Homemade Ricotta

May 31, 2007

It’s like magic watching these basic ingredients turn into something so fresh-tasting, creamy and delicious. We would have never thought cheese making could be so easy.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 qt. whole milk (pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized)
1 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. coarse salt
2 Tbls. white vinegar

Line a strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth and place in a bowl deep enough so the strainer does not sit on the bottom.

Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan, add salt, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. A skin may form on the surface, but continue to cook until you see bubbles all over the surface. Once the milk has simmered, turn off the heat and pour in the vinegar. Let it sit for about 1 minute without stirring, then stir slowly and gently. The milk will start separating into curds and whey (the liquid). The whey should become clearish in color, which will take about 1 minute of gentle stirring.

Pour into the strainer, lift the strainer out of the bowl and pour out the whey, then set the strainer back in the bowl and let the cheese drain for about 15 minutes.

Once it has drained, unfold the cloth and invert onto a bowl or plate. It is now ready to serve or you can refrigerate it covered for later. The cheese will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about two or three days.

Suggestions for serving:

Breakfast – sprinkle with a tiny bit of cinnamon and sugar or drizzle with tupelo honey.

Lunch – serve on crusty bread with a big green salad or with Char-Roasted Red Peppers with Capers & Anchovies.

Cocktails – pile the ricotta high in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper and serve with slices of semolina bread.

Dinner – toss with pasta, a couple of tablespoons of goat cheese, olive oil, salt, freshly ground pepper, basil, red pepper flakes, and freshly grated Pecorino. You could even add some sauteed greens.

Easy Elegant Summer Dessert – Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut 4-5 ripe peaches in half and remove the pits. Toss the peach halves with 2 tsp. lemon juice and 1 Tbls. sugar in a large bowl. Arrange halves cut-side up in a baking dish. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes. Let the peaches cool slightly and fill with lightly sweetened ricotta cheese and a sprinkle of chopped toasted hazelnuts.

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