"At Kitchen by Mike, we make our own ricotta," says McEnearney, "but you could use a good shop-bought basket ricotta. The chamomile dressing is good to relax the nerves and honey helps with allergies."
- 60 ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
- ½ lemon, thinly sliced
- 4-5 thyme sprigs
- 3 litres milk
- 200 ml double cream
- Juice of 5 lemons, strained
- 190 ml grapeseed oil
- 1½ tbsp loose-leaf chamomile tea
- 2 tsp honey
- Juice of 1 small lemon, or to taste
Asparagus, pea and chamomile salad
- 40 asparagus spears (about 3 bunches), trimmed
- 100 gm podded peas (200gm unpodded)
- 2 handfuls snow pea tendrils
- To serve: chamomile flowers and chamomile greens (optional)
- 1For ricotta, combine milk and cream in a large saucepan, add 2 tsp salt and warm over low heat to 85C on a thermometer (5-6 minutes). Stir in three-quarters of the lemon juice, then gradually add more until the milk splits (you may not need all the juice). Adjust the heat to maintain the temperature of the curds and whey at 85C for 5 minutes, then ladle the curds into a ricotta basket, colander or sieve set over a bowl to catch the whey. Stand at room temperature to drain (3 hours), then refrigerate until required. Makes about 1.4kg ricotta. Best used within a day or two of making.
- 2Preheat oven to 230C. Carefully turn out ricotta into an ovenproof frying pan or baking tray lined with baking paper, keeping the shape intact. Drizzle with olive oil, scatter with lemon slices and thyme, season to taste and bake until golden brown (20-25 minutes).
- 3Meanwhile, for chamomile dressing, warm oil, tea and honey in a small saucepan to 60C on a thermometer, then blend in a blender for 1 minute. Strain through a sieve lined with muslin, add lemon juice for acidity and season to taste.
- 4For asparagus, pea and chamomile salad, heat a char-grill pan over high heat. Drizzle a third of the asparagus with oil and char-grill until tender and beginning to blister (3-4 minutes). Set aside. Blanch peas and half the remaining asparagus until tender and bright green (2-3 minutes), then drain, refresh, drain again and combine with grilled asparagus in a large bowl. Thinly slice remaining asparagus lengthways on a mandolin into bowl, add snow pea tendrils, chamomile flowers and chamomile greens, and season to taste. Drizzle with chamomile dressing to taste and serve with baked ricotta, drizzled with a little extra-virgin olive oil.
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