cushion, lolling in bed until noon.

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While it seems too simple for a recipe, I’m adding it to Fromage Homage’s Cheese Please challenge (which was to make our own cheese and turn it into something else edible). Since this bowl and these dates are pretty happy-making, so I’m also taking them to Angie’s Fiesta Friday.

As for the poem? They are excerpts from “O Cheese” by American poet Donald Hall. My favourite line from the poem is this:

O village of cheeses, I make you this poem of cheeses.

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Note on names: as many people have said, technically, this is what is known as curd (or cagliata in Italian). Real ricotta is made by heating the whey (the liquid) left over from making cheeses that use starter cultures or rennet – the name ricotta means ‘re-cooked’. And if you drain the curds overnight under a weight (like a plate that has a couple of cans of tomatoes on it), you’ll get a firmer cheese that is variously called panner, queso fresco, farmer’s cheese, or ricotta salata (which is also salted).

A veritable village of cheeses!

whipped-ricotta-06

Ricotta, or curd

Ingredients, with options

1 Litre milk (full cream, or 2% fat; cow, sheet, goat, even buffalo milk?)
Optional: up to 1 cup (approximately 250ml) heavy / double cream, for extra creaminess
Juice of one lemon, or a light coloured and mild flavoured vinegar, such as white vinegar, rice vinegar (the clear variety), champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Method

1. If using cream, mix together milk and cream in a large saucepan. Heat on a stove until nearly boiling.

2. Add the lemon juice or vinegar. Reduce heat a little and let the milk mixture cook until you see white chunks (that’s the curd) bobbing in the water (that’s the whey). Let the mixture cook for another 5-10 minutes.

3. Drain the curds. This can be done by lining a colander with cheesecloth, and pouring in the cooked curds and whey. Once the curd has drained somewhat, the cheesecloth can be hung over the sink or a bowl to drain further.

~~~

Whipped Ricotta

Ingredients

1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups ricotta/curd, well drained
Up to 2 tbsp milk

Serving: Olive oil and sea salt; dates and pistachios

Method

Break up cream cheese with a fork. Using a wooden spoon or in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, mix or beat cream cheese until smooth and pliable. Add ricotta; also add milk if your ricotta / curd has been well drained and is quite firm (mine was still quite soft, so I only added 1 tablespoon of milk).

Beat the mixture for 4 to 5 minutes or until it is smooth and looks more fluffy.

If serving as is, place in a bowl, sprinkle with coarse salt and drizzle with olive oil.  Serve with toasted bread. I think this would also go well with fritters, savoury pancakes and so on.

If serving in dates, de-seed the dates. Place small spoonfuls of whipped ricotta inside the cavity of each date, sprinkle with chopped pistachios and serve.

 

Fromage Homage
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42 thoughts on “O Cheese – whipped ricotta on a whimsical afternoon

  1. Dimple@shivaaydelights 29 March 2014 at 2:23 am Reply

    my mouth is watering not fair!!!! ;)

  2. […] Saucy Gander […]

  3. Liz 29 March 2014 at 2:36 am Reply

    oh wow–this looks positively naughty! Love it :-)

  4. sabine 29 March 2014 at 2:47 am Reply

    really awesome! anything left for me?

  5. Experienced Tutors 29 March 2014 at 3:06 am Reply

    There you go again – Scrummy! Yummy! Yummy!

  6. Nancy 29 March 2014 at 3:06 am Reply

    Sometimes I want cheese? How about always :) LOVE this recipe – looks absolutely delicious filling the dates!

  7. Alex 29 March 2014 at 3:43 am Reply

    This whipped ricotta sounds amazing! Great combo with the dates

  8. lapetitecasserole 29 March 2014 at 4:09 am Reply

    Saucy! your pictures are impressive… you’re gifted! Is worth try any recipe with ricotta. For me is one of the best cheese, ever.

  9. Laura Weymouth 29 March 2014 at 4:16 am Reply

    Mmmm, I have a liter of raw full fat cow’s milk sitting in my fridge and I just might need to make some ricotta now.

  10. Lori 29 March 2014 at 4:39 am Reply

    I have never heard of whipped ricotta! These look so good!!!

  11. spiceinthecity 29 March 2014 at 6:10 am Reply

    Can’t wait to try the whipped ricotta! Yummy!

  12. Patty Nguyen 29 March 2014 at 8:50 am Reply

    Gorgeous photos! I want to pick those dates off of my computer screen!

  13. simplyvegetarian777 29 March 2014 at 9:04 am Reply

    What am ingenious idea of serving them in dates.. Gorgeous pictures and a great recipe, Saucy :).

  14. Jody and Ken 29 March 2014 at 10:32 am Reply

    There is something so elemental about cheesemaking. I keep thinking we’ll do this (they do it at both of Jody’s restaurants) for the blog, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Good for you! Yet weirdly, we used lemon to “stiffen” a horseradish cream sauce for next week’s post. And double kudos for the Donald Hall poem. I can remember a time when he was considered marginal for his tenacious retrograde clinging to rhyme and meter. Now we read and enjoy him and say WGAF?. Thanks for the post. Ken

  15. MB 29 March 2014 at 12:14 pm Reply

    Gorgeous photos… love the post!

  16. chefjulianna 29 March 2014 at 3:58 pm Reply

    Lovely post, Saucy! You are inspiring!

  17. lapetitepaniere 29 March 2014 at 5:18 pm Reply

    I love cheese, I love dates wonderful combination, great idea!

  18. thebrookcook 29 March 2014 at 9:59 pm Reply

    WOW! This looks so amazing!! I have never had whipped ricotta but just the thought has my mouth watering! :)

  19. Ngan R. 30 March 2014 at 1:12 am Reply

    Between your delicious ricotta and Katie at Le Petit Artichaut making paneer, I think the universe is telling me to make cheese. De-lish! I never thought to stuff dates with ricotta, but now I shall! I, too, often turn to cheese and bread and wine in the middle of a weekend afternoon and feel no need for dinner that evening. Sometimes, cheese is all you need.

  20. Noony 30 March 2014 at 1:46 am Reply

    Many wonderful things in this post, poem included…

  21. Stacey Bender 30 March 2014 at 1:51 am Reply

    Your photography is wonderful. The bowl of whipped ricotta looks almost like you have swirled in lemon curd, which also sounds delicious. One of my favorite breakfasts is ricotta, honey and fresh figs. The ricotta stuffed dates with pistachio is spot on.

  22. chef mimi 30 March 2014 at 4:14 am Reply

    I want one of those dates!

  23. bitsofnice 30 March 2014 at 6:26 am Reply

    I have never made my own cheese. I think it’s time! Looks so very good!

  24. WhatJessicaBakedNext... 30 March 2014 at 8:00 am Reply

    This looks divine- love the idea!

  25. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella 30 March 2014 at 11:15 am Reply

    I don’t buy ricotta anymore, I make it (not from whey although a rather strident reader did go on about it not being ricotta if it isn’t made from whey). But some of the best ricotta you can buy in Sydney is made from milk so I figure if they can do it and I don’t have whey, why not? :)

  26. deliciouslynell 30 March 2014 at 11:33 am Reply

    Yum! And what a fun read! :D

  27. The Novice Gardener 30 March 2014 at 2:44 pm Reply

    Oh, this is a fabulous read, Saucy! And the photos so striking! I’ve been known to eat a bowl of ricotta as is, but whipped with cream cheese sounds so much better. Will try!

  28. laurasmess 31 March 2014 at 1:39 am Reply

    Yum. This is an amazing post!! But… I have to admit that the heading make me think of the Mighty Boosh! Have you ever watched it? Take a look at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8kkwXnTmMc (anyway, I digress… this recipe is wonderful. I will definitely try it!) xx

  29. Chantal 31 March 2014 at 1:47 am Reply

    What a so nice idea.It looks like a soft cheese we call in France “Fromage blanc”, we usually eat this soft cheese with sugar ,honey or fruits.
    Thank you for sharing this
    Chantal

  30. FromageHomage 31 March 2014 at 2:48 am Reply

    Lovely and simple – and sometimes that’s just what you want :) Thanks for sharing it with Cheese, Please! this month :)

  31. […] Yorkshire Curd Tart Home-made Ricotta and Mushroom Pate Ricotta Vegetable Pots Home-made Labneh Orange Ricotta Poppy Seed Coffee Cake Home-made Baked Ricotta Hot Smoked Home-Made Mozzarella DIY Pizza with Home-Made Mozzarella (and whey in the dough) Potato, Carrot, Quinoa and Home-made Cheese Salad Chickpea and Cucumber Quinoa Bowls with Home-made Ricotta Home-Made Ricotta Gnudi with Tomato and Chilli Sauce Lacto-fermented Gingerade Whipped Ricotta […]

  32. Laura 31 March 2014 at 8:28 am Reply

    Love the way this post is written – and the pictures are great! Awesome job!

  33. […] we crave the simpler things and so Saucy Gander rounded up a fruitful month of cheese-making with Whipped Ricotta. Whipping goat’s curd with cream cheese, she stuffed it into dates with chopped pistachios. […]

  34. flippenblog 31 March 2014 at 8:49 am Reply

    Stunning idea and post.

  35. lovinghomemade 31 March 2014 at 8:59 am Reply

    That looks and sounds delicious! And what a great poem you found!

  36. Johnny / Kitschnflavours 31 March 2014 at 12:13 pm Reply

    Now I’m even more confused! And I thought ricotta was made from sheeps’ milk. Whatever it’s made from I’ve only ever tasted the commercial stuff on sale over here – not exactly impressive. Although, I did like the baked cheesecake I bought it for! Going to have to try making this type of cheese as I’ve seen so many posts on it now. Yet, still feeling lazy. :)

  37. Karen 1 April 2014 at 12:51 am Reply

    Dates stuffed with your whipped goat cheese sounds decadently good. :)

  38. theseasonedtraveler 1 April 2014 at 5:08 am Reply

    This might be the most beautiful thing I’ve seen all week (last week; is it already Monday?). Love all the ingredients and LOVE your artful photography!

  39. Mary Frances 2 April 2014 at 5:14 am Reply

    Those stuffed dates look marvelous! The pistachios add a nice pop of color.

  40. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets 3 April 2014 at 9:22 am Reply

    What a fun and fancy cheese filled post. I’m a self professed cheese lover, although I’ve never tried my hand at making my own. Am I even allowed to call myself a cheese lover then? Hmm, I digress. This looks super simple and ridiculously delicious. I’d eat it with bread or stuffed dates. I eat in on a plane or in a train. I’d eat it in a box or with a fox. I’d eat it anywhere, and it would appear I’ve digressed again. Oops.
    Love the post, love the poetry, love the cheese.

  41. Gather and Graze 8 April 2014 at 3:31 pm Reply

    Beautiful photos SG! You’ve made me want to make my own cheese – embarrassed to say I’ve never tried to before…
    Lovely catching up with your posts after a week or two of being away! :)

    • saucygander 12 April 2014 at 3:00 pm Reply

      Margot, it took me ages to become brave enough to make cheese. Making curd cheese like this is surprisingly easy, pretty much failsafe, and you get that glow of “I made my own cheese”! :-D

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