It's hard to get back into the swing of things after such a lovely holiday break with all my sons home under one roof, but here we go into 2011. I sure did a lot of cooking, baking and cleaning with all the entertaining we did and having family come from out of town. What fun we had. And I had such a picture perfect day for my birthday - sitting in front of a roaring fire with all my boys, watching my favorite Lord of the Rings movies and knitting to my heart's desire. It just couldn't get any better than that.
How many of you really love grocery store ricotta cheese? No one. I even get e-mails from people saying they won't make a recipe if it calls for ricotta cheese because they despise that grainy stuff so much. And really good fresh ricotta cheese is hard to come by, unless you have a great Italian deli nearby or live in places like New York City and can get to Murray's. But the next best thing is to make it fresh, at home. It's not the real deal, but it's a fine substitute. And yes, it is very easy. If I have the ingredients in the fridge I can just whip up a batch in about 10 minutes.
There are two versions - I've tried both and both are good - you can choose which one to make according to which ingredients you have. Once you make it, you won't want to buy those mealy tubs in the grocery store again. Try this ricotta cheese while it's still warm. Drizzle a little olive oil and sea salt over a spoonful or for something sweet, stir in honey and swoon.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
for a printable recipe, click here
you will need cheesecloth and a strainer to make the cheese
Ricotta Cheese Version #1:
makes about 2 cups
- 2 quarts whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Line a large strainer with a layer of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl.
Slowly bring the milk, cream and the salt to a rolling boil in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add lemon juice. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until mixture curdles, about 2 minutes.
Pour into the lined strainer and let drain for 1 hour (note: I let it drain for just a few minutes, so it does not become so dry). After discarding the liquid, chill the ricotta, covered. It will keep in the fridge for 2 days.
Ricotta Cheese Version #2:
makes about 2 cups or 1 pound
- 9 cups whole milk
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2-1/2 tablespoons distilled vinegar
Heat the milk and buttermilk in a heavy pot over medium heat to a temperature of about 185 degrees. Stir in the salt and vinegar and remove from the heat. Let stand until curds have formed, 5 to 10 minutes. Pull the curds gently to the side.
Line a strainer with cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Using a perforated skimmer, gently lift the mass of curds out of the pot and into the cheesecloth-lined strainer. Repeat until no more curds remain. Discard the remaining whey.
Drain the curds for 5 minutes, then transfer to a covered container to store in the fridge until ready to use. The ricotta is best the same day but will still be good for 2 to 3 days.