Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ricotta Sformato


I think my New Year's resolution will be to make every Sformato recipe I can find. This recipe came via Deborah Mele who was trying to recreate the ricotta sformato she had at Il Cibreo in Florence. It's a warm, pliable, gentle mass of cheese. I decided it's perfect as an appetizer, as a savory dessert, a light meal with a salad and I may have it for breakfast tomorrow. Cheese and an egg? Sounds like breakfast to me.



Il Cibreo (or rather it's lower-priced trattoria - which is not low-priced, mind you - just lower-priced!) was on my radar thanks to research, Bon Appetit, guidebooks and Ciao Chow Linda. I know that Paul and I blow in the wind when it comes to our meals - so if it worked out - we would go there. And if we were elsewhere and hungry - we would miss it. As it turns out, it was a mere three blocks from our pensione. And when we walked there expecting a wait, we were immediately shown to the last table - and then the line formed outside. Serendipity. We had climbed the Duomo, climbed the Piazalle Michelangelo and were ready to eat. A sampling:


Tomato gelee. That is in my past and my future. When the tomatoes return.


"You will not soon forget their polenta," wrote Ciao Chow Linda when she recommended the trattoria. And I haven't.  I am consumed by it. And if I could go back in time, this is the baby food I would feed my children. Enriched cream puddles - I have never had a softer or purer polenta.

"It's all pureed!" exclaimed my husband and indeed a lot of it is - or rather most of it is molecular gastronomy. Herbs, cheeses, unbearable softness whipped into a sweet purity with nuance that I will always try to create.There is a tale that a mother came in with her infant and while dining tried to feed her infant some baby food and the baby would have none of it. Chef Fabio Picchi (the chef behind Il Cibreo and its offsprings) added some just-grated Parmesan and a dab of olive oil and the infant lapped up the food with gusto!


Veal "meatloaf" studded with pistachios and served with a warming mayonnaise. It really wasn't a meatloaf - it was a sumptuous pate.

Much has been said about the fact that Chef Fabio Picchi doesn't serve pasta. As if it was a badge of honor - but the reality is - the kitchen was too small. When he first started out 30 years ago, his kitchen was not large enough to accommodate huge vats of boiling water - not with all the Tuscan cuisine he wanted to create. So he put pasta on the back-burner and found that he was gaining a reputation for not having pasta. He decided not to mess with fate and has kept pasta off the menu ever since. Pasta is not on the menu - but Tuscany is.


Chocolate covered coffee mousse. Simple. Pure. Decadence.

Now to return to the Ricotta Sformato. I do get to things in my circular fashion. I did mine in ramekins and halved the recipe because there are presently two of us at home (Paul is in Italy) and I would be in great danger of eating all the extra. The recipe posted serves 6. 

Ricotta Sformato Ingredients
1-1/2 cups ricotta cheese (do not use low-fat)
1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan Cheese
1 large egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced basil (I used arugula - it was fresher than the overgrown basil I saw)
salt and pepper to taste

To serve: Tomato sauce and basil or butter and parmigiano-reggiano

I am thinking that next time - and there will be a next time - possibly on Thanksgiving - I will add some mascarpone to make it even richer.


Ricotta Sformato Preparation
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Beat all ingredients in a large bowl until creamy. Put in oiled baking pan (a loaf pan is good) or in 4-6 ramekins and bake 25-30 minutes. (The ramekins will take about 22-25 minutes). Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes. It's important that they "set."


To serve:
Invert ramekins or baking pan onto baking sheet. If using a loaf pan, slice into six pieces. Put a dollop of melted butter and some freshly-grated Parmesan on top and broil for 2-3 minutes until the top is lightly browned. Or simply place on dishes and add a few teaspoons of tomato sauce and basil and serve.

43 comments:

Pegasuslegend said...

First of all you my dear Claudia are so lucky to have had such fine dining, I envy you. The polenta is so smooth and silky looking. I love the texture. This Ricotta baked is new to me. I seem to remember having it baked but never looked this good, I thought it was dense like cake but moist. I have to try this to see what it taste like it looks so delicious!Almost reminds me of what fried ravioli without the dough taste like just healthier , I just cant wait to try them! Bookmarking, hope I can find time during the holiday :) thanks for the recipe...

Proud Italian Cook said...

Oh my, your descriptions are so vivid I can taste it all, well I know I'll be tasting this sformato thats for sure! That polenta sounds to die for!

Beth said...

"A warm, pliable, gentle mass of cheese."

How is it possible to resist a description like that? I think I'll be eating it in all the ways you suggested, plus any other way I can think of!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I'm so glad you got to experience the wonderful food at Cibreo. That tomato gelee, the polenta, the sformato - all winners. But that coffee mousse with the chocolate sauce really took the prize for sensuous food. I never realized it, but Paul's right about the pureed food! Of course, there was the stuffed chicken neck - that wasn't baby food! Did you buy the little cookbook they sell?

Mister Meatball said...

Due respect to the sformato, but ....

Chocolate COVERED chocolate mousse!!!!?????

Yowza!

My Little Space said...

Sounds like you're still enjoying every moment of your journey. And thanks for taking us along too. It's always wonderful to explore something new. Happy Thanksgiving to you & your family, Claudia. Enjoy & have loads of fun.
Blessings, KRisty

Monet said...

What a wonderful collection of food! I wish I could enjoy half of these delicious plates this weekend. Your sformato sounds especially delicoius. Thank you for sharing. I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of cooking and eating and relaxation

Erica said...

Wow!Every dish looks amazing!Love the pictures!

ButterYum said...

Such stunning photos... I long to go to Italy.

As for your yummy recipe, I'm pinning it and hope to try it soon.

Have a wonderful weekend.

:)
Patricia

That Girl said...

I've never heard of sformato, but any cheese is okay by me.

The Mom Chef said...

Your killing me with these pictures. Not just the food, but Florence too. I miss Italy so, so much. Ok, a lot of it is the food. The sformato is gorgeous and looks absolutely delicious.

Stay warm!

Torviewtoronto said...

yummy looking food beautiful scenic picture

Anne said...

I just love coming here! I always feel like I am right there eating and walking with you.

tasteofbeirut said...

I love polenta and feel bad I only discovered it later in life! My dad on the other hand grew up on it. This ricotta timbale sounds wonderful and creamy.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Oh my, the food at Cibreo does indeed look so delicious and beyond the ordinary! If I am ever fortunate to visit fair Florence again I will definitely put this restaurant on my list, Claudia.

Your ricotta Sformato looks perfect! A wonderful dish for any meal of the day. I could imagine served with a sun dried tomato and pesto sauce. Mmmm.

ARLENE said...

As if the descriptions weren't making my mouth water, those photos just about put me over the edge. I would love to make these for Thanksgiving if the "natives" weren't so hell-bent on eating the same old, same old every year. Tradition indeed! I will definitely try these soon, however.

Rachelle said...

I can't wait to try this. Definitely going on the menu this week.

Cucina49 said...

Oh my gosh, I want this--and I'm with you, cheese is an "every course" kind of food.

Catherine said...

Dear Claudia, These are just calling me. I would love to try each and every one. Thank you for each and every post. I am walking through Italy with you in spirit. Blessings my friend, Catherine xo

Reeni said...

The polenta is calling my name! As is your sformato! I just opened a giant tub of ricotta and this is going on the menu for the weekend. I'm going to dream of it tonight!

Lizzy said...

OH, how fabulous!!! We ate at Il Cibreo in 2010! The tomato gelee is the only familiar menu item...but our meal was outstanding. How fun to know you've been there, too! Your sformato looks amazing.

PS...you must have been stealthier with taking photos...they told me not to take any pictures (embarrassed my family once again ;)).

Claudia said...

I asked if I could take photos (I always ask) and there wasn't a problem! Perhaps I had a gentler staff!

Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. said...

This all looks so delicious! I am really loving the polenta and mousse!

Angie's Recipes said...

Sformato...that's something new to me. I have no doubt at all that I will love this as it contains ricotta and parmesan!

Jeannie said...

Sformato sounds delicious, I have always associates eggs and cheese with breakfast too, the chocolate mousse would be the dessert for me! Yum!

Joanne said...

Oh my all this good food! I've never had sformato but anything with that much ricotta must be amazing.

Sandra said...

Oh Claudia, Ricotta Sformato sound divine..what a great recipe..would love it for my breakfast right now:)
And Chocolate covered coffee mousse would love with my coffee:)
Great post, thanks for sharing!!!

Velva said...

I am just drooling... This is so amazing. The food is simple and so real...
If I go back in time, my children would be eating the polenta too.

Beautiful post.

Velva

Vibey @ Yumbo McGillicutty said...

Oh, good heavens. What dishes! And what a dish that sformato is. Simple and pure and delicious. I have a cheese factory nearby where, if you go early enough, you can get the ricotta while it's still warm. It is a HUGE temptation not to just pick at it until it's all gone, but for anything that remains, this recipe would be perfect. Sounds like something you could make well in advance, too. Mmm...

Lyndsey said...

What a great trip and wonderful food. The Ricotta Sformato looks amazing, I would like some now!! So nice that you took us along!

FOODESSA said...

An Italian trattoria without pasta on the menu is truly rare...how interesting that you managed to be amongst this uniqueness ;o)

The ricotta delight will be had for breakfast-lunch-supper and in my dreams...love the recipe. BTW...we're also 2...hence, your proportioned version is much appreciated Claudia ;o)

Thanks for this charming post...nice to read about how others enjoy their travels ;)

Ciao for now,
Claudia

Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris said...

I raised my three kids with polenta, made with milk and a lot of cheese! Last wednesday, my daughter M was the only one for lunch, and she asked me: "can you make me "polentita"? What a treat !! She will be polenta-dependant all her life!
By the way, that ricotta looks wonderful !!

Marisa said...

Hi Claudia, I loved reading about your trip and the foods you ate through this and your past posts. Sounds like you had an amazing, memorable time. I would never imagine that an Italian restaurant in Italy would not have pasta! Funny! Lovely sformato!

Mary said...

Claudia, we'd love to have you join us. We are sequentially following the Gourmet List and feature 1 woman per week. I'm going to need an email account to share with the other gals , so I can notify them that you are part of the group and they can link to your post on Friday.. I can't access the one you are using. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Barbara said...

I made a cauliflower sformato before but this ricotta one must be added to my "to make" list, Claudia. I love your descriptions of those heavenly places and I think I could eat that polenta daily!

Jill Colonna said...

Claudia, this sformato looks such a gorgeous texture and sounds like it can be adapted to so many different cheeses which is just perfect. Love the baby and polenta story - true, one look at that soft polenta and I am desperately needing another trip to Italy - in particular the Cibreo restaurant. My goodness, you know how to tempt us!

Catherine said...

Dear Claudia, Just dropped by to wish you and your family a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving holiday. Blessings, Catherine xo

Peggy said...

what a meal! And this sformato, like you said, sounds perfect for any part of the day =)

Rebecca from Chow and Chatter said...

wow looks amazing i want the mousse please! and your risotto oh ok all of it

Jen at The Three Little Piglets said...

This right here is why I have been dreaming of visiting Italy my whole life! Stunning architecture and amazing food!

SKIP TO MALOU said...

your words are enchanting and your photos are stunning... i am more convinced that Italy should be my next destination soon.
Glad you took me (again) in this journey.
malou

tbentley said...

I , too ADORE Cibreo. First trip there in ' 96 with Peggy Markel from cookinitaly.com and most recent may of this year. The polenta is absolutely magical-- best i have ever tasted. Interested in sformato as i've seen italian sformato variants but always cooked in bain marie. Not so here?

Claudia said...

No, not this one - although a lot do. This is simple. I love simple.