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In the Kitchen With: Catherine and Tricia’s Ohio Oat & Seed Bars and Homemade Ricotta

by Kristina Gill


I will share a little secret with you: Every time I think about eating honey, I either hear the Abba song “Honey Honey” in my head, or I think about Pooh getting stuck in the opening to Rabbit’s den because he ate too much honey and condensed milk (never mind the bread). I thought about both this week when I saw these beautiful recipes for homemade ricotta cheese (to eat with your favorite honey) and Ohio Oat & Seed Bars by food photographer Catherine Murray and founder of Edible Columbus, Tricia Wheeler. I love honey and am lucky enough to have a farm not too far away that offers quite a few varieties of local honey, including my favorite chestnut honey. I love it swirled into yogurt or drizzled on a piece of buttered toast. For a granola recipe using honey, see the Curiosity Shoppe’s recipe. For more recipes like the homemade ricotta, visit Ashley’s Small Measures column archive! — Kristina

About Catherine and Tricia: Catherine Murray is the owner of Photo Kitchen, a food photography company based in Columbus, Ohio. She is a food and photo veteran, with seven years in the photography industry and seven years before that in the restaurant industry.

Ohio native Tricia Wheeler is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York City. After completing her degree, she knew she wanted to follow her passion for local food and returned to Ohio where she started Edible Columbus, an Edible Communities magazine dedicated to local food.

Honeys pictured include Jorgensen Farms’ Triple Lemon Honey, Honeyrun Farm’s Black Locust Honey, Honey Health Farms’ Pure Honey, and Barry’s Bees Creamed Honey.

Read the recipes after the jump!

Homemade Ricotta
Makes about 1 lb

The recipe produces very delicate and smooth ricotta. It really matters what kind of dairy you use; organic whole milk and not ultra-pasteurized cream are best, if possible. I also want to emphasize the importance of timing: Do not overheat the milk-cream mixture, and do not let it boil. Otherwise, you will end up with tough and rubbery curd. And please, remember that the adjective “fresh” is applicable for a couple days only, so consume the cheese within two days.

Ingredients

  • 2 liters (1/2 gallon) whole milk (Snowville)
  • 1 cup whipping cream, preferably organic, pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • optional — favorite herb (chives, parsley, thyme and oregano are great)

 

Preparation

1. In a large, heavy-bottom pot, combine the milk, cream, and salt. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom from scorching, until an instant-read thermometer registers 180ºF. Add the lemon juice and stir.

2. Reduce the heat to low, and continue heating the mixture until the curds form (not just when the milk curdles — it happens immediately after the lemon juice is added — but when the whey separates and the curds are obvious). DO NOT let the mixture come to a boil.

3. Remove the pan from the burner and let stand for a little while (about 10 to 15 minutes) to cool slightly. Meanwhile, line a sieve with several layers of cheese cloth. Set the colander over a large bowl (if you plan to keep the whey) or over the sink (if you plan to discard the whey). Transfer the cheese into the lined colander, and drain for about 15 minutes to 1 hour (or longer, if you plan to use the ricotta as a filling in pies or pastries, or if any particular recipe specifies so). Combine with herbs.

4. Transfer the cheese into a lidded container and store in the refrigerator. The ricotta will firm up after several hours in the refrigerator. Consume within two days.

 

Ohio Oat & Seed Bars
Recipe by Tricia Wheeler

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, more for greasing the pan
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups steel-cut oats
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • pinch of salt

 

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, and then line the sides with parchment paper.

2. Melt the butter, honey and brown sugar in a large saucepan — watch and stir until the caramel forms, about 5 minutes. Stir in oats, seeds and salt; cook for 3 minutes.

3. Scrape mixture into a prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake for about 20 minutes until brown on the edges.

4. Let cool completely in the pan. Run a knife along side edges of the pan, cut them in half and then slice them into bars. The bars keep up to 3 days at room temperature and up to a week if refrigerated.

Why Catherine and Tricia Chose These Recipes
We love local honey because it’s healthy, multi-seasonal, beautiful and you can find it everywhere! Honey is not only delicious, but it’s also a natural energy booster and is fantastic for the immune system. These recipes are simple, versatile and highlight honey in every bite. You can make unlimited variations of both by adding dried cherries, chocolate or coconut to the honey oat bars, or using the honey and ricotta on bruschetta, in pancakes or even in ice cream!

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