Anna Jones’s homemade ricotta recipe and three things to cook with it | The modern cook

Its easy to make your own ricotta from scratch. Its ideal for a gentle herb and citrus dip, as the main attraction on a tray of honey-baked figs, or stirred through a plate of spicy spaghetti with chard, garlic and herbs

There is so much to love about ricotta. First up, its clean, fresh cloud-like milkiness many of us think of it as a spring-time thing, but in fact, it works brilliantly as a much needed partner for the roots and roasts and punchier flavors well be feeing for the next few months. Next, its versatility in baking and desserts; to fill ravioli or spoon over warm veggies. Best of all, though, is that its made from something that would otherwise be wasted. The ricotta that you buy in the shops is a byproduct of the cheesemaking process. Whey that has been drained off the cheese curds is reheated to stimulate ricotta hence its Italian name, which entails recooked.

My recipe involves gently heating whole milk, then adding vinegar to promote little curds to form, which are then gathered and strained to form the softest and most gentle of the cheeses. Ive tried lemon juice, but vinegar somehow renders more ricotta. The quantity of vinegar is key, too little and the curds wont form properly; too much and the end result will taste like a chip store. Because this recipe is so simple there is nowhere to hide, so use the best milk that you can afford( the best ricotta Ive savor was induced in Italy use raw, unpasteurised milk, but thats not as widely available in the UK ).

Some recipes require a certain type of ricotta. The type you can buy in most supermarkets can be very soft, more mascarpone-like in texture than the firmer, strained ricotta I got used to working with when I cooked in Italy. Thats why I started constructing my own and Id urge you to try too its not as difficult as you might gues. If thats a step too far though, you can induce the recipes below with supermarket ricotta. If you do, then leave it in a sieve to drain excess liquid for a few hours, or ideally overnight, so its a little firmer. If youre luck enough to live near an Italian deli, most sell a good strained ricotta.

As well as a recipe for homemade ricotta, I have included three of my favourite simple ways to eat it. Aside from these almost any pasta would benefit from a little ricotta stirred through it, any flapjack or waffle will sit merrily next to a spoonful, and most fruits will team up well with a clean white helping drizzled with a little honey.

straining The type of ricotta available in most supermarkets can be very soft. Strained ricotta is firmer, and much closer to what is available in Italy. Photograph: Matt Russell for the Guardian

Homemade ricotta

How long you hang your ricotta for will be dependent on how you want to use it. To bake your ricotta whole or to use it to fill pasta you want something firm, so no moisture oozes out during cooking. For other recipes, such as the pasta or the whipped ricotta below, you could get away with a less firm texture, so hanging it for just a few hours would suffice.

Makes about 300 g
2 litres whole milk
A pinch of sea salt
40ml distilled white vinegar

1 Pour the milk into a large pan, add a pinch of sea salt and put over a medium hot. Allow the milk to heat up slowly, stirring from time to time.

2 When it is almost coming to the simmer when steam and small bubbles begin to appear on the surface( if you have a kitchen thermometer it should be 82 C-8 5C) remove from the hot, add the vinegar and stir gently. You will see curds starting to sort. Continue to stir for 1 minute or so.

3 Cover with a clean cloth and allow it to sit for a couple of hours. Once the ricotta has rested, line a colander with a large piece of damp muslin and put this over a larger bowl or pan.

4 Spoon the ricotta into the colander and allow it to drain for an hour or so, or overnight depending on your desired firmness( see note above ). To test whether the cheese is ready, gently lift the muslin up by the corners and twist lightly the liquid should be somewhat milky in colouring. The ricotta is now ready. Transfer to a container, seal and store in the refrigerator and use within 3 days.

Whipped herb and lemon ricotta

Quick and super-light, this combination of herbs and ricotta is ideal for dipping. I use baby veggies, but fingers of good toast or crackers would work too.

Serves 4
450g fresh ricotta
Salt and black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed or grated
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp mint foliages, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus a good squeeze of lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

To serve
Baby carrots, beetroots and radishes, cut into sticks

1 Put your ricotta into a bowl with a good pinch of salt and pepper, then beat it with a wooden spoonful until light and fluffy. You can do this with an electric mixer if you want it actually cloud-like.

2 Now stir in the garlic, herbs, zest and olive oil. Savor for balance and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, adding a squeeze of lemon juice and a bit more of whatever you think it needs.

3 Serve in the middle of the table with your selection of veg or toast for dipping.

4 Drizzle with some olive oil and serve.

Honey ricotta with baked figs

This is a faintly sweet take on ricotta that could be served as a dessert or a quick lunch, piled on top of toasted bread with some bitter foliages to counter the very slight sweetness.

Honey Any leftovers can be spread on warm toast the next day. Photograph: Matt Russell for the Guardian

Serves 4-6
250g ricotta
1 tbsp of runny honey
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1 orange, zested, juice reserved
6 figs
50g almonds

1 Preheat your oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4. Line a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.

2 Turn the ricotta out of its packet on to the lined tray, then drizzle it with honey. Grate over the orange zest and scatter the vanilla seeds on top.

3 Halve the figs and arrange them around the ricotta. Squeeze over the juice of the orange and a little more honey then put into the oven to cook for 20 minutes.

4 Meanwhile, roughly chop the almonds. Scatter them over the baking tray and roasted for the last 5 minutes.

5 Serve straight from the oven in the middle of the table.

Spaghetti with chard, garlic, chilli and ricotta

One of the fastest pastas I know( the sauce is cooked in the time it takes for the pasta to turning al dente) and for my money one of the nicest.

Serves 4
400g spaghetti
Extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
12 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
400g chard, rinsed leaves shredded and stubbles finely sliced
Grated zest and juice of 1 large unwaxed lemon( plus an extra lemon for juice, if needed)
Salt and black pepper
150g of ricotta
Parmesan or pecorino( optional)

1 Put a large pan of simmering water on to boil and add a couple of generous pinches of salt. Once the water is at a rolling simmer, add your pasta and cook according to the packet instructions or until simply al dente.

2 Meanwhile, hot a good drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic, chilli and rosemary. Fry for a minute or so, until the garlic is starting to colouring, then add the chard stems and sizzle for 1-2 minutes. Add the leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 34 minutes, or until the leaves have wilted a little.

3 Drain the pasta, reserving a mugful of cooking water. Add a splash of the pasta water to the greens and mix well. Grate over the zest of the lemon and squeezing over the juice. Take off the heat and savour for seasoning. Crumble over the ricotta and stir it though. Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil and, if you like, a wispy grating of parmesan or pecorino.

Anna Jones is a chef, novelist and author of A Modern Way to Eatand
A Modern Way to Cook( Fourth Estate ); annajones.co.uk; @we_are_food

Anna Jones’s homemade ricotta recipe and three things to cook with it | The modern cook

Its easy to induce your own ricotta from scratch. Its ideal for a gentle herb and citrus dip, as the main attraction on a tray of honey-baked figs, or stirred through a plate of spicy spaghetti with chard, garlic and herbs

There is so much to love about ricotta. First up, its clean, fresh cloud-like milkiness many of us think of it as a spring-time thing, but in fact, it works brilliantly as a much needed partner for the roots and roasteds and punchier flavours well be feeing for the next few months. Next, its versatility in baking and desserts; to fill ravioli or spoon over warm vegetables. Best of all, though, is that its made from something that would otherwise be wasted. The ricotta that you buy in the shops is a byproduct of the cheesemaking process. Whey that has been drained off the cheese curds is reheated to make ricotta hence its Italian name, which means recooked.

My recipe involves gently heating whole milk, then adding vinegar to foster little curds to form, which are then gathered and strained to form the softest and most gentle of the cheeses. Ive tried lemon juice, but vinegar somehow creates more ricotta. The quantity of vinegar is key, too little and the curds wont form properly; too much and the end result will savor like a chip shop. Because this recipe is so simple there is nowhere to hide, so use the best milk that you can afford( the best ricotta Ive tasted was attained in Italy using raw, unpasteurised milk, but thats not as widely available in the UK ).

Some recipes require a certain type of ricotta. The form you can buy in most supermarkets can be very soft, more mascarpone-like in texture than the firmer, strained ricotta I got used to working with when I cooked in Italy. Thats why I started attaining my own and Id urge you to try too its not as difficult as you might suppose. If thats a step too far though, you can attain the recipes below with supermarket ricotta. If you do, then leave it in a sieve to drain excess liquid for a few hours, or ideally overnight, so its a little firmer. If youre lucky enough to live near an Italian deli, most sell a good strained ricotta.

As well as a recipe for homemade ricotta, I have included three of my favourite simple ways to eat it. Aside from these almost any pasta would benefit from a little ricotta stirred through it, any flapjack or waffle will sit blithely next to a spoonful, and most fruits will team up well with a clean white helping drizzled with a little honey.

straining The type of ricotta available in most supermarkets can be very soft. Strained ricotta is firmer, and much closer to what is available in Italy. Photo: Matt Russell for the Guardian

Homemade ricotta

How long you hang your ricotta for will depend on how you want to use it. To cook your ricotta whole or to use it to fill pasta you want something firm, so no moisture seeps out during cooking. For other recipes, such as the pasta or the whipped ricotta below, you could get away with a less firm texture, so hanging it for just a few hours would suffice.

Makes about 300 g
2 litres whole milk
A pinch of ocean salt
40ml distilled white vinegar

1 Pour the milk into a large pan, add a pinch of sea salt and put over a medium heat. Let the milk to heat up slowly, stirring from time to time.

2 When it is almost coming to the boil when steam and small bubbles begin to appear on the surface( if you have a kitchen thermometer it should be 82 C-8 5C) remove from the heat, add the vinegar and stir gently. You will see curds starting to form. Continue to stir for 1 minute or so.

3 Cover with a clean cloth and allow it to sit for a couple of hours. Once the ricotta has rested, line a colander with a large piece of damp muslin and set this over a larger bowl or pan.

4 Spoon the ricotta into the colander and allow it to drain for an hour or so, or overnight depending on your desired firmness( see note above ). To test whether the cheese is ready, gently lift the muslin up by the corners and twist lightly the liquid should be slightly milky in colouring. The ricotta is now ready. Transfer to a receptacle, seal and store in the fridge and use within 3 days.

Whipped herb and lemon ricotta

Quick and super-light, this mix of herbs and ricotta is ideal for dipping. I use baby vegetables, but thumbs of good toast or crackers would work too.

Serves 4
450g fresh ricotta
Salt and black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed or grated
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus a good squeezing of lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

To serve
Baby carrots, beetroots and radishes, cut into sticks

1 Put your ricotta into a bowl with a good pinch of salt and pepper, then beat it with a wooden spoonful until light and fluffy. You can do this with an electric mixer if you want it genuinely cloud-like.

2 Now stir in the garlic, herbs, zest and olive oil. Taste for balance and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, adding a squeeze of lemon juice and a little more of whatever you think it needs.

3 Serve in the middle of the table with your selection of veg or toast for dipping.

4 Drizzle with some olive oil and serve.

Honey ricotta with baked figs

This is a faintly sweet take on ricotta that could be served as a dessert or a quick lunch, piled on top of toasted bread with some bitter leaves to counter the very slight sweetness.

Honey Any leftovers can be spread on warm toast the next day. Photograph: Matt Russell for the Guardian

Serves 4-6
250g ricotta
1 tbsp of runny honey
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1 orange, zested, juice reserved
6 figs
50g almonds

1 Preheat your oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4. Line a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.

2 Turn the ricotta out of its packet on to the lined tray, then drizzle it with honey. Grate over the orange zest and scatter the vanilla seeds on top.

3 Halve the figs and arrange them around the ricotta. Squeeze over the juice of the orange and a little more honey then put into the oven to bake for 20 minutes.

4 Meanwhile, approximately chop the almonds. Scatter them over the baking tray and roast for the last five minutes.

5 Serve straight from the oven in the middle of the table.

Spaghetti with chard, garlic, chilli and ricotta

One of the fastest pastas I know( the sauce is cooked in the time it takes for the pasta to turning al dente) and for my money one of the nicest.

Serves 4
400g spaghetti
Extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
12 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
400g chard, rinsed foliages shredded and stubbles finely sliced
Grated zest and juice of 1 large unwaxed lemon( plus an extra lemon for juice, if needed)
Salt and black pepper
150g of ricotta
Parmesan or pecorino( optional)

1 Put a large pan of boiling water on to boil and add a couple of generous pinches of salt. Once the water is at a rolling boil, add your pasta and cook according to the packet instructions or until merely al dente.

2 Meanwhile, hot a good drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic, chilli and rosemary. Fry for a minute or so, until the garlic is starting to colour, then add the chard stalks and sizzle for 1-2 minutes. Add the leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 34 minutes, or until the foliages have wilted a little.

3 Drain the pasta, reserving a mugful of cooking water. Add a splashing of the pasta water to the greens and mixture well. Grate over the zest of the lemon and squeeze over the juice. Take off the heat and taste for seasoning. Crumble over the ricotta and stir it though. Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil and, if you like, a wispy grating of parmesan or pecorino.

Anna Jones is a chef, novelist and writer of A Modern Way to Eatand
A Modern Way to Cook( Fourth Estate ); annajones.co.uk; @we_are_food

Anna Jones’s homemade ricotta recipe and three things to cook with it | The modern cook

Its easy to make your own ricotta from scratch. Its ideal for a gentle herb and citrus dip, as the main attraction on a tray of honey-baked figs, or stirred through a plate of spicy spaghetti with chard, garlic and herbs

There is so much to love about ricotta. First up, its clean, fresh cloud-like milkiness many of us think of it as a spring-time thing, but in fact, it works brilliantly as a very much partner for the roots and roasteds and punchier flavours well be feeing for the next few months. Next, its versatility in baking and desserts; to fill ravioli or spoon over warm vegetables. Best of all, though, is that its made from something that would otherwise be wasted. The ricotta that you buy in the shops is a byproduct of the cheesemaking process. Whey that has been drained off the cheese curds is reheated to induce ricotta hence its Italian name, which means recooked.

My recipe involves gently heating whole milk, then adding vinegar to foster little curds to form, which are then gathered and strained to form the softest and most gentle of the cheeses. Ive tried lemon juice, but vinegar somehow makes more ricotta. The sum of vinegar is key, too little and the curds wont form properly; too much and the end result will savour like a chip store. Because this recipe is so simple there is nowhere to hide, so use the best milk that you can afford( the best ricotta Ive tasted was induced in Italy employing raw, unpasteurised milk, but thats not as widely available in the UK ).

Some recipes need a certain type of ricotta. The kind you can buy in most supermarkets can be very soft, more mascarpone-like in texture than the firmer, strained ricotta I got used to working with when I cooked in Italy. Thats why I started inducing my own and Id urge you to try too its not as difficult as you might suppose. If thats a step too far though, you can make the recipes below with supermarket ricotta. If you do, then leave it in a sieve to drain excess liquid for a few hours, or ideally overnight, so its a little firmer. If youre luck enough to live near an Italian deli, most sell a good strained ricotta.

As well as a recipe for homemade ricotta, I have included three of my favourite simple ways to eat it. Aside from these almost any pasta would benefit from a little ricotta stirred through it, any pancake or waffle will sit blithely next to a spoonful, and most fruit will team up well with a clean white helping drizzled with a little honey.

straining The type of ricotta available in most supermarkets can be very soft. Strained ricotta is firmer, and much closer to what is available in Italy. Photo: Matt Russell for the Guardian

Homemade ricotta

How long you hang your ricotta for will depend on how you want to use it. To bake your ricotta whole or to use it to fill pasta you want something firm, so no moisture oozes out during cooking. For other recipes, such as the pasta or the whipped ricotta below, you could get away with a less firm texture, so hanging it for just a few hours would suffice.

Makes about 300 g
2 litres whole milk
A pinch of sea salt
40ml distilled white vinegar

1 Pour the milk into a large pan, add a pinch of sea salt and put over a medium hot. Let the milk to heat up slowly, stirring from time to time.

2 When it is almost coming to the simmer when steam and small bubbles begin to appear on the surface( if you have a kitchen thermometer it should be 82 C-8 5C) remove from the hot, add the vinegar and stir gently. You will see curds starting to sort. Continue to stir for 1 minute or so.

3 Cover with a clean cloth and allow it to sit for a couple of hours. Once the ricotta has rested, line a colander with a large piece of damp muslin and put this over a larger bowl or pan.

4 Spoon the ricotta into the colander and allow it to drain for an hour or so, or overnight depending on your desired firmness( see note above ). To test whether the cheese is ready, gently lift the muslin up by the corners and twist lightly the liquid should be somewhat milky in colour. The ricotta is now ready. Transfer to a container, seal and store in the fridge and use within 3 days.

Whipped herb and lemon ricotta

Quick and super-light, this combination of herbs and ricotta is ideal for dipping. I use baby veggies, but thumbs of good toast or crackers would work too.

Serves 4
450g fresh ricotta
Salt and black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed or grated
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus a good squeeze of lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

To serve
Baby carrots, beetroots and radishes, cut into sticks

1 Put your ricotta into a bowl with a good pinch of salt and pepper, then beat it with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. You can do this with an electric mixer if you want it really cloud-like.

2 Now stir in the garlic, herbs, zest and olive oil. Savor for balance and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, adding a squeezing of lemon juice and a bit more of whatever you think it needs.

3 Serve in the middle of the table with your option of veg or toast for dipping.

4 Drizzle with some olive oil and serve.

Honey ricotta with baked figs

This is a faintly sweet take on ricotta that could be served as a dessert or a quick lunch, piled on top of toasted bread with some bitter foliages to counter the very slight sweetness.

Honey Any leftovers can be spread on warm toast the next day. Photograph: Matt Russell for the Guardian

Serves 4-6
250g ricotta
1 tbsp of runny honey
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1 orange, zested, juice reserved
6 figs
50g almonds

1 Preheat your oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4. Line a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.

2 Turn the ricotta out of its packet on to the lined tray, then drizzle it with honey. Grate over the orange zest and scatter the vanilla seeds on top.

3 Halve the figs and arrange them around the ricotta. Squeezing over the juice of the orange and a little more honey then put into the oven to bake for 20 minutes.

4 Meanwhile, roughly chop the almonds. Scatter them over the baking tray and roast for the last five minutes.

5 Serve straight from the oven in the middle of the table.

Spaghetti with chard, garlic, chilli and ricotta

One of the most wonderful pastas I know( the sauce is cooked in the time it takes for the pasta to turning al dente) and for my money one of the nicest.

Serves 4
400g spaghetti
Extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
12 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
400g chard, rinsed leaves shredded and stalks finely sliced
Grated zest and juice of 1 large unwaxed lemon( plus an extra lemon for juice, if needed)
Salt and black pepper
150g of ricotta
Parmesan or pecorino( optional)

1 Put a large pan of boiling water on to boil and add a couple of generous pinches of salt. Once the water is at a rolling boil, add your pasta and cook according to the packet instructions or until only al dente.

2 Meanwhile, heat a good drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic, chilli and rosemary. Fry for a minute or so, until the garlic is starting to colour, then add the chard stalks and sizzle for 1-2 minutes. Add the leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 34 minutes, or until the leaves have wilted a little.

3 Drain the pasta, reserving a mugful of cooking water. Add a splash of the pasta water to the greens and mixture well. Grate over the zest of the lemon and squeeze over the juice. Take off the heat and taste for seasoning. Crumble over the ricotta and stir it though. Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil and, if you like, a wispy grating of parmesan or pecorino.

Anna Jones is a chef, novelist and author of A Modern Way to Eatand
A Modern Way to Cook( Fourth Estate ); annajones.co.uk; @we_are_food

Anna Jones’s homemade ricotta recipe and three things to cook with it | The modern cook

Its easy to build your own ricotta from scratch. Its ideal for a gentle herb and citrus dip, as the main attraction on a tray of honey-baked figs, or stirred through a plate of spicy spaghetti with chard, garlic and herbs

There is so much to love about ricotta. First up, its clean, fresh cloud-like milkiness many of us think of it as a spring-time thing, but in fact, it runs brilliantly as a much needed partner for the roots and roasts and punchier flavours well be feeing for the next few months. Next, its versatility in baking and desserts; to fill ravioli or spoon over warm vegetables. Best of all, though, is that its made from something that would otherwise be wasted. The ricotta that you buy in the shops is a byproduct of the cheesemaking process. Whey that has been drained off the cheese curds is reheated to induce ricotta hence its Italian name, which means recooked.

My recipe involves gently heating whole milk, then adding vinegar to encourage little curds to form, which are then gathered and strained to form the softest and most gentle of the cheeses. Ive tried lemon juice, but vinegar somehow creates more ricotta. The sum of vinegar is key, too little and the curds wont form properly; too much and the end result will taste like a chip store. Because this recipe is so simple there is nowhere to hide, so use the best milk that you can afford( the best ricotta Ive tasted was stimulated in Italy employing raw, unpasteurised milk, but thats not as widely available in the UK ).

Some recipes need a certain type of ricotta. The type you can buy in most supermarkets can be very soft, more mascarpone-like in texture than the firmer, strained ricotta I got used to working with when I cooked in Italy. Thats why I started building my own and Id urge you to try too its not as difficult as you might believe. If thats a step too far though, you can build the recipes below with supermarket ricotta. If you do, then leave it in a sieve to drain excess liquid for a few hours, or ideally overnight, so its a little firmer. If youre luck enough to live near an Italian deli, most sell a good strained ricotta.

As well as a recipe for homemade ricotta, I have included three of my favourite simple ways to eat it. Aside from these almost any pasta would benefit from a little ricotta stirred through it, any pancake or waffle will sit blithely next to a spoonful, and most fruit will team up well with a clean white helping drizzled with a little honey.

straining The type of ricotta available in most supermarkets can be very soft. Strained ricotta is firmer, and much closer to what is available in Italy. Photo: Matt Russell for the Guardian

Homemade ricotta

How long you hang your ricotta for will depend on how you want to use it. To cook your ricotta whole or to use it to fill pasta you want something firm, so no moisture seeps out during cooking. For other recipes, such as the pasta or the whipped ricotta below, you could get away with a less firm texture, so hanging it for just a few hours would suffice.

Makes about 300 g
2 litres whole milk
A pinch of ocean salt
40ml distilled white vinegar

1 Pour the milk into a large pan, add a pinch of sea salt and put over a medium heat. Allow the milk to heat up slowly, stirring from time to time.

2 When it is almost coming to the simmer when steam and small bubbles begin to appear on the surface( if you have a kitchen thermometer it was necessary to 82 C-8 5C) remove from the heat, add the vinegar and stir gently. You will see curds starting to sort. Continue to stir for 1 minute or so.

3 Cover with a clean cloth and allow it to sit for a couple of hours. Once the ricotta has rested, line a colander with a large piece of damp muslin and set this over a larger bowl or pan.

4 Spoon the ricotta into the colander and allow it to drain for an hour or so, or overnight depending on your desired firmness( see note above ). To test whether the cheese is ready, gently lift the muslin up by the corners and twisting lightly the liquid should be somewhat milky in colour. The ricotta is now ready. Transfer to a container, seal and store in the refrigerator and use within 3 days.

Whipped herb and lemon ricotta

Quick and super-light, this combination of herbs and ricotta is ideal for dipping. I use baby veggies, but fingers of good toast or crackers would work too.

Serves 4
450g fresh ricotta
Salt and black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed or grated
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus a good squeezing of lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

To serve
Baby carrots, beetroots and radishes, cut into sticks

1 Put your ricotta into a bowl with a good pinch of salt and pepper, then beat it with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. You can do this with an electric mixer if you want it actually cloud-like.

2 Now stir in the garlic, herbs, zest and olive oil. Savor for balance and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, adding a squeezing of lemon juice and a little more of whatever you think it needs.

3 Serve in the middle of the table with your option of veg or toast for dipping.

4 Drizzle with some olive oil and serve.

Honey ricotta with baked figs

This is a faintly sweet take on ricotta that could be served as a dessert or a quick lunch, piled on top of toasted bread with some bitter leaves to counter the very slight sweetness.

Honey Any leftovers can be spread on warm toast the next day. Photograph: Matt Russell for the Guardian

Serves 4-6
250g ricotta
1 tbsp of runny honey
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1 orange, zested, juice reserved
6 figs
50g almonds

1 Preheat your oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4. Line a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.

2 Turn the ricotta out of its packet on to the lined tray, then drizzle it with honey. Grate over the orange zest and scatter the vanilla seeds on top.

3 Halve the figs and arrange them around the ricotta. Squeezing over the juice of the orange and a bit more honey then put into the oven to bake for 20 minutes.

4 Meanwhile, approximately chop the almonds. Scatter them over the baking tray and roasted for the last five minutes.

5 Serve straight from the oven in the middle of the table.

Spaghetti with chard, garlic, chilli and ricotta

One of the most wonderful pastas I know( the sauce is cooked in the time it takes for the pasta to turn al dente) and for my fund one of the nicest.

Serves 4
400g spaghetti
Extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
12 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
400g chard, rinsed foliages shredded and stems finely sliced
Grated zest and juice of 1 big unwaxed lemon( plus an extra lemon for juice, if needed)
Salt and black pepper
150g of ricotta
Parmesan or pecorino( optional)

1 Put a large pan of boiling water on to simmer and add a couple of generous pinches of salt. Once the water is at a rolling simmer, add your pasta and cook in agreement with the packet instructions or until only al dente.

2 Meanwhile, hot a good drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic, chilli and rosemary. Fry for a minute or so, until the garlic is starting to colour, then add the chard husks and sizzle for 1-2 minutes. Add the foliages. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 34 minutes, or until the leaves have wilted a little.

3 Drain the pasta, reserving a mugful of cooking water. Add a splashing of the pasta water to the greens and mixture well. Grate over the zest of the lemon and squeeze over the juice. Take off the heat and savour for seasoning. Crumble over the ricotta and stir it though. Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil and, if you like, a wispy grating of parmesan or pecorino.

Anna Jones is a chef, novelist and author of A Modern Way to Eatand
A Modern Way to Cook( Fourth Estate ); annajones.co.uk; @we_are_food

Anna Jones’s homemade ricotta recipe and three things to cook with it | The modern cook

Its easy to induce your own ricotta from scratch. Its ideal for a gentle herb and citrus dip, as the main attraction on a tray of honey-baked figs, or stirred through a plate of spicy spaghetti with chard, garlic and herbs

There is so much to love about ricotta. First up, its clean, fresh cloud-like milkiness many of us think of it as a spring-time thing, but in fact, it works brilliantly as a much needed partner for the roots and roasts and punchier flavors well be eating for the next few months. Next, its versatility in baking and desserts; to fill ravioli or spoon over warm veggies. Best of all, though, is that its made from something that would otherwise be wasted. The ricotta that you buy in the shops is a byproduct of the cheesemaking process. Whey that has been drained off the cheese curds is reheated to build ricotta hence its Italian name, which entails recooked.

My recipe involves gently heating whole milk, then adding vinegar to promote little curds to form, which are then gathered and strained to form the softest and most gentle of the cheeses. Ive tried lemon juice, but vinegar somehow creates more ricotta. The quantity of vinegar is key, too little and the curds wont form properly; too much and the end outcome will savor like a chip store. Because this recipe is so simple there is nowhere to hide, so use the best milk that you can afford( the best ricotta Ive savor was attained in Italy employing raw, unpasteurised milk, but thats not as widely available in the UK ).

Some recipes require a certain type of ricotta. The type you can buy in most supermarkets can be very soft, more mascarpone-like in texture than the firmer, strained ricotta I got used to working with when I cooked in Italy. Thats why I started building my own and Id urge you to try too its not as difficult as you might believe. If thats a step too far though, you can induce the recipes below with supermarket ricotta. If you do, then leave it in a sieve to drain excess liquid for a few hours, or ideally overnight, so its a little firmer. If youre lucky enough to live near an Italian deli, most sell a good strained ricotta.

As well as a recipe for homemade ricotta, I have included three of my favourite simple ways to eat it. Aside from these almost any pasta would benefit from a little ricotta stirred through it, any flapjack or waffle will sit happily next to a spoonful, and most fruit will team up well with a clean white helping drizzled with a little honey.

straining The type of ricotta available in most supermarkets can be very soft. Strained ricotta is firmer, and much closer to what is available in Italy. Photo: Matt Russell for the Guardian

Homemade ricotta

How long you hang your ricotta for will depend on how you want to use it. To cook your ricotta whole or to use it to fill pasta you want something firm, so no moisture seeps out during cooking. For other recipes, such as the pasta or the whipped ricotta below, you could get away with a less firm texture, so hanging it for just a few hours would suffice.

Makes about 300 g
2 litres whole milk
A pinch of sea salt
40ml distilled white vinegar

1 Pour the milk into a large pan, add a pinch of ocean salt and put over a medium hot. Permit the milk to heat up slowly, stirring from time to time.

2 When it is almost coming to the boil when steam and small bubbles begin to appear on the surface( if you have a kitchen thermometer it should be 82 C-8 5C) remove from the hot, add the vinegar and stir gently. You will see curds starting to form. Continue to stir for 1 minute or so.

3 Cover with a clean cloth and allow it to sit for a couple of hours. Once the ricotta has rested, line a colander with a large piece of damp muslin and set this over a larger bowl or pan.

4 Spoon the ricotta into the colander and allow it to drain for an hour or so, or overnight depending on your desired firmness( see note above ). To test whether the cheese is ready, gently lift the muslin up by the corners and twisting softly the liquid should be somewhat milky in colour. The ricotta is now ready. Transfer to a receptacle, seal and store in the fridge and use within 3 days.

Whipped herb and lemon ricotta

Quick and super-light, this combination of herbs and ricotta is ideal for dipping. I use baby veggies, but fingers of good toast or crackers would work too.

Serves 4
450g fresh ricotta
Salt and black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed or grated
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus a good squeeze of lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

To serve
Baby carrots, beetroots and radishes, cut into sticks

1 Put your ricotta into a bowl with a good pinch of salt and pepper, then beat it with a wooden spoonful until light and fluffy. You can do this with an electric mixer if you want it really cloud-like.

2 Now stir in the garlic, herbs, zest and olive oil. Savour for balance and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, adding a squeezing of lemon juice and a bit more of whatever you think it needs.

3 Serve in the middle of the table with your choice of veg or toast for dipping.

4 Drizzle with some olive oil and serve.

Honey ricotta with baked figs

This is a faintly sweet take over ricotta that could be served as a dessert or a quick lunch, piled on top of toasted bread with some bitter leaves to counter the very slight sweetness.

Honey Any leftovers can be spread on warm toast the next day. Photograph: Matt Russell for the Guardian

Serves 4-6
250g ricotta
1 tbsp of runny honey
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1 orange, zested, juice reserved
6 figs
50g almonds

1 Preheat your oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4. Line a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.

2 Turn the ricotta out of its packet on to the lined tray, then drizzle it with honey. Grate over the orange zest and scatter the vanilla seeds on top.

3 Halve the figs and arrange them around the ricotta. Squeezing over the juice of the orange and a little more honey then put into the oven to bake for 20 minutes.

4 Meanwhile, approximately chop the almonds. Scatter them over the baking tray and roast for the last five minutes.

5 Serve straight from the oven in the middle of the table.

Spaghetti with chard, garlic, chilli and ricotta

One of the most wonderful pastas I know( the sauce is cooked in the time it takes for the pasta to turning al dente) and for my fund one of the nicest.

Serves 4
400g spaghetti
Extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
12 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
400g chard, rinsed leaves shredded and stalks finely sliced
Grated zest and juice of 1 large unwaxed lemon( plus an extra lemon for juice, if needed)
Salt and black pepper
150g of ricotta
Parmesan or pecorino( optional)

1 Put a large pan of boiling water on to boil and add a couple of generous pinches of salt. Once the water is at a rolling boil, add your pasta and cook in agreement with the packet instructions or until merely al dente.

2 Meanwhile, heat a good drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic, chilli and rosemary. Fry for a minute or so, until the garlic is starting to colouring, then add the chard stubbles and sizzle for 1-2 minutes. Add the foliages. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 34 minutes, or until the foliages have wilted a little.

3 Drain the pasta, reserving a mugful of cooking water. Add a splashing of the pasta water to the greens and mix well. Grate over the zest of the lemon and squeeze over the juice. Take off the hot and savor for seasoning. Crumble over the ricotta and stir it though. Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil and, if you like, a wispy grating of parmesan or pecorino.

Anna Jones is a chef, novelist and author of A Modern Way to Eatand
A Modern Way to Cook( Fourth Estate ); annajones.co.uk; @we_are_food

Worlds collide: Pakistan fulfils Scotland on a plate | Cook residency

Cook residency: The cuisines of Scotland and Pakistan have more in common than you might believe. Here our resident draw on both her culinary heritage and Glaswegian home with braised meat, flatbreads and a dessert …

Few people would think Pakistan was comparable to Scotland. But when I moved to Glasgow eight months ago I realised the two had more common ground than I first guessed. I find a subtle sense of acquaintance in Scotland; like Pakistan, it has dramatic scenery, hospitable people and the history of intrusions and migrations that have marked its culture and cuisine.

Flavour has always been my first connection to a place, and exploring the food in a new country has helped me find my place within it. Scottish food is much more than haggis and shortbread. Just like Pakistani cuisine, it is defined by seasonality and outstanding quality of render. With these new ingredients around me, Ive begun to substitute and experimentation with classic Pakistani recipes.

As a child, I would wake up on a Sunday morning to be greeted by the smoky perfume of fresh parathas being stimulated on the tawa( flat griddle pan ), my mouth watering in anticipation of breakfast. My mom stimulated these by mixing mashed potato bhujia( stir-fried potato) into flour to induce thick bread with generous amounts of fresh coriander, green chilli, cumin and ghee. When I moved to Glasgow, I was astounded at how similar parathas was set to tattie scones leftover mash mixed with flour and butter, best cooked on a cast iron girdle( as the griddle is known in Scotland ). And just as comforting at the weekend.

In Pakistan, we feed a lot of mutton, goat and beef, which is either slow- cooked, stir-fried or barbecued with spices, or simply with animal fat and herbs, depending on where you ar. Theres a similar love for slow-cooked stews in Scotland, sometimes with simple herb flavors such as juniper, bay or thyme. Like Pakistani meat cooking, spices are subtle, to improve rather than hide the taste of the meat. Ive adapted my grandmothers chukandar gosht( beetroot and beef curry) here with Scottish venison. Dark spices, such as smoky black cardamom, peppercorns and superstar anise add a dark depth of flavour similar to many Pakistani dishes. This recipe celebrates the Scottish and Pakistani love for sharing single-pot snacks in Scotland it can be broth or stews, in Pakistan it is biryani, nihari and haleem.

Lastly, the fragrance and flavour of Scottish summertime raspberries are perfect for cranachan( the traditional way to serve it is to allow your guests to make up their own dessert, serving each element of the dish separately) the traditional dessert of oats, cream and whisky but Ive utilized Hunza apricots here, which for me elicited early autumn in northern Pakistan.

Ive genuinely merely started to explore the crossover between these cuisines, and how I can use new render in my cook. But in my journey from Karachi to Glasgow, I have realised I can find home through food, create, culinary heritage and flavor and the journey has only just begun.

Spiced winter squash and tattie scone parathas( pictured above)

Serves 6-8
60g butternut squash, roasted until soft
100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
tsp salt
tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
6 mint leaves, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped or tsp red chilli flakes
2 spring onions, finely chopped
Juice of lime
34 tbsp ghee, or 3-4 tbsp coconut, rapeseed or vegetable oil

1 Mix all the ingredients together, except the ghee, in a large bowl. Stir in the ghee, a little at a time, until the concoction reaches a dough-like consistency. Turn out on to a floured work surface and knead until smooth.

2 Divide the dough into tennis ball-sized pieces. Cover with a damp cloth.

3 Heat a griddle pan, tawa or frying pan over a high hot. When hot, add a little ghee, then reduce the hot to medium.

4 On a floured surface, roll each dough ball into a 6mm-thick patty. Place in the hot ghee and cook gently, pressing down the corners with a clean tea towel or kitchen paper, to ensure it browns evenly. When one side is cooked about 34 minutes turn over and cook the other side. Repeat with the remaining dough.

SUMAYYA In my journey from Karachi to Glasgow, I have realised I can find home through food, create, culinary heritage and flavor and the journey has only just begun, says Sumayya Usmani. Photograph: Elena Heatherwick for the Guardian

Venison and beetroot curry with black cardamom and cloves

Serves 2-3
3-4 tbsp sunflower oil
2. 5cm piece of cinnamon
2 black cardamom pods
1 star anise
10-12 black peppercorns
2 dried red chillies
1 red onion, cut into half moons
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
225g plum tomatoes, cut in half
Salt
tsp turmeric
4 tbsp, plus 125 ml, water
350g venison shoulder, diced
2 raw beetroot, peeled and mixed roughly
1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped and/ or 1 tsp fresh ginger, julienned( to serve)
Juice of lemon( to serve)

1 Heat the oil until hot in a heavy pan, add the cinnamon, cardamom, anise, peppercorns and chilli, then stir until the petroleum is fragrant( about 30 seconds ).

2 Add the red onion and cook until light brown( about 4-5 minutes ), constantly stirring. Add the garlic, then cook for 2 minutes, until it no longer reeks raw.

3 Tip in the tomatoes. Cook until half soft, about 3 minutes. Add the salt and turmeric, plus 4 tbsp of water, and stir.

4 Add the venison. Brown one side over a high heat for about 1 minute, then brown the other side. Toss in the raw beetroot, stir and cook for 2 minutes.

5 Add 125 ml water, stir, cook until bubbling. Turn the hot to low, cover-up and cook for 50 -6 0 minutes, checking occasionally. Add a splashing of water, if needed. The venison should be tender and the sauce thick and vibrant.

6 Serve topped with coriander and/ or ginger and lemon juice.

Hunza Hunza apricot, cardamom and heather honey cranachan. If you cant find Hunza apricots, use dried figs or stewed fresh apricots. Photo: Elena Heatherwick for the Guardian

Hunza apricot, cardamom and heather honey cranachan

Serves 4-6
400g dried Hunza apricots, soaked in water overnight
200-250g caster sugar
300ml whipping cream
2 tsp honey( preferably heather)
Seeds of vanilla pod
1 tsp cardamom, freshly ground
2-3 tsp rose water
2 tbsp fine oatmeal
2 tbsp pistachios, chopped
2 tbsp edible pink rose petals

1 Squeeze the stones out of the apricots without cutting them open. Reserve any liquid. Bring the fruit and their liquid to the boil over a medium hot, stirring only occasionally.

2 Add the sugar and simmer until dissolved. After around 10 minutes, there should be a thick syrup surrounding the apricots. Turn the hot off and allow them to cool in the pan altogether. Then refrigerate.

3 When ready to serve, whip the cream and honey into soft peaks, then add the vanilla seeds, cardamom and rose water. Stir through gently.

4 In a dry frying pan, toast the oatmeal and pistachios for 20 -3 0 seconds, until gently browned. Set aside.

5 Assemble by putting a spoonful of apricots with a little syrup in a serving bowl, then top with a spoonful of cream, some toasted oats and pistachios, rose petals and toasted oats. Serve cool.

Sumayya Usmani is a food writer and teacher are stationed in Glasgow. Her first volume, Summers Under the Tamarind Tree: Recipes and Memories from Pakistan is published this April( Frances Lincoln ). Follow her on Twitter: @SumayyaUsmani

Unicorn lollies and six million avocados: our insatiable appetite for Instafood

As a new exhibition charts our obsession with photographing food, we look at the most wonderful dishes, the dark side of Instagrammed cupcakes and how social media is changing the route we eat

Well never know what the photographer Irving Penn would have made of #foodporn. The master of still-life photography died in 2009, and Instagram wasnt born until the following year.

Instagram, of course, is the preferred social media outlet for photographs of food, and #foodporn is one of its most-used hashtags, with 130m posts and rising. Penn was doing it seven decades ago memorable among his early images are Ingredients for a Beef Stew( 1947 -4 8); The Empty Plate( 1949) and thereafter shoots of steaks, lobsters, frogs legs and all manner of other good things. He even photographed a pizza( which is now the worlds most Instagrammed dish, followed by sushi, steak, burgers and bacon ).

Penn said photographing a cake can be art, but that is definitely because he didnt live to consider the culinary horrors of most food photography on social media.

Photographing
Photographing a cake can be art. Photo: @clerkenwellboyec1/ Instagram

A show titled Food for Being Appeared At has opened at the Photographers Gallery in London. It is a rolling cavalcade of our most common culinary tropes, curated by Anna Dannemann and Sam Mercer. More than three years in the planning, it follows a 2012 exhibition that celebrated the only thing more popular than food on social media cats.

Anyone who expends more than 30 seconds scrolling through pictures of food will know what whets a snappers appetite: avocado toast, oozy eggs, neon bagels and slabs of vaguely sinister raw meat. The exhibitions 12 -minute video presentation gone through these and other topics, tracking the tendency of the last seven years since Flickr conceded to Instagram, and takes in Snapchats evolution from nudies to foodies.

Mercer says of the gargantuan task of choosing the right images, scrolling through Snapchat, even though the food images were largely pedestrian, its clear that the rise of such sickly tendencies as unicorn/ rainbow food taps into people believing, I dont want my life to looking boring, I want everything to look incredible.

A
A hunger-making carousel of deliciousness. Photo: @clerkenwellboyec1/ Instagram

Quite why members of the public who posted cheese on toast with a submerged pineapple slice believed his dish incredible is incomprehensible. For every masterfully composed smoothie bowl with its forensically placed chia seeds, theres a boakworthy video of melted chocolate being slopped over( I believe) grapes. This is less #foodporn a loathsome word in itself and more reminiscent of that glorious Twitter thread #foodorpoo.

The show is not a gala of beautiful food photography; it documents the very best, the bad and the really, really ugly in equal measure.

Someone whos ridden the wave of food on telephones, and been induced famous by it, is the award-winning Instagrammer Clerkenwell Boy( 163k adherents ). He photographs everything he eats, but simply posts the good-looking stuff. His river is a hunger-making carousel of deliciousness, and as a result “the mens” notably anonymous get invited to every hot opening and culinary event. He is, to use the wretched word, an influencer.

But although Clerkenwell Boy may, in the five years that he has been cataloguing Londons food scene, be partly responsible for the rise in eatery diners standing on their chairs to shoot their rapidly cooling supper, hes developed a conscience about all this food.

The
The good, the bad and the really, really ugly an image from Food for Being Looked At. Photo: Nathan LaFrenais Vidler

I hate stuff like a giant stack of 7 burgers, photographed and hashtagged just for likes. I suppose, are they going to simply lunge that away now? Hes now use his influence for good, raising awareness of food waste and with the# cookforsyria initiative illustrating cooks, restaurateurs and amateur cooks together to raise money for charity.

Food for being looked at bears close examination, because food should be for being feed, actually. Although now dormant, the Instagram feed @youdidnoteatthatgathered more than 100,000 adherents for lunging shade at skinny young women improbably almost-eating vast bagels and doughnuts.

Clerkenwell
Photograph: Katherine Anne Rose for the Observer

Dannemann, who has stopped photographing food since she started collating these scenes and videos, acknowledges that the last segment of the exhibition makes it clear that so much food is now about esthetics, its not really any more for being ingested. I dont have a problem with poking down a macaron decorated with a newborn pandas face, or flicking the tweezered micro-herb garnish off a steak and chewing through it, but I can see what she means.

Even one of the UKs most exciting young cooks concurs. Merlin Labron-Johnson is executive cook of Portland and Clipstone, famous for spare, elegant plates, all captured by the chefs smartphone and shared online. Now a lot of cooks will create dishes for visual appeal above flavour because of Instagram, and thats bad.

While training in some of Europes most garlanded eateries, Labron-Johnson wasnt aware of chefs employing social media it just wasnt a feature in France and Switzerland. Those places were famous for their food, and it went by word of mouth but when I came to London[ in 2015 ], I promptly learned.

Chef
Chef Merlin Labron-Johnsons squid ink tarts with smoked cods roe, fresh peas and chive flowers

He ensures posting dishes on social media as a marketing tool, to indicate potential new and returning diners whats so great about their menu. It is free ad, indeed, if the food lives up to the shoot. One hotshot dish can build you and your eatery famous Portlands game pithivier, Quality Chop Houses confit potatoes or St Johns bone marrow on toast but its a mixed blessing. I see it as a kind of help people know in advance what to order, says Clerkenwell Boy.

But what about the cook desperate to change their menu who darent because of the snap-happy pundits?

He find a future in which menus are electronic and feature images of the food, and restaurants where you can pre-order those famous dishes on your phone. Exciting or reductive? We must take comfort from the now famous pici pasta dish at hot eatery Padella. It looks like bleached worms, but everyones ordering it( and, yes, photographing it ).

Back in the amateurs kitchen, there is scarcely an avocado that runs un-Instagrammed, if the Photographers Gallery show is to be believed. On toast( though not top five, its a ridiculously, unjustifiably must-take food picture ), in ice-cream( shudder) and in myriad salads, green is gold.

Green
Green is gold no avocado goes unInstagrammed. Photograph: The Photographers Gallery

Nobody knows who started the trend. As Dannemann says: The name of the photographer is smaller than the image here. Food pictures are all about a million versions of the same thing. Six million, when it is necessary to #avocado.

Tips for how to take food photo for Instagram are legion; and as of last week, a eatery in Israel is trialling curved plates with a smartphone holder on them, the better to demonstrate a clean backdrop and pinsharp images of the dishes. Where will it objective?

Sharing, in a few rare places, still refers only to the plates , not the hashtag. Labron-Johnson names me a restaurant in rural France that is said to be spectacularly good and doesnt let photography. I immediately want to volume.

Yeah, he confesses. When Im having a really great meal, I forget to take pictures.

There
There to be eaten oysters on ice. Photo: @clerkenwellboyec1/ Instagram

@clerkenwellboy on how to photograph food for Instagram

1 Use natural lighting. Avoid a flashing or harsh, direct sunlight. If photographing in a eatery, the ideal scenario is a table by the window on a cloudy day.

2 Choose a style and composition that suits you. It can be clean and simple a top-down shot with a central focal point. Or a closeup of cheese oozing out of a burger, or an entire table with hands reaching in. The key thing is to find a niche and be consistent, so that youre the dumpling guy, or the breakfast reviewer or the home baker.

3 What are you trying to do? Spotlight new eateries? Share recipes? Record a scene or create a community? It doesnt matter, as long as you have an sentiment and your images tell some kind of tale.

4 Geotag pictures so that others can find that coffeehouse or marketplace or cook themselves.

5 Be discreet and respectful. Dont snap diners without their permission. And above all, have fun. Remember that the food is there to be ingest. So dont expend so much day arranging and photographing it that by the time you sit down, its gone cold.

Food for Being Appeared At is at the Photographers Gallery, London, until 8 October.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Anna Jones’s homemade ricotta recipe and three things to cook with it | The modern cook

Its easy to make your own ricotta from scratch. Its ideal for a gentle herb and citrus dip, as the main attraction on a tray of honey-baked figs, or stirred through a plate of spicy spaghetti with chard, garlic and herbs

There is so much to love about ricotta. First up, its clean, fresh cloud-like milkiness many of us think of it as a spring-time thing, but in fact, it works brilliantly as a much needed partner for the roots and roasts and punchier flavours well be eating for the next few months. Next, its versatility in baking and desserts; to fill ravioli or spoon over warm veggies. Best of all, though, is that its made from something that would otherwise be wasted. The ricotta that you buy in the shops is a byproduct of the cheesemaking process. Whey that has been drained off the cheese curds is reheated to construct ricotta hence its Italian name, which means recooked.

My recipe involves gently heating whole milk, then adding vinegar to encourage little curds to form, which are then gathered and strained to form the softest and most gentle of the cheeses. Ive tried lemon juice, but vinegar somehow produces more ricotta. The sum of vinegar is key, too little and the curds wont form properly; too much and the end result will taste like a chip shop. Because this recipe is so simple there is nowhere to hide, so use the best milk that you can afford( the best ricotta Ive tasted was attained in Italy using raw, unpasteurised milk, but thats not as widely available in the UK ).

Some recipes require a certain type of ricotta. The kind you can buy in most supermarkets can be very soft, more mascarpone-like in texture than the firmer, strained ricotta I got used to working with when I cooked in Italy. Thats why I started attaining my own and Id urge you to try too its not as difficult as you might believe. If thats a step too far though, you can make the recipes below with supermarket ricotta. If you do, then leave it in a sieve to drain excess liquid for a few hours, or ideally overnight, so its a little firmer. If youre lucky enough to live near an Italian deli, most sell a good strained ricotta.

As well as a recipe for homemade ricotta, I have included three of my favourite simple ways to eat it. Aside from these almost any pasta would benefit from a little ricotta stirred through it, any pancake or waffle will sit merrily next to a spoonful, and most fruit will team up well with a clean white helping drizzled with a little honey.

straining The type of ricotta available in most supermarkets can be very soft. Strained ricotta is firmer, and much closer to what is available in Italy. Photo: Matt Russell for the Guardian

Homemade ricotta

How long you hang your ricotta for will depend on how you want to use it. To bake your ricotta whole or to use it to fill pasta you want something firm, so no moisture seeps out during cooking. For other recipes, such as the pasta or the whipped ricotta below, you could get away with a less firm texture, so hanging it for only a few hours would suffice.

Makes about 300 g
2 litres whole milk
A pinch of ocean salt
40ml distilled white vinegar

1 Pour the milk into a large pan, add a pinch of sea salt and put over a medium heat. Permit the milk to heat up slowly, stirring from time to time.

2 When it is almost coming to the boil when steam and small bubbles begin to appear on the surface( if you have a kitchen thermometer it was necessary to 82 C-8 5C) remove from the hot, add the vinegar and stir gently. You will see curds starting to sort. Continue to stir for 1 minute or so.

3 Cover with a clean cloth and allow it to sit for a couple of hours. Once the ricotta has rested, line a colander with a large piece of damp muslin and set this over a larger bowl or pan.

4 Spoon the ricotta into the colander and allow it to drain for an hour or so, or overnight depending on your desired firmness( see note above ). To test whether the cheese is ready, gently lift the muslin up by the corners and twisting softly the liquid should be slightly milky in colour. The ricotta is now ready. Transfer to a container, seal and store in the fridge and use within 3 days.

Whipped herb and lemon ricotta

Quick and super-light, this mix of herbs and ricotta is ideal for dipping. I use baby veggies, but thumbs of good toast or crackers would work too.

Serves 4
450g fresh ricotta
Salt and black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed or grated
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus a good squeeze of lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

To serve
Baby carrots, beetroots and radishes, cut into sticks

1 Put your ricotta into a bowl with a good pinch of salt and pepper, then beat it with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. You can do this with an electric mixer if you want it actually cloud-like.

2 Now stir in the garlic, herbs, zest and olive oil. Savor for balance and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, adding a squeeze of lemon juice and a little more of whatever you think it needs.

3 Serve in the middle of the table with your selection of veg or toast for dipping.

4 Drizzle with some olive oil and serve.

Honey ricotta with baked figs

This is a faintly sweet take over ricotta that could be served as a dessert or a quick lunch, piled on top of toasted bread with some bitter leaves to counter the very slight sweetness.

Honey Any leftovers can be spread on warm toast the next day. Photo: Matt Russell for the Guardian

Serves 4-6
250g ricotta
1 tbsp of runny honey
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1 orange, zested, juice reserved
6 figs
50g almonds

1 Preheat your oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4. Line a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.

2 Turn the ricotta out of its packet on to the lined tray, then drizzle it with honey. Grate over the orange zest and scatter the vanilla seeds on top.

3 Halve the figs and arrange them around the ricotta. Squeezing over the juice of the orange and a little more honey then put into the oven to bake for 20 minutes.

4 Meanwhile, approximately chop the almonds. Scatter them over the baking tray and roasted for the last five minutes.

5 Serve straight from the oven in the middle of the table.

Spaghetti with chard, garlic, chilli and ricotta

One of the fastest pastas I know( the sauce is cooked in the time it takes for the pasta to turn al dente) and for my fund one of the nicest.

Serves 4
400g spaghetti
Extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
12 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
400g chard, rinsed leaves shredded and stubbles finely sliced
Grated zest and juice of 1 large unwaxed lemon( plus an extra lemon for juice, if needed)
Salt and black pepper
150g of ricotta
Parmesan or pecorino( optional)

1 Put a large pan of simmering water on to simmer and add got a couple of generous pinches of salt. Once the water is at a rolling simmer, add your pasta and cook according to the packet instructions or until simply al dente.

2 Meanwhile, hot a good drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic, chilli and rosemary. Fry for a minute or so, until the garlic is starting to colour, then add the chard stalks and sizzle for 1-2 minutes. Add the foliages. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 34 minutes, or until the foliages have wilted a little.

3 Drain the pasta, reserving a mugful of cooking water. Add a splash of the pasta water to the greens and mixture well. Grate over the zest of the lemon and squeezing over the juice. Take off the heat and savor for seasoning. Crumble over the ricotta and stir it though. Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil and, if you like, a wispy grating of parmesan or pecorino.

Anna Jones is a chef, novelist and writer of A Modern Way to Eatand
A Modern Way to Cook( Fourth Estate ); annajones.co.uk; @we_are_food

Flavourful flatbreads and quick quesadilla recipes | The modern cook

Anna Jones recipes: A flatbread is the epitome of versatility merely fill it with whatever you happen to have to hand. Heres a caper, herb and egg mixture and a speedy squash quesadilla to get you started

The happiest days of my childhood were spent in northern California, only north of San Francisco. We lived in a bungalow that had a small back garden with a lemon tree, spent weekends at the beach or picnicking in redwood forests.

Most nights we ate simply at home, leaning on the sunladen produce from surrounding farms: avocados for almost every meal, oranges and lemons straight from the trees. Sometimes, wed stroll got a couple of blocks to buy a peaky-topped cup of chocolate frozen yoghurt, which wed eat on the spot. It was all fairly wholesome in the times before we started venturing out for our dinner.

Later, as older kids, we loved those cheery American joints the ones with a menu longer than your limb, where the waitresses wear name badges and bottomless coffees are served the working day. The food was always American with a nod to Mexico, and as children we loved it. Crisp potato scalps, topped with a melting of cheese dipped into chive-peppered sour cream, shoestring fries and burritos. But what we loved the most were the quesadillas two flour tortillas fried on the plancha until crisp, then sandwiched around a very generous layer of melted Monterey Jack cheese, cut into wedges and served with guacamole and salsa. These triangles of pleasure were served as a starter, but were really big enough to be a meal in their own right.

I build quesadillas a little bit differently now, leaving the seriously cheese-laden ones to fond memory, along with chocolate milkshakes and knickerbocker glories. Instead, I use vegetables, pulsations, herbs and even eggs to stimulate textured fills with pops of flavour that be removed from Mexico, to Italy, France, Morocco and back again. In fact, quesadillas are truly only sandwiched flatbreads, which in some sort or the other youll find in almost every culture.

We make armies of them when we have a crowd to feed as they are the perfect vehicle for dipping, a great snack with a cold beer in hand, and are fairly fuss-free. A quesadilla allows you to play around and use what you have to hand. The main thing to think about is to fill your tortillas with something that they are able to bind both sides together some cheese, egg or soft mashed veggies or beans are ideal.

Caper, herb and egg flatbreads

This recipe is as quick as they come and is one of the most flavourful little suppers I know. Its loosely based on a recipe by my friend Heidi Swanson( of the 101 Cookbooks blog ). For the herbs, I utilized dill and basil, but mint, tarragon, parsley and chives would all work too.

Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as a snack
2 eggs
Salt
A small splashing of olive oil
2 medium corn or flour tortillas or wraps( about 15 cm wide)
A few sprigs of soft herbs, chopped
2 tbsp small capers
A few cornichons/ gherkins, roughly chopped
2 handfuls of freshly shaved parmesan

For the toppings
200ml Greek yoghurt
Zest and juice of a lemon
Salt and black pepper
2 avocados

1 Mix the yoghurt, half the lemon juice and all the zest with a pinch of salt and black pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

2 Quarter the avocados, then cut each piece into thin slices down to the skin. Squeeze over the remaining lemon juice and set aside.

3 Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Heat a small frying pan over a medium hot, add a tiny splashing of olive oil, then add half of the egg to the pan, let it set into a kind of pancake for 10 -1 5 seconds. Now, running speedily, put one of the tortillas on top of the egg: you want the egg to still be a bit runny, so it will attach itself to the tortilla as it sets.

4 When the egg has defined, use a spatula to turning the whole thing over, sprinkle over half of the herbs, half the capers and cornichons and half of the parmesan. Cook until the cheese has melted. Repeat for multiple quesadillas.

5 To serve, fold the tortillas in half and top with the yoghurt and slicings of avocado and, to make a meal of them, a little lemon-dressed green salad.

Squash Serve straight from the pan with the tomatoes and a little salad, if you are making a snack of it. Photo: Issy Croker for the Guardian

Quick squash quesadillas

The feta is optional I often construct these without any cheese at all.

Serves 2 as a snack, 4 as a snack
Olive oil
A quarter of a butternut squash, peeled and grated
Salt and black pepper
10 black olives, pitted and approximately chopped( I use kalamata olives)
1 red chilli, finely chopped
400g tin of white beans, drained
50g feta( optional)
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 medium corn or flour tortillas

For the tomatoes
200g ripe vine or cherry tomatoes
A small bunch of basil
A little balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil

1 Heat a dash of olive oil in a pan, add the butternut squash and season with salt and pepper. Add the chopped olives and the chilli, then cook for a few minutes, until the squash has softened and lost its rawness.

2 Transfer to a bowl and add the beans, then gently mash everything you are able to still want to have some flecks of unmashed squash. Crumble in the feta, if youre employing it, then savour and season, if needed. Set aside.

3 Chop the tomatoes into a salsa consistency, add the basil and chop again, transfer to a bowl, add a splashing of balsamic and a little olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.

4 Warm a frying pan big enough for your tortillas over a medium hot. Lay a tortilla flat in the pan, quickly spoon a quarter of the squash mixture on top and even out. Set another tortilla on top and dry-fry until blistered and golden brown, then flip over with a spatula and do the same on the other side. Maintain the quesadilla warm while you do the next one.

5 Serve straight from the pan with the tomatoes and a little salad, if you are making a snack of it.

Flavour map: Mix and match these flavours and textures

Base
Something soft or melty to assist the tortillas stick
Mashed butter beans, Mashed black beans, grated cheddar, an egg, torn mozzarella, mashed chickpeas, grated and sauted courgette

Back-up
Another soft texture to add interest
Grated sweet potato, grated squash, roasted red peppers, chopped cherry tomatoes, grated carrot, grated beetroot, shredded greens or kale

Accent
A top flavour note: add one or two of these
Chopped spring onions, red chilli, capers, chopped olives, chipotle paste, finely chopped red onion, a spice mix garam masala, zaatar etc; feta, a grating of lemon or lime zest

A soft herb
Some freshness
Coriander, mint, basil, parsley, dill

Something to dip into
Guacamole, salsa, tahini yoghurt dip, smashed pea dip, hummus

Anna Jones is a chef, novelist and author of A Modern Way to Eat and A Modern Way to Cook( Fourth Estate ); annajones.co.uk; @we_are_food

Anna Jones’ springtime herb and yoghurt soup recipe | The modern cook

The modern cook: Wake up sleepy palates with this fresh herb soup or a crisp salad fortified with sorrel, roasted radish and lentil

The daffodils have been( and are almost gone) and the branches are heavy with bud: springtime is here. In the kitchen, signs of wintertime are fading, although the greener things that spring will bring are still some way away. For render, its a no mans land the hungry gap, as its often called.

Right now, soft herbs, wispy and green, fill my kitchen. From savoury flat-leaf parsley to the green tartness of the first sorrel, these first-of-the-year soft herbs, Im sure, are here to wake up our palates, lifting us out of the rhythm of winter cooking and readying us for the fresh flavours and simple dishes that lie ahead.

I buy herbs once a week or so when they look good at the shops, and keep them alongside the milk bottles in the door of my fridge, standing in glasses with some cold water at the bottom like cut flowers. This doubles their lifespan( theyll keep for about a week ), and their grassy fragrance is wafted around the room each time I open the fridge a casual reminder of their presence, which means they make their style into more of my cook than they might otherwise …

Herbs have been peppering everything I cook over the past few weeks: topping bright spring stew, taking centre stage in soft herb omelettes, crowning gently spiced pilaf, and in pestos that sit under a golden slick of oil in the fridge.

Ive been buying bunches of sorrel an underused herb, likely because it can be hard to get hold of. If you can search it out, its lemony liveliness makes your mouth water like no other food I know: if there was ever a herb to get us “re ready for” spring, this is it. I love it in salads, baked under eggs and wilted on toast. This week, I use it with lentils and radishes to make a pretty salad with some crispy-edged lentils.

Four soft, green herbs make an appearance in todays herb soup dill, tarragon, coriander and parsley but truly any combination of your favourites would work. This soup bridges the gap so perfectly: light and optimistic in flavour with lemon and herbs, but backed up with butterbeans and yoghurt.

All herbs get their flavours from the essential petroleums within them, but fundamentally differ from each other in strength and structure. Softer herbs like coriander or basil often add more flavour when added at the end of a dish, whereas traditionally bred British herbs rosemary, sage, thyme, bay add more when theyre used during the cook. Whether or not you follow one of todays recipes, maintain this in intellect if and when you decide to infuse a dinner with herbal notes. Springtimes soft herbs require little( or nothing) by way of cooking to do their very best in a meal.

Spring herb and yoghurt soup( main painting)

Just about the perfect bowlful for this space between winter and springtime. You can use any soft herbs here only make sure you balance a more neutral herb, such as parsley, with a stronger one such as tarragon( the stronger the flavour the less of that herb you will need ). You need quite a gentle stock for this: “if youre using” cubes or powder then a cube or 1 tsp of powder is likely to be plenty in 1 litre of water.

Serves 4
Olive oil, for frying
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
small bunch of dill, fronds and husks separated
small bunch of tarragon, foliages and stems separated
1 bunch coriander, leaves and stems separated
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stems separated
400g tin butter beans, drained
1 litre vegetable stock( see note above)
4 tbsp plain yoghurt
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and black pepper
Sumac, to serve

1 Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and celery and fry for about 5 minutes, stirring from is high time to day, or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and spices, then cook for a further 2-3 minutes, or until the pan smells aromatic.

2 Roughly chop the herb stalks, then add them to the pan along with the butterbeans and the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes, or until the stems have softened.

3 Allow to cool a little, then whizz with a stick blender in the pan until you have a smooth soup. Add the yoghurt, most of the herb leaves( reserving a few for the upper part of the soup) and whizz again, until smooth.

4 Add the lemon juice and savour, adjusting the seasoning with more salt or pepper. Ladle the soup into bowl and top with a sprinkling of sumac and a few herb leaves.

Sorrel, roasted radish and crispy lentil salad

If you cant get hold of sorrel, scrunch a couple of handful of spinach together with the juice of a lemon, then roughly shred it and scatter over the top in place of the sorrel. It wont be quite as fairly, but it will still savor great.

Sorrel, Sorrels lemony liveliness constructs your mouth water like no other food I know, says Anna Jones. Photograph: Issy Croker for the Guardian

Serves 4
400g radishes, washed
400g new potatoes, washed
3 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 tbsp honey
800g tinned puy lentils, drained in a sieve and dried on kitchen paper
50ml yoghurt
2 handfuls of sorrel foliages, rinsed and dried well( see above for an alternative)
Salt and black pepper

1 Set the oven to 200 C/ 400 F/ gas mark 6. Halve the radishes and potatoes. Tumble them on to a roasting tray with 1 tbsp of olive oil, half the lemon juice, some salt and the honey.

2 In a separate roasting tray, mix the lentils with a generous pinch of sea salt, another 1 tbsp of olive oil and the zest from the lemon.

3 Put the tray with the radishes and potatoes into the oven for 30 minutes, giving a shake once or twice during the course of its cook hour. With 15 minutes to go, put the tray with the lentils into the oven. Roast until they are crisps and beginning to blister; the radishes and potatoes should be soft and golden brown at the edges.

4 Meanwhile, build the dressing by whisking the yoghurt with a little squeezing of the lemon and the olive oil. Season well with salt and black pepper, taste and add more lemon, if you like, then set aside.

5 Once the lentils and radishes are cooked, remove from the oven and mixture everything in rough layers on a large platter with the sorrel. Drizzle with the yoghurt dressing.

Anna Jones is a chef, novelist and writer of A Modern Way to Eatand A Modern Way to Cook( Fourth Estate ); annajones.co.uk; @we_are_food