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Nov 4, 2012 03:50 AM

Currants Events (Raleigh / The Triangle) / fresh ricotta, currants, semolina

Hi all! So, I'm on a quest for currants. Any idea where I can find currants in/around Raleigh? Seems like I needed currants last year for another recipe (now forgotten what it was now) and I ran all over heck and half of Georgia on a currant quest without ever finding currants.

I also need Semolina flour and none was to be found at Harris Teeter or Trader Joes. Surely that isn't too exotic of an ingredient. Any idea on where to get the semolina?

Finally... where to get fresh ricotta?

Thank you so much for all suggestions!

FYI, I'm making:

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  1. Semolina flour can be found at Neomonde's either their store on Beryl by the fair grounds or the one on Strickland.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chazzer

      Thanks so much! One down, two to go!

    2. I've never had any problem finding currants at the local HTs. Sort of surprised about the lack of semolina - I made semolina gnocchi a year or two ago and don't remember it being tough to find. I *thought* I'd gotten it at HT, but maybe I made a trip to Southern Season for it. Give them a call and see. And I've found fresh ricotta at WFs. Good luck!

      7 Replies
      1. re: LulusMom

        +2 Our local HT's always have currants. They are where you find the raisins.

        1. re: lynnlato

          I'm going to have a chat about the dearth of items with Mr. Todd, - the store manager at Cameron Village HT. He and I have gotten to be big buddies over the years! However, I did find Sunmaid brand "zante currants" at HT yesterday. What are "zante" currants? --- i.e., why aren't they just called plain currants? I got the semolina at Whole Foods, but they didn't have fresh ricotta - just the regular packaged kind. @ Rory -- I'll be over to Weaver Street, per your suggestion. @LynnLato, thank you so much for all your advice, esp. when I go to visit Charlotte/Lake Norman. @LuLu's Mom - what would I do without you?!

          1. re: Tehama

            Always good to have a buddy at the grocery store! Lulu is best buds with the fish guy at our local HT.

            Good luck with your cooking/baking! And ask your cat to save a bit of wine for me.

            1. re: Tehama

              Those are the currants I buy. Heck, it never occurred to me that they are labeled "zante currants". So I googled it and found out that the U.S. actually outlawed the growing of currants because it was believed that they contributed to a disease that threatened the pine lumber industry. The law was abolished back in 1966 but apparently the farming of real currants never really took off. Zante currants aren't even currants, but dried small grapes from a Greek island. Crazy right?!! Pretty interesting though. Read this blog post:

              So, now I want to try REAL currants, dang it.

              P.S. Tehama, it is my pleasure! :)

              1. re: lynnlato

                Thank you for {adorable!} LuLusMom and LynnLato! LynnLato, if you ever come to the Triangle sometimes we try to get up Chowdowns at some restaurant - you're more than welcome! That was so interesting about the Currant info; thank you so much for that explanation and link. Like you, I am now REALLY interested in what exactly a true currant is. LuLusMom; I'm going to save some Baba au Rhum for you! :-)

                1. re: Tehama

                  True currants are a berry--they come in red, white, or black varieties. Don't grow well around here, which makes me sad, because I grew up on the flavor of black currants & miss them terribly. You'd probably recognize it if you tasted it--cassis, or Ribena are both black currant flavors. Zante currants (which are what you're looking for) are like very tiny raisins.

                  1. re: lisarosen

                    Very interesting! Thanks, Lisa! All this talk about currants make me want the real thing! I think I might have to look to order some from out-of-state. Thank you!

        2. Whole Foods on Ridge Rd has semolina; I saw it yesterday (but I'd be surprised if H-T didn't; same is true for currants). As for really good fresh ricotta, I haven't had great luck around here. Try searching Food52 for instructions on making your own. It's not the real deal, but might be a decent substitute.

          20 Replies
          1. re: lisarosen

            I've made fresh ricotta from the (I think) Michael Chairrello recipe. I wasn't overwhelmed.

            1. re: rockycat

              Hey! I googled the Chiarello recipe. I always loved him (the Napa Style biscotti recipe is awesome!) and was so sad his show went off the air. That recipe looks like a tremendous amount.... or does the gallon of milk cook down into a small(ish) quantity? Thank you!

              1. re: Tehama

                I'm sorry, I really don't remember. It was a good while ago that I made it and I don't tend to remember much about recipes I don't make again. Maybe if you catch a week where milk is on a good special you could try with a smaller quantity of milk and see how you like it.

                1. re: Tehama

                  Gallon of milk will make about a 1 cups worth of ricotta. Don't know the recipe but the quick and dirty way using milk and some form of souring agent like lemon juice or vinegar is what I've done..

                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                    THanks so much for the info! I've never attempted anything like that before, but love to try new things, of course. May just be my weekend project. Thanks for the estimate!

                    ps - this is the Chiarello recipe:

                    1. re: Tehama

                      That is essentially the same recipe.. taking milk and adding an acid to it. It isn't "real" ricotta but it is the quick and dirty method.

                      1. re: Tehama

                        Oooh, I've tried that recipe before. Stupid easy! It was pretty tasty too. I ate it for breakfast drizzled w/ honey, granola and figs (the same way Gabrielle Hamilton serves it up at NYC's Prune)... but I digress.

                        I just checked out your links. I love April Bloomfield and The Spotted Pig. She is one of my favorite chefs. Interestingly, I follow her on Instagram and she often responds to questions. Her new cookbook A Girl & Her Pig is beautifully written and chock-ful of great recipes. I've had those gnudi before, at the restaurant, and their delicious. Especially with that sage brown butter sauce. Yummm, not I have a craving!

                        FYI, that recipe you linked to is not the actual Spotted Pig recipe. Below is the Bloomfield's recipe, as written in her cookbook:

                        1 lb semolina flour
                        1 lb sheep's milk ricotta (or really, moist, soft creamy cow's milk ricotta)
                        1 oz chunk of finely grated parmesan cheese
                        1 tsp salt

                        7 Tbl slightly chilled unsalted butter
                        20 good-sized sage leaves
                        Kosher salt
                        A handful of finely grated Parm. cheese

                        Line a large baking sheet w/ parchment paper. Add about 3/4 of the semolina to the sheet, spreading it out evenly. Combine the ricotta, parmesan & salt in a large bowl, stir until well-combined. Put mixture in a disposable piping bag and cut a 1 1/4 inch tip off a corner and pipe the mixture onto the semolina-lined tray in 3-4 long, straight lines, leaving an inch or two of space between them.

                        Use a pair of scissors and snip each strip horizontally every 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 inches along the length (you want to turn each strip into 9 or 10 pudgy little logs).

                        Working w/ one little log at a time, gently press each little logbetween your palms to make the log shorter & a little pudgier, almost round. Make sure there are no creases. Hold the log over the bowl of remaining semolina and sprinkle w/ pinches of semolina until it coats every bit of the gnudi. Set the gnudi on the semolina tray, leaving a space between each. Dust the remaining semolina in the bowl over the tray of gnudi. Cover lightly w/ plastic wrap and refrigerate. Keep them in the fridge, turning them over once a day and covering them again until they are firm and are no longer damp - give it at least 3 days, but no more than 4.

                        Fill a large wide pan or shallow pot 2/3 full of water. Salt it generously and bring to a boil over high heat. Transfer gnudi to a large plate, giving each one a gentle but assertive shake to remove any loose semolina.

                        In another pan, put 3 Tbl of butter in a shallow pan large enough to hold the gnudi in one layer. Add 1/3 cup of the hot, salted water & set over med. heat. Once the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat.

                        Ease the gnudi into the boiling water and cook, gently shaking the pot once (don't stir), for 2 mins. Don't cook them any longer or they'll fall apart - set a timer. Set the pan w/ the butter water mixture over high heat. With a slotted spoon, gently transfer gnudi to the butter water and cook at a vigorous simmer, shaking the pan now and then - don't stir until the butter sauce thickens slightly and begins to cling to the gnudi, about 3 mins.

                        Serve the gnudi in the pan or divide the gnudi among warm shallow bowls. Sprinkle w/ parmesan cheese and a little salt (she love Maldon) and garnish w/ the sage leaves. Drizzle on as much of the brown butter as you like.

                        (WOW! That was a lot to type!)

                        1. re: lynnlato

                          LYNN! You are absolutely amazing! I haven't made the gnudi yet, so I especially appreciate your post and how much time I know it took to type that. You are so, so sweet. I am definitely going to use your (the authentic!) recipe -- I've got some time set aside this week for pilfering in the kitchen and I see now I have an even better project to work towards. Most sincere thanks for ALL the input you just provided. Thank you!

                          1. re: Tehama

                            Gladly!!! I haven't tried them yet so please report back. It's really not as complicated as it reads. And it's kind of nice that you make them 3 days in advance so you don't have as much work on the day of your dinner party. Good luck!!!

                      2. re: burgeoningfoodie

                        By the way, doing that and then putting some sort of weight on it to press out the water, is how Indians make paneer.

                          1. re: bbqme

                            Totally separate question for you BBQME. What is the difference in Saag Paneer and Palak paneer? Is it a matter of region? Is Saag and Palak two different words for spinach? This is my ignorance... knaive showing

                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                              since bbqme is Bengali I don't know if he speaks Hindi too. Over at the English Hindi online dictionary it translates both saag and palak for spinach. I've seen palak for greens many times at various blogs and 'spinach-greens' in English, if this helps.

                              1. re: Rory

                                Oh didn't know. Just by posts he knew more than I about Indian cuisine and thought to ask. I was just curious myself.

                    2. re: lisarosen

                      Thank you so much, guys! I'm working in the office today while it is quite, but I will run by WF on way home. Thank you so much my friends!

                      1. re: Tehama

                        Being a Chapel Hill person, I have bought excellent fresh ricotta at Weaver St, Market but don't know if you want to drag yourself here (also double-check that they still have it, if you will come)

                        1. re: Rory

                          I'm always glad to come to Chapel Hill! Goooo Heels! Thanks so much for the update! It was late getting home today so I'm going to have to put my gnudi quest on hold for a tad longer. I appreciate the heads up.

                          1. re: Tehama

                            Okay then, I think Weaver St Market has everything on your list for one stop shopping to make it easier. Just ring them first to make sure.

                            1. re: Tehama

                              Weaver which I love for their bar is over priced and you'd be better off making the cheese yourself and finding the currents and semolina in whatever grocery is closest to you IMHO