After posting a recipe for really good bread it only makes sense that something to go on the bread should follow. While homemade bread is enjoyable with a simple smear of butter or jam, it is even better with something homemade on top of it. Especially if that something homemade is cheese.
Ricotta has been on my list of things to make for quite some time, but I kept putting it off because cheese-making seems a little intimidating. For one thing, it can involve ingredients that I don’t even know where to find in the grocery store. Rennet? Citric acid? Even if I can find them, do I really want to put them in my food? As it turns out we were able to find rennet at the local grocery store, but after finding out what it is (an enzymatic extract made from the stomach lining of young ruminants) my mom and I were hesitant to use it. I’ve since discovered that you can buy vegetable rennet, and maybe one of these days I’ll try making cheese with it. For today, though, I found a recipe that uses lemon juice as the acid, so I’ll put off the rennet adventure until next time.
Making ricotta is very, very easy and far superior to that stuff in a white tub that bears the same name. You need three ingredients: milk, salt, and lemon juice. You heat the milk and salt, stir in lemon juice, and scoop out the curds as they form. Voila! You have cheese.
From Bon Appetit
8 cups whole milk
1 tsp (or more) salt
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Yields 1 1/2-2 cups
Shopping note: You’ll need cheesecloth for this recipe. Pick it up with the rest of the ingredients if you don’t have it around.
Line a colander with four layers of cheese cloth. Set aside.
Combine the milk and salt in a large pot over medium-high heat. The original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of salt, but I think it needs more. Next time I’ll add at least another 1/2 teaspoon, maybe more.
When the mixture simmers, add the lemon juice.
Simmer gently until curds form, about 1 to 2 minutes. Bask in the glory of making your own cheese.
Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer the curds to the colander.
After a minute (or once you scoop out all of the curds) transfer the cheese to a bowl.
Serve immediately or stick it in the fridge to use over the next few days. It’s great piled on good bread with a squeeze of lemon or a sprinkle of freshly cracked pepper. You can also fold it into scrambled eggs with some fresh herbs, and I can only imagine what it would be like in lasagna.