Monday, January 9, 2012

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

 Every year we do a New Year's Eve dinner with a small group of friends. The evening is full of good food, great wine, and lots of laughs. My friend Mrs. C and I get together a few days before the party to flip through cookbooks for recipe inspiration, and when we came across this homemade ricotta, I knew that I had to make it for an appetizer. It looked so simple, but also creamy, rich, and smooth. The cheese was so good that I've made it three times since our party, and every time I get a batch mixed up, it disappears rather quickly.   We used the herb mixture listed below, but you can easily adapt it to use any of you favorite herb combinations, or just serve it with a heavy drizzle of olive oil and lots of salt and cracked black pepper. 

The ricotta has a fine curd and is easy to spread, and is not grainy like the types you buy in the grocery store. I think it would be perfect for cannoli filling, but it has never lasted long enough for me to give it a try. I haven't baked with it yet so I can't say how it reacts to heat after it is made, but next time I make lasagna I will definitely take the time to make this first and try it out.

Ricotta Cheese
makes about 2 cups
adapted from Ina Garten's How Easy Is That

4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of  cheese cloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.
Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel or enameled pot. Stir in salt. Bring to a full boil *Many recipes for ricotta require you to heat the milk only  to 180 degrees. Because I did not want my ricotta to taste like cooked milk I did not bring the milk mixture to a full boil, but heated it to about 190 degrees, where you could see the boil was just about to start*. Turn off heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).
Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl.  The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days
printable recipe

Herbed Ricotta Bruschettas
adapted from Ina Garten's How Easy Is That
2 cups ricotta
3 tablespoon minced scallions
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 baguette
olive oil

Combine the ricotta, scallions, dill, chives and 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper Mix well.
Slice the baguette and drizzle with olive oil,and toast in a 375 degree oven until just beginning to turn golden brown, turning the bread slices over after about 5 minutes (about 10 minutes total). Remove from oven and rub the bread with garlic clove. Serve with the herbed ricotta cheese
printable recipe