There are a couple of things that make this post unbelievable. The first is that I made cheese, a task I always thought best left to the professionals. The second is that I made ricotta cheese and the third is that I actually liked it. I’ve always shunned things like stuffed pasta shells and traditional lasagna because ricotta cheese is grainy and dry, but this ricotta….this is rich and dense yet somehow light at the same time, and I’m pretty sure there will be tears when this batch is gone.
All of the credit must go to SmittenKitchen, who did all the cheese-making research and figured out how to make this incredible ricotta. And, really, it can’t get more simple to make in your own kitchen than this: heat milk in a pot, add lemon juice, leave it in a strainer, done. Seriously, that’s it! The only thing stopping me (aside from not realizing how simple it was) was that I never remembered to see if my grocery store had cheesecloth. Once I stumbled across it, cheese making was on. This is definitely one recipe NOT to be scared to make.
The last part of this post is a very very long overdue mention regarding one of the greatest food gifts I have ever received. Last year at the International Food Bloggers Conference in Santa Monica, I was seated at dinner next to Ms. Lamamié from the Trade Commission of Spain. She brought with her olive oil and there was a different bottle on every dinner table in the room. I’m normally a bread-and-butter kind of gal, but she encouraged our table to try the olive oil and I don’t think I once glanced at the butter dish again for the rest of the evening. When dinner was done, and admittedly after a glass of wine or two, I asked Ms. Lamamié if I might be able to take that bottle of olive oil home, which she graciously allowed me to do. The olive oil was Marques De Grinon Extra Virgin Olive Oil and I have never looked back. I have a bottle of cheaper olive oil when I just want to fry something up, when the flavor is going to be hidden, but whenever the flavor of olive oil needs to shine, like drizzling it over this ricotta, I always pull the Marques De Grinon down from off the shelf. I thought olive oil all tasted the same, but in fact olive oils differ just like wines differ. This olive oil is fruity and spicy in a way I never knew olive oil could be and now I truly believe it’s well worth the money to splurge on a bottle! Ms. Lamamié warned me that you should not let olive oil sit for too long, that it does not behave like wine and deteriorates over time; you should finish a bottle in 3-6 months for the best flavor, if I remember correctly, but I just can’t bring myself to speed through this bottle and I plan to continue savoring it until the last drop (and it still tastes great). Thank you, again, Spain, for giving me such a wonderful, eye-opening addition to my kitchen!
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Recipe from SmittenKitchen
Makes about 1 cup
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- In a medium stainless steel (or other nonreactive) saucepan, heat the milk, cream and salt to 190 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring it every once in a while. My pots have a small lip on them which makes it difficult to clip a thermometer to the side, so I have to attach it with a twist of aluminum foil hooked onto the handle of the pot.
- Once the milk hits 190 degrees, turn off the burner and add the lemon juice, stirring only once to distribute the juice, then leave the pot sitting undisturbed for 5 minutes.
- While the pot is sitting, line a sieve with 3 pieces of cheesecloth and set it over a large bowl.
- Pour the milk mixture slowly into the prepared sieve and set the bowl aside for two hours. This is separating the curds (the cheese) and the whey (the water dripping into the bowl).
- After the wait time is up, gather the edges of the cheesecloth and very gently squeeze a little bit more of the liquid out (but don’t squeeze too hard–we want some of the liquid in there to keep it creamy) and transfer to the fridge in an airtight container. You could eat it immediately, but it will firm up almost to the consistency of cream cheese after sitting in the fridge for a little while, which I loved.
- SmittenKitchen’s lasts only 2-3 days in the fridge, but mine is going on over a week and still smells and tastes great, so it seems to come down to the types of milk you use–use your best “is this still good” judgement before eating. Serve on toasted baguettes with olive oil and sea salt, or use in recipes calling for ricotta, and enjoy!
Disclaimer: The bottle of Marques De Grinon Extra Virgin Olive Oil was given to me, free of charge, by a representative of The Trade Commission of Spain and Olive Oil from Spain, however, the opinions expressed here are my own.