pizza challenge and fresh ricotta

ma and i have been having this ongoing pizza challenge in which she makes a loaf of dough – enough for four 10 inch pizzas.  we each get two to top and we try to out do each other.  we tend to take very different approaches.

the most recent round of pies was inspired by the latest copy of saveur magazine.  on the cover was this squash blossom pizza with some sort of cheese that sort of looks like ricotta, but it’s not, it’s much fancier and we didn’t have any.  but ma still had her mind set idea of pizza – i ricotta, and a use for the pickled lemons.  since i didn’t have any ricotta either i had to make some with the milk we did have.

so first how to make ricotta.

step 1. mix the 1/2 gallon of milk with 1/2 teaspoon citric acid dissolved in a 1/4 cup of water.  most of us don’t keep citric acid around the house – i’m thinking lemon juice could work, but might require more.  since we make wine – and it sometimes calls for citric acid we just happen to have some kicking around the house.

step 2. warm up the milk

warming the milk

bring the milk up to between 185 and 195, stirring often to prevent burning.  by the time it reaches 195 it should be curdled.  take it off the heat and leave it for 10 minutes.

step 3. spoon out the curds

spooning he curds into butter muslin

gently spoon the curds out into cheese cloth.  – or actually in this case it’s the finer butter muslin which i generally prefer.  guess where this stuff came from – that’s right saved from the compost pile where it was previously wrapping hops.

step 4 hang the curds.

hanging the cheese

fold up the butter muslin, tie it closed and hanging it up to drain off the excess moisture.  make sure – i hope this is obvious that there is a bowl sitting under it so you don’t make a mess.  don’t let it hang too long or you will end up with too dry a cheese.

the finished cheese

you can add a little heavy cream to add some richness and liquid if the cheese is too dry.

and now on to the pizzas. in the order they came out of the oven. first ma’s creation – i’d say the closet thing to a normal pizza.

roasted tomato, fresh basil and mozerrella

spinach, parsley, fresh ricotta, and pickled lemon

and then my first one a sort of mediterranean fusion thing

muhammara, cheddar, onion and mushroom

then ma’s second pie – i think the concept was an umami explosion pie with mushroom, onions, cheddar, and muhammara.

the gratin pizza

and then my second round the gratin pizza with a sauce of the cooked down whey left over from cheese making which made a sweet, rich, salt sauce, plus leeks, broccoli, and potatoes.

the results – ma’s classic pie wins the first round, and my gratin pizza the second.  i guess we are both winners.


One response to “pizza challenge and fresh ricotta

  1. same magazine, same idea over here. We settled on a greek-ish pie (olives, feta, red onions, sundried tomatoes, and a little sauce). nothing too fancy. yours look great!

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