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When making ricotta, it is essential to wash and dry everything very well to avoid contaminating the cheese.Maude Chauvin

Olive + Gourmando has become a Montreal institution since chef Dyan Solomon opened the restaurant in the city’s Old Port neighbourhood in the summer of 1998.

Solomon’s first cookbook, released this fall, is a love letter to the restaurant’s staff and, above all she says, to the customers who have made it a success.

“I wanted it for people who know Olive and love Olive,” she explains.

With more than 150 recipes, plus introductions to some of the staff as well as many of Solomon’s favourite stories from over the years, it’s also a great way for anyone who has never been to experience the place from their own home.

To that end, the cookbook is filled with Olive + Gourmando’s greatest hits. “We chose many of our best sellers,” Solomon says. The recipe for the restaurant’s sweet ricotta, which has been on the menu for 18 years, is a perfect example. “That’s one of the hallmark recipes of Olive. It’s very simple ingredients,” she says.

So too was the idea for it. “We wanted to make some kind of fresh cheese that was ours that we would serve in a sweet version in the morning.”

Enjoy it with a piece of crusty bread, or pair it with just about any other breakfast food.

Olive’s ricotta

Makes approximately 1 3/4 cups

  • 8 cups whole milk (3.25 per cent fat)
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 tbsp 35 per cent cream, plus more if needed
  • 1 tsp table salt

Place the milk and buttermilk in a large stainless steel pot. The pot should be very clean. Over medium-low heat, heat the mixture until it reaches 175 F on a thermometer. Remain close by and check the temperature regularly: The milk cannot boil or even simmer. Remove the pot from the heat and let rest 45 minutes uncovered.

Line a sieve with two layers of cheesecloth. The cheesecloth should be large enough to hang over the sides of the sieve.

The milk solids should have coagulated on the surface of the milk and formed a thick layer. Using a skimmer or spider, carefully remove the thick layer from the top of the milk and place it in the cheesecloth-lined sieve. If there are some remaining coagulated milk solids in the pot, spoon them out gently, without scraping the bottom, since these will be overcooked. Filter the liquid that remains after spooning out the solids. Fold the cheesecloth ends together. Let rest and drain for 1 hour 30 minutes at room temperature.

Transfer the cheese to a clean, dry bowl. Add the cream and salt, folding gently with a spatula. Taste the cheese with a clean spoon. If the ricotta is not soft enough, add a bit more cream. The ricotta is ready to eat, but can also be refrigerated. It will firm up after several hours in the refrigerator.

When making ricotta, it is essential to wash and dry everything very well to avoid contaminating the cheese. The ricotta will keep 5 to 7 days. If bacteria comes into contact with the cheese, it will shorten its shelf life.

Olive’s Sweet Ricotta variation: Top the ricotta with orange zest and sprinkle with Maldon salt. Drizzle liberally with honey.

Excerpted from Olive + Gourmando: The Cookbook by Dyan Solomon. Copyright © 2019. Published by KO Éditions. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.

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