One of my colleagues at work, well, her husband doesn't like cheese. Can you even imagine? I totally can't and I was vegan for a while. Granted the one thing I missed more than anything when I was vegan was cheese. Mostly grilled cheese sandwiches and pizza. We are getting a little cheese obsessed around my house these days because my husband has recently been put on a special diet. One of the main restrictions has to do with any cheese that is aged. The restrictions include cheddar, parmesan, gouda, blue cheese, stilton. Basically all of our favorites. He can still have all the fresh, un-aged cheeses he wants. So, ricotta, cream cheese, and cottage cheese are rapidly becoming our new best friends.
I decided to try my hand at making homemade ricotta. Well, sort of.... Real ricotta is actually made from the leftover whey that remains as waste from making other cheeses. Ricotta actually means "recooked". So, technically this isn't actually ricotta cheese, but it is remarkable similar in both
texture and taste. This is almost stunningly smoother and creamier than the store-bought stuff. It's also a little bit sweet, which makes it perfect to a simple little summer treat like this one. You can use this ricotta just like any other, but it really is so well suited for desserts you're missing out if you don't try it. I drizzled a little cup of ricotta with some honey and balsamic vinegar. That's not really a recipe, but it is fantastic and hits all the right notes with just about every flavor in the spectrum -- bitter, sweet, salty, etc....
Making cheese from scratch seems like a daunting prospect. At least it seems that way to me, but this couldn't be any easier. You do need a thermometer to make you sure get your milk to the right temperature, but other than that you don't need any special equipment. Did I mention that it only takes about 10 minutes of actual work? How spectacular is that?
Heat your milk and salt up. Stir in some acid to get those curds forming.
The curds start forming immediately. Let the mixture chill out for a few minutes to give it all time to come together.
Line a strainer with cheesecloth, a napkin, some paper towels, or nothing at all and let the cheese strain for an hour. The finer what you use to line the strainer with is, the finer the texture of your cheese will be. Voila!
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
adapted from epicurious.com
makes about 1 cup
Print me, Please!!!
4 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and salt over medium heat until the milk reaches 190°. Remove the pot from the heat. Immediately add in the vinegar and lemon juice., stir once, and set aside for 5 minutes uncovered.
Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and line the strainer with cheesecloth or a paper napkin. Pour the milk mixture into the strainer. Set aside for at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours. Transfer to a covered container and chill for up to 3 days.