A couple of weeks ago I was in a cheese-making mood. And I made a (substantial) batch of goat’s milk ricotta. It was that tasty I had to think of ways how to use it before it’s eaten all!
That day we were having a few guests coming over and I thought let’s make a cheesecake. And I had had a slightly odd idea on my mind for a while to do a savoury cheesecake as a starter. So the mission was: create two very different dishes with the very same home-made ricotta.
Autumn had already started, but just barely. So I had some pears and figs ripe and ready to get involved with cheesecakes. I still needed something for the savoury cheesecake so I went to the local farmers’ market and luckily, they had the most beautiful medley of organic tomatoes. I was picking them carefully as they were to become topping. I was obviously taking my time as one of the farmers asked me what on earth do I need them for. When I told him they were for a cheesecake, he just looked at me and said: “Brave.” And then gave me a whole vine of cherry toms for free.
The cheesecakes went down like a treat; they were ready really quickly and gone by the end of that evening. No leftovers is always a good sign.
Having goat’s milk home-made ricotta is not crucial for these recipes. Although it just goes perfectly with pears and figs. But you can use any ricotta to substitute it. Or for the savoury one, you can completely substitute it with soft chèvre (goat’s cheese). Or even mixing chèvre frais (soft and creamy goat’s cheese) with yogurt. And for the sweet cheesecake, you can substitute ricotta with quark or greek yogurt. They will all work well.
However, making your own ricotta is very simple and quick. My nan used to make cheese herself all the time. Actually, she had never really bought any cheese. So for me it’s a perfectly normal thing that whenever you can, you just make your own big batch of cheese and store it in the fridge.
And freshly made cheese, its taste and texture is just something you can’t get from the ones bought in stores. So the recipe is below, how I make it. I promise you, after you have made it once, you’ll make it over and over again.
- This recipe yields a small cheesecake. For a 8'' spring form, double the ingredients.
- 1 cup pecans
- 6-7 medjool dates, pitted,
- 1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil or butter
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 cup mascarpone
- 1 cup fresh ricotta (or any ricotta, quark or greek yogurt)
- 1/2 cup soft goat's cheese (chèvre frais)
- 1/4 cup agave nectar (or honey)
- tspr lemon juice
- very fresh pears and figs
- 2 tbsp agave nectar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cocoa powder
- Grind the pecans in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add the dates, coconut oil and sea salt and run the food processor until the crust mixture comes together. Place the dough into a spring form, and press down until flat. Refrigerate it while you prepare the filling.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the cheeses, agave nectar and lemon juice and mix well until well combined and fluffy.
- Spread the filling on top of the crust with a spatula and refrigerate it for a couple of hours. Before serving it, garnish it with pears and figs with some agave nectar/ honey mix with cinnamon and cocoa.
- 150 gr nuts (1cup)
- (I used a mix of almonds, walnuts and cashews, any will work)
- 1 egg white
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 2 chunks feta (from sheep+goat's milk, or just goat's milk)
- 1 cup home-made goat's ricotta
- (substitute with soft chèvre or greek yogurt if easier)
- Tomatoes, fresh basil and olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grind the nuts in a food processor or a blender. Transfer the ground nuts into a mixing bowl and add the egg white and water. mix until you get crumbly dough. Line a small spring form with baking paper and press the dough down until flat. Bake for between 12 and 15 minutes, until it starts to brown. Let it cool completely down before pouring the filling on top of it.
- In a large pan, pour some very hot but not boiling water. Put the feta chunks in it and let it rest for 10 minutes so the "sourness" drains out.
- Then put the feta in a food processor, with ricotta and chèvre with a bit of cold water until well combined and smooth.
- Pour it onto the base, even it out with a spatula and refrigerate it for at least an hour. Top with tomatoes, fresh basil and olive oil. Ideal as a starter, or a post workout snack. Bon appétit !
- 2L whole goat's milk
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
- * - you can of course use cow's milk if you prefer. As the curds will be bigger, cow's milk ricotta will be ready quicker. You can drain it for between five and 20 minutes, it drains quicker so make sure you don't over-drain it.
- Pour the milk into a big pot, add the salt and heat over medium heat and stir occasionally so the milk doesn't scorch/ burn. Heat the milk to 86-88ºC; if you don't have a thermometre, heat the milk until the sides start to foam, when it's almost simmering but not boiling.
- Remove from heat and add the lemon/ lime juice. Stir only a few times and leave it. The milk should start curdling almost immediately. Goat's milk will need a bit longer to fully curdle, between 5-10 minutes.
- Then line a medium sieve with a fine cheesecloth and slowly pour the curd+whey mixture into the cheesecloth. Leave to drain at least for 20 minutes. As curds are small - it takes usually around 30 minutes for nice, creamy ricotta. If you drain it for too long, it'll get drier.
- Cool it down to room temperature and store it in the fridge. Or just eat while fresh. 🙂