ICSA XV: Cheese from happy cows and friendly goats! Plus homemade ricotta!

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ICSA Cheese

Blue cheese and carmelized shallot dip

Potato and parsnip cakes with red onion jam and goat cheese cream

Small pizzas with fresh mozzarella, pine nuts and fresh basil

Ricotta pie with candied tangerines



I usually go with some sort of theme. I guess this is easy elegant. Nothing here is too hard, and I think that taste-wise, this is probably my most successful ICSA to date. Everything turned out really yummy, especially the latkes and the pie.

Blue cheese and carmelized shallot dip

For the dip, you’ll need:

1.5 cups shallots, thinly sliced or small dice

4 oz crumbled blue cheese (I used gorgonzola)

¾ cup mayo (I used reduced fat)

¾ cup sour cream (again, I used reduced fat)

Squeeze of lemon (not pictured)

Salt & pepper to taste


Finely slice your shallots. Actually, you should probably do a small dice right now. You can either chop them now, or chop them later.


Heat a little oil in a saucepan over low heat. Let the onions cook, stirring only occasionally, until a lovely golden brown.


If you only sliced them, let them cool and chop them fairly fine. Mix all ingredients together, incorporating a squeeze of lemon at the end. I found this dip to be incredibly rich, so the lemon helped. I really can’t imagine making it with full-fat sour cream and mayo. In fact, I may even use fat-free sour cream next time.

It may not look like much, but it’s really very tasty and super easy. Serve with crudités (bite-sized veggies), bagel chips, pita chips, low-salt pretzel sticks, rye crisps, etc.


Potato and parsnip cakes with red onion jam and goat cheese cream

Really, I just wanted some sort of platform for eating a lot of goat cheese. Inspired by the latkes thread, I though potato cakes/latkes, with some red onion jam to cut the thickness of it all. These turned out really, realy delicious. Thanks to everyone in the latke thread, my potatoes turned out crisp and wonderful!

For the red onion jam:

2 bay leaves

dried (or fresh) thyme 2 medium red onions

red wine vinegar


red wine (not pictured)

For the potato cakes:

1 large russet potato
1 large or 2 medium parsnips
1 lemon
2 eggs
¼ cup flour
salt and pepper
oil for frying

For the goat cheese cream: 4 oz good quality goat cheese (this is Laura Chenel, it’s really yummy) half and half (amount variable, but probably a few TB)


Start with the red onion jam. This is a great little condiment that can go alongside cheese and crackers, on burgers, sandwiches, salads, etc., plus you can make it ahead of time and it will keep well.

Finely chop your onions.


Over low heat, sweat them in oil until they turn translucent.


Add (sorry, I didn’t measure) maybe a TB or two of red wine vinegar, two bay leaves, a pinch of dried thyme, a few coarse grinds of black pepper, a few teaspoons of sugar, and maybe 1/3 cup of red wine. Let it cook until most of the moisture has evaporated. Taste from time to time, and adjust seasonings as needed. When done, the onions will be a rich burgundy color and mostly soft, but still retain a slight crunch. Set aside.


Make your goat cheese cream by stirring up your goat cheese in a bowl with a small fork, then add, a little at a time, enough half and half to give it the consistency of sour cream. Set aside. Here’s a pic of the cream (left) and regular goat cheese (right).


Now onto making the cakes: Grate up your russet potato coarsely into a large bowl, and rinse with water until the water is mostly clear.


Toss with a TB of lemon juice (to prevent browning), and using a tea towel or cheesecloth, wring out until most of the water is gone. Wipe out your bowl and add the potato back in. Grate in your parsnips, and add salt and pepper to taste, 2 eggs, ¼ cup of flour, TB or so of fresh chopped parsley, and mix to combine.


Heat about 2 TB oil (with a high smoking point) in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. Place your mixture in a large measuring cup (I think I used a 1 cup here) so that it’s about ½” thick, patting the mixture down a bit with a fork or a spoon.


Turn out over the hot oil, flatten it with a spatula, and cook for about 1.5” minutes, until medium golden brown. Flip, and cook for another 1.5 minutes, then put on a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. (Sorry, no pics of in-process cooking). Plate and serve with the goat cheese cream and red onion jam.


Small pizzas with fresh mozzarella, pine nuts and fresh basil

You’ll need:
Pizza dough (I used Trader Joe’s…. shhhh, quiet)
Fresh mozzarella (the large balls)
Good quality olive oil
Pine nuts (handfull)
Fresh basil (a few leaves)


Let your pizza dough come to room temp while your oven preheats to 500. I highly, highly suggest using a pizza stone for making pizza. You will never look back, I swear it! Slice your mozzarella into ¼” thick rounds, and toast your pine nuts while you’re waiting for everything to heat up.

Divide your dough into threes, and roll/stretch them out to size. Put them on a pizza peel lubricated with a thin dusting of cornmeal.


Brush with olive oil, then top with cheese. Have your lovely husband slide into the oven for you because he is more coordinated than you with these kinds of things.


Watch them bake because your new kickass oven actually has a window and your old one didn’t.


Remove when browned and bubbling, top with pine nuts and basil, and enjoy!


Ricotta pie with candied tangerines

For this, we’re gonna make some ricotta. Yeah, make some. Come to find out, it’s wicked easy.

You’ll need:
½ gallon whole milk
1 pint buttermilk
cheesecloth, a colander or large sieve,
a heatproof bowl to rest the colander in,
and a meat thermometer would be handy.

Note that I had made 2 versions of homemade ricotta – 1 with milk, cream and lemon juice, which gave me a very low yield. This method, with buttermilk, was much easier and yielded more ricotta. However, this recipe on its own did not give me enough to make the pie later (this will yield about a pound), so you’ll probably want to increase this by half if you want to make enough ricotta for the pie.

Here’s a pic of the milks, seems unnecessary but meh.


Heat milk and buttermilk in a 6 quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring/scraping occasionally. Ready your bowl – place the colander in/over the large bowl, and place the cheesecloth in the colander, folded several times over to make multiple layers. When the mixture hits around 180 degrees, it will start to separate into curds and whey. Stop stirring.


Once it looks like everything is well separated, remove from heat. Gently scoop out the whey into the cheesecloth-lined colande. Be gentle with the curds, and let them drain for an hour. Dump out the whey as needed, and you can pick up and gently tilt the curds in the cheesecloth, but do not press to drain.


Refrigerate until ready to use. This will keep for 2 days in the fridge.

Now onto making the rest of the pie:

For the pie:
1.5 lbs fresh ricotta
1 recipe pie crust (you can use store-bought in the refrigerator section, this is extra pie dough I had in my freezer)
5 eggs
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup honey
2 tsp vanilla
pinch of cardamom (optional – you could also use anise or nutmeg)
¼ cup minced candied citrus (recipe follows)

For the candied tangerines:
Sugar (2 cups)
2 tangerines (or oranges, or lemons)


Bring 1 cup water and 2 cups sugar to a low simmer in a medium saucepan over low heat. DO NOT let it turn amber, you are not making caramel.


Thinly slice your tangerines however you like. The rounds are hard to keep their shape once they simmer – the slices keep their shape better.


Simmer gently for 20 minutes


Then let drain on a wire rack to cool (put foil underneath to catch the sugar drippings). Continue to simmer the sugar solution for another 10 minutes until syrupy and reduced. Set aside to cool and use for later, and other uses (would be good in mixed drinks).


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Ready your pie crust by rolling out and placing in a 9” pie plate.


After putting on the pie crust, weigh the pie down. Place foil shiny-side down on your pie in 2 layers, and place inside pie weights, dry rice, or dried beans.


Blind bake (it means to pre-bake) for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and brush a beaten egg yolk onto the bottom of the crust. Bake for an additional 2 minutes.


Remove and let cool. Now make the pie filling.

Beat the ricotta with the sugar and honey until smooth.


Add in the eggs one at a time, beating in on a low speed until fully incorporated before adding the next.


Mix in vanilla, cardamom, and candied tangerines. Pour into the cooled pie crust, and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until center is set. Now at 45 minutes mine was not set, in fact it didn’t even look close. So I let it go another 10 minutes.

Whoops. It got a little brown. Oh well. I would maybe suggest a water bath, or covering with foil the last 10 minutes of baking. Or maybe not using a deep-dish pie tin, like I did.

Glaze the top with the tangerine syrup and arrange tangerine slices however you see fit.


This is super mega fucking yummy and I think I might make it for Christmas. It tastes like the best cheesecake you never had, and the batter is TO DIE FOR.


That's it! Hope you enjoyed my entry.