Whipped cheese just might become your next hummus. No tub of whipped Philly, this is a beautifully aerated cloud of ricotta, feta or goat cheese emulsified with a fruity olive oil. Which way to take this fluffy blank canvas? With a few adjustments, it can close a meal as nicely as begin one. Appetizer or dessert, it’s up to you. Hummus can’t do that!
We asked the new chef in Nashville, Phillip Krajeck, to deconstruct for us some of his favorite whipped cheese applications. Krajeck’s new restaurant, Rolf and Daughters, is opening in late fall in the old boiler room at the Werthen Mills in Germantown. Whipping cheese fits well with his “modern peasant food” philosophy that stresses the simple and seasonal. Chef Phil quickly rattled off a list of easy whipped cheese accessories—fresh herbs, fresh or dried chilies, toasted nuts, honey, seasonal fruits, roasted winter squash, crostini and crudité vegetables. Essentially, whatever’s in the crisper drawer and pantry.
The chef and restaurant business aside, this James Beard-nominated chef (formerly of The WaterColor Inn and Resort, Santa Rosa Beach, FL) sees a clear distinction between his restaurant cooking and his home cooking. “At work I strive to be fast, clean, precise and multi-tasking. At home I’m chillin’ in the kitchen with my wife and kids, the music is blasting, and there’s probably a homebrew or an icy cold Miller High Life involved.”
So, whipping up some ricotta and getting creative doesn’t seem too taxing for a fancy chef’s day off or a home cook’s cocktail or dinner party. Here’s our Cheater Chef version of whipped cheese and a few serving suggestions inspired by Chef Phil. No doubt you’ll think of your own ideas. Phil’s advice to the home cook? “Don’t be scared to screw things up. It’s how you learn.”
- 1 container (15 ounces) whole milk ricotta cheese
- 3 tablespoons fruity olive oil, more for drizzling over the top as desired
- Salt, to taste
- Combine the ricotta and olive oil in a medium mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Season with coarse sea salt.
- You can also substitute feta cheese. Choose a feta that’s creamy and soft, not the super-salty, hard, crumbly style. If that’s all you can find, whip in a little ricotta and even a little cream to smooth it out a bit.
- Serve whipped ricotta or feta (or a mixture of both) with a bowl of fresh radishes and a bowl of sea salt for dipping.
- Serve whipped ricotta with chunks of roasted winter squash like delicata or kabocha, sprinkled with fresh sage surrounded by crostini.
- Drizzle the whipped ricotta with honey and sprinkle with fresh or dried chilies, herbs like rosemary or thyme, and toasted walnuts (almonds and pecans will work, too.) Serve with crostini.
- Serve fresh figs draped with prosciutto with the whipped cheese.
- Serve any of the whipped cheeses as a dip for crudité. Add a little fresh garlic and oregano. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with peppers, cucumber, radishes and carrot and celery sticks. Great for armchair game day snacking.
- For dessert, pair whipped ricotta drizzled with honey with roasted or fresh fruits like summer peaches and blackberries, spring strawberries, autumn pears or fresh figs. Or, serve whipped feta with chunks of fresh watermelon.