I had heard that making cheese wasn’t the most difficult thing to do, but I finally tried it myself…and it was so cool….
I am not a chemist or molecular gastronomy person at all, but after making ricotta I may start testing some ideas. One thing that seems to be key though is you have to be pretty precise with the measurements, like baking. But also like most items made when baking, ingredients were simple and easily available, and once you know the process it is very easy to make. I did do a little research looking at different recipes. The version I ended up making was more on the low fat end. I think if I had used whole milk and cream, instead of skim milk and lowfat buttermilk the end result would have been much creamier. The overall flavor was fantastic though, and one we will be experimenting with more.
Lemon Herb Ricotta
For the Ricotta:
1/2 gallon milk – skim, 2% or whole
1 cup lowfat buttermilk, half and half or cream
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vinegar – I used just plain white vinegar, but next time will try Champagne vinegar or apple cider to add more flavor
Bring the milk, buttermilk and salt up to a slow, low boil in a heavy bottom pan. Continue stirring as the milk heats to ensure it won’t stick to the bottom of the pan. As soon as the milk has come to a boil take it off the heat and whisk in the vinegar. The milk curds and whey will immediately begin to separate; continue stirring for a few minutes helping the process along. Then drain in a cheese cloth lined colander or sieve sitting over a bowl (make sure the colander sits above the bowl so the whey can drain away.) Allow the cheese to set up for about 10-15 minutes, draining off the whey from the bowl occasionally. As this is happening prep the ingredients for the rest of the dish.
Ingredients for the herb and lemon mix:
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
Baguette or crostini for serving, would also be great in a salad of arugula and celery with a lemon vinaigrette
As soon as the cheese has set up add the above ingredients to the cheese in a mixing bowl and stir thoroughly to incorporate. Spoon into a serving dish with some crusty bread or onto a salad and enjoy.