I’ve bought my fair share of ricotta in my time from my local grocery store.

It’s good enough, especially since most of the time I’m simply folding it into lemon ricotta pancakes for Sunday breakfast.

The first time I had really good ricotta was at Corso 32 in Edmonton. House-made from goat milk, it had been slathered thickly onto slabs of toasted bread, then drizzled with oil and sprinkled with crunchy flakes of salt.

It was the perfect start to dinner with a group of friends I don’t get to see often enough.

On my next trip to Edmonton, I had barely walked through the front door of my friend’s house before she announced that our project for that afternoon – in advance of friends coming for dinner – was to make homemade ricotta.

The recipe was laughably easy: heat milk, add lemon juice, watch it curdle and then strain.

And yet it was unexpectedly exciting to watch the curds and whey separate with just a bit of acid thrown into the mix. Even more pleasing to unfold the cheesecloth after the whey had drained away from the curds and see the mound of thick, creamy ricotta.

(Check out the post Katherine did over here, complete with action photos.)

That recipe was good – we ate pretty much all of it that night, on toasted baguette with glasses of wine in hand, some olives and slices of prosciutto – but I’ve since found one that is made even more decadent with the addition of a full cup of whipping cream.

Technically, this may not be considered real ricotta, which in Italian means “twice cooked” and is made from whey – the byproduct of making other cheeses. But, when searching for ricotta recipes, almost all now use this method of adding an acid – lemon juice or vinegar – to heated milk (or a combination of milk and cream) and then straining off the curds.

(There are also a million variations, using more or less milk and cream, using different ratios of acid or using vinegar instead of lemon juice.)

Simple science, but it’s kind of like food magic.

The taste is also like food magic: rich and creamy, smooth and luxurious – a recipe that’s end belies how little effort went in.

Serve this on slices of toasted bread drizzled with honey or some extra virgin olive oil. Grind on cracked pepper or stir in herbs.

Use in recipes that call for ricotta. Or simply eat it plain.
Ricotta draining

Ricotta and baguette


This comes from Smitten Kitchen, which suggest a ½ cup of whipping cream if a full cup is too much, just be sure to make up the difference with whole milk.

  • 3 cups ( 750 mL) whole milk (3.25 per cent)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) coarse sea salt
  • 3 tbsp (50 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a large pot, mix together milk, cream and salt. Heat until the mixture reaches 190 F, stirring every so often to keep it from burning. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Stir, gently, once or twice and then let sit for 5 minutes to let the curds and whey separate.

Line a large sieve or colander with two or three layers of cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Pour the mixture into the sieve and let it strain for at least an hour or more, depending on how firm you like it. (I stopped draining mine around 1 hour and 15 minutes.) It will also firm up more once refrigerated.

Eat immediately or put in an airtight container and refrigerate. Makes little more than one cup (250 mL).

Continue Reading

Looking for the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes?

For anyone who may have caught me on Global Calgary this morning, first, thanks for watching. Second, if you’re looking for the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes recipe, just click here and enjoy!

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes I

Continue Reading

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

I’m not a big breakfast eater. Don’t get me wrong, I do eat breakfast. But these days it’s usually a bagel at my desk or a scone picked up on my way to work because, frankly, I’d rather have those extra 10 minutes of sleep than a sit-down morning meal. Unsurprisingly, I’m not much of a morning person.

Brunch, I like. Breakfast-type meals, but after a good sleep-in.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes I

Growing up, when I was a bit better about waking up in time to eat before leaving the house — partly because it was trickier to eat and walk to school at the same time — I had the strange habit of preferring to eat leftovers for breakfast. Pasta and tomato sauce? Yes, please. Mashed potatoes with gravy? Warm and filling. Cold pizza? Breakfast of champions — after all, it does have several major food groups.

My parents thought it was amusing. Except for the day I wanted to make fish sticks for breakfast; my mom drew the line at that. But sometimes I do want a real breakfast. At home. In my pyjamas.

What I don’t want, though, is a basic pancake.

My Internet travels provided a solution, as I came across a recipe for lemon ricotta pancakes — an intriguing idea. And what a pleasant surprise this recipe turned out to be. Not only did they combine my love of all things lemon, but they were light, like flat baby souffles, with golden edges and a hint of salt from the melted butter they were fried in.

I shamelessly scarfed a bunch down as, ahem, quality control before handing a plate to a friend I had staying with me. In my defence, I had made them quite tiny.

So fluffy and weightless, so bright with their lemon flavour. I couldn’t get enough.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes II

But this recipe wasn’t without its foibles. Confusingly, the tubs of ricotta are measured in grams and not millilitres or cups. I did some math and the 250-gram tub was a little more than one cup.

I wasn’t going to hang on to a tablespoon or two of ricotta cheese, so I just dumped the whole thing in. Surely, I figured, it wasn’t going to do much harm. And it didn’t. Plus, it’s one of my huge pet peeves to have a recipe that calls for almost an entire can/jar/tub or something, leaving us cooks with random leftover ingredients.

Also, I couldn’t be bothered to zest the lemon onto something just to put it in a measuring spoon and then add it the mixture, so I just zested one lemon straight into the egg yolks. I might be tempted to try the zest of two lemons next time, but only because I love that flavour and feel there’s no such thing as too much lemon.

Lastly, the original recipe I found for this suggested mixing raspberry jam with maple syrup as a topping.

But I wanted something that was going to complement the light lemon flavour of the pancakes, rather than weighing it down. Just before I got started, I diced up about two cups of strawberries, sprinkled on some sugar and let them sit to macerate while I got down to business.

It was the perfect pairing. The slightly sweetened berries added the right touch of fruit, but still let the pancakes shine.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes III

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

This recipe is adapted from the Alberta Egg Producers.

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 tub (250 grams) or 1 cup (250 ml) ricotta cheese
  • 3 tbsp (50 ml) sugar
  • ½cup (125 ml) all-purpose flour
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp (25 ml) butter
  • 2 cups (500 ml) strawberries, diced
  • sugar to taste

In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks, ricotta cheese, sugar, flour and lemon zest.

In another bowl, whip egg whites with a mixer until glossy peaks form. Stir about one-quarter of the whites into the ricotta mixture, then fold in the remaining whites gently.

Melt butter in pan over medium heat, drop batter on using small ladle or large spoon. I used a ¼-cup (50-ml) measure.) Flatten slightly, then let cook for about two minutes per side until lightly browned. Top with macerated strawberries.

This story first appeared in the Real Life section in the Calgary Herald. For more delicious recipes, visit CalgaryHerald.com/life.

Continue Reading