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Dairy Report: Rocking Out and Rolling Over

(post, Kathleen Bauer)

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Enthusiastic doesn't begin to describe Lisa Jacobs of Jacobs Creamery. Originally from Ireland, she moved to the States with her family in the 80s and just a year ago decided she wanted to make cheese for a living. With the help of Garry Hansen of Lady-Lane Farm, she's done just that, and now has booths at the PSU, Hollywood, Milwaukie, Hillsdale, King, Eastbank and Lake Oswego farmers' markets in Portland, Oregon. And she just sent out her first newsletter this week. Here's an excerpt.

Holy smokes, what a week! The cheese room was a-rockin' this week. I processed 1,272 pounds of milk and, yes, show tunes and Willie Nelson were played and American Pie was belted out at full blast. Garry couldn't help himself and belted out a few tunes himself. I think the baby cows, which are closest to my cheese room, liked my singing because they started some of their own. They are awfully cute and work with what they have, which I respect, and there are a lot of moo moo mooooos.

One of the really super things about working with Garry is that he has cool dairy friends with very cool Jersey cows. Everyone loves Garry and always likes to help him, so when we were in need of some special equipment, he called up his dairy buds for a favor. I was given the task of picking up our borrowed gear and, boy, was I happy I did. I needed a cheese rake and Garry needed a snap thingy or other and so off I went to Coelho Dairy. They have 300 Jersey cows and I got the grand belle tour! Three hours later we were finishing up and he asked me if I wanted to see his truck. Are you kidding? Hell, yeah, I wanted to see it!

It was some truck. It has a Thermo King unit on it and is the box style van that I see the serious vendors at the market driving. Now, my van isn't small but it does seem inadequate compared to others. I must have some American spirit in me because I am starting to think with nine markets a week lined up, that bigger and colder might be better. That's very American because Americans all love things big and ice, ice, ice equals cold, cold, cold.

I am taking it to the doc to get inspected, so stay tuned. Stay away, too, because, as some of you have experienced, I roll over things from time to time. (Sorry about your measuring tape, Jaret.) If it happens that I get the truck, the Gorge-ites (people that live in the Gorge) that get me to deliver won't be the only ones on my route. We hope to offer a home delivery service in the fall and will be delivering fresh milk and yummy dairy goodies to your door. What a service!

I conclude this week with a super fab recipe for using my ricotta in your kitchen.

Ricotta Fritters (Polpette di Ricotta)
From Saveur magazine

Chilling the ricotta–prosciutto mixture after mixing it allows the flavors to come together and makes the balls easier to form.

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
1 14-oz. can crushed tomatoes
6 basil leaves, torn in half
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 c. homemade or store-bought ricotta
1 c. fresh bread crumbs
1/2 c. grated pecorino
1/3 c. grated mozzarella
1 tsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3 egg yolks plus 2 eggs
4 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
Canola oil, for frying

Heat olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add chile flakes; toast for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and basil, bring to a boil, lower heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce begins to thicken, 6-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low; keep warm.

Stir together ricotta, fresh bread crumbs, pecorino, mozzarella, parsley, lemon zest, nutmeg, egg yolks and prosciutto in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper; cover and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Put flour, whole eggs and dried bread crumbs into 3 separate shallow dishes; whisk eggs. Using your hands, form chilled ricotta mixture into 1 1/2" balls. Working with 1 ball at a time, dredge in flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs, shaking off any excess. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined sheet tray.

Pour enough canola oil into a 4-quart saucepan that it reaches a depth of 2". Heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer inserted in the oil registers 350°. Working in batches, fry the ricotta balls, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the balls to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve with the tomato sauce.

Makes 20 fritters.

Biographical info thanks to Tami Parr at Pacific NW Cheese Project. E-mail Lisa to subscribe to her newsletter.