Six or seven years ago (way before I had developed confidence in my DIY abilities) we were at a dinner party and friends of the host/hostess brought home-made ricotta to the dinner table. I nearly fell over with amazement and wonder...I can still hear myself: "you made WHAT??" "You made this? Seriously!?! It is so delicious--I can't believe you made home-made ricotta cheese!!" (ok, times this by 10 and that is about how I carried on...needless to say, I was blown away and totally impressed I think, in a former life, I was a Italian peasant farm woman or at the very least a Italian peasant farm woman is trapped in my current self. And even though I thought it was incredibly cool to make home-made cheese...I was completely daunted by the thought of it and never even really looked into making it.
Ok, just stop right here...if you have ever been daunted (like I was) by trying to make home-made cheese--(ricotta to be specific) you can hold your head high and get right to it. It takes all of about 25 minutes to make and the easiest, creamiest, most delicious thing EVER. I got my recipe from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. You can get her delicious recipe here. Truth be told, authentic ricotta is not made with cream (just milk) but since is Ina--it's over the top, as usual.
To start, you begin with adding 4 cups milk and (ahem) 2 cups heavy cream and salt to stainless steel or enamel coated pot. Stirring occasionally, bring to boil. Turn off heat and add good quality white wine vinegar--I had champagne on hand so that is what I used. Allow the milk/cream to curdle.
Line a fine sieve with cheese cloth and place over a bowl. Pour mixture in and allow it to separate. The curds will stay (the cheese) and whey is the liquid part that will drain out. Allow to sit for 20-25 minutes...the longer it sits, the thicker it will be.
Transfer to bowl and SERIOUSLY, that is it...do you know how silly I felt once I discovered that was all there was to it?? Well, lesson learned: if you want to make it--don't be intimidated...you just might be surprised at how easy something is to make.
I kind of love that!!
And I kind of love fresh herbs chopped and mixed into my home-made cheese served with a light green salad (using same champagne vinegar to dress the salad as I did to make the ricotta.)