Fresh and Baked Ricotta

In Wellman, Iowa, Joanna and Geoff Mouming concocted a fresh take on the traditional barn (making it modern with the help of DeForest Architects) and in their open kitchen, regularly cook up a slew of homemade eats. Here, Joanna, the marketing director for Kalona Organics and Kalona SuperNatural, shares her recipe for fresh ricotta cheese and baked ricotta cheese.

Joanne's homemade ricotta cheese draining in cheesecloth.
Joanne's homemade ricotta cheese draining in cheesecloth.

Fresh Ricotta Cheese

Homemade ricotta cheese is a mainstay at Yum Yum Farm. Making it from scratch is easier than you think, and in my recipe buttermilk both serves as the culture and lends amazing flavor to the cheese.

yum yum farm house kitchen storage space ladder
The Moumings' kitchen has served as a set location for a number of Kalona's photo shoots. "We might even do a cooking show in our kitchen," Joanna says. Photo by Mark Mahaney.

Ingredients:

96 ounces whole milk

32 ounces half and half

32 ounces buttermilk

1 teaspoon salt

Method:

1. Add all ingredients to a saucepan and heat on medium on stovetop, stirring to prevent the milk from burning. 

2. After 10-15 minutes the mixture will steam and then curd. Turn heat down when curds begin to develop and stir for 2 minutes. (Note: the curding appears subtly, but trust your eye as you notice its appearance change).

3. Remove and pour mixture into fine sieve, cheesecloth, or a good-size, clean flour sack towel. Let drain over sink until desired consistency. Treat yourself to a preview while ricotta is still warm (after draining) by spooning a little out and adding a sprinkle of cinnamon, a drizzle of honey, and a few toasted pine nuts on top.

4. Use in recipes as desired. 

Baked Ricotta

Joanna's homemade baked ricotta cheese.
Joanna's homemade baked ricotta cheese.

Baked ricotta, served warm and golden, always wows guests at Yum Yum Farm. It can be made in any volume, just adjust the amount of cheese and herbs then cook in pie plate, ramekin, or whatever dish makes sense.

Ingredients:

Ricotta cheese

Chopped savory herb (marjoram, rosemary, or thyme)

Olive oil

Method:

1. Oil glass ramekin or pie plate and preheat oven to 375F. 

2. Mix drained ricotta with herb of choice and spoon into backing dish. Drizzle olive oil over the top. Add ground pepper if desired. 

3. Slip into heated oven and bake until the top develops a nice golden color. 

4. Remove from oven, cool just enough to handle and invert onto plate.

5. Slice into wedges and serve as an appetizer or as part of a meal spread.

Joanna Mourning, Geoff Mouming, yum yum farm, farm house, iowa city, john deforest
Geoff, a fledgling organic farmer who runs a landscaping business, and Joanna, a devoted cook, developed a taste for modernism over the years. They wanted their house to blend modernist ideas with the agrarian Iowa landscape. Photo by Mark Mahaney.

Read the full story about Joanna and Geoff Mouming's home (the Yum Yum Farm) and see it featured in Dwell's special 100 Kitchens We Love issue, on newsstands April 5, 2011.

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