Posts Tagged ‘ricotta’

As you know I’m a free agent at this particular juncture in my life and although I am keeping my ear to the ground and looking actively for work in my field, I am pretty realistic about the prospects out there and I’m keeping an open mind. The support from my blogging peeps is phenomenal and I thank you for your interest and offer to help! I am constantly touched and surprised by the generosity and kindness of, for all intensive purposes, strangers! It is because of you I am keeping my mind open for alternative opportunities, one such opportunity became a reality just two weeks ago.

About a year and a half or so ago, I had the good fortune to be invited to a taping of Top Chef Canada, Season 3 and there I met with Lucie Richard, Toronto-based Food Stylist with whom I chatted extensively about her craft. At that time, she very generously offered to have me ‘assist’ on one of her photo shoots. Two weeks ago it came to fruition and I assisted on a National Brand ice cream shoot. You cannot imagine how excited I was!

Ice cream is one of the most difficult things to shoot because of the very short window of opportunity before it begins to melt. I was thrilled to experience such a challenging product with one of the best in the field; Lucie was kind and generous with her advice and patience and she taught me an incredible volume of information on shooting ice cream. The tricks of the trade tend to be quite personal and what one stylist does may not necessarily be exactly what another does, so experiencing variety is key to coming up with your own tricks of the trade. The client has very specific expectations in what the characteristics of the ice cream should look like so you really need to know what you’re doing.

We used dry ice to super cool the tools, we worked in small batches for short periods of time, constantly re-freezing the ice cream so it doesn’t glaze over in the melting process. And the studio was kept very cool with air conditioning so I brought a sweater and I even brought gloves in case I needed to warm my hands. Of course, the work is fast and furious and there is no time to be cold.

The trends 15-20 years ago was to use ‘fake’ product. Ice cream was a highly guarded secret recipe of shortening, food colourings and inclusions. Today, most companies want the real deal and that in itself presents some interesting opportunities. And then there is Photoshop®, which has at times saved this incredible craft. We even took Photoshop into consideration, shooting slightly brighter and darker versions of the same shot in order to make sure we have what it takes to make the best composite. Of course, the Photoshopers are so skilled and talented, you can’t tell that they have added a little of this and a little of that to make that shot.

The client was very happy with the ice cream photo and we even finished a few minutes early. It was a huge success for me, and gave me the confidence to send out notes to my Food Stylist peeps that I’d love to assist. Who knows, this may become something!

Sadly, blogging is the driver and result of cooking passion; I make recipes for meals that I want to blog about. But we also want to eat the food I blog about. It’s wasteful to make an extra portion just for the blog so either JT or I will suffer with the pretty but stone cold blog version of a dish or eat separately which is what happened with this amazing ‘ravioli’.


The pasta is relatively thin, so you can see all the good stuff inside!

Some time ago I saw this unique ‘ravioli’ treatment on my friend Celi’s blog (the kitchen’s garden), she was inspired to make this delightful dish after her daughter who works in a very upscale restaurant in Melbourne told her about it. We were at the cottage at the time I read the post and you know how we are unable to divert from plan because of ingredient limitations, so I was itching to make this beautiful dish as soon as we returned to the city.

One thing led to another and it wasn’t until the Friday before Thanksgiving that I finally got it together to make this tasty dish. Thank you Celi, it is exceptional! It’s reasonably fussy so I will have to figure out a way to simplify it so I can make it as a starter for a dinner party. I used John’s recipe (from the Bartolini Kitchen) for the pasta dough (with minor modifications) and Celi’s rough description for the filling. Even JT commented that he would definitely have it again. So it’s a win/win, all the way around. Thank you Celi and John for inspiring me to make this gorgeous dish.

The ravioli is comprised of sautéed spinach, ricotta and parmesan cheese  and the crowning glory is the simple egg yolk enveloped within the light pasta dough. When it is cooked, the yolk is simply warmed so that it becomes thick but remains runny and once it’s broken into, it mixes with the sage brown butter and becomes a delightful sauce over the ricotta, spinach and pasta. This is definitely a winner and will be shared with friends soon.

Ravioli with Egg Yolk and Sage Brown Butter Sauce (uova-da-raviolo)

I forgot to sprinkle additional parmesan on this one, shhhh.

I forgot to sprinkle additional parmesan on this one, shhhh.

Serves 2 with lots of pasta left over (I made additional plain ravioli and filled it with seasoned ricotta and froze them for future use).

Ingredients, for the pasta:

  • 1 scant cup flour
  • 2 egg whites

Directions, for the pasta:

  1. In a food processor, combine the flour and egg whites and process until you achieve a ball of dough.
  2. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.

Ingredients, for the brown butter sauce:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp finely sliced sage
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced

Directions, for the Brown Butter Sauce:

  1. Melt the butter and cook until it is brown, remove from heat and add the sage and garlic and allow to infuse while making the filling.

Ingredients, for the ravioli filling:

  • 2 whole egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1/4 cup ricotta
  • 1 roasted garlic, puréed (I used a fork)
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan Cheese, and 1 tbsp for garnish

Directions, for the ravioli filling:

  1. In a small frying pan, sauté the spinach with a splash of EVOO until wilted, set aside to cool.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the ricotta, roasted garlic and 2 tbsp parmesan cheese. Taste and season with salt as desired.

Directions, for assembly of the ravioli:

  1. Heat a large deep pan of salted water to a steady boil.
  2. Roll out four thin sheets of pasta about 10-15cm in diameter (4-6″) (I used #5 on my Kitchenaid Pasta Attachment, but I think #6 would have worked very well too).
  3. In the centre of two of the pasta sheets, add a mound of spinach and on top of that add 1/2 the ricotta mix. Make a divot in the centre and add the room temperature, raw egg yolk. Place the second sheet on top and push out any air and seal the edges well. Cut this into a shape or leave it rustic.
  4. In the meantime, reheat the brown butter sauce on low.
  5. Boil the large ravioli for 2-3 minutes or until the pasta is completely cooked but leaving the egg yolk runny. Serve with the hot brown butter sauce and parmesan cheese for garnish. If you have a few extra sage leaves, add them as garnish too.
  6. Enjoy while the yolk is still runny.

The egg yolk oozes out and mixes with the brown butter very nicely.


We had these for lunch, for appetizers I will make them smaller and use small egg yolks!

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This post was written at the cottage including the photos taken on my lowly iPhone 3GS! Hopefully Apple’s September announcement will be about the iPhone 5, for which I am anxiously awaiting the release.

Do you have to create a meal plan for the weekends at the cottage? I do, I have to. We have no decent stores anywhere near our cottage. I once forgot cream cheese and had to settle for a cream cheese and chive dip from a 7-11. It was pathetic. I have to have everything figured out because to forget an ingredient would be devastating (well, for me anyway).

I had a menu plan for this past weekend which was our Civic Holiday long weekend (each first Monday of August is the Simcoe Day, in honor of our first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe) and it was good and it was well thought out. I had shopping lists and everything. And then I read a couple of posts which made me switch my plan. Yes, you read that correctly. I revised the meal plan to include these wonderful recipes that inspired me.
My first deviation was because of Karen at Backroad Journal Posted a healthier version of Eggplant Parmesan that I just couldn’t resist; plus it gave me an opportunity to use my adorable cast iron individual square frying pans! It was incredibly delicious!

Eggplant Parmesan

(only slightly modified from Karen’s lovely recipe)
Serves 4-6 for lunch as a main


  • 4 baby eggplants, sliced 1 cm (0.5″)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp EVOO
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • salt to taste
  • 300-400 mL basic homemade tomato sauce, or your favorite marinara sauce
  • a handful of chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 20 cm (8″) square pan plus individual serving dishes
  • Non-stick spray


  1. After slicing the eggplant, rub each side with lemon juice to prevent ‘rusting’.
  2. Mix the olive oil with the garlic and brush each side if the eggplant slices liberally. Grill on a hot grill until slices are soft. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Set aside (may be made in advance).
  3. Mix the ricotta with one clove finely minced garlic, salt to taste.
  4. In an oven proof 20 cm (8″) pan, line with parchment and spray with non-stick spray. Line the bottom with one layer of eggplant, top with half of the ricotta. Dot with roughly torn fresh basil. Drizzle with the tomato sauce, add another layer of eggplant. Top with the remaining ricotta, roughly torn fresh basil and the remainder of the tomato sauce.
  5. Add the sliced fresh mozzarella evenly on top. Bake on indirect heat on the BBQ until fully warmed through and mozzarella has melted. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan and broil until bubbly.
  6. Serve in individual serving dishes garnished with fresh basil and green onions.


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My latest endeavour was the home made Ricotta from my BB (blogging buddy) John, and it was a huge success; even so, we had left-overs. We’re having our nephew Brian over for Sunday dinner and I thought it would work perfectly in a little hors d’œuvres of whole wheat-flax pan cakes with ricotta and chives and a little lightly pan fried chicken and turkey, spinach feta sausage (another left over from our little brunch on Saturday).

Pass the canapés, please.

Ricotta and Sausage Pancakes

Makes about 14 little pan cakes


  • 1/2 cup Home-made ricotta (or store bought, but the home made is so darn easy)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 14 sausage slices, very thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup soda water
  • 3 tbsp egg whites
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Mix the chives into the ricotta and set aside.
  2. Mix well together WW flour, flax seeds, egg whites, soda and salt. If it’s really runny, set aside for 2-5 minutes (you want a slightly thicker mixture than crèpe batter).
  3. Heat a large cast iron pan and spray lightly with a non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Drop small spoonfuls of the batter onto the hot pan so that they each form a 5cm or 2 inch little round. Cook both sides until golden. Repeat until the mixture has been all used up.
  5. In the same hot pan, spray another little squirt of non-stick cooking spray and sauté each side of the thinly sliced sausage until golden and slightly curled.
  6. Top each little pan cake with a dollop of the home-made ricotta and one slice of the sausage.
  7. Enjoy with a martini.

Canapé Anyone?

And a new friend…

Meet Brown Squirrel.

As many of you already know, my favourite pet in the whole world was my dearest little bunny, Dustie. Sadly she passed away about 7 years ago at the age of 10, and the impact of her friendship has prevented me from trying to find another pet, any pet. Until I met brown squirrel. The strange thing about brown squirrel is that she is the same golden colouring as my Dustie, and that this type of colouring on squirrels in the Toronto area is not common (we have mainly black, some grey and a couple of white squirrels). Brown squirrel is not really a pet, but she has become a ‘friend’. I wonder if she’s on FB?

Now it’s not just the colouring on Brown Squirrel that makes her special, she is a lot tamer than the other squirrels in the hood. She will come when she is called (she’ll even cross the road when we call out to her; she doesn’t look both ways (she IS a squirrel) but we do!). She responds to munching noises (my Dustie did that too!). She’ll even come right up to you and eat from your hand (although I wouldn’t recommend it, after all, she is still a wild animal). We always have to remember to close the front door because she would follow you in (never happened but I sure wouldn’t want to chance it). Brown Squirrel comes to the house every morning for her treats. I snapped this photo from the dining room window through the screen (hence the weird overall colour); normally we wouldn’t feed her on our front porch, but it was darn chilly at 7:30 that morning, and we only had PJs on!

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This past Saturday we hosted a collaborative brunch with a couple of friends. By collaborative, I mean we all pitched in with one or two parts of the meal. One friend brought home-made waffles, while another brought home-made maple syrup, a huge fruit platter, bacon and we supplied sausages, ricotta, whipped cream, smoked salmon and coffee. We may have had morning glories as well (Prosecco and OJ). It was quite the feast! No one left the table hungry at least I don’t think so!

That's quite the pile of ricotta on that waffle, isn't it?

I had wanted to contribute something a little more unusual to the brunch, so I scoured the net. My ‘friend’ John made cream cheese recently and posted about it on his blog From the Bartolini Kitchen; hmmmm, from that post I was linked to another post where he made Ricotta Cheese. I have always wanted to make my own cheese and the ricotta seemed like a great place to start. Plus having a group of people for brunch meant that I wouldn’t have too much left over! We had ricotta with the smoked salmon AND topped off the waffles with it. Quite tasty indeed! Thanks John, I will be making this again and again.

John’s recipe was easy to follow and came together quickly. The only thing I changed is that I halved the recipe because I felt one pound of ricotta would be enough for brunch, and perhaps a lovely appetizer for Sunday dinner with nephew Brian.

Hey, where's the syrup?

Albert Capone’s Homemade Ricotta Recipe (adapted From the Bartolini Kitchen)

Total time: 30 minutes to prepare, at least 2 hours to drain.

Makes about 1 lb fresh ricotta


  • 1.9 L whole milk (homo)
  • 0.5 L heavy cream
  • 1/2 tbsp table salt
  • 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar


  1. Combine milk, cream, and salt in a large non-reactive pot and stir over medium heat as you bring the temperature up to 85°C (185°F) (about 15-20 minutes).
  2. Add the vinegar all at once and stir for 15 seconds; heat for two more minutes before removing from heat.
  3. Allow to rest undisturbed for 15 – 20 minutes; using a small sieve or slotted spoon, remove the floating curds and place them in a cheesecloth-lined colander to drain (I used coffee filters).
  4. Place colander over a bowl in refrigerator and drain for at least a couple of hours or overnight (I found 3 hours was enough). The longer you allow it to drain, the more firm the results.
  5. Remove the ricotta from the colander, place in airtight containers, and refrigerate.
  6. Ricotta will last up to 2 weeks.

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