I found ginger at the farmers’ market.
I won’t keep you waiting any longer.
I’m sure that you’ve spent a lot of your time wondering how I used the ricotta that I posted about last. Well, the suspense is over.
It went into homemade ravioli!
I just added 2 Tbs. of Italian seasoning, 2 whisked eggs, and a dash of nutmeg to the gigantic amount of ricotta I made. It definitely made more than was necessary for a night’s worth of ravioli, but I now have plenty of ravioli frozen and ready to use for many dinners to come (all in an afternoon’s work). I’d say if you used half of the ricotta recipe mentioned in the previous post (to make about 3/4 – 1 lb of ricotta), you would make a reasonable amount of ravioli (but you’ll probably still have some leftovers). That’s ok, it tastes awesome and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from seeing your own from-scratch ravioli is totally worth it!
In addition to 1/2 of the ricotta recipe, you’ll also need to make pasta dough. The ingredients include:
- 3 cups all-purpose organic, unbleached flour
- 2 large eggs
- 3 Tbs. water to start
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1/4 Tsp. salt
Mix the dry ingredients and form a well in the center in which to add the wet ingredients. Begin to knead everything together. It starts out pretty crumbly, but it gets easier to work with as you go along. Feel free to add additional Tbs. of water at a time to help with the process. I ended up using a lot more than 3 Tbs. of water, but I found it helpful to go slowly with this so that I didn’t get the dough too wet and sticky.
When the dough becomes smooth, it’s ready to roll out with a rolling pin or put through a pasta machine. We were using a CucinaPro(TM) pasta maker. The dough goes through 8 different times and the width of the rollers keeps getting smaller so you end up with a very smooth, thin sheet of pasta. It’s perfect for ravioli.
When the dough has been pressed, you can add about a Tbs. of ricotta mixture for each ravioli. We used a mold (see the bottom part of the mold in the picture above), but there are also devices that function like cookie cutters to help with making ravioli.
Fresh pasta cooks very quickly. We added some of the ravioli to a pot of boiling water and cooked for about 5 minutes until they were done.
I can’t believe we made these completely from scratch!
And it was also a fun day of inter-generational cooking. Grandma was able to share stories of how her family made pasta when she was young, and we all worked together to feed the dough through the pasta maker. It made me think about the fact that we’ve traded irreplaceable family moments that come from home cooked meals for the convenience of pre-packaged food. The sense of accomplishment and pride that comes from home cooked meals is well worth the effort — these feelings just do not come from opening a can to cook or microwaving a meal!
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It’s official. I made my own cheese.
It’s been on my to-do list for quite some time now, but other projects have continued to get in the way. Also, I have a reliable source of cheese each week at the farmers’ market that has made it easy to neglect this to-do item. But…he doesn’t sell cheeses like ricotta.
I also think it’s inherently valuable to learn these skills on our own — it helps to save money and to bring us closer to where our food comes from. It also helps in my quest to eliminate disposable food packaging from my life (what a waste and a huge hog of landfill space!). If you make your own ricotta, you don’t have to buy a plastic container of it!
Isn’t it amazing that in just a generation or two skills like this have been lost by so many people? There are a great number of us that no longer have words like curds and whey in our vocabulary yet continue to consume a lot of cheese (often from questionable sources!).
I intend to keep the skills of self-reliance and food intelligence alive!
Plus, it’s really easy!
All you need is milk + heat + an acid (vinegar or lemon juice) to make ricotta. To get into the harder cheeses, you need to start involving rennet in the equation (that will be next in my cheese-making endeavors).
To make 1.5 – 2 pounds of ricotta (which it turns out is a lot of ricotta and you might want to start with half of this recipe), you need:
- 1 gallon organic (preferably local!) whole milk
- 1/2 cup of an acid (I used white vinegar; can also use lemon juice)
Combine the ingredients and heat the milk slowly on the stove, stirring periodically, and work the milk’s temperature up toward 180*-190*. This should happen slowly — it might take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
While you’re stirring, you might want to say an incantation such as, “Let there be curds!” and they will begin to appear! (Ok, you might not have to use magic, but it feels very magical when they begin to appear!) When the curds begin to form, remove the mixture from the heat source.
Let the mixture cool down for 30 minutes and then strain the curds from the whey by lining a colander with cheesecloth or a tea towel and placing a bowl underneath. The longer you let the whey drain out, the drier your cheese will be. I actually put mine in the fridge and let it drain out overnight.
The next morning, I realized that so much whey had drained out that the bottom of the cheese was getting wet in a puddle of whey. I got a bit creative to let a little more whey drain out.
But I was left with some delicious ricotta!
And I’ve also learned that there are numerous uses for the whey, so I saved that as well. It’s useful as a stock, to cook pastas, to sprout grains, and more! It’s full of healthy enzymes.
Stay tuned to learn what became of this ricotta…