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Ricotta Cheesecake Recipe Lidia Bastianich

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Ricotta Cheesecake Recipe Lidia Bastianich

A few years ago I learned you could make cheesecake from Ricotta. I am a big fan of Lidia Bastianich and watch her cooking shows on PBS. And I am a huge fan of Italian cuisine. So, of course, I had to try my hand at a ricotta cheesecake.

Michael asked me to offer a couple of recipes that I made during the Great Ricotta Cheesecake Experiment of August 2015. The following two are not my own, but I love them and they were instructive. They are very different from each other and really, very different from anything I had ever tried before. One incorporates semolina in the form of a porridge, making the cake almost pudding-like, and the other a hunk of ricotta salata, which I found irresistible because of the resulting texture and the forward salt edge.

My cheesecake is similar but crust-less. The crust sounds delightful and I will definitely try it. Here in Pontelandolfo, making ricotta cheesecake I am an anomaly. Many of the local women make there cheesecake using Philadelphia . Many many years ago, someone came back from the USA and told folks it was the American way. It caught on and is a staple. I prefer ricotta!

Ingredients:Softened butter and fine dry bread crumbs (wheat germ, crushed cereal, or finely ground nuts can be substituted) for the pan1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (chopped almonds are a good substitute)1 Tbsp diced candied lemon peel1 Tbsp diced candied orange peel2 Tbsp coarsely chopped dark chocolate1 Tbsp flour3 cups firm, homemade whole-milk ricotta cheese, recipe follows (If using store-bought cheese, place 3 1/2 cups ricotta in a cheesecloth-lined sieve and place the sieve over a bowl. Cover the ricotta with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or up to one day.)5 large cage-free eggs, separated1 tsp vinegar or lemon juice3/4 cup sugarPinch of salt (a heaping 1/4 tsp if using unsalted ricotta cheese)Grated zest of 1 large lemonGrated zest of 1 large orange1/2 cup heavy cream or whole milk

Working from the side of the pot, gently ladle the whey into the prepared sieve. Go slowly so as not to break up the curds. Finally, ladle the curds into the sieve. Lift the sides of the cloth to help the liquid drain. Resist the temptation to press on the curds. When the draining slows, gather the edges of the cloth, tie them into a bag, and hang the bag from the faucet. Continue to drain until the dripping stops, about 15 minutes. If using the ricotta for cheesecake, drain until it is firm and crumbly, about 30 minutes. Store the ricotta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Think of ricotta as the method actor of cheeses. There is almost no recipe that it won't enliven and otherwise enrich. "Ricotta was one of those proteins that a lot of people had, and they found ways to use it," Bastianich explained. "Ricotta fits everywhere ... it has different capabilities." Bastianich, for example, uses the cheese in her meatloaf recipe (via her website), an addition that she said ensures that the dish won't end up "heavy and dense." As the enchantress of Italian cooking told Mashed, "This cheese can be [used] anywhere, from eating [it] raw with some honey and fruit, to whipping it up into a cream to make it the stuffing for a dessert, to making cookies with it." When you bake it, it makes a great cheesecake or a great stuffing. The way that ricotta "solidifies" when it bakes, but retains moisture, makes it perfect for using it when cooking meats, according to Bastianich. In fact, the only dish that Bastianich professes not to use ricotta cheese with is fish.

If you prefer sweeter uses for ricotta, Bastianich also uses the cheese for baking cookies, which you'll find in her new cookbook, "Lidia's a Pot a Pan and a Bowl." For more, and non-ricotta-related recipe inspiration, follow Bastianich on Instagram.


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