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Ya Gotta Ricotta

white pizza3First, let’s get the housekeeping out of the way.
1) Ricotta is not technically a cheese. It originated as a way (whey?) for Romano cheese makes in Italy to harvest more protein out of the whey.
2) Ricotta is made by making the whey more acidic (either by adding something such as vinegar to it or allowing it to naturally ferment for a day) and then heating it up. This causes more protein to precipitate out of the whey. The liquid is passed through some sort of filter such as a fine cloth and the resulting curds (ricotta) are left behind.
3) Ricotta is NOT cottage cheese which is made from milk itself and is not cooked. One of the advantages of ricotta vs. cottage cheese in terms of cooking is that if you try to make things with cottage cheese which are heated, the curds will start to separate, releasing whey. This is why baked products such as cheese cakes, etc. are best made with ricotta rather than cottage cheese. This is one place where Aunt Toby (who is big on substituting) will have to draw the line. Don’t try it.

We’ve already seen ricotta take its place in deserts and baked goods.Ricotta Cookies and Crepes Three Ways
Today in honor of ‘Not Thanksgiving” ( in that there is absolutely nothing about this recipe that has turkey, stuffing, squash, sweet potatoes, etc. in it), here is a lovely white pizza with broccoli. Light, non-greasy, filling. Yum.

White Pizza with Broccoli – you will need three kinds of cheese: Romano or Parmesan, Mozarella (a small block about 2x2x1 each) and Ricotta (2 cups)

Pizza Dough:
1 package of dry yeast, dissolved in 1.5 cups of hot water with 1 teaspoon of sugar. Put into a warm oven (turn off the pilot) for 10-15 min. until the mixture is bubbly and smells like..yeast.

Put into a big bowl with a couple of cups of flour (if you are including whole wheat, put in 1.5 cups of regular flour first and mix well, and use the whole wheat at the end to absorb the extra moisture.

Put a handful of flour on the counter (clean the counter first) and empty the bowl onto of it. Turn to coat the dough with the flour and knead until the dough is smooth, elastic and starts to have little blisters on the surface.

Place in a greased bowl, turn over, cover with a towel and put into the oven to raise for 45 min. to one hour.

While you are waiting for the dough to raise, cut up and sauté any of the following, singly or in combination:
Green or red peppers

Also, cut broccoli (you will need a small head for a whole pie) into small florets, boil up briefly and drain.
Shred up enough of the following to make 2-3 cups:
Parmesan or Romano cheese

white pizza 1Once the dough has risen. Take it out, punch it down and knead it a bit again. Set the oven for 400 degrees. Grease either a cookie sheet or a pizza pan and press the dough out into it to cover. Cover the dough with the ricotta. Grind black pepper on it and sprinkle oregano and basil on it. Put on the broccoli and other veggies and sprinkle the Mozzarella and parmesan or Romano cover.

Put the pan into the oven and bake until the cheese is all melted and bubbly and the dough is crispy – this should take 15-20 minutes. Serve with a green salad.


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