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Ricotta Beignets

Ricotta Beignets
Yields 20
This unlikely duo first met when Brown hired Pham as his sous-chef at a restaurant in Provo, Utah. Their disparate upbringings—Brown on a ranch in Arizona, Pham in the Bay Area—have led to their signature style of using a mix of locally foraged greens and other edibles with high-end ingredients such as spot prawns, diver scallops, or elk tenderloin. The result is sophisticated, elegant fare with a whimsical, homespun touch. Oh, and they love cheese.
Culture: Utah is producing some really great cheese. What are some of your favorites?
Viet Pham: I love Snowy Mountain Sheep Creamery. We use Strawberry Peak, an alpine style mixed with Jersey milk, as well as Delano Peak (sheep’s blue) and Timpanogos Peak (Brie-style sheep’s blue).
Bowman Brown: I also like Rockhill Creamery’s Dark Canyon, which is a semihard Edam made from Brown Swiss milk. We use Beehive Cheese Co.’s Promontory Apple Walnut Smoked Cheddar . . . and Helena (raw cow) and Dulcinea (raw sheep) from Lark’s Meadow, a sheep’s milk dairy from Rexburg, Idaho. We like to use different European cheeses, too.
Culture: Obviously, given the name of the restaurant, foraged foods are a part of your menu. Can you give some examples?
Viet Pham: We both forage from spring to late fall. We use things like wild watercress, elderflowers, onion flowers, purslane.
Culture: How would you use cheese with these?
Bowman Brown:We’ll serve wild greens, herbs, or flowers with a fresh cheese. In the colder months we’ll pair rich cheeses with wild elderberry jam or with something acidic, such as wild rose hip jelly and pickled apples.
  1. 1 cup good-quality ricotta
  2. 2 tablespoons lovage (or Italian parsley), finely chopped
  3. ½ clove garlic, minced
  4. Juice of 1 lemon
  5. Salt, to taste
  1. 1 cup milk
  2. 1 teaspoon sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon dried instant yeast
  4. 1 teaspoon fine kosher salt
  5. 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  6. 1 large egg white
  7. 1 quart vegetable oil, for frying
  1. THE FILLING: Several hours before serving, mix the cheese, lovage, and garlic until thoroughly combined. Add
  2. the lemon juice, and season to taste with salt. Mix to combine. Divide the cheese into teaspoon-size lumps on a small baking sheet or plate. Freeze the cheese lumps until hard.
  3. THE BATTER: Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it’s lukewarm. Remove from the heat, and combine the milk, sugar, yeast, and salt in a large, nonreactive (stainless steel, ceramic, or glass) bowl. Whisk in the flour; the batter will appear thick. Let stand in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes. Beat the egg white until peaks form (they should be a bit past soft peaks in texture), and fold into the batter. Let the batter stand for 1 hour.
  4. To make the beignets, remove the cheese from the freezer. Using a candy thermometer, heat the vegetable oil to 340°F in a stockpot. Working in batches of three or four, roll each cheese lump into a smooth ball, and using a spoon, coat each ball evenly with the batter. Once coated, carefully slide each ball into the hot oil. Fry until golden and remove with a slotted spoon. Drain the beignets on paper towels, and cool slightly before serving.
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culture: the word on cheese

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