Tuesday, 14 June 2011
I made ricotta!
"If you squeeze half a lemon into a pan of warm milk, you'll make ricotta!" I still remember my mother telling me that and encouraging me to experiment with food. If only she had known that, when everyone was asleep, in the afternoon, I would climb onto the side of the bath, quietly open the medicine cabinet and, having got hold of my dad's heart tablets, I would undertake experiments of my own ( tablets, compost and soap, tablets and shaving foam... you name it, I mixed it!)
Anyway... after I squeezed a lemon into my warm milk, this would separate into curds and whey and the solid, but soft curds you could eat. I have to say that the stuff we bought from the shops was much nicer: soft, fluffy ricotta cheese!
I made ricotta, today, and I am quite pleased with the end result. My ricotta looks quite good. It's not as creamy as I would have liked, but I'm sure that, mixed with chopped chives and a tablespoon of yogurt, it will make a delicious topping for my bruschetta, today. And who knows what else we can make!
Let's make ricotta! It's really easy and very quick to make. According to some recipes, you should use a thermometer, to check the milk temperature before removing from the heat, but... if like me you don't have one, all you do is you take the milk off the heat before it begins to bubble up and boil.
The recipe below makes about 150 g of ricotta. You can double the amounts if you like.
Makes 150 g (5 oz)
1 l (about 2 pt) whole milk
70 ml (2 1/2 fl oz) distilled or white wine vinegar
large pinch of salt
Place your milk and in a stainless steel pan, or a heavy non-reactive pan, on medium heat. Stir briefly, then allow the milk to heat up gently. After a few minutes, you will notice that a few tiny bubbles will begin to appear on the surface. If you have a thermometer, check the milk temperature: 180 degrees is the temperature you are aiming for. If, like me, you don't have a thermometer ( surprise, surprise!) just watch your milk, because as soon as it looks as if it might begin to boil, you need to take the pan off the heat, add the vinegar and salt, then stir. Immediately the curd and the whey will separate. Magico!
You can leave the pan to stand for an hour or so. When the ricotta has rested for one or two hours, take your two sheets of cheesecloth, dampen them and place inside a colander.
Ladle out the ricotta into the prepared colander. Place the colander with your ricotta inside a larger pan so it can drain. I let mine drain for about one hour. By this time my cheese was looking like "real" ricotta! MIRACLE! And tasted delicious! To make my ricotta creamy, I added two tablespoons of plain yogurt.
As you will see from the pictures, I mixed my cheese with chopped chives, which I spread on bruschetta and, just remembering something my mother used to make, I cooked some pasta shells, drained and served it blended with the rest of my ricotta and chives and Parmesan cheese. It was good and delicate.
I added chives and plain yogurt
Pasta e ricotta
Bruschetta con ricotta e erba cipollina