— whollyKao

rockin’ the homemade ricotta

Finally, a weekend at home! We’ve been traveling the last couple weekends, so it was nice to finally get to sleep in and bum around. And since the weather has cooled down, we decided to bust out the pizza stone again (it was way too hot to fire up the oven during the summer).

Since Jeff makes the pizza dough, I decided I’d contribute by making ricotta. I’ve been wanting to make it for a while, but was too lazy. It’s actually really simple to make. So easy that I can sum it up in one sentence: Heat milk/cream/salt to a boil, add acid, let it curdle and then strain it.

I used a recipe I found on foodgawker. It called for whole milk, cream, salt and lemon juice. I followed the directions, and ended up with ricotta. But it took way longer than it should’ve. I think the lemons I used weren’t acidic enough, so the milk never curdled. I stood over the stove for a half hour, waiting and waiting for it to curdle. Finally I gave up and added a tablespoon of white vinegar, which promptly made the mixture curdle. So: note to self: try making this with vinegar next time.

I learned two things from my ricotta-making experience:
One
Vinegar is the best acid for making the milk/cream mixture curdle. The acidity of lemon juice varies depending on the lemon you’re using, which means inconsistent results. This article from Serious Eats does a great job explaining the whole process.

Two
You don’t necessarily have to use whole milk. Most recipes I saw called for whole milk. And believe me, it comes out rich, creamy with a touch of sweetness. And the recipes urge you to eat the ricotta warm, with a dollup of honey. But to me it was almost too creamy to eat by itself. Next time I make this, I’ll give 2% a shot and see how that fares.

If anyone wants to give it a shot, here’s the recipe I used. Let me know if you have better luck with it than I did!

Homemade Ricotta recipe
Ingredients
2 quarts whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Steps
Line a large strainer with a layer of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl.

Slowly bring the milk, cream and the salt to a rolling boil in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add lemon juice. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until mixture curdles, about 2 minutes.

Pour into the lined strainer and let drain for 1 hour (note: I let it drain for just a few minutes, so it does not become so dry).  After discarding the liquid, chill the ricotta, covered.  It will keep in the fridge for 2 days.

——

So once the ricotta was done, it was time to get baking. We made two kinds of pizza. The first had roasted cauliflower and sweet potatoes, caramelized onions and shaved Parmesan, all topped with a balsamic reduction.

The other had prosciutto, caramelized onions and Parmesan, and topped that with arugula and the balsamic reduction.

To accompany our pizza, we had curried pumpkin soup. I made this for the first time last year and have been craving it. You can eat it plain, or you can add a bit of that homemade ricotta.

The best part of making all this food was getting people to come enjoy it with us. We had some friends over and capped off the autumn night with a little pumpkin carving.

It took me forever to decide what to carve. This was mine.
And did we keep the seeds and roast them the next day? You bet!

2 comments
  1. Nicki says: November 7, 20113:04 PM

    Esther, you inspired me! I’ve been meaning to make ricotta (and its close cousin paneer) forever. I made it with just the whole milk (not the cream) and used vinegar. It curdled almost instantly and I don’t think it is too creamy. Thanks for the tips!

    PS. My mom and I totally lurk your blog cause it’s awesome.

    • whollykao says: November 9, 20115:20 AM

      Hey Nicki (and to Mrs. Ashcroft too)–thanks for reading the blog! Awesome that the ricotta turned out well. Let me know how making paneer goes – I never thought of making that! Now you’ve got to find a homemade naan recipe to go with it…

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