A shepherd used to live on my family’s farm in Tuscany and herd his sheep in our pasteur. My grandfather, a man ahead of the times, never charged the shepherd a fee, he practiced bio dynamic farming 30 years before it became a common practice for may vineyards. The shepherd would come early on Sunday mornings… I remember waking up to the clinging sound of bells and the “Beee – Baaa” lament of the lamb, always getting in the herd and crying scared for mama sheep, dumb lamb! The sound would get stronger and stronger, as the animals would make their way to the fence around our house; my brother and I would run in the garden to pet them, talk to the shepherd and play a bit with his dog. Almost every Sunday we were gifted a bucket full of fresh ricotta, and it was just magnificent.
Ricotta is a whey cheese and its name literally means “re-cooked”; the process is not complicated but it is a bit too lengthy to be put in motion if you are trying to be spontaneous about your menu or if you wish to whip a fresh snack on the spot.
Cagliata is just the result of the first step of making ricotta: whole milk is acidified so to separate whey from proteins and obtain curd. The whey then has to sit at room temperature long enough for a fermentation process to begin, after that happens it is heated a second time to obtain more curd, which is in fact ricotta.
My grandmother made cagliata since I can remember. She would serve it warm with a drizzle of honey or on a toasted slice of bread seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. I enjoy using this as an appetizer when I entertain, it is extremely easy and guests always enjoy seeing the process.