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 roasteds 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 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 construct ricotta hence its Italian name, which means 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 sum of vinegar is key, too little and the curds wont form properly; too much and the end outcome 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 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 suppose. 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 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 hot. 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 kind. 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 drainage 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 softly the fluid are due to be slightly milky in colouring. 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 mixture 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 foliages, 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 really 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 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 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 all over the ricotta. Squeeze over the juice of the orange and a bit 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 roast 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 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 boil and add got a couple of generous pinches of salt. Once the water is at a rolled 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 beginning to colour, then add the chard stubbles 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 squeezing 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, writer 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 stimulate 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 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 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 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 attained in Italy utilizing 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 constructing 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 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 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 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 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 heat, add the vinegar and stir gently. You will see curds had begun 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 put this over a larger bowl or pan.

4 Spoon the ricotta into the colander and allow it to drainage 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 are due to be slightly 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 blend of herbs and ricotta is ideal for dipping. I use baby vegetables, 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 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 truly cloud-like.

2 Now stir in the garlic, herbs, zest and olive oil. Taste 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 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 all over the ricotta. Squeeze over the juice of the orange and a bit more honey then put into the oven to cook 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 turn 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 husks 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 got a couple of generous pinches of salt. Once the water is at a rolled simmer, add your pasta and cook according to the packet instructions or until just 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 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 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, writer and author of A Modern Way to Eatand
A Modern Way to Cook( Fourth Estate ); annajones.co.uk; @we_are_food

M& S drops cauliflower ‘steak’ amid ridicule from customers

Costing doubled the price of a whole vegetable and shrouded in layers of plastic, clean feeing product fails to make the cut

Marks& Spencer has receded its” cauliflower steak” product from marketing after it was ridiculed by customers for its “excessive” plastic packaging and inflated cost.

The sliced cauliflower, which comes in plastic packaging with a separate sachet of lemon and herb drizzle, was being sold for twice the price of a whole, single cauliflower at the supermarket chain.

The product had come under fire on social media, with critics describing it as “wasteful” and “ridiculous” and complaining about the volume of packaging used as well as the inflated price. Whole, untrimmed cauliflowers are sold at M& S for PS1- typically for even less at other supermarkets- while the single-slice “steak” version cost shoppers PS2.

Confirming its decision to stop selling the item, a spokesperson for M& S told:” Once we’ve sold the stock that is currently in stores, we won’t be ordering any more of this product. We work hard to create quick and convenient snacks for customers; however, on this occasion we didn’t get it right. We have launched many other vegetarian dishes that are already proving popular with customers .”

The product was part of the store’s new “Veggie” range, and was first spotted on Twitter by Rachel Clarke @rachclarke27, who triggered a lengthy thread after tweeting:

Another( Kathryn @ katie2 779) told:” People who buy this must have more fund than sense! What a wasteful item. The quantity of plastic and processing involved in this is ridiculous. Like you say, buy a cauliflower, rinse it and cut( and use all of it ).”

Rival Sainsbury’s also sells a similar product– a pack of two” cauliflower steaks in a herb and spice marinade” for PS1. 80, which is still on its shelves.
Trewin Restorick, chief executive of environmental charity Hubbub, told:” The public is increasingly concerned about potential impacts plastic packaging has on the environment, and social media dedicates them a chance to voice their concerns immediately to companies. The overly packaged, too priced cauliflower steak shows what happens when companies don’t get things right and hopefully it will lead to more environmentally sensible solutions in the future .”

With so-called ” Veganuary” under way and shoppers opting to reduce or cut out meat consumption in favour of ” clean feeing “ selections, supermarkets have been pulling out the stops to offer clients a range of ready-prepared spiralised veggies- and even “mince” made of pulverised mushrooms and cauliflower and beetroot “rice”- to help them get back into shape after the festive season blowout. But this year has find a backlash from shoppers complaining on social media about excessive packaging.

The U-turn from M& S arrives as the government prepares to announce a crackdown on excessive packaging and plastics on Thursday. A Defra spokesperson said:” Everyone has a role to play in tackling the scourge of plastics garbage, and businesses need to make sure their packaging does not surpass what is required to make sure that the products are safe, hygienic and acceptable for both the product and for the consumer.”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Yotam Ottolenghi’s peach recipes

There are few things as, er, peachy as a ripe peach( and even unripe ones have their utilizes)

I went to a party earlier this summer and took a tray of ripe peaches instead of a bottle of wine. I would never have dreamed of taking a tray of, say, avocados or a bunch of bananas. Its not that those fruit are any less special; its just that they dont have quite the same wow factor, that tempting, eat me now look of a perfectly ripe peach.

The discrepancies between peaches and avocados is all to do with the route the fruits ripen. Bananas and avocados( along with pears and tomatoes) are climacteric and often store their sugar in the form of starch. Once picked, a simple hydrocarbon gas called ethylene triggers the process that converts that starch back to sweetness. This stimulates such fruit a logistical dream for those who grow and sell them: they can be picked unripe and shipped hard( so theyre not prone to bruising ), and ripened once the travel is done.( On a smaller scale, you can achieve a similar impact at home by putting an unripe fruit in a paper bag with a ripe one. The ripe fruit will emit ethylene, which helps ripen the unripe fruit .)

Peaches, on the other hand, are not such a peachy logistical dreaming. Along with other non-climacteric fruit such as pineapple, citrus, most berries and melons, they dont store starch, so they dont go across the same process of converting it into sugar. Theyll continue to soften once picked, sure, and also develop an odor, but their sweetness wont develop any more post-picking.( The cold temperature at which the objective is stored when shipped and stocked, to prolong shelf life, also entails the flesh often turns very mealy .)

Thats why I consider a tray of ripe peaches as something of a gift: eating them right there and then, and making that sweet place, really is worthy of a gala. Its also why I reserve firmer fruit for cakes and tarts; overripe ones go into jams, compotes or todays shrub. Hard peaches may absence some natural sweetness, true, but you can draw that out depending on how you cook them. They also have the advantage of being robust enough to hold their shape: chargrill wedges and pair with slices of salty corpuscle or pork belly, spoonfuls of creamy cheese or a hard herb such as rosemary.

Peach, rosemary and lime galette

This constructs good use of firm , not-so-ripe peaches. By macerating them in sugar and lime juice, you not only soften the fruit, but you also make a beautiful syrup to pour over the dish at the end. Rosemary, which Ive use both in this dish and in the shrub, is a fantastic match for peach. Its a combining I detected only recently, and now I cant get enough of it. Serves four generously.

2 limes 1 peeled in 7 long strips, the other grated, to get 1 tsp, then both juiced, to get 1 tbsp
80 g caster sugar
2 big firm peaches, stoned and cut into 0.5 cm-thick slicings( 300 g net weight)
2 big sprigs rosemary, plus tbsp picked leaves
150 g creme fraiche
Plain flour, for dusting
200 g all-butter puff pastry
10 g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm pieces
1 egg, beaten
tsp cornflour

Heat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4.

Mix the lime juice with 60 g sugar in a large bowl, add the peaches, strips of lime skin and rosemary sprigs. Stir and set aside to macerate for at the least 40 minutes, and up to a couple of hours. Strain the peaches through a sieve set over a small saucepan, and dispose the rosemary and lime peel: you should end up with about 60 ml peach syrup.

Mix the grated zest and a teaspoon of sugar into the creme fraiche and refrigerate until ready to serve.

On a softly floured work surface, roll out the pastry into a 26 cm-wide circle only under 0.5 cm thick, then transfer to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

Arrange the strained peaches haphazardly in the middle of the pastry, leaving a clear 6cm border all around the edge, then fold this outer 6cm rim up and over the peaches. Dot the butter over the exposed peaches, then brush the pastry all over with beaten egg. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar evenly over the pastry and cook for 20 minutes, until its golden and the fill is beginning to bubble.

While the galette is baking, whisk the cornflour into the reserved peach syrup. Simmer over a medium-high hot until it thickens to the consistency of honey( about two minutes ), then pour over the peaches. Sprinkle the rosemary leaves on top and return the galette to the oven for 15 minutes, until the pastry is golden-brown and the filling bubbling.

Leave to cool slightly, then serve with a bowl of the lime creme fraiche on the side.

Peach and rosemary shrub

Shrubs( basically, sharp, sweet syrups) are traditionally used to flavour soft drink and cocktails. Theyre also great drizzled over desserts. In making this shrub, youre left with the bonus of 400g cooked peach pulp, which is delicious over yoghurt and granola( ensure next recipe) or ice-cream. Makes 600 ml.

1kg very ripe yellow peaches, stoned and roughly chopped
3 sprigs rosemary
120 ml apple cider vinegar
150 g caster sugar

Put everything into a large saucepan on a medium-high hot, and cook at a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has broken down and is the consistency of a thick compote.

Line a large sieve with muslin, then defined it over a large bowl or receptacle( make sure the sieve does not touch the bottom of the receptacle, so the liquid can drain through ). Tip the peach mix into the lined sieve and leave to drainage for one to two hours, until all the liquid has strained through. Discard the rosemary.

Store the shrub and the strained fruit in separate airtight receptacles in the refrigerator: the shrub will maintain for up to a month, the fruit for a week.

Strained peaches with granola and yoghurt

This is a great breakfast, but by all means convert it into a dessert by swapping the yoghurt for whipped cream or ice-cream. Serves four.

600 g Greek-style yoghurt
350 g-4 00 g strained peaches from inducing the shrub( insure previous recipe )
100 g granola
60 ml peach and rosemary shrub( insure previous recipe )
4 tsp honey
tsp Chinese five-spice
1 tsp approximately chopped rosemary leaves

Divide the yoghurt, strained peaches and granola between four serving bowl, dishing it up so that you can see each element. Pour the shrub over the strained peaches, then drizzle honey evenly over everything. Finish with a sprinkling each of five-spice and rosemary.

Peach and rosemary bellini

My ideal summer drink. Makes four.

120 ml peach and rosemary shrub( ensure previous recipe )
Finely shaved skin of 1 lemon (8 strips )
4 small rosemary sprigs
About 400 ml prosecco

Pour the shrub into the bottom of four champagne glasses. Add two strips of lemon peel and a rosemary sprig to each glass, top with prosecco and enjoy.

Grilled peaches and runner beans with goats cheese

Yotam
Yotam Ottolenghis grilled peaches and athlete beans with goats cheese. Photo: Louise Hagger for the Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay, assisted by Agathe Gits

This is an unusual, and delectable, combination. Serves four as a starter.

400 g athlete beans, stringy edges removed and cut on an slant into 8cm-long pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
Flaked sea salt and black pepper
2 firm peaches, stoned and cut into 0.5 cm-thick slices
5g mint leaves, approximately torn
tbsp lemon juice
80 g young, soft goats cheese, approximately broken into 4cm pieces
20 g roasted salted almonds, chopped
tbsp honey

Toss the beans in two tablespoons of oil and a half-teaspoon of salt. Heat up a barbecue or a ridged griddle pan on high hot, and cook the beans for three to four minutes on each side, until they get clear grill marks all over and are almost cooked. Transfer to a bowl and encompas with a plate for five to 10 minutes; the residual heat will softened the beans, so leave on their cover-up depending on how crunchy you like them.

Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil over the peach slicings and grill for one to two minutes a side, until they take on visible char marks.

Add the peaches and the mint to the bean bowl, then transfer to a platter and season with the lemon juice, an eighth of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Dot the cheese and almonds around the plate and finish with a drizzle of honey.

Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/ patron of Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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

Its easy to construct 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 build 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 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 attained in Italy using raw, unpasteurised milk, but thats not as widely available in the UK ).

Some recipes need 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 think. 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 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. 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 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 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 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 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 twisting 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 blend 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 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 spoon 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 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 foliages 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. Squeeze over the juice of the orange and a bit 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 roast 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 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 simmering 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 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 hot 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’ spring 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 flower: spring is here. In the kitchen, signs of winter are fading, although the greener things that spring will bring are still some style away. For render, its a no men 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 wintertime cook 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 stores, 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 blooms. This doubles their lifespan( theyll maintain 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 way into more of my cook than they might otherwise …

Herbs have been peppering everything I cook over the past few weeks: topping bright springtime stew, taking centre stage in soft herb omelettes, crowning gently spiced pilaf, and in pestos that sit under a golden slick of petroleum 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 constructs your mouth water like no other food I know: if there was ever a herb to get us “re ready for” springtime, this is it. I love it in salads, cooked 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 genuinely any combining of your favourites would work. This soup bridges the gap so perfectly: sunlight 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 more traditional British herbs rosemary, sage, thyme, bay add more when theyre used during the cook. Whether or not you follow one of todays recipes, keep this in mind if and when you decide to infuse a meal with herbal notes. Springtimes soft herbs need little( or nothing) by way of cooking to do their very best in a meal.

Spring herb and yoghurt soup( main picture)

Just about the perfect bowlful for this space between winter and spring. 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 most powerful the flavour the less of that herb you will need ). You require quite a gentle stock for this: if you are using cubes or powder then a cube or 1 tsp of powder will 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 stubbles separated
small bunch of tarragon, foliages and stubbles separated
1 bunch coriander, leaves and stalks separated
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stubbles divided
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 petroleum in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and celery and fry for about five minutes, stirring from time to time, 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 reeks 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 husks 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 top of the soup) and whizz again, until smooth.

4 Add the lemon juice and taste, 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 along with the juice of a lemon, then approximately 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 builds your mouth water like no other food I know, tells Anna Jones. Photo: 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 newspaper
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, dedicating a shake once or twice during the course of its cook time. With 15 minutes to run, put the tray with the lentils into the oven. Roast until they are crisp and beginning to blister; the radishes and potatoes should be soft and golden brown at the edges.

4 Meanwhile, stimulate the dressing by whisking the yoghurt with a little squeeze of the lemon and the olive oil. Season well with salt and black pepper, savour 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 author of A Modern Way to Eatand A Modern Way to Cook( Fourth Estate ); annajones.co.uk; @we_are_food

Yotam Ottolenghi’s peach recipes

There are few things as, er, peachy as a ripe peach( and even unripe ones have their employs)

I went to a party earlier this summer and took a tray of ripe peaches instead of a bottle of wine. I would never have dreamed of taking a tray of, say, avocados or a bunch of bananas. Its not that those fruit are any less special; its merely that they dont have quite the same wow factor, that seducing, eat me now appear of a perfectly ripe peach.

The difference between peaches and avocados is all to do with the way the fruits ripen. Bananas and avocados( along with pears and tomatoes) are climacteric and often store their sugar in the form of starch. Once picked, a simple hydrocarbon gas called ethylene triggers the process that converts that starch back to sweetness. This constructs such fruit a logistical dreaming for those who grow and sell them: they can be picked unripe and shipped hard( so theyre not prone to bruising ), and ripened once the travel is done.( On a smaller scale, you can achieve a similar impact at home by putting an unripe fruit in a paper bag with a ripe one. The ripe fruit will emit ethylene, which helps ripen the unripe fruit .)

Peaches, on the other hand, are not such a peachy logistical dreaming. Along with other non-climacteric fruit such as pineapple, citrus, most berries and melons, they dont store starch, so they dont go across the same process of converting it into sugar. Theyll continue to soften once picked, sure, and also develop an perfume, but their sweetness wont develop any more post-picking.( The cold temperature at which they are stored when shipped and stocked, to prolong shelf life, also means the flesh often turns very mealy .)

Thats why I consider a tray of ripe peaches as something of a gift: feeing them right there and then, and hitting that sweet spot, really is worthy of a celebration. Its also why I reserve firmer fruit for cakes and tarts; overripe ones go into jams, compotes or todays shrub. Hard peaches may lack some natural sweetness, true, but you can draw that out depending on how you cook them. They also have the advantage of being robust enough to hold their shape: chargrill wedges and pair with slice of salty corpuscle or pork belly, spoons of creamy cheese or a hard herb such as rosemary.

Peach, rosemary and lime galette

This constructs good employ of firm , not-so-ripe peaches. By macerating them in sugar and lime juice, you not only soften the fruit, but you also make a beautiful syrup to pour over the dish at the end. Rosemary, which Ive employed both in this dish and in the shrub, is a fantastic match for peach. Its a combining I detected only recently, and now I cant get enough of it. Serves four generously.

2 limes 1 peeled in 7 long strips, the other grated, to get 1 tsp, then both juiced, to get 1 tbsp
80 g caster sugar
2 big firm peaches, stoned and cut into 0.5 cm-thick slicings( 300 g net weight)
2 big sprigs rosemary, plus tbsp picked leaves
150 g creme fraiche
Plain flour, for dusting
200 g all-butter puff pastry
10 g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm pieces
1 egg, beaten
tsp cornflour

Heat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4.

Mix the lime juice with 60 g sugar in a large bowl, add the peaches, strips of lime skin and rosemary sprigs. Stir and set aside to macerate for at least 40 minutes, and up to a couple of hours. Strain the peaches through a sieve set over a small saucepan, and discard the rosemary and lime peel: you should end up with about 60 ml peach syrup.

Mix the grated zest and a teaspoon of sugar into the creme fraiche and refrigerate until ready to serve.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry into a 26 cm-wide circle only under 0.5 cm thick, then transfer to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

Arrange the strained peaches haphazardly in the midst of the pastry, leaving a clear 6cm perimeter all around the edge, then fold this outer 6cm rim up and over the peaches. Dot the butter over the exposed peaches, then brush the pastry all over with beaten egg. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar evenly over the pastry and bake for 20 minutes, until its golden and the filling is beginning to bubble.

While the galette is baking, whisk the cornflour into the reserved peach syrup. Simmer over a medium-high hot until it thickens to the consistency of honey( about two minutes ), then pour over the peaches. Sprinkle the rosemary foliages on top and return the galette to the oven for 15 minutes, until the pastry is golden-brown and the filling bubbling.

Leave to cool slightly, then serve with a bowl of the lime creme fraiche on the side.

Peach and rosemary shrub

Shrubs( basically, sharp, sweet syrups) are traditionally are applied to flavour soft drinks and cocktails. Theyre also great drizzled over desserts. In making this shrub, youre left with the bonus of 400g cooked peach pulp, which is delicious over yoghurt and granola( watch next recipe) or ice-cream. Makes 600 ml.

1kg very ripe yellow peaches, stoned and approximately chopped
3 sprigs rosemary
120 ml apple cider vinegar
150 g caster sugar

Put everything into a large saucepan on a medium-high hot, and cook at a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has broken down and is the consistency of a thick compote.

Line a large sieve with muslin, then set it over a large bowl or container( make sure the sieve does not touch the bottom of the container, so the liquid can drain through ). Tip the peach mix into the lined sieves and leave to drain for one to two hours, until all the liquid has strained through. Discard the rosemary.

Store the shrub and the strained fruit in separate airtight containers in the fridge: the shrub will maintain for up to a month, the fruit for a week.

Strained peaches with granola and yoghurt

This is a great breakfast, but by all means convert it into a pudding by swapping the yoghurt for whipped cream or ice-cream. Serves four.

600 g Greek-style yoghurt
350 g-4 00 g strained peaches from building the shrub( ensure previous recipe )
100 g granola
60 ml peach and rosemary shrub( see previous recipe )
4 tsp honey
tsp Chinese five-spice
1 tsp approximately chopped rosemary foliages

Divide the yoghurt, strained peaches and granola between four serving bowls, dishing it up so that you can see each element. Pour the shrub over the strained peaches, then drizzle honey evenly over everything. Finish with a sprinkling each of five-spice and rosemary.

Peach and rosemary bellini

My ideal summer drink. Makes four.

120 ml peach and rosemary shrub( see previous recipe )
Finely shaved skin of 1 lemon (8 strips )
4 small rosemary sprigs
About 400 ml prosecco

Pour the shrub into the bottom of four champagne glass. Add two strips of lemon peel and a rosemary sprig to each glass, top with prosecco and enjoy.

Grilled peaches and runner beans with goats cheese

Yotam
Yotam Ottolenghis grilled peaches and athlete beans with goats cheese. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay, assisted by Agathe Gits

This is an unusual, and delectable, combination. Serves four as a starter.

400 g athlete beans, stringy edges removed and cut on an slant into 8cm-long pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
Flaked ocean salt and black pepper
2 firm peaches, stoned and cut into 0.5 cm-thick slices
5g mint foliages, roughly torn
tbsp lemon juice
80 g young, soft goats cheese, approximately broken into 4cm pieces
20 g roasted salted almonds, chopped
tbsp honey

Toss the beans in two tablespoons of petroleum and a half-teaspoon of salt. Heat up a barbecue or a ridged griddle pan on high hot, and cook the beans for three to four minutes on both sides, until they get clear grill marks all over and are nearly cooked. Transfer to a bowl and cover-up with a plate for five to 10 minutes; the residual heat will softened the beans, so leave on their cover depending on how crunchy you like them.

Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil over the peach slices and grill for one to two minutes a side, until they take on visible char marks.

Add the peaches and the mint to the bean bowl, then transfer to a platter and season with the lemon juice, an eighth of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Dot the cheese and almonds around the plate and finish with a drizzle of honey.

Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/ patron of Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Yotam Ottolenghi’s peach recipes

There are few things as, er, peachy as a ripe peach( and even unripe ones have their utilizes)

I went to a party earlier the summer months and took a tray of ripe peaches instead of a bottle of wine. I would never have dreamed of taking a tray of, say, avocados or a bunch of bananas. Its not that those fruit are any less special; its only that they dont have quite the same wow factor, that tempting, feed me now look of a perfectly ripe peach.

The difference between peaches and avocados is all to do with the way the fruit ripen. Bananas and avocados( along with pears and tomatoes) are climacteric and often store their sugar in the form of starch. Once picked, a simple hydrocarbon gas called ethylene triggers the process that converts that starch back to sweetness. This constructs such fruit a logistical dreaming for those who grow and sell them: they can be picked unripe and shipped hard( so theyre not prone to bruising ), and ripened once the travel is done.( On a smaller scale, you can achieve a similar impact at home by putting an unripe fruit in a paper bag with a ripe one. The ripe fruit will emit ethylene, which helps ripen the unripe fruit .)

Peaches, on the other hand, are not such a peachy logistical dream. Along with other non-climacteric fruit such as pineapple, citrus, most berries and melons, they dont store starch, so they dont go across the same process of converting it into sugar. Theyll continue to soften once picked, sure, and also develop an odor, but their sweetness wont develop any more post-picking.( The cold temperature at which the objective is stored when shipped and stocked, to prolong shelf life, also means the flesh often turns very mealy .)

Thats why I regard a tray of ripe peaches as something of a gift: feeing them right there and then, and hitting that sweet spot, really is worthy of a festivity. Its also why I reserve firmer fruit for cakes and tarts; overripe ones go into jams, compotes or todays shrub. Hard peaches may absence some natural sweetness, true, but you can draw that out depending on how you cook them. They also have the advantage of being robust enough to hold their shape: chargrill wedges and pair with slices of salty corpuscle or pork belly, spoonfuls of creamy cheese or a hard herb such as rosemary.

Peach, rosemary and lime galette

This makes good utilize of firm , not-so-ripe peaches. By macerating them in sugar and lime juice, you not only soften the fruit, but you also make a beautiful syrup to pour over the dish at the end. Rosemary, which Ive utilized both in this dish and in the shrub, is a fantastic match for peach. Its a combining I detected only recently, and now I cant get enough of it. Serves four generously.

2 limes 1 peeled in 7 long strips, the other grated, to get 1 tsp, then both juiced, to get 1 tbsp
80 g caster sugar
2 large firm peaches, stoned and cut into 0.5 cm-thick slice( 300 g net weight)
2 large sprigs rosemary, plus tbsp picked leaves
150 g creme fraiche
Plain flour, for dusting
200 g all-butter puff pastry
10 g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm pieces
1 egg, beaten
tsp cornflour

Heat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4.

Mix the lime juice with 60 g sugar in a large bowl, add the peaches, strips of lime scalp and rosemary sprigs. Stir and set aside to macerate for at the least 40 minutes, and up to a couple of hours. Strain the peaches through a sieve set over a small saucepan, and discard the rosemary and lime peel: you should end up with about 60 ml peach syrup.

Mix the grated zest and a teaspoon of sugar into the creme fraiche and refrigerate until ready to serve.

On a lightly floured run surface, roll out the pastry into a 26 cm-wide circle just under 0.5 cm thick, then transfer to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

Arrange the strained peaches haphazardly in the middle of the pastry, leaving a clear 6cm perimeter all around the edge, then fold this outer 6cm rim up and over the peaches. Dot the butter over the exposed peaches, then brush the pastry all over with beaten egg. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar evenly over the pastry and bake for 20 minutes, until its golden and the fill is beginning to bubble.

While the galette is baking, whisk the cornflour into the reserved peach syrup. Simmer over a medium-high heat until it thickens to the consistency of honey( about two minutes ), then pour over the peaches. Sprinkle the rosemary leaves on top and return the galette to the oven for 15 minutes, until the pastry is golden-brown and the fill bubbling.

Leave to cool slightly, then serve with a bowl of the lime creme fraiche on the side.

Peach and rosemary shrub

Shrubs( basically, sharp, sweet syrups) are traditionally used to flavour soft drink and cocktails. Theyre also great drizzled over desserts. In making this shrub, youre left with the bonus of 400g cooked peach pulp, which is delicious over yoghurt and granola( find next recipe) or ice-cream. Makes 600 ml.

1kg very ripe yellow peaches, stoned and approximately chopped
3 sprigs rosemary
120 ml apple cider vinegar
150 g caster sugar

Put everything into a large saucepan on a medium-high hot, and cook at a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has broken down and is the consistency of a thick compote.

Line a large sieve with muslin, then set it over a large bowl or container( make sure the sieve does not touch the bottom of the container, so the liquid can drain through ). Tip the peach mix into the lined sieves and leave to drain for one to two hours, until all the liquid has strained through. Discard the rosemary.

Store the shrub and the strained fruit in separate airtight receptacles in the fridge: the shrub will maintain for up to a month, the fruit for a week.

Strained peaches with granola and yoghurt

This is a great breakfast, but by all means convert it into a pudding by swapping the yoghurt for whipped cream or ice-cream. Serves four.

600 g Greek-style yoghurt
350 g-4 00 g strained peaches from attaining the shrub( assure previous recipe )
100 g granola
60 ml peach and rosemary shrub( ensure previous recipe )
4 tsp honey
tsp Chinese five-spice
1 tsp roughly chopped rosemary foliages

Divide the yoghurt, strained peaches and granola between four serving bowl, dishing it up so that you can see each element. Pour the shrub over the strained peaches, then drizzle honey evenly over everything. Finish with a sprinkling each of five-spice and rosemary.

Peach and rosemary bellini

My ideal summer drink. Makes four.

120 ml peach and rosemary shrub( insure previous recipe )
Finely shaved scalp of 1 lemon (8 strips )
4 small rosemary sprigs
About 400 ml prosecco

Pour the shrub into the bottom of four champagne glasses. Add two strips of lemon peel and a rosemary sprig to each glass, top with prosecco and enjoy.

Grilled peaches and athlete beans with goats cheese

Yotam
Yotam Ottolenghis grilled peaches and athlete beans with goats cheese. Photo: Louise Hagger for the Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay, assisted by Agathe Gits

This is an unusual, and delectable, combination. Serves four as a starter.

400 g runner beans, stringy edges removed and cut on an slant into 8cm-long pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
Flaked sea salt and black pepper
2 firm peaches, stoned and cut into 0.5 cm-thick slices
5g mint foliages, roughly torn
tbsp lemon juice
80 g young, soft goats cheese, approximately broken into 4cm pieces
20 g roasted salted almonds, chopped
tbsp honey

Toss the beans in two tablespoons of oil and a half-teaspoon of salt. Heat up a barbecue or a ridged griddle pan on high hot, and cook the beans for three to four minutes on each side, until they get clear grill marks all over and are nearly cooked. Transfer to a bowl and covering with a plate for five to 10 minutes; the residual heat will softened the beans, so leave on their covering depending on how crunchy you like them.

Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil over the peach slicings and grill for one to two minutes a side, until they take on visible char marks.

Add the peaches and the mint to the bean bowl, then transfer to a platter and season with the lemon juice, an eighth of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Dot the cheese and almonds around the plate and finish with a drizzle of honey.

Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/ patron of Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.

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 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

Yotam Ottolenghi’s peach recipes

There are few things as, er, peachy as a ripe peach( and even unripe ones have their utilizes)

I went to a party earlier the summer months and took a tray of ripe peaches instead of a bottle of wine. I would never have dreamed of taking a tray of, say, avocados or a bunch of bananas. Its not that those fruit are any less special; its simply that they dont have quite the same wow factor, that seducing, feed me now appear of a perfectly ripe peach.

The difference between peaches and avocados is all to do with the style the fruit ripen. Bananas and avocados( along with pears and tomatoes) are climacteric and often store their sugar in the form of starch. Once picked, a simple hydrocarbon gas called ethylene triggers the process that converts that starch back to sweetness. This constructs such fruit a logistical dreaming for those who grow and sell them: they can be picked unripe and shipped hard( so theyre not prone to bruising ), and ripened once the travel is done.( On a smaller scale, you can achieve a similar impact at home by putting an unripe fruit in a paper bag with a ripe one. The ripe fruit will emit ethylene, which helps ripen the unripe fruit .)

Peaches, on the other hand, are not such a peachy logistical dreaming. Along with other non-climacteric fruit such as pineapple, citrus, most berries and melons, they dont store starch, so they dont go through the same process of converting it into sugar. Theyll continue to soften once picked, sure, and also develop an odor, but their sweetness wont develop any more post-picking.( The cold temperature at which they are stored when shipped and stocked, to prolong shelf life, also entails the flesh often turns very mealy .)

Thats why I consider a tray of ripe peaches as something of a gift: feeing them right there and then, and hitting that sweet place, really is worthy of a gala. Its also why I reserve firmer fruit for cakes and tarts; overripe ones go into jams, compotes or todays shrub. Hard peaches may absence some natural sweetness, true, but you can draw that out depending on how you cook them. They also have the advantage of being robust enough to hold their shape: chargrill wedges and pair with slice of salty tinge or pork belly, spoonfuls of creamy cheese or a hard herb such as rosemary.

Peach, rosemary and lime galette

This constructs good utilize of firm , not-so-ripe peaches. By macerating them in sugar and lime juice, you not only soften the fruit, but you also make a beautiful syrup to pour over the dish at the end. Rosemary, which Ive utilized both in this dish and in the shrub, is a fantastic match for peach. Its a combining I discovered only recently, and now I cant get enough of it. Serves four generously.

2 limes 1 peeled in 7 long strips, the other grated, to get 1 tsp, then both juiced, to get 1 tbsp
80 g caster sugar
2 large firm peaches, stoned and cut into 0.5 cm-thick slices( 300 g net weight)
2 large sprigs rosemary, plus tbsp picked leaves
150 g creme fraiche
Plain flour, for dusting
200 g all-butter puffed pastry
10 g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm pieces
1 egg, beaten
tsp cornflour

Heat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4.

Mix the lime juice with 60 g sugar in a large bowl, add the peaches, strips of lime scalp and rosemary sprigs. Stir and set aside to macerate for at least 40 minutes, and up to a couple of hours. Strain the peaches through a sieve defined over a small saucepan, and discard the rosemary and lime peel: you should end up with about 60 ml peach syrup.

Mix the grated zest and a teaspoon of sugar into the creme fraiche and refrigerate until ready to serve.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry into a 26 cm-wide circle merely under 0.5 inches thick, then transfer to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

Arrange the strained peaches haphazardly in the middle of the pastry, leaving a clear 6cm perimeter all around the edge, then fold this outer 6cm rim up and over the peaches. Dot the butter over the exposed peaches, then brush the pastry all over with beaten egg. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar evenly over the pastry and bake for 20 minutes, until its golden and the filling is beginning to bubble.

While the galette is baking, whisk the cornflour into the reserved peach syrup. Simmer over a medium-high heat until it thickens to the consistency of honey( about two minutes ), then pour over the peaches. Sprinkle the rosemary foliages on top and return the galette to the oven for 15 minutes, until the pastry is golden-brown and the fill bubbling.

Leave to cool somewhat, then serve with a bowl of the lime creme fraiche on the side.

Peach and rosemary shrub

Shrubs( basically, sharp, sweet syrups) are traditionally used to flavour soft drink and cocktails. Theyre also great drizzled over desserts. In making this shrub, youre left with the bonus of 400g cooked peach pulp, which is delicious over yoghurt and granola( assure next recipe) or ice-cream. Makes 600 ml.

1kg very ripe yellow peaches, stoned and roughly chopped
3 sprigs rosemary
120 ml apple cider vinegar
150 g caster sugar

Put everything into a large saucepan on a medium-high heat, and cook at a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has broken down and is the consistency of a thick compote.

Line a large sieve with muslin, then set it over a large bowl or receptacle( make sure the sieve does not touch the bottom of the receptacle, so the liquid can drain through ). Tip the peach mix into the lined sieve and leave to drain for one to two hours, until all the liquid has strained through. Discard the rosemary.

Store the shrub and the strained fruit in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator: the shrub will maintain for up to a month, the fruit for a week.

Strained peaches with granola and yoghurt

This is a great breakfast, but by all means convert it into a dessert by swapping the yoghurt for whipped cream or ice-cream. Serves four.

600 g Greek-style yoghurt
350 g-4 00 g strained peaches from building the shrub( insure previous recipe )
100 g granola
60 ml peach and rosemary shrub( see previous recipe )
4 tsp honey
tsp Chinese five-spice
1 tsp approximately chopped rosemary leaves

Divide the yoghurt, strained peaches and granola between four serving bowls, dishing it up so that you can see each element. Pour the shrub over the strained peaches, then drizzle honey evenly over everything. Finish with a sprinkling each of five-spice and rosemary.

Peach and rosemary bellini

My ideal summer drink. Makes four.

120 ml peach and rosemary shrub( consider previous recipe )
Finely shaved skin of 1 lemon (8 strips )
4 small rosemary sprigs
About 400 ml prosecco

Pour the shrub into the bottom of four champagne glass. Add two strips of lemon peel and a rosemary sprig to each glass, top with prosecco and enjoy.

Grilled peaches and runner beans with goats cheese

Yotam
Yotam Ottolenghis grilled peaches and athlete beans with goats cheese. Photo: Louise Hagger for the Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay, assisted by Agathe Gits

This is an unusual, and delectable, combining. Serves four as a starter.

400 g athlete beans, stringy edges removed and cut on an slant into 8cm-long pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
Flaked ocean salt and black pepper
2 firm peaches, stoned and cut into 0.5 cm-thick slices
5g mint foliages, roughly torn
tbsp lemon juice
80 g young, soft goats cheese, approximately broken into 4cm pieces
20 g roasted salted almonds, chopped
tbsp honey

Toss the beans in two tablespoons of petroleum and a half-teaspoon of salt. Heat up a barbecue or a ridged griddle pan on high heat, and cook the beans for three to four minutes on each side, until they get clear grill marks all over and are virtually cooked. Transfer to a bowl and encompas with a plate for five to 10 minutes; the residual heat will softened the beans, so leave on their cover-up depending on how crunchy you like them.

Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil over the peach slices and grill for one to two minutes a side, until they take on visible char marks.

Add the peaches and the mint to the bean bowl, then transfer to a platter and season with the lemon juice, an eighth of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Dot the cheese and almonds around the plate and finish with a drizzle of honey.

Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/ patron of Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.

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