Baked Ricotta with Balsamic, Berries and Walnuts

Baked Ricotta with Berries and Balsamic

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When I was 23, I took a tour of the historical South Philly Italian Market, led by an amazing woman through a local cooking school.

I had never known such contagious passion existed in people and the food they created. Cheese makers & mongers sharing their mozzarella, so creamy it was almost unrecognizable from its supermarket counterparts. Bread baking in ovens with a square footage that rivals the first floor of my house.

Each bite was amplified by the people, stories and love of sharing and making food. I started to see food in a new way, not just as a consumer good, but as something created, shared and connected.

One of my favorite flavors of that day was a Baked Ricotta with Berries and Balsamic Vinegar from the kind folks at DiBruno Brothers Cheese Shop.

This is a nice appetizer alternative to the tried and true baked brie. It’s also a bit healthier. Go the extra mile and make the ricotta from scratch. You won’t regret it.

Fresh Ricotta

( homemade ricotta recipe from www.101cookbooks.com)

Ingredients:

1 gallon unpasteurized milk. (This is great place to try raw milk, if you have never had it before. Raw milk has great flavor and retains all of its enzymes and nutrients that are lost during homogenization and pasteurization)

1 quart buttermilk

Combine the two milks in a heavy bottom saucepan. Keep an eye on it until it starts to form curds. Skim the curds from the top. As much as I skimmed and skimmed, I still couldn’t get all the curds out, leaving me with less than a cup of ricotta. Pouring the pot of curds and whey into a sieve draped over a large pot was much more effective at collecting all the curds.

After the ricotta is drained, scoop into a baking dish and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Let cool to room temp. Turn it out onto a plate (it should slide right out when cooled) Top with berries and buttered nuts. Serve with little bowls of balsamic or honey on the side.

 

Buttered Walnuts

1 cup walnuts

About a tablespoon of butter

Sprinkle of sugar

Sprinkle of salt

Melt butter in a skillet, add walnuts and toast until browned and evenly coated with a touch of butter. Add a sprinkle of salt, and a sprinkle of sugar. Serve with baked ricotta,fresh berries and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

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