A simple but successful recipe
My recent Christmas Day dinner was a pot luck with 20 guests. One of the dishes I took was a ricotta cheese. My French friend, Del, came across it at the party without knowing it had anything to do with me. Wide-eyed and almost incredulous, she immediately set out to find out where someone had managed to find a ricotta "that tasted as fresh as the ones she had eaten in Italy". Eventually she asked the question of me, and I admitted to her I had made it earlier that morning.
Now, as you can imagine, everyone is very impressed with this kind of news. Ooohs and ahhs and accolades are all quickly forthcoming in your direction when you have made a cheese. They think you have performed a great feat, when really, it is one of the most simple things you could make in your kitchen. The day after Christmas, Del just mentioned my ricotta, in passing, in the comments section of her blog, and next thing I knew her readers were emailing me for the recipe.
So, I promised I would share it, and here it is:
How to Make Ricotta Cheese
1 gallon of whole milk
1 quart of buttermilk
- Fold rinsed cheesecloth into layers and use it to line a colander or sieve in the sink.
- Pour the milks into a large Stainless Steel, Glass, or Ceramic saucepan. Don't use aluminium or copper which will react to the acids in the milk.
- At this point I like to attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, it will come in handy later in the proceedings.
- Put the pan over high heat and stir with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom of the pan to make sure the milk doesn't burn.
- Once is the milk is warm, stop stirring and continue to heat.
- You will start to see lumps forming in the milk - these are the curds. Once the temperature reaches between 175 and 180 F, the curds and whey will separate. At that point remove your pan from the heat.
- Using an Asian Skimmer or other large flat ladle with holes, very gently transfer the curds to the lined sieve and leave them to drain.
- Once the draining has slowed to a drip, carefully gather the edges of the cloth around the cheese and secure with a rubberband, into a bag shape which can be hung from your faucet or tap.
- Drain further until the cheese cools down and dripping completely comes to a halt.
- Remove from the cheese from the cloth and refrigerate. For absolute freshness, consume as quickly as possible.
I was taught this recipe by Jessica Laskey last year at Tante Marie's Cooking School.
I served the cheese topped with a dribble of maple syrup and some small-diced caramelized bacon. To make caramelized bacon gently and slowly cook the bacon with sugar until crispy. Allow a teaspoon of sugar per rasher.
PS. I guess I hadn't told you all yet, that I loved Tante Marie's cooking school so much that I joined up for another class. And I wasn't the only one, I was delighted to catch up again with two other of my old class mates for the current course which is Slow Mediterranean Cooking with Jenn Knapp. In our first lesson, last week, I clubbed together with Joyce to prepare a quite complicated dish of "Mediterranean Mussels with Panzanella and Arugula" from the new Boulevard Cookbook by Nancy Oakes and Pamela Mazzola with Lisa Weiss. The results were great, it was well worth the effort and the book is definitely going on my shopping list! Here are some pictures from the class:
From left to right: Marinated Squid and Fennel Salad, Cannellini Bean Salad and Fennel Crackers, Mediterranean Mussels with Panzanella and Arugula and Pasta with Lamb, Spinach, Cilantro and Yoghurt Sauce. Pictures taken with camera phone. Click to enlarge.
Bay Area Resources referenced in this post:
Local Bacon | from The Fatted Calf
Local Recipe Book | from Boulevard
Local Cooking School | Tante Marie
Local Cute French Illustration Blog | Non Dairy Diary
|Archive Alert! On this date in 2005: The British Grocery in Potrero Hill.|
Food | Recipes | Cooking | Cheese Making Homemade Ricotta