Elberta Fay Peaches with Ricotta & Mint

DESSERT RECIPES- Elberta Fay Peaches with Ricotta & Mint

There are times when you want something simple.

Perhaps that entails coming home after working a Monday, which really means Saturday, Sunday and Monday rolled into one long cigarillo that’s got you slightly lit up. Maybe you’re like me with a sweet tooth that runs deep and you’re trying to find healthier ways to sate the beast.

This recipe is simply good.

The key is starting with great ingredients, but you do that anyway, right? Recently, we made a batch of fresh homemade ricotta which is unbelievably lush and silky. I snuck a spoonful and licked the spoon clean. I eyed a peach in the fruit bowl and the mind started playing its tricks of tasting without tasting with the tongue. Creamy. Sweet with that tang of sunshine in forgiving flesh. Bright mint. Yes, this trio tasted like summer.

What I planned for dessert ended up becoming an afternoon treat.

elberta fay peaches

You can use nectarines, peaches found in the produce section of your store or if you happen upon some Elberta Fay Peaches, watch out. These beauties are best unadulterated. And that’s the key to summer anyways, isn’t it? It is the season for simplicity if ever there was one.  It is the best time to enjoy cool thick ricotta with juicy slices of peach and mint. It is a season for more people time and less kitchen time.

Peach, meet ricotta and mint- I think you all will be fast friends.

ricotta and peach recipe



Elberta Fay Peaches with Ricotta and Mint

(VARIATION: This combo would work well on a crostini. If you go that route, add your peach slices and sliced mint leaves to 1 T organic butter in a saute pan and saute over low heat for a few minutes or until peaches begin to fall apart slightly. Smear ricotta on crostini and top with a spoonful of peach.)


1. Cut your peach into slices and then layer in a small bowl.

2. Spoon in the fresh homemade ricotta.

3. Add the mint leaves whole or you could also slice them up.

(Optional: You can also sprinkle a dash of Saigon cinnamon on top and that is a lovely addition. Or enjoy as is.)




Asparagus Artichoke Basil Rosettes

VEGETARIAN RECIPES- Asparagus Artichoke Basil Rosettes



Asparagus Artichoke Basil Rosettes

YIELD: 7 servings (2 per person based on 14 rosettes)

When it comes to food for celebrations, we want to pull out all the stops. Initially, thinking about making these rosettes had me sweating bullets, but I conquered my fear and these were worth it! The variations and ideas for sauces is pretty limitless. For the filling, I used artichoke bottoms from a can because that’s what I had on-hand, but feel free to try these with steamed artichoke hearts instead.

1 pound asparagus

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped

¼ teaspoon olive oil

2 small cloves garlic, crushed

¼ cup whole milk

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 large egg

Dash of freshly cracked black pepper


1 package curly edged lasagna noodles


½ cup (5) Cento brand artichoke bottoms

½ cup fresh homemade ricotta

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Dash of freshly cracked black pepper


1. Set water to boil in a large soup pot. While it’s heating up, chop off the ends of asparagus near bottom of green part and before the pale ends (which can be hard to chew and stringy). Place asparagus in steamer basket in boiling water for about 3-4 minutes until asparagus turns bright green.

2. Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil into small sauté pan and add chopped basil leaves. Simmer until toasted. Remove from heat.

3. Drain asparagus and move spears to food processor receptacle. Add in crushed garlic cloves, basil leaves (and oil from pan), egg, salt, pepper and pour in milk. Puree until almost smooth (a little bit of chunkiness lends something rustic to this dish).

4. Wash out soup pot and then fill with 4-6 quarts of water. Set over high heat and cover until boiling. Add in lasagna noodles and turn heat down to medium. Let lasagna noodle sheets cook until al dente about 8-9 minutes based on package instructions. Stir occasionally and gently, taking care not to break noodle sheets.

5. While noodles are cooking, pour your asparagus sauce into a small serving bowl and then clean out the food processor receptacle. Once clean, transfer the artichoke bottoms and fresh homemade ricotta to the food processor receptacle along with cracked black pepper and kosher salt to taste. Puree until smooth.

6. Transfer artichoke ricotta filling to a small serving bowl.

7. Drain the lasagna sheets in a colander, taking care to rinse them with cold water, to help prevent sticking and also to make them easier to handle.

how to make lasagna rosettes

8. Take 1 lasagna sheet and set on a clean countertop. Take a tablespoon from your cutlery drawer and fill with artichoke ricotta (about 1 T filling per lasagna sheet). Set the tip of your spoon down in the middle of the lasagna noodle and drag it in a straight line, taking care to ensure even distribution. Then pinch the two corners together, like you would folding a sheet or blanket and begin to roll inward like a pinwheel.

rolling asparagus artichoke basil rosettes

making lasagna rosettes

You want to make sure they are tight both as you roll them and tight in the casserole dish. (I used a measuring cup to keep the rosettes from moving in the casserole dish and to keep them tight until enough of them were in the dish.)

tips on making lasagna rosettes

tightly packed in casserole dish

9. Keep rolling until you’ve used up your supplies. (In my case, I found a few of the lasagna sheets were mangled or falling apart so I only used the ones that were perfect which resulted in 14 rosettes. With this recipe, you can easily make 18, but that again is contingent on the shape of the noodles).

10. Once the casserole dish is full, carefully pour the asparagus basil sauce over the rosettes evenly so as to ensure even distribution over all rosettes. Refrigerate overnight.

11. On the evening you’re planning to serve the rosettes, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once the oven is heated up, cook for 15 minutes.





Decadence- Photo Essay

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PHOTO ESSAY- Decadence



Homemade Cinnamon Ricotta with Candied Kumquats and Hazelnuts

DIY RECIPES- Homemade Cinnamon Ricotta with Candied Kumquats

Ah, love.

Like most things in its infancy, time is marked off in months. As it matures and deepens, years replace months, then become double digit numbers worth exulting.

how to candy kumquats

Among the myriad understandings learned in the last year is the importance of celebration of the moments. This whole notion appeals to the poet in me, the photographer, both seeking to capture and describe a moment in suspension. To capture it is to lose it, to watch it develop into something else entirely.

how to candy kumquats

Several weeks ago, Nathan and I reached our six months married mark. Like any good wife, I wanted to give him something to commemorate the occasion. Like any good friend, I wanted to give him something that would bring him joy and elation.


homemade ricotta

His family originally hails from Wisconsin. In my mind I’ve developed a Willy Wonka type environs, except instead of all things sweet and replacing the chocolate river would be cheese. A parmesan cheese spray would burst forth from the silos where deep inside kneading of cheese and storage of cheese would take place. Bubbling up from that river of cheese- more cheese. And perhaps this might be a cheddar beer river because what goes better with cheese than beer. This can be attributed to my overactive imagination and a friend in college who would diligently wear a cheese hat during Packer games. That and Nathan’s story of a t-shirt that used to be worn in the family “Beer, cheese and a couple of weirdos.” If only I could find such a shirt as this…

He has taught me the art of picking a good wedge of extra sharp cheddar and I like to surprise him every now and then with some esoteric waxen wedge from Whole Foods. It’s how he had his first run-in with the now much loved Brillat Savarin.

Six months into marriage and all is well.

My dad once told me, “Annelies, what you need is a strong man. What any strong woman needs is a stronger man.” This said from my dad felt like a blessing- instead of recriminating my strong Latin American personality and disposition, he was ratifying it.

His dad being the wise guy that he is once told us, “in marriage, there are three of you: the husband, the wife and the marriage. Sometimes, as you’re making decisions, you need to consider what’s good for the marriage.”

And this gift of cheese is definitely good for the marriage.

homemade ricotta

That morning, I had ventured out to the farmer’s market. I had already begun concocting a plan to make homemade ricotta upon initially chatting with Jennifer Perillo on twitter a few weeks back. She had described how easy homemade ricotta is to make and I would not disagree with her. Her recipe is easy to follow and makes the silkiest ricotta you’ve ever tried. It kind of makes me want to give her a huge hug because Nathan sure did enjoy it! This particular trip to the farmer’s market had me venturing into Sur la Table for cheesecloth. I left feeling victorious in my conquest.

Nathan had stayed home that morning working on several songs. I walked upstairs and heard the loud strum of guitar inside. My market bag boasted some of my morning’s finds. As we began talking about dinner later in the day, I casually suggested several options and slipped in, “I think we should make cheese.”

making homemade ricotta

His eyes began glittering- that easy grin of his lit up his face as he declared, “really?” rather incredulously. “Oh, yeah,” I uttered with a hearty bit of swagger. “We’re going to make cheese.”

This might stand out as an example of us: Milk and cream and buttermilk coming to a gentle boil: Him keeping temperature and me setting the cheesecloth over the colander: the dance and the song.

We ate our homemade ricotta that night with crusty bread and a lush squash garnish, a favorite pairing since friend Chris first introduced me to it at SPQR. The next day our dessert consisted of ricotta served in small baking prep bowls with sliced strawberries, cacao nibs and a lengthy chat about the future.

As lovely as the ricotta tasted both times, may I suggest a tertiary possibility? Homemade cinnamon ricotta with candied kumquats and hazelnuts. This might be a dark horse in the running dessert for those teaser nights in San Francisco where it’s starting to heat up.

how to candy kumquats

My first candied kumquat stands out as a vivid memory. Olga and I visited the Greek island of Corfu a few years ago. For an afternoon, we meandered its streets and perused its shops. One shop possessed all sorts of fruits candied and shellacked in a large glass case and as we stood in line, the order could have been unanimous. Candied kumquats. This sweet and tart citrus you pop whole in your mouth became decadent and downright delicious. Ever since, I’ve been a fan of candying them. If I close my eyes, they take me back to sleepy Corfu, making me crave a Greek iced coffee.

The cinnamon infused into the ricotta was subtle, and a bit of an experiment. If I was to describe my method of cooking in my kitchen, it would be experimentation. I threw in the hazelnuts as a nutty counterpoint to the somewhat smoky citrus notes sweet and yet melding with the creamy ricotta easily, like a good harmony laying over a solid melody.

Like marriage. The give and take. The sweet and the tart. The better if together.

Homemade Cinnamon Ricotta with Candied Kumquats & Hazelnuts


Homemade Cinnamon Ricotta with Candied Kumquats and Hazelnuts

  • ½ cup homemade cinnamon ricotta (recipe below)
  • 30 candied kumquat slices (recipe below)
  • 25 hazelnuts

Dish up the ricotta and sprinkle the candied kumquats and hazelnuts on top. Serve this dessert in ramekins or other small bowls. Perfect for early summer or even as a mid-afternoon snack if you’re feeling the need for a luscious pick-me-up. If you want it a bit sweeter, you could always drizzle a dash of the kumquat simple syrup on top.

YIELD: Serves 6
how to candy kumquats

  • 8 kumquats, rinsed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup water

Slice kumquats.

how to candy kumquats

Place kumquats into a pot of boiling water for one minute. As you let them boil, in a different pot, combine 1 cup sugar with 1/2 cup water and let simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved.

how to make simple syrup

how to make simple syrup

Pour kumquats into colander and strain out the water.

how to candy kumquats

Place kumquats into a new pot of boiling water for another minute. Then pour the kumquats back into the colander. Put them in the simple syrup for 15 minutes and turn off heat.

how to candy kumquats

Place a vegetable steamer over a large glass measuring cup and carefully drain the simple syrup and kumquats into the strainer.

how to make flavored simple syrup

Let the kumquats dry. Reserve the kumquat simple syrup. Store kumquats for several days in the fridge.

drying kumquats

*Note: That remaining kumquat simple syrup is like liquid gold. Pour it from the measuring cup into a jar or bottle and place in the refrigerator. Use as a base to salad dressings, as a splash to brighten up sparkling water or a smidge to sweeten the ricotta on its own. Let your imagination have its way!

how to make kumquat simple syrup

~Makes ½ cup candied kumquats

homemade ricotta
adapted from Jennifer Perillo of In Jennie’s Kitchen
~ makes about 2 cups plus a few spoonfuls for taste testing

NOTE: As mentioned above, for the Homemade Cinnamon Ricotta with Candied Kumquats and Hazelnuts, I added cinnamon to the ricotta-making process as an experiment wanting to see how the spice might affect the cheese. It’s quite subtle but works well for this specific recipe. Jennifer Perillo’s recipe does not include the cinnamon so omit it if looking for a simpler ricotta.

Keep in mind the ricotta will thicken in the fridge, so don’t drain it too much, or it’ll end up dry and cakey. I also like to let it come to room temperature before serving.

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Add ingredients to a 4-quart pot. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.

how to make cinnamon ricotta

Meanwhile, line a sieve or fine mesh strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a deep bowl or pot.

how to make cinnamon ricotta

how to make cinnamon ricotta

Once curds begin to separate from the whey (liquid temperature will be between 175º and 200º), remove from heat. Gently spoon or ladle the curds into the cheesecloth-lined strainer.

how to make cinnamon ricotta

how to make cinnamon ricotta

how to make cinnamon ricotta

how to make cinnamon ricotta

You may need to gently gather the cheesecloth at the top to help the curds drain.

how to make cinnamon ricotta

Let curds sit in cheesecloth to drain liquid 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how creamy you’d like your ricotta. Store in refrigerator up to two days.

*NOTE: Perillo says the ricotta will thicken in the fridge. The first time we made this we drained too much liquid and the ricotta was very thick. The second time, we drained less liquid and found the consistency more to our liking. I think over time you get a deft eye for what is “right” to you.