Make your own cheese? It never even occurred to me. I envisioned all kinds of fancy tools and equipment, along with a cooking process more suited to a lab than a home kitchen.
But a number of years back a recipe for homemade ricotta caught my eye, and it looked so easy — and so delicious — that I had to give it a try (helped along by the fact that ricotta is one of my very favorite cheeses)!
And oh my. This was not the ricotta-from-a-container that you “fix up” with eggs, herbs, spices, and probably one or two other cheeses before stuffing in shells, layering in lasagna, or folding into a baked ziti.
No. This ethereal treat is to be savored — and celebrated — all on its own, with minimal fussing or adornment.
Like on this crostini:
Spread on a toasted slice of baguette, drizzled with honey and finished with some coarse salt and cracked black pepper, a more perfect breakfast — or appetizer — I can’t imagine.
But here are some other suggestions, just in case:
– Dollop on warm, fresh pasta — shower with lots of thinly sliced basil and toss with chopped heirloom tomatoes.
– Fold into crepes or pancakes.
– Layer with fresh fruit and honey.
And here are a few more crostini ideas. Start with toasted baguette slices and spread with ricotta cheese, then top with:
– Sliced strawberries that have been macerated with a bit of sugar.
– Thinly sliced prosciutto and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
– Caramelized red onion, salt, and pepper.
– Your very best olive oil and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.
So what do you think? Ready to play cheesemonger?
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
from Smitten Kitchen
3 c. whole milk
1 c. heavy cream (try to find a cream that has no added stabilizers or ingredients)
1/2 t. kosher salt
3 T. lemon juice
Pour the milk, cream, and salt into a 3-quart saucepan. Attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer. Heat the milk to 190°F, stirring it occasionally to keep it from scorching on the bottom. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, then stir it once or twice, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl. Slowly pour the contents of the saucepan into the colander and let strain for at least an hour (for a firmer texture you can let it strain longer). Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.