Homemade Ricotta Cheese

As easy as 1, 2, 3… and better than any ricotta you’d had before. That’s how I’d describe this new discovery. Actually, I’d even say it’s been a revelation to me. First, I love ricotta. I like to have it in my pancakes, in my pasta, with chicken… I also love all ricotta-based Italian pastries (I recently made a point in trying all the ones offered at an Italian pastry shop near my place… They’re all favourites!). So when I found out it was that easy to make my own ricotta at home, I couldn't wait to give it a try.

Then, I wondered if there’s anything that could be done with all the whey I ended up with after the draining process. To push the experience to the next level, I decided to make my own bread using the whey and a mix of white and rye flours. This fresh homemade bread and the ricotta ended up being a heavenly match! I almost couldn’t stop myself from wolfing down the whole thing…

This ricotta cheese, accompanied with fresh bread, is the perfect item to serve as an apéro with a glass of wine and nice olives. It’s also divine for breakfast on toast, with honey drizzled on top…

Yield: 2 cups

8 cups whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup distilled white vinegar (or lemon juice)

Line a large fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth. Place over a bowl and set aside.

Pour milk, cream and salt in a large saucepan. Set over medium heat until mixture reaches 175oF to 180oF, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and drizzle in vinegar (or lemon juice) while stirring gently. Stop stirring when all vinegar (or lemon juice) is in, and let mixture rest until the milk solids coagulate and float to the surface, leaving the whey underneath, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Gently ladle the solids in the strainer, leaving as much whey as possible in the saucepan. Let the ricotta drain (without pressing on in) until most of the liquids have drained, about an hour. If you want to have a firmer ricotta, just have in drain a little longer.

Remove the ricotta from the cheesecloth and store in the fridge in an airtight container.


Key Lime Pie

The weather was amazing the last couple of days, plus we had a long week-end, so it was the perfect occasion to throw a small barbecue party! I invited some friends over and immediately went back to my pie cookbook to find a dessert idea! It actually didn’t take long, since I remembered I had loads of limes waiting in the fridge (which I originally bought to make awesome margaritas). Also, with such a hot weather, lime sounded more refreshing and light than, let say chocolate.

The verdict: everyone enjoyed the pie, and some even went for seconds, which is always a good sign! Also, a pregnant woman was among the group and I made her a special individual pie topped with whipped cream instead of meringue, since I wasn’t sure if the egg whites in this type of meringue were considered cooked or raw… Apparently, it also ended up to be a great combination! Thanks Martha for another great dessert!

Graham Cracker Crust

1 ½ cup graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375oF. Lightly butter a 9-inch pie plate. In a bowl, combine crumbs, butter, sugar and salt. Press mixture firmly and evenly into bottom and sides of pie plate. Bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.



1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 large eggs, separated
¾ cup fresh key lime juice
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
Finely grated lime zest


Preheat oven to 325oF. In a bowl, whisk to combine condensed milk, yolks and lime juice. Pour mixture into baked and cooled crust. Bake pie until center is just set, about 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Bear sugar and egg whites in the bowl of a standing electric mixer. Place bowl over a bain-marie, and stir until warm to touch and the sugar is dissolved. Attach bowl to mixer; beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and meringue is glossy, about 5 minutes.

Top pie with meringue* and garnish with lime zest if desired. Serve immediately and enjoy!

* alternatively, the pie can be topped with whipped cream instead of meringue


Banana Cream Pie

It’s been a couple of weeks now that I’ve been craving for pies. It’s funny because I consider myself more of a cake person than a pie person. I must confess that I’m even usually a little disappointed when invited over for dinner and learn that we’ll be served pie for dessert (ok, maybe not that disappointed, because after all, I’m definitely a sweets person).

A little while ago, I bought Martha Stewart’s Pies & Tarts book, enticed by the picture on the cover (curiously, the same thing happened with her Cupcakes and Cookies books). I looked at the pictures over and over, drooling, and the book finally ended up sitting on my shelf since (once again, the same happened with its other fellows). But, enough! Today I decided it was time to start to make these books cost-effective: I made a banana cream pie! I don’t think I ever had that type of pie before, and let me tell you it is rich, but so delicious! The banana cream was so fragrant, and it might have been a little too banana-ey by itself, but the cream balanced it out perfectly.

I can’t wait to try another pie recipe from this book. In fact, I might as well make one this weekend. So many of them seem so good, how am I to chose, though? Should I just flip the book open at any page and just bake the featured pie? That could be an idea…

Recipe (Adapted from Martha Stewart)
Yield: 1x9 inch pie

Your favourite pâte brisée
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
4 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 ripe bananas, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
1 ½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Chocolate curls, for garnish

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough and fit in a 9-inch plate. Pierce the bottom of the shell all over with a fork. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425oF. Line shell with parchment and fill with pie weights (or dried beans). Bake until the hedges turn gold, 15 to 18 minutes. Reduce heat to 375oF. Remove weights and parchment, and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Combine granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk in milk, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until bubbling and thick, about 7 minutes (2 minutes after it comes to a boil).

Whisk egg yolks in a medium bowl until combined. Add milk mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking until completely incorporated. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it returns to a boil, 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour milk mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Add butter, and stir until melted. Fold in bananas. Pour into crust. Press plastic wrap directly on surface of custard. Refrigerate until filling is set, about 4 hours.

In a chilled bowl, beat together cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Spread whipped cream over filling. Shape topping into peaks using a spatula or a spoon. Sprinkle chocolate curls on top, and serve immediately.