Oh my gosh, I have so much deliciousness to report to you all, I don’t know where to begin. I suppose it all started last week after Food 52 reminded me of Marcella Hazan’s widely adored tomato sauce recipe and the NY Times reminded me of the pleasure of eating fresh ricotta cheese. And then I remembered seeing a Barefoot Contessa recipe for homemade ricotta cheese on Gwyenth Paltrow’s blog, which reminded me of a different GP entry about homemade pizza, all of which has led me to so many wonderful discoveries this week. Is your head spinning?

Let me summarize:

1. Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce is every bit as delicious as everyone has claimed. Before this past Tuesday, when I dipped my wooden spoon into a pot of gently simmering tomatoes, lifted it to my mouth, and tasted the freshest, lightest, most delectable flavors, I had never had great success making tomato sauce. Friends, family, and any of you out there who have tomato-sauce making fears, rest assured that you, too, can cook like an Italian grandmother. This sauce is gold.

2. Thanks to discovery #1, I’ve finally made a classic pizza margherita at home. One of my all-time favorite spots for thin-crust pizza is 2Amys in Washington D.C., which serves an incredible pizza margherita topped with a most memorable fresh tomato sauce. 2Amys Pizza was my first thought after tasting Hazan’s sauce. Now, I’ve accepted that until I build my wood burning oven, I’m not going to achieve a restaurant quality crust at home. But I no longer have an excuse for not making pizza margherita. This sauce is so damn good. I credit nothing other than the sauce for producing the pizza that emerged from my oven today. It was one of the best. Less is more is the key here: a thin layer of this sauce topped sparingly with fresh mozzarella cheese and a sprinkling of fresh basil out of the oven does the job. Yum yum yum.

3. Making fresh ricotta cheese at home is as easy as the Barefoot Contessa’s latest book promises. And it is SO delicious. I made myself nectarine and fresh ricotta bruschetta for lunch today. It was heaven. And then I remembered one of my all-time favorite pizza combinations — nectarine with basil and reduced balsamic — and made a variation of that for dinner. Tomorrow morning, I’m going to spread what’s left of my fresh ricotta on a toasted bagel and top it with one of my CSA tomatoes. I’m really living it up here.

The most fragrant purple basil freshly picked from my garden, a treat I have my brother-in-law to thank. Thanks Mr. T!

Making tomato sauce:

Straining homemade ricotta through cheesecloth:

Homemade tomato sauce and fresh ricotta cheese:

Sauce approved by a silent and contemplative kitchen assistant:

Classic pizza margherita:
With the help of Marcella Hazan's homemade tomato sauce, classic pizza margherita can be achieved at home with delectable results. And thanks to the Barefoot Contessa, making homemade ricotta is easy and delicious. // alexandracooks.com

Nectarine and ricotta pizza with fresh basil:

With the help of Marcella Hazan's homemade tomato sauce, classic pizza margherita can be achieved at home with delectable results. And thanks to the Barefoot Contessa, making homemade ricotta is easy and delicious. // alexandracooks.com
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A cheese cloth-lined sieve holding homemade ricotta.

Homemade Ricotta


  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 27 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups

Description

Source:The Barefoot Contessa via Goop


Ingredients

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons good white wine vinegar

Instructions

  1. Set a large fine-mesh sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen (or don’t) 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.
  2. Pour the milk and cream into a stainless steel or enameled pot. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).
  3. Pour the mixture into a cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth. Save the whey — you can make bread with it. Use the ricotta immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.

  • Category: Cheese
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American/Italian

Keywords: homemade, ricotta

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two quarts of homemade tomato sauce

Marcella Hazan Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter, Simplified


  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hours 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 quarts

Description

This is a modified/simplified recipe of Marcella Hazan’s famous tomato sauce with onion and butter. To sum up the changes: I don’t peel the tomatoes, I slice the onion and sweat it with the butter first, then add the tomatoes. After about an hour simmer, I purée it. This is just easier for me, and I find the taste of the sauce to still be fresh and bright.

Here I’ve doubled the quantities of the original recipe, so feel free to make a half batch or multiply the quantities if you wish, too.


Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 pounds tomatoes, dice into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onion and cook gently, lowering the heat if necessary, until the onions are soft, about 15 minutes. (The onions should take on very little color, but if they brown a little, it’s fine.)
  2. Add the tomatoes and salt to the pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring every so often to ensure the onion isn’t scorching on the bottom of the pan. (If you cover the pan for 2 minutes, the mixture will come to a boil more quickly.) Once the mixture is simmering, lower the temperature, so the mixture is gently bubbling—medium heat should do it. Simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally until the mixture has reduced and feels somewhat thick as you run a spoon through it. Purée with an immersion blender or transfer mixture to a food processor or blender (taking care to hold the lid down tightly lest it blast off due to the steam) and purée until smooth. Taste. Add more salt to taste.
  3. Once cool, transfer to storage containers and refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for months.

  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: homemade, tomato, sauce, Marcella, Hazan, simple, summer

Classic Pizza Margherita

Follow instructions for making dough and pizzas on this post.

1 recipe pizza dough
1 recipe tomato sauce (see above)
fresh mozzarella cheese
fresh basil leaves, sliced thinly after pizza is removed from oven

Nectarine and Fresh Ricotta Pizza
Dough yields 4 pizzas serving 3 to 4 people total

1 recipe pizza dough
1 recipe Homemade Ricotta Cheese (see above)
1-2 nectarines
olive oil
fresh basil leaves, sliced thinly after pizza is removed from oven