Everybody Loves Cheesecake

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First off, my sourdough from last week…

sourdough 1

This is the dough the night before.

sourdough 2

And this is the bread after baking.

I’m preparing sourdough again tonight, and it is quite a physical task. The first stage of kneading is hard work, with each batch of dough weighing nearly 2kg. But I think I might be getting the hang of it.

I made ricotta earlier with some excess milk. There is so much milk at the moment. I bring in 4.5 litres most days. I have no room left in the freezer for any more milk. Meredith is in kid again and starting to drop off her production, but my plan is to milk Sienna through. If this works I will have plenty of milk right through until next kidding season. And a doe with a milk production award. She is up to 850 litres for the season, the first tier of production awards begins at 900 litres. My goal for her is 1050 litres, which will qualify her for type and production awards at shows.

Ricotta is one of the easiest cheeses to make, as it is quick and does not require cultures or rennet. You just have to acidify the milk and heat it. You can use lemon juice, vinegar or citric acid powder. Once the milk gets to 85-90 degrees the curds separate from the whey. I get around 750g of ricotta from 4 litres of milk. The more you drain it, the less it weighs. If you drain it too much it will be hard to work with and you’ll have to add milk to get it to behave like shop-bought ricotta, which can be quite thin and watery.

I have two recipes that use the ricotta, one is spinach and ricotta cannelloni, the other is a basic cheesecake. The problem with the cheesecake is that any week that I make it I am pretty much guaranteed to eat way too much of it. I am a big cheesecake fan, especially baked cheesecake, but these days I find most of them way too sweet. This recipe has only a small amount of sugar, but the base is just made of biscuits and butter. It is very easy and so far has also proved very popular, even for those who are not into goat milk. I make it as a slice and cut it into squares.

Ricotta Cheesecake

Ingredients:

Base:

1 packet of sweet biscuits (about 250g)

60g butter, melted

Filling:

1 batch of ricotta made from 4lt whole milk, or approx 600g

2 eggs

1 tbsp plain flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Crush or process the biscuits, add melted butter, mix well. Press into your cheesecake tin or slice tray. Refrigerate.

Mix the ricotta with the egg yolks, mix in flour, sugar and vanilla. Beat the egg whites until stiff and then stir into the ricotta mixture.

Pour the filling over the crust. Bake in a preheated oven at 180* for about 40 minutes. Cool, then refrigerate for at least a few hours before serving.

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

cannelloni

My other job for ricotta is this great vegetarian dish. I could go more home-made with it, but I consider this to be a quick dinner for those nights when the kids are away. I usually make the ricotta and sometimes I use home-grown silverbeet instead of frozen spinach. It is a good-value, quick and healthy dinner.

Ingredients:

Fresh pasta sheets – I use four, cut in half

1 jar of tomato-based pasta sauce or passata

grated cheese

Filling:

1 batch or 500-600g of ricotta

1/3 cup grated parmesan (real parmesan, not that nasty ‘smelly socks’ stuff)

1 egg, lightly beaten

200g frozen spinach or cooked fresh silverbeet

Preheat oven to 150*

Tip half of the pasta sauce or passata into the bottom of a rectangular, oven-proof dish (I use a lasagne dish).

Defrost the spinach or cook the silverbeet

Mix the ricotta, spinach, parmesan, egg and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Spoon onto pasta sheets and roll into tubes. Lay these in the dish, on top of the sauce/passata.

Top with the rest of the sauce/passata and grated cheese. I like to top mine with some chopped small tomatoes.

Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes. After this time, remove the foil and bake until the cheese is melted and golden. Make sure the filling is heated through.

Serve with crusty bread and green salad.

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