Cheese is a favorite food in our house. Whether served simply with crackers, added to a recipe, or heated into a wonderfully gooey concoction, we like to keep an assortment on hand at all times. In fact, when we have three or fewer varieties in our dairy drawer, someone usually announces that it’s time to buy more. Yes, we live with a houseful of mice.
Over the past few years, our entire household’s cheese palate has expanded. The kids all have favorites, from smoked to gouda to fresh mozzarella to wedges of parmesan. While that does make for slightly more expensive snacking, I’d far rather they ate cheeses made from milk than who knows what chemical.
My husband and I also have developed a deeper appreciation for cheese. When shopping, we become excited like kids on Christmas Eve when we spy a triple cream brie or freshly made bocconcini. Recently, while shopping for dinner items, we found containers of fresh ricotta. We didn’t have a plan for it but knew that we needed to buy some.
You may wonder how much difference there could be between the mass produced ricotta you can find in any grocery store and fresh ricotta made in small batches at a local dairy. Simply put, the difference is huge. I apologize for the cliché, but fresh ricotta is as smooth as silk on your tongue. There is a richness and depth to it that can’t be found except in these small batches.
With flavor like that, I didn’t want to mix this ricotta with strong flavors that would mask its natural beauty. In fact, I would have baked the ricotta on its own, but it seemed that would produce a dry and dense dish. Instead I added a little liquid and a few accent flavors, which produced a light, flavorful cheese-filled ramekin.
1/2 cup ricotta
1/4 cup parmesan, freshly grated
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1-2 Tb. chives, chopped
Preheat oven to 300. Grease two 1-cup ramekins lightly with butter.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine ricotta, parmesan,and eggs. Stir in desired amount of chives. Divide mixture evenly between ramekins. Top with fontina. Bake for 30 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and enjoy!