I became addicted to whole milk ricotta ever since I visited Paesanella cheese in Marrickville and Haberfield. The soft, cloud like curds with the rich milky, almost creamy flavour was so much better than the grainy ricotta I had tried previously which you can get at the supermarket. Ricotta literally means recooked and is a cheese made from the leftover whey from producing mozzarella and other cheeses and was intended to squeeze every last bit of the product.
The ricotta at Paesanella isn't made using whey and is made using whole milk which is what we use below. I used to drive to get myself a 1 kilo bucket of it until I realised that it was just as easy to make at home. Like seriously easy. I've made it several times now and the recipe below is the quickest and produces a creamy ricotta. I also tried doing this in a double boiler with a thermometer and whilst the ricotta was excellent, it took about an hour and tasted just as good and creamy as the ricotta below.
All you do to make ricotta is to heat the milk and a couple of tablespoons of cream up slowly and gently and then add a few tablespoons of white vinegar (or lemon juice but I prefer the result and taste from vinegar). Stir this just once and simmer it for a minute or two and let this rest for 10 minutes and the curds (the creamy ricotta clouds) will separate from the whey (the yellow almost clear liquid) and you simply scoop up the ricotta using a slotted spoon or drain it in a colander (lined with cheesecloth or not). And you have your own very own freshly made ricotta cheese which is wonderfully soft and creamy and definitely better than what you may find at the supermarket.
And don't forget to keep the whey as it is packed with nutrients. Some interesting ideas to use the whey include putting in 1-2 tablespoons in a cup of water to make bread or as a meat tenderiser. It is also said to be great for skin and adding a couple of tablespoons full to a drink is said to be good for the skin. In Switzerland where so much cheese is produced some places also offer, for a premium price, whey baths where you can soak in whey.
I used one lot of whey from making 1 litre of milk into cheese in a bath and my eczema prone skin was so very soft afterwards (I should add I did rinse afterwards and I'm not sure if you are supposed to). I found that 2 litres or about half a gallon of milk makes about 500grams/1 pound of ricotta.
A few of you have asked how the driving is going. Well so far I've been driving for a total of 10 months. In that time there has been one accident-not my fault I promise! But apart from that it has been fine. A funny thing started to happen this week too-I started to notice potholes! I know that may sound strange but Mr NQN used to get frustrated with me when he was a passenger and we would go over potholes. I would tell him that I was too busy concentrating on the traffic and cars in front of me than to look onto the dark bitumen. But only this week I started noticing potholes!
One day I stood in front of the garage door beaming proudly. I'm not one to boast usually but I was smiling like a proud mama.
"Look at that park!" I said to Mr NQN. He had started walking to our apartment and looked back.
"Errr yeah" he said giving it a quick look and nodding.
"But look at it! And it only took me four goes to get it parked like that!" I said proudly.
Anyway what do driving and potholes have to do with ricotta? Not very much except for the fact that the day that I first tried to make ricotta I was in a hurry and that was when I did my magic park (ok magic would be overstretching it). And it was when I collected some of these edible flowers from the lovely chef Darren Templeman-chef at Atelier restaurant in Glebe, after enquiring on twitter where I could buy some.
We both loved eating it one warm evening, dotted with edible flowers and drizzled with honey with a crusty French baguette. We were sitting on the balcony when I turned and said to Mr NQN "Do you want to go down to the garage and take another look at the park? Or maybe take a photo of it?".
He puts up with a lot doesn't he ;)
So tell me Dear Reader, what strange behaviour does your significant other or friends put up with? And have you ever made cheese before?
Made From Scratch: Fresh Whole Milk Ricotta
- 2 litres/half a gallon whole pasteurised milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons/80ml/2.7flozs cream
- 4 tablespoons/80ml/2.7flozs white vinegar or lemon juice
Step 1 - Place the milk, salt and cream in a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat until almost boiling (it needs heat to curdle properly). Then add the vinegar and stir it once or twice very gently just to distribute the vinegar (constant stirring will result in tough, rubbery curds). Simmer for 1-2 minutes and then allow to sit for 10 minutes and most of the ricotta curds will float to the top and the whey at the bottom (you can reserve the whey and use it as described above).
Step 2 - Line a sieve with two layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl to drain or you can use a fine sieve to drain it as the ricotta curds are quite large and creamy. Gently pour the ricotta mixture through the cheesecloth and the whey will separate at the bottom in a clearish yellow liquid and the soft and creamy ricotta will sit at the top. Your ricotta is now ready to use! If you want a more solid ricotta, drain for an hour or overnight. Keeps for 2-3 days in the fridge in an airtight container. And a gentle hint: wash or run water over your pan and implements as soon as you can-I left the house to go out and didn't get to do the dishes and the stuff sticks to bowls and cutlery steadfastly!