Thursday, December 30, 2010

Appetizers Make New Year's Party

We're coming upon New Year's Eve. Happy New Year!

May this year bring you joy and happiness. May all your creative endeavors be positive. May you laugh and be surrounded by laughter. May you love and be surrounded by love.

And may you enjoy good company of friends (if you so desire).

For New Year's festivities, I'm always looking for new appetizers? Things I can serve on the 31st. Things I can serve watching football or while reading a good book (while others watch football).

I've stumbled upon a terrific herbed ricotta appetizer that is so EASY to make and so delicious to eat, and they're pretty. A plateful looks beautiful. So does a platter-ful. And guys like them just as much as gals. [This can also be made as a bruschetta "sandwich".]

For this batch of appetizers, I decided to try my hand at cheese making first. I've been told that making ricotta cheese was the easiest, so that's what I tried.

Ricotta cheese is fabulous. It's luscious and yet delicate and light. Though it was "harder" to do than I imagined, I really enjoyed the experience and I would do it again (now that I'm a seasoned veteran).

Just so you know, homemade tastes even better than store-bought. Definitely.

To prepare, you need a sieve, cheesecloth, a mixing bowl, and a 6-quart pot. Oh...and the ingredients (of course). And patience.

(makes about 2 cups)

2 quarts whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
1 fresh lemon

You need a large sieve and cheesecloth.
Line the sieve with the cheesecloth and place the sieve over a large mixing bowl.
In a 6-quart pan, slowly bring the milk, the cream, and the salt to a boil over medium heat, stirring to prevent the mixture from scorching. This takes 3-4 minutes.

Squeeze the juice from one fresh lemon. It makes about 3 tablespoons. Add the lemon juice to the milk mixture, then reduce the mixture to low and continue stirring, about 2 minutes.
Pour the mixture on top of the cheesecloth in the sieve and let it drain for about an hour.
Discard the liquid in the bowl and reserve only the “curds” that are on top of the cheesecloth.
Keep the ricotta in a covered container and refrigerate. It will keep 3-4 days.

Now...for the appetizer, which IS EASY to make...



2 cups ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons scallions, minced
2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
2 tablespoos chives, minced
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 loaf sourdough bread or your favorite crackers
olive oil [FOR BRUSCHETTA]
1 whole garlic clove, cut in half [FOR BRUSCHETTA]

As I said, this may be made a couple of ways. Like a bruschetta (a meal) or just as a cold appetizer.

For appetizer: [easy!]

Combine the ricotta, scallions, dill, chives, salt and ½ teaspoon ground pepper.

Spread a tablespoon of the cheese on your favorite crackers.
Garnish with crushed pepper. [Do not use the oil or garlic from the ingredients above.]

For bruschetta: [a little more involved] [Sorry I don't have pictures of this one. We ate all the appetizers and ran out of the cheese mixture!]

Prepare a barbecue with medium-high heat.

Combine the ricotta, scallions, dill, chives, salt and ½ teaspoon ground pepper. Set aside.

Cut the bread in hafl and cut each half into 6 thick slices; 12 total.

When the grill is hot, brush the bread with oil and grill on each side for 2 minutes. Remove and rub with garlic clove.

Spread the herbed ricotta on the bread. Garnish with more pepper.

Serve with a crisp green salad.

If you want a few other appetizers from our Mystery Lovers Kitchen, click these links:

* * *
If you'd like to know more about A Cheese Shop Mystery series and want to download a few other recipes from me (on recipe cards), click on this link to my website: Avery Aames. I've posted recipes in the "morsels" section. There's lots of other fun stuff, as well. And sign up for the mailing list to get in on the next contest...coming soon.

Say cheese!


  1. I love the idea of creating a flavorful (+ healthy and lowfat) spread with ricotta. Brilliant! My Italian-born grandmother used to make her own cheese, but I've never done it. Thank you for sharing this. I think it's about time (armed with your recipe and tips) that I give it a try! Happy New Year, Avery!

    Saying Cheese as we welcome 2011!
    ~ Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  2. Aw, thanks, Cleo. This was a tasty concoction that I could have eaten all by my lonesome. :)


  3. Thank you for sharing Avery I have never made my own cheese, but now is as good time as any. Low fat is always good :).
    I might make a cheese ball as well.

    Happy News Years everyone! It has been nice getting to know a few of you the past few months I have been following.

  4. Thanks, Babs. It's so nice seeing regular friendly "faces" posting each week. All of you have given us a nice new set of friends.


  5. Why do I suspect that it's not as easy as you make it sound? But you're making me want to go into the kitchen and try it!

  6. I have never tried making ricotta, but have made cotage and 'farmer cheese'. This is similar, I think I see some coming from my kitchen soon!

  7. Kudos to you, Avery, for making your own ricotta! I may have to cheat and buy it to serve these appetizers, but I plan to do so, for sure. I love, love, love appetizers. Sometimes I prefer eating all appetizers instead of dinner so I thank you for these! The fact that you couldn't get pictures of the bruschetta made me laugh. I can't tell you the number of times I've had to hold the family back "Wait! I haven't taken pictures yet!? LOL
    Thanks for this great post!

  8. Janet, it really wasn't that hard, but I didn't quite understand that the cheese cloth went "into" the sieve. I tried to strap it across and had a bit of a mess. When it finally sank into the sieve on its own, that did the trick. It takes patience, but the result was worth it.

    @oldentimes - cottage and farmer cheese - those might be next.

    Julie - I'm with you. I adore appetizers. I can do an entire meal nibbling or "grazing" as my husband calls it.


  9. I have that problem with pictures, too! Now when we sit down to eat, my friends and family often ask, "Where's the camera?" LOL!

    Avery, this recipe reminds me of a cheesecake I made once. Same sort of concept with the cheesecloth. Oh! Forgot to start the bread dough for tomorrow -- must run and do that right now!

    ~ Krista

  10. I could eat just appetizers! This looks amazing, Avery. I love ricotta...yum.

  11. Krista - bread dough. I'm intrigued. What are you serving?

    Jenn, you and Julie and me! LOL


  12. I like Jenn's idea of just eating appetizers! Yum. Ricotta is one of my favorite things.