Cheese

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

How to make ricotta cheese with whole milk, yogurt, vinegar, and cream. Homemade ricotta is really easy and is great in many Italian dishes.

Ready in:

  • Yield: Makes 2 cups

Please welcome author, pastry chef, and delightful raconteur David Lebovitz of DavidLebovitz.com who shares with us his way of making homemade ricotta cheese. ~Elise

With so many fabulous cheeses made in France (where I live) I guess there’s not the need to import more from elsewhere.

But for those of us that occasionally make recipes calling for a large amount of ricotta, there aren’t any 2-pound tubs available, just tiny plastic containers in the supermarket.

You can find very good ricotta by taking a trip to an Italian épicerie, although if you need a large quantity, you’ll quickly find yourself headed for the maison des pauvres. (The Poor House.)

Making ricotta really is easy and for the price of a quart or two of milk, you can have a lovely mound of freshly-made, still-warm ricotta with very little effort.

What Can You Make With Ricotta?

Homemade ricotta makes a wonderful base for Italian cheesecakes, ravioli fillings, and lasagna. I like to serve a spoonful of this with sliced fresh fruit; peaches, nectarines, or berries are lovely, along with a drizzle of honey.

It also make a nice accompaniment to a stewed apricot compote, fresh or ripe figs, or poached dried fruits in the winter.

I always use whole milk yogurt, but if you do try it with low-fat yogurt, please let me know in the comments how it works out. I don’t recommend non-fat yogurt for this recipe. This recipe can easily be halved or doubled.

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts whole milk
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • Optional: 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Method

1 In a large pot, bring the milk, yogurt, heavy cream (if using), vinegar, and salt to a boil. Very gently boil for one to two minutes, until the milk is curdled.

2 Meanwhile, line a strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and set it over a deep bowl.

3 Pour the milk mixture into the strainer and let drain for 15 minutes. Gather the cheesecloth around the curds and squeeze gently to extract any excess liquid.

Storage: Homemade ricotta is best served slightly warm, although it can be refrigerated for up to three days, if desired.

Posted by gen_gen - 2019 at 

Categories: Cheese   Tags: ,

Grilled Pizza with Red Peppers, Broccoli, and Onions

Yes, awesome grilled pizza can be yours for dinner tonight! This version celebrates veggies like broccoli and red peppers. Make your own pizza dough, or take it easy and buy store-bought. Score!

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 12-inch pizzas, or 4 6-inch pizzas

Making pizza on the grill takes a little bit of courage the first time. Tossing uncooked dough directly onto the grate over live fire? Topping the pizza while it’s on the grill? Seems a bit daunting.

But once you try it and see how delicious it is, you’ll go back for more.

The good news? After a few times, you will be pretty much an expert at the whole thing, from getting the dough onto the grill, to flipping it, to adding your topping, and knowing when it’s done.

Even better? Few grilled foods have this much “wow” factor as grilled pizza! The mere fact that you actually made a full-on pizza completely on the grill is impressive. The crust’s crunch and those lightly charred grill marks are delicious. If you want to go for the gold, you might top the pizza with some vegetables that you’ve grilled up earlier—now that’s making the most of your grill!

In my house, this is how we celebrate grilling season pretty much every year, and it’s one of my most requested dishes of the summer from both family and friends—and you’ll see why!

HOW TO MAKE PIZZA ON THE GRILL

This recipe has step-by-step instructions, but Elise also has some very helpful tips for the basics of grilling pizza.

There is no shame in using store-bought pizza dough and tomato sauce—believe me, people aren’t going to notice or complain once those bubbling and aromatic pizzas start sailing off the grill. Should you want to make your own, check out the one in this recipe.

Start with smaller pizzas, which are easier to handle, especially the first time you navigate the dough onto the grill, flip the crust, and take the finished pizzas from the grill. If you want to prepare the vegetable toppings ahead of time, you can store them in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Sure, this is grilled pizza is vegetarian, but if you and your gang are also interested in adding some pepperoni or crumbled cooked sausage, we’re not going to stop you.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH YOUR PIZZA

These pizzas stand on their own as a meal (thanks to the veggies), but if you wanted to serve a crisp salad alongside, try my recipe for Romaine and Slivered Kale Salad with Lemon Dressing (from my site The Mom 1oo).

MORE IDEAS FOR PIZZA NIGHT!

  • Shaved Artichoke and Potato Pizza
  • Sheet Pan Pizza with Roasted Cauliflower and Greens
  • Tortilla Pizza with Onions, Mushrooms, and Ricotta
  • Spinach and Artichoke Sheet Pan Pizza

The prep time reflects using store-bought dough and sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 (1-pound) ball pizza dough, store-bought or homemade
  • Olive oil for sautéing vegetables, and coating and brushing the dough
  • 1/2 cup sliced red onions
  • 1/2 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • Coarsely ground cornmeal or flour for rolling and stretching the dough
  • 1 cup tomato sauce, store-bought or homemade
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese, preferably fresh
  • 1/4 cup slivered fresh basil leaves (optional)

Method

1 Divide and rest the dough: Divide the dough in half and gently shape into two balls. Gently coat each with olive oil and allow the dough to come to room temperature for about an hour, either in a large bowl or on the counter covered with a dishtowel.

2 Prep the toppings: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet with a lid over medium heat.  Add the onions and peppers, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 6 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.

Add the chopped broccoli and sauté for another minute. Add 2 tablespoons water, and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 1 minute, then remove the lid, and sauté for another minute or two until the broccoli is just tender and the water has evaporated. Stir in the olives and transfer the vegetables to a plate.

3 Shape the pizza rounds: Sprinkle a lightly oiled baking sheet with cornmeal or flour. Use two baking sheets if you want more space or are making multiple pizzas. Gently begin to stretch or roll each ball into a 12-inch circle, or a rectangle shape.

You will need to stretch or roll it a bit, give it a few minutes to relax, and then continue to stretch it so that it doesn’t keep springing back into a smaller shape, which is easier to do when your dough is at room temperature. The goal is about to get it about 1/4 inch thick (it will puff up on the grill). Give it one final stretch and don’t worry if it’s unevenly shaped.

4 Heat the grill and gather your toppings: Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat. Put your sauce in a small bowl, and bring that along with a brush, grill tongs, a grill spatula, the cheese, the dough, and the vegetables out to the grill.

5 Grill the dough on the first side: Brush the top of the shaped pizza rounds with olive oil, and with a swift motion, pick up one round of the dough by one edge and flip it, oiled-side down, onto the grill. Repeat with the other round of dough.

Close the lid and don’t open it for 2 minutes, so the dough can rise a bit and firm up. Open the lid, peek underneath the dough using tongs, and check to see that it’s firm on the bottom (no wet dough), lifts easily, and has some light grill marks.

Lightly brush the unbaked tops of the crusts with olive oil, and then flip them over to the other side.

6 Immediately add the sauce and toppings: Carefully brush the surface of each crust with the sauce. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the tops followed by the toppings.

Close the lid and cook for 4 minutes. Lift the lid and check the pizzas: the cheese should be completely melted and the crust should have a nicely browned underside and barely bend when you lift it with tongs.

7  Serve the pizzas: Remove the pizza from the grill with a large spatula, sprinkle with the fresh basil if using Let it sit for 1 to 2 minutes for the cheese to firm up slightly before cutting it into pieces.

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Pepperoni Pizza Pockets

Pepperoni pizza in your hand, literally! These pizza pockets are like your own personal hot pocket, but homemade. Think of them like a calzone, but with a much flakier crust.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 pockets

When most people think of pie, they think of something sweet. However, I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, so I’m usually craving something savory.

Yes! Pie crust can be used for savory fillings like these Pepperoni Pizza Pockets! The crispy, browned crust paired with creamy mozzarella and tangy pizza sauce is a winner. It’s like a portable pizza, or a mini-calzone, or even those store-bought Hot Pockets—except flakier!

These are easy to make and great as a dinner served with a salad, or you can serve them for a hearty game day appetizer. Any way you serve them, they will be a hit.

Homemade Pie Crust vs. Store-Bought 

I’m not a stickler on homemade vs. store-bought pie crust for recipes like this one. If I’m making an authentic full pie, I’m making homemade crust almost every time, following a recipe like this Perfect Pie Crust. But store-bought crust is generally easier to work with and is readily available.

Either is absolutely fine for this recipe, so use your preference! To make life easier, I used Pillsbury pie crusts for this version. Make sure they thaw well before you try to work with them, and feel free to re-roll them once to use as much crust as possible.

Filling the Pizza Pockets

I kept the fillings simple for this version, but you could turn any version of pizza into a hand pie like this! Just remember to keep the filling amounts under control. If you overfill the hand pies, they will explode in the oven, and you’ll have a big hand pie mess on your, well, hands.

Assuming you want to try my pepperoni pizza option, be sure to follow the amounts I give for each ingredient so you don’t overfill them.

If you fall in love with this concept, try combining Buffalo chicken and smoked Gouda or broccoli and cheddar.

Sealing the Hand Pies

You want to make sure to get a good seal on these hand pies so they don’t bust open. I recommend using egg wash for this, as it creates a really sturdy seal. Just lightly brush the crust around the edges with your fingers, and then crimp the dough together.

Secret to Golden Brown Crust 

Many traditional pies, sweet or otherwise, bake for 45 to 60 minutes and get a super golden brown crust in that amount of time. These hand pies need much less time in the oven, which means they won’t brown as much without some help.

To help get that golden brown crust, I like to brush them with some egg wash. You should also use the egg wash to make sure the hand pies are sealed all the way.

The egg wash doesn’t change the flavor of the hand pies in any way, but just gives them a little extra crunch and a beautiful, glossy, golden brown exterior.

Freezing Your Pizza Pockets

If you want to freeze these hand pies, I recommend baking them first, letting them cool completely, then wrapping and freezing them in airtight containers. They will freeze great for a few months. To keep the crust flaky, reheat them in a 325°F oven for 20 minutes until thawed and the cheese is melty.

MORE WAYS TO GET YOUR PIZZA FIX!

  • Meat Lovers’ Sheet Pan Pizza
  • Hawaiian Pizza with Cauliflower Crust
  • Spinach and Artichoke Sheet Pan Pizza
  • Mozzarella and Tomato Skillet Pizzas
  • Sheet Pan Pizza with Roasted Cauliflower and Greens

Ingredients

  • 2 (9-inch) pie crusts, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/3 cup pizza sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced pepperoni
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • 1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water, for the egg wash

Ingredients

  • 2 (9-inch) pie crusts, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/3 cup pizza sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced pepperoni
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • 1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water, for the egg wash

Method

1 Heat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 

2 Roll and cut out the dough: Roll out your pie crust on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 1/8-inch thick. If you are using store-bought crust, make sure it’s thawed before unrolling it.

Use a 6-inch round to cut circles out of the pie crust. (I use a 6-inch tortilla as a guide for mine; a pot lid of same size would work, too.) You should get 3 hand pies out of each pie crust, but you will probably have to re-roll the crust to get the last few.

Place the pie crust rounds on the baking sheet.

3 Fill the pizza pockets: The key to hand pies like these is to not overfill them while making sure they have enough filling to feel substantial. Add 2 to 3 teaspoons of pizza sauce, followed by 2 tablespoons grated mozzarella (you can eyeball it), followed by 1 tablespoon diced pepperoni and a sprinkle of fresh basil to each circle of pie dough. Be sure to leave a 1/2-inch border around the fillings to make sealing easier.

4 Seal the pizza pockets: Brush a light coating of egg wash around the edges of the hand pie and fold it over. Seal the hand pie completely, either by pressing on the edge with a fork or by crimping the edge between your fingers. Poke a few holes in each hand pie with a fork, so steam can escape.

5 Bake the hand pies: Brush the hand pies with egg wash, and bake them for 20 minutes until the pie crust is golden brown. Some of the filling might be bubbling out of the pies, but that’s okay.

Let the pies cool briefly before serving.

Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days and reheated in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes. Also, these pizza pockets can be assembled in advance and stored in the fridge until you need to bake them.

They freeze best once they are baked and have cooled. Reheat from frozen in a 325°F oven for about 20 minutes, or until warmed through.

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