Friday, January 29, 2010
The last couple of years the day before Thanksgiving Rory and I have been having a few friends over for dinner. This year I decided to make lasagna, but with a marinara since there would be some vegetarians in attendance.
Making a marinara isn't difficult, nor is boiling some water and putting together a typical lasagna, but I decided to go the extra mile and this is one of those posts where some may call me a crazy person. I decided I would also make my own ricotta -- easier than I thought -- as well as my own spinach pasta. The marinara would be made with tomatoes from my parents garden, which I wrote about here.
So this could be a post with four recipes instead I'm going to focus on the ricotta and the pasta.
Making your own ricotta is pretty easy, a gallon of whole milk, some patience and a little vinegar are all you need. I followed the instructions from Stephanie Izard's Web site on how to do it. My main issues was having a pot big enough for the whole gallon of milk. I have a larger pot but it's a cheap, thin aluminum stock pot I use to make soup. I was worried about scorching the bottom of the pot and instead use my dutch oven, which you can see from the picture above was filled to the top.
You get the temperature of the milk to 190 degrees and then you add the vinegar. The curds start to separate at this point and you let it sit for awhile and then you strain through cheese cloth. All in all pretty easy, but it doesn't make a lot, as you can see below.
I wasn't necessarily impressed at this point, but you could tell the difference in the final product. In the lasagna the ricotta was so light and had an excellent texture.
I also made my own spinach pasta, which I don't have any picture of nor do I have any of the final product. This recipe is from the kitchen aid cookbook that came with the attachments.
1 10-oz. package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 TBLSP water
4 large eggs
4 cups sifted AP flour.
Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix with paddle attachment for about a minute. Switch to dough hook and mix for a few more minutes and then knead by hand for one to two minutes.
Let dough sit for at least an hour if not longer. Run it through pasta machine according to the manufacturers instructions.
After all was said and done this was a nice a light lasagna, something I would do again. I alternated layers of ricotta with sauce and mozzarella.