Roasted Beets with Homemade Ricotta, Crispy Bacon, and Basil

I’ve been fascinated lately with the idea of making everything – including those ingredients we are accustomed to buying ready-made from the shops in convenient plastic tubs – from scratch. In this respect, of course, I’m about 30 years behind Alice Waters and 15 years behind most of Brooklyn. Also, although I’d like to try making my own goat cheese, for example, the unfortunate truth is that when all is said and done I’d probably prefer a nice Rocamadour or something equally French and delicious. Ricotta, however, is another story. It’s possible to find really good fresh ricotta in a supermarket, but more often than not good ricotta is the only thing you can’t find – everything else is laden with stabilizers and sugars and mystery additives. Also, everyone says making ricotta is really easy. What I’ve learned is that (1) making ricotta is easy, and (2) it really does taste better. Much, much better. Continue reading

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Butternut Squash and Ricotta Gnocchi

A lot of people are intimidated by gnocchi. With good reason, too – it’s hard to get gnocchi right. We’ve all had leaden, chewy gnocchi, and chances are we’ve even had them at Italian restaurants. Chances also are we’ve made them. I know that my first few attempts at making gnocchi were failures – either I overworked the dough, or I added too much flour, or I didn’t add enough and the gnocchi fell apart in the water. Yet that Platonic ideal of gnocchi has always been out there, tantalizingly: delicate, light, feathery-soft gnocchi that hold their shape yet yield at the slightest touch of a fork. I can (and do) make good gnocchi now, and there are tricks to it, which can be distilled to two basic rules. Continue reading