Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Homemade Ricotta

Homemade fresh cheese is so easy... who knew? Not me, but now I do! Thanks, Mark Bittman. Yes, Mr. Bittman is the author of the latest cookbook to cross the threshold of my kitchen: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. He claims that making fresh cheese is not much harder than boiling milk, and I'm here to tell you, he's right. And I've got the tub of fresh ricotta to prove it.

All you need is some cheesecloth, a strainer, milk, buttermilk and salt. That and some inspiring music cranked on the stereo, wine optional!

First, you bring the milk to a boil in a big, sturdy pot. A half a gallon of organic whole milk is what I used.

Once the milk comes to a boil, add 2 cups of buttermilk and stir constantly. It will separate into curds & whey pretty rapidly (see how it's kind of lumpy looking?) and when it does, remove it from the heat and stir in a generous pinch of salt. Don't be shy with the salt - I was, and consequently although my finished product is delicious, it's not quite as salty as I would like. Next time, I'll up the salt for sure.

Now, place a medium sized strainer in the sink and line it with 3 layers of cheesecloth...

....and pour the milk mixture into the strainer. The liquid will strain out and you'll be left with the solids, and this, my friends, is your very own ricotta! Just leave it there in the sink for about 30 minutes or so, and then it will be done.

How easy is that?  And how good does that look?  Almost as good as it tastes!

Once the ricotta is done, spoon it into a container for safe keeping, but don't put the lid on yet because it will most likely still be warm. Wait to refrigerate until it's completely cool, because you don't want condensation.

And now, just think of all the ways to use your homemade ricotta. Tomorrow, I'm going to make a recipe from the aforementioned cookbook for a zucchini & ricotta tart made with a potato crust. I can hardly wait! With any luck, I'll be reporting back about that very soon.   For now, I think it's about time to collapse into the comfort of my bed.

No comments: