Last week we were invited to be on Brooklyn Independent Television’s Reporter Roundtable with Betsy Devine, one of the founders of Salvatore Brooklyn Ricotta, and Carl Hum, CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce to discuss the state of gourmet food and artisanal food production in Brooklyn. The video can be found here and might be of interest to anyone interested in starting their own food business.
Betsy and her partner, Rachel Mark, were inspired to make Salvatore Brooklyn Ricotta after traveling in Italy and meeting an enoteca proprietor named Salvatore who made his own ricotta. Having never tasted ricotta so fresh, they returned to Brooklyn and tried to replicate it. Betsy and Rachel use fresh whole cow’s milk from Hudson Valley Fresh and fresh lemon juice. Hudson Valley Fresh is a cooperative using sustainable principles and does not use rBST or rBGH. Their attention to quality ingredients makes their ricotta creamy and pillowy with a zesty citrus undertone.
Betsy recommends her ricotta served simply on a baguette with olive oil. You could also use a drizzle of one of our honeys. On air, we mentioned we use it in our son’s favorite easy-to-make ricotta cheesecake pie. So here’s the recipe! Note we used a pre-packaged graham cracker pie crust so there’s no need to break out a springform pan.
Ricotta Cheesecake Pie
1 cup (8 oz.) ricotta cheese
1 (8 oz.) package of neufchatel or cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place filling ingredients in a bowl and beat on high for about a minute or until liquefied. Pour into graham cracker crust.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 30 minutes at room temperature. Then refrigerate until well chilled, about 6 to 8 hours.
This Saturday, we’re previewing a traditional Good Friday treat – hot cross buns. You don’t have to be Catholic to enjoy these sweet, yeast-leavened breads chock full of raisins.
Superstitions associated with these buns make them rise above the rest. Sharing a hot bun with someone by breaking it in half and incanting “half for you and half for me, between the two of us goodwill shall be” ensures friendship in the coming year. Taken on a sea voyage, they prevent shipwreck. Hung in the kitchen, they prevent fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly – good to know if you’re trying Glenn’s Chipotle Cheshire bread recipe this weekend.
They’re $2.29 each and we’ve only got a dozen for Saturday. Get ’em while they’re . . . oh, you know.
St. Patrick’s Day is coming up and that means we’re offering Irish soda bread from TomKat Bakery. The breads are $8.50 each for 1 1/2 pound rounds that are 7 inches across and must be pre-ordered by 4pm on March 15 for March 17 delivery and by 4 pm March 14 for March 16 delivery. The breads will last 2-3 days. If you’ve never tried Irish soda bread, stop by on Friday when we’ll be sampling some. Made with raisins and buttermilk, it is slightly sweet. Instead of yeast, it is leavened by baking soda interacting with the lactic acid in the buttermilk. Serve toasted for best results and enjoy a nice non-green tradition on St. Patty’s day.
Fennel is a crunchy, slightly anise-flavored vegetable. Seeds from fennel often give italian sausages their licorice-y flavor and have traditionally been used to make absinthe. The bulb of the fennel plant (the white round part at the base) has a fainter anise flavor than the seeds so it may suit your palate even if you don’t like licorice. It is best enjoyed from fall through spring.
The cold winter weather brings to mind hearty baked dishes so we recently tried using fennel in a standard cauliflower au gratin. The fennel offers a subtle additional dimension to the dish. Enjoy!
1/4 cup butter
1 head cauliflower, cut into individual florets
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 cup chopped fronds from the fennel bulb
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded Comte cheese (ask at the cheese counter for a similar cheese to subsititute!)
2/3 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated aged Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. While oven is preheating, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the cauliflower in the buttered skillet for approximately 4 minutes. Add sliced fennel and saute an additional 4 or 5 minutes. You want the fennel to be slightly tender. Remove from heat. Sprinkle cauliflower and fennel with flour, salt and nutmeg. Toss in the fennel fronds and mix. Place mixture into a 2 quart glass baking dish (8×8 works). Pour cream over fennel/cauliflower mixture and sprinkle with breadcrumbs, gruyere and parmesan. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes or until the top is brown and crispy.
Warning! This is not rye bread as in ham on rye. Finding ourselves with a banner crop of brown bananas, we whipped up a loaf of banana bread made with Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey. We served it as a dessert with a dollop of homemade whipped cream.
½ cup raisins or other dried fruit (dried apples, currants, etc.)
6 tablespoons or 3 ounces Rittenhouse Rye (you can also use bourbon or dark rum)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
4 small, very ripe bananas, mashed (approx 2 cups mashed bananas total)
¼ cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Butter and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Put the dried fruit and Rittenhouse Rye (or your chosen liquor) in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and leave for an hour or until the fruit has absorbed most of the liquid. Drain fruit and set aside. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and combine well. In a separate large bowl, blend the melted butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas. Then stir in the walnuts, drained raisins, and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, stirring well after each addition. Scrape into the loaf pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 1-1¼ hours. Use the “toothpick test” (insert a toothpick into the center and when it comes out clean, the bread is done). Leave on a rack to cool then run a knife around the inside perimeter of the pan, invert the pan and your banana bread should come out ready to slice and serve.