Sheep's Milk Ricotta Mousse With Strawberry Compote
July 1, 2013
A little workshop update before getting onto today's dessert: there are a few spots available for the workshop I am teaching with food stylist Tami Hardeman and prop stylist Mindi Shapiro July 26-28th in Birmingham (details here).
Two full days of complete hands on instructions about how to food style, prop and photograph challenging items such as cocktails, drinks, casseroles, dips and spreads. We will give you all our techniques and tips while working in a naturally lit professional photo studio in downtown Birmingham.
Every time I see berries I think about my parents, my family, my childhood, Provence and the Hautes Alpes. I can't help it. We would spend the greater part of the summer in the Alps where my parents have a chalet and pick berries by the side of the road. Wild strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries. It was one of the activities we loved to get involved in, as much as trout fishing on Sundays or snail "hunting" after the rain with my grandfather.
Buckets of strawberries, blueberries and blackberries would then be turned into jams and jellies. Jars upon jars would fill our pantry, my grandparents pantry and would be gifted to neighbors throughout the year. I always thought of my mother and grandmother as jam fairies. I do my best to follow suit and preserve or turn into jam the bounty of each season. I make smaller batches. I experiment a little bit more with spices and combinations.
I try to keep their teachings and legacy alive. I also turn much of what I gather and pick into baked goods, infusions and ice creams. When I get more than I can handle I make cobblers and crisps. Or clafoutis, sauces and compotes. Nothing gets lost. I love just cooking a big pot of berries into a soft compote to be spooned over yogurt, ice cream or mousse. A super simple way to end a summer meal. Soft textures and layers of flavors.
A few weeks ago, one of our freelance food stylists gifted me with a dozen eggs from her chickens and sheep's milk ricotta from her dairy farm, Dayspring Dairy. I knew right from the start that I wanted to turn the ricotta into a mousse. And layer it with berrries or berry compote. There is something special about homemade dairy. More so when you know the story and people behind it and what it took to have such treasure in my hands.
To make the most of that ricotta, I simply folded it with honey and whipped cream and layered it with softly cooked strawberries. A little soft, a little chunky, a little sweet and a whole lot perfect.
Sheep's Milk Ricotta Mousse And Strawberry Compote:
Serves 6 to 8
1 pound strawberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
juice and zest of one small lemon
1 cup sheep's milk ricotta (cow's milk works fine although a bit more subtle in flavor)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks
In a heavy saucepan, place the strawberries, sugar, lemon zest and juice and bring to a low boil over medium high heat. Stir well. Turn the heat to low and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook down the fruit, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
In large bowl, mix together the ricotta and honey. Gently fold in the whipped cream.
Layer the ricotta mixture and strawberry compote evenly among glasses or ramekins. Serve immediately.