Our resident chef Mark Hix on the versatility of an old favourite: ricotta cheese

 
Mark Hix

Ricotta is one of those great, versatile cheeses, ideal for both sweet and savoury dishes and appropriate at any time of the year.

It’s actually a byproduct of rennet-coagulated cheesemaking, so it’s also environmentally sound. My fondest memory of ricotta – and believe me, there have been many fond memories – came about 20 years ago on the island of Panteleria, where we had ricotta that was but an hour old, with steam still coming off it.

I had a similar tofu moment in Tokyo when the bean curd was poured into a pot in the middle of the table. After five courses and some regular stirring, it was ready to eat: I’ve never eaten packet tofu since.

Ricotta fritters with rhubarb recipe

Ingredients

  • 2-3 sticks of rhubarb, trimmed
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp grenadine (optional)
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • Vegetable or corn oil for frying
  • Vanilla ice cream to serve

For the fritters:

  • 100-120g good quality ricotta, softened
  • A little vanilla essence
  • 100g Dove farm gluten free self raising flour plus extra for dusting Sparkling water to mix
  • Caster sugar for dusting

Method:

  • Mix the ricotta with the vanilla and roll into roughly 10p sized balls and place on a tray in the freezer.
  • Pre heat the oven to 200C/Gas mark 6.
  • Put the sugar and grenadine in a wide saucepan, add 150ml water and bring to the boil.
  • Cut the rhubarb into even sized, fairly neat pieces, either chunks or batons and transfer to an oven-proof dish. Pour over the sugar mixture, cover and cook in the oven for about 10 minutes until the rhubarb is just tender and kept its shape. £ Drain the liquid into a saucepan and bring back to the boil, then simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, after which you should dilute the corn flour in a little water and stir into the liquid until it’s thickened. Simmer gently for another minute. Pour over the rhubarb in a bowl and leave to cool.
  • Preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180°C in a large thick bottomed saucepan or electric deep fat fryer.
  • Meanwhile mix the flour and sugar with enough sparkling water to make a light batter. Have some kitchen paper ready on a plate or tray then roll the balls of ricotta in the flour, shaking off any excess, then fry a few at a time in the batter, depending on the size of your fryer, turning as they are cooking with a slotted spoon until golden. Transfer onto the kitchen paper and scatter with caster sugar.
  • Serve immediately with the rhubarb and a ball of ice cream.

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