Lemon Ricotta and Almond Cake

Lemon and Almond Ricotta Cake || cityhippyfarmgirl

Lemon Almond and Ricotta Cake || cityhippyfarmgirl

If I’m lucky enough to get to 85 years old I’ll probably eat cake for breakfast.

Straight up. A big chunk of cake on my favourite plate and a extra large cup of chai on the side.

I was certainly encouraging for my grandmother to eat cake for breakfast on her birthday recently. Not just any cake but this one that I made for her. It’s got almonds, ricotta and low in sugar, with some careful thinking I would say this cake ticks quite a few boxes for a slight woman in her eighties and the first meal of the day.

It also happily ticked a few birthday cake boxes. The requirements were gluten free, low sugar, not chocolatey and not ‘eggy’. With the satisfying soft scent of lemon billowing done the hall, I’d say this simple cake was done and dusted, (and dusted with icing sugar that is.)

Lemon Almond Ricotta Cake || cityhippyfarmgirl

Lemon Almond and Ricotta Cake

150g softened butter

2/3 cup sugar

3 beaten eggs

zest of two lemons

200g almond meal

250g ricotta

icing sugar

Cream butter and sugar together. Add beaten eggs and zest of two lemons. Fold through almond meal and ricotta. Pour into a greased and lined springform pan. Bake at 180C for about 45-50 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

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Ricotta Pasta- Frugal Friday

ricotta pasta- cityhippyfarmgirl

pasta- cityhippyfarmgirl

The secret to this dish is quality ingredients in the pasta and the ricotta. Pay that little bit more or even better make your own of both.

Super quick, easy and frugal for a Friday.

Ricotta Pasta

cook up some great pasta

stir through some excellent ricotta

in a pot add some

local garlic and olive oil

quickly stir through some

frozen peas or if you are lucky, fresh ones

pop that on top of your pasta

and roughly rip some garden mint on top

and eat with gusto.

frugal-friday-pasta || cityhippyfarmgirl

for the love of italy

You know that bubble of excitement you get some times? It starts at the pit of your stomach, spreading a warmth through out your body, and ending at the very ends of your hair strands. Every fibre of your body has just experienced that warm happy feeling, that if you could capture it in a glass jar, would surely radiate a pulsing soft yellow glow.

A whole bundle of descriptive happy emotions all wrapped up in that one glass jar. You might get that feeling on seeing a loved one, the simple touch of someone who cares, hearing something that truly speaks to you on the radio, giving something to another, or simply feeling a warm afternoon breeze coming down off the mountains.

For every different person there could be a hundred different reasons for generating that wonderful feeling. And the best thing about it? It usually takes you by complete surprise. There you are going about your business, and bam. Every fibre of your body has just been touched by that invisible soft pulsing yellow glow. Leaving your mouth smiling, eyes sparkling and your heart just that bit bigger.

There are several things that can quite often trigger these feelings for me. Without completely leaving my soul out on a canape platter for the whole world to snack on, I’ll mention just the one today.

Italy. Bella Italia.

Now for any long term readers, this isn’t a surprise. I’ve often written of my love of all things Italian. Italy runs through my veins like a good custard slice does. It’s part of who I am. Not because of an extensive family tree, but my branches have definitely self sown themselves in that Italian direction.

Reading this article (here) on Italian street food brought forward a wonderful array of delicious taste bud memories from my different times spent there. Piadinas in darkened bars eaten at late hours. Wedges of thick volcano hot foccacia eaten while strolling up and down the one street as a teenager. Towering gelato eaten on freezing cold days, eaten simply because we could.

And the one that stands out as the most novel of all?

Ending all night club dancing with a crema filled croissant at 4am. Not just any croissant, but one that can only be purchased from the early morning baker who opens a tiny portion of his centuries old wooden door through a darkened cobble stoned alley way to tired dancers on their way home. A crisp and flakey croissant, still warm from the oven with custard like crema that brushes past your lips far too quickly. The secret baker who made this sweet delight and will only open up to the friend, of the friend, of the friend, who knows where on earth that secret wooden door can be found again come the next Saturday night.

********

Watching Two Greedy Italians recently I was inspired to make something similar to their Lemon and Ricotta Tart. I had limes and I had ricotta and if I talked to The Monkeys in an Italian accent while I baked the thing… maybe just maybe I could be transported even for a minute or two, to the land of vespas, pizza and that crema filled 4am goodness.

I was willing to give it a shot anyway.

Lime Ricotta Tart

(the love child of this Lemon and Ricotta Tart and this Lemon Meringue Pie)

one can of condensed milk

half cup lime juice and one grated lime

3 separated eggs

300g fresh ricotta

one sheet of puff pastry

Mix all ingredients together, except egg whites. Whisk egg whites separately, fold into mixture. Grease pie dish, line it with a sheet of puff pastry. Pour mixture in and bake 40minutes at 190C.

Verdict?… Dead easy. Tastes a bit like a light cheesecake, and a bit like a not so sweet lemon meringue pie.

milk and ricotta

I recently bought unhomogenised milk. It had been so long since I had last seen it, that I just stood there and marvelled at it. A layer of cream sitting on the top, the  colour, and the little molecules of fat sitting on top of my tea. It really was worthy of marvelling at…sitting quietly looking into my tea with a contented smile and a slight raise of the eyebrows.

So what does homogenised mean? In a nut shell, it means it’s all been mixed up. All the fat and the milk has been mixed together, so when you buy it, it just comes out straight and white. Why is most milk homogenised? Because it looks better…and that’s the only reason.

There is a lot to be said about really great fresh milk. There is also a lot be said about inferior milk that is sold at really cheap prices.*  Availability is our problem. I can’t always get to somewhere that sells different brand milks. It’s frustrating that the leading super market brands don’t have much variety happening in their milk section. Especially as one of our leading generic brands smells and tastes like mouse. I thought I was the only one to imagine it, but a friend backed me up. Sipping on some milk some time ago and all I could think about was long pink tails, and tiny furry bottoms…No mousey milk for me please.

Looking at my unhomogenised milk, pondering on all the milky goodness I could be making from it. Cheese, yoghurt, ice cream, scones, breads, all using some form of the milk…

Next up I wanted to try making ricotta. Following The Real Food Companion instructions I had my lovely milk (Over the Moon), sieve, white vinegar, pot and wooden spoon all ready. I didn’t have two litres of milk so I quartered the recipe. I knew it wouldn’t result in much but as a first run, I didn’t want to waste a drop of the good stuff either on any mistakes. 500mls of milk in the pot, bring it to a foam (or 90C, not yet boiling) and then add 2 teaspoons of white vinegar to create the curds. There was a little bit of curdling action, but not a lot. The whey hadn’t separated enough. Frowning in to my pot I decided to heat it up again. 1/2 a tps more?…oops my hand slipped, make it 1 tsp more. A little gentle stir and instant separation. Ahhh, that’s better. Gently scooping it out to some muslin and a sieve, I’m left with ricotta. Really, rubbery ricotta…

Checking with the local cheese bloggers Gavin and Christine, I try to work out what I did wrong. Too hot? Too much vinegar? It tasted ok, but it really was a tad rubbery. I sat on it for an hour or two and then decided that I would try it again, other wise it would bug me all day.

Second go. Left it at 2 tsp of vinegar, different milk this time and just a fraction longer on the cooking time. We are talking extra seconds cooking time, that’s all. Those extra seconds made the difference. It was softer, more delicate, and really good….and really quite easy.

(The whey that I was left with, went into some sourdoughs.)

Third time around and I’m definitely getting the hang of it. I can’t believe how easy it is to make and how I hadn’t done this before. I’m also struck by how so many really easy recipes have fallen by the way side in order for things to be convenient for people. Such simple meals that can be made with so little ingredients, if only people knew how. This is the sort of conversation topic that could be passed back and forth over and over until the cows came home, milked themselves and made their own ricotta… but for the sake of airing a little, I’ll continue.

These simple cooking lessons that could be taught to another person in an afternoon seem to be quietly slipping out the door. Things like yoghurt, ricotta, labneh, mascarpone, sour cream, butter and all their lovely by-products, are simple to make and yet they can be quite expensive to buy. Not to mention all the plastic tubs that you are buying along with the products. Some would argue that they are recyclable, and yes they are. But if you can spare an extra 5 minutes to make a kilo worth of yogurt, than you have just saved 52 plastic kilo tubs of yoghurt per year, (going on a kilo a week, even more if you are eating daily individual tubs.) Visualising how much that would be for a single person  or a family, in a life time is….sobering. No more plastic tubs and saving a fair whack of money to boot.

Maybe a reason to go give someone a dairy cooking lesson?

What’s for lunch?

Ricotta

raw almonds

chopped dates

drizzle of honey

* For more information on Australia’s cheap milk problems please read here.

** For a different way to make ricotta and using goat milk, have a look at Linda’s The Witches Kitchen.