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Author Notes: A simple, go-to appetizer that can be served warm or room temperature for parties. I learned to make homemade ricotta years ago and adapted my recipe a few times ... I think the buttermilk makes it (rather than lemon), along with a touch of sugar. The real key is to leave the ricotta alone to let the curds develop! Once you make the bread and ricotta, just put them together, drizzle honey and sprinkle with chives. It is always a crowd-pleaser! I like to make fresh Italian bread that morning, but if you don't have time, store-bought Italian or French bread will do just fine. —Gia G
Serves 15 (appetizer size)
- 1.5 cups warm water
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 5 cups bread flour or good regular (unbleached) flour
- 1.5 tablespoons sugar
- 2.5 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2.5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 egg whites
- Mix 1/2 cup water with yeast.
- Combine remaining dry ingredients in bowl or Kitchen Aid mixer bowl, if using mixer.
- Once yeast mixture is foaming, or at least has a few bubbles (10 minutes or so), add yeast mixture to bowl and stir, then slowly add olive oil and remaining water while stirring vigorously or using low-medium speed w/dough hook on mixer until dough forms, about 7 minutes. (It should be soft and smooth, but not too sticky.)
- Place dough in greased medium bowl and flip dough over. Cover with a clean towel and let proof for 1 1/2 hours or so, until doubled in size.
- Grease large baking sheet. You can make one large loaf or divide it into 2 equal parts. Either way, tightly roll dough into loaf, pinching seams Place loaves on baking sheet. Cover for second proof about 20-30 minutes. During this time, preheat oven to 425.
- Brush dough w/egg whites and make a couple of slashes along top of loaf (loaves). Spray loaves with water and put in oven. Also, put 4 cup glass/pyrex measuring cup filled with ice at bottom of oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until you tap the bread and it sounds hollow.
- After it cools slightly, cut bread into appetizer-size ovals and place on serving tray.
Homemade Ricotta, Honey & Chives Topping
- 1 gallon whole milk, preferably good quality (just not ultra-pastuerized)
- 1 quart buttermilk
- 1 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
- 1.5 tablespoons sugar
- kosher salt to taste
- 3/4 cup good honey
- 1 bunch chives
- Combine milk, buttermilk, cream & sugar in large, heavy-bottomed pot. Slowly bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally but not frequently.
- In meantime, line wire mesh colander/sieve with paper towels. If you have cheese cloth, even better. (I can never remember to buy it, so I use a few paper towels layered on top of each other).
- Keep your eye on the ricotta, but resist the urge to over-stir. If you like to be precise, heat the ricotta until it reaches up to 190 degrees (max), 185 is fine too. Generally, the higher the temp, the more cheese you will get. (But you risk scorching bottom of pot and leaving ricotta with that scorched taste). If you prefer to go on looks, wait until you see curds separate from the whey (when you dip your spoon in, you should see white blobs/specks on top and a milky liquid underneath). At that point, take off heat and put on back burner for about 30 minutes. The less time, the less firm the ricotta will be. You can leave it for up to an hour, depending on your tastes.
- Using a slotted spoon, spoon ricotta into lined sieve, sprinkling a bit of kosher salt in layers as you go (and tasting). Let sit for another five minutes.
- Chop chives in meantime.
- Put spoonful of ricotta on to pre-sliced bread. (If you are using pre-made bread, you may want to toast the bread in oven for 5 minutes on 425 before this step). Drizzle each with honey in pattern and top with chives. Serve!!!
- You will have extra ricotta - its worth making a big batch, because it will go quick!! If you want to just make enough for recipe, you can reduce quantities by 1/4 and should have enough for bread. It takes a few tries to properly develop the curds, so I would recommend making the bigger batch to be safe.