There are several staples in my fridge, apart from vegetables: milk, eggs, plain yogurt, and quark, or as a back-up, ricotta. I must have picked that up from my mom, who always has a jar or two of quark handy. Quark or ricotta, they are different, but can often be used interchangeably in dishes, sweet or savory. There options are many and the two all-time favorites quark or ricotta-featuring dishes in our house are Quarkauflauf, which you have heard me talk about, and Malfatti. What, you might say? Read on and you’ll find out. Come and cook with us!
Quark is made by warming soured milk until the desired degree of coagulation of milk proteins is met, and then strained. Sounds yummy, right? Well, stay with me… Ricotta, on the other hand, is actually made by sheep milk whey, which is left-over from the production of cheese. Quark is really more of a northern continental European soft cheese that can be spiced up with fresh herbs and spices and used as a sandwich spread. The Austrians, in particular, have taken quark to more sweeter levels by employing it in a wide array of wonderful desserts, such as Quarknocken, Quarkstrudel and, as mentioned, Quarkauflauf. It’s very easy to make, and includes eggs, a little flour and plenty of fresh fruits. It is a sweet dish, although I don’t really use any additional sugar apart from the fruit, so that I can serve it as a second course after a soup and not be limited to having a small portion of it as a dessert, only.
Ricotta, on the other hand, is more common, in the super-markets, at restaurants and on people’s dinner plates. Fresh ricotta tastes great with mashed up raspberries and a few drops of honey over a slice of toasted bread, or served with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh garden herbs. Ricotta is one of those cheeses that does not melt when heated up, so we use it on pizza, in pasta sauces, and lasagna. The all-time favorite use of ricotta, though, is when we turn them into Malfatti, which translates to “made badly”. But don’t worry, the lack of good looks is made up for by the wonderful taste of these little dumplings which got their names from the fact that you drop spoon-fulls in simmering water which makes them all look different and, thus, not as nice as some of its better known pasta rivals. As I said, they might be malfatti but they are deliziosi! Once again, the recipe is easy and straight forward and includes one of my favorite vegetables, chard, which honestly, we just can’t get enough of!
Whether Quarkauflauf or Malfatti, take an imaginary culinary trip to my town where we are lucky enough to be able to combine Italian primi with Austrian secondi. Come and cook with us!