Making cheese sounds like the kind of cooking project other people do. I live a few blocks away from Murray’s cheese. Why would I make my own? But ricotta is a different beast.
First off, it’s pretty easy to make, and imparts feelings of skill and achievement on the maker that are disproportionate to the work.
Secondly, fresh ricotta tastes fabulous, and making it is the best way to taste it as fresh as it comes. I’m thinking spring salads of ricotta, purple basil, watercress and hazelnuts, drizzled with olive oil and lemon, or crunchy toasts spread with ricotta mixed with fresh parsley and dill, or even with smoked salmon. Think how it would pep up a tray of roasted tomatoes, or how good it would be for breakfast topped with honey and slivered almonds. How bright and fresh and full of spring it would taste.
Thirdly, some cooking is just there for pleasure. We do it because we enjoy the process of creating, making, pottering. It’s inherently satisfying to be able to say “I made that”. I’m not suggesting that we should get cheese making out of necessity, but rather out of adventure, a spirit of play, because it’s fun.4 cups whole milk 2 cups heavy cream 1 tsp salt 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
- Put sieve over a large bowl, dampen a couple of pieces of cheesecloth and line the sieve (a dishcloth or J cloth will do in a push, or Eve Lom face cloths)
- Put the milk, cream and salt into a pan and bring to a boil
- Turn off the heat and add the vinegar. Don’t touch the mixture for a whole minute – it’s going to curdle and separate into curds and whey
- Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth lined sieve and let it drain for half an hour (20 mins if you like your cheese softer – take a look and have a taste and see), emptying out the bowl underneath occasionally to prevent kitchen spillage and mess
- Transfer the cheese to a bowl and taste for seasoning. If it’s super bland, add a bit more salt. It will keep in the fridge for 4 or 5 days
If You Can Make That You Can Make This
- Herbed ricotta – for every cup of ricotta add about 1 tbsp scallions and dill, ½ tbsp chives and any other soft herb that you like – I tend to go with tarragon or basil. Season well and spread on toasted bread that has been rubbed with a garlic clove, or drizzled with garlic oil
- Add a dollup on top of spicy sausage pasta
- Or to a plain marinara sauce
- Or make mushroom pizza and add a dollup of cheese, fridge cold, when the pizza comes out of the oven
- Add grated lemon zest and a scraping of vanilla and serve with fresh peaches
- Make a salad with fresh ricotta, peaches, plenty of pepper and a lemony olive oil dressing