I took a day off from work recently with the thought of relaxing and doing almost nothing. From the moment I woke up, I did whatever I wanted – long walk with the dog, coffee on the coach, watching master classes, flipping channels, etc. The lack of the ‘have to do’s’ left me open to ‘what do I really want to do?!’
Those answers sit in the back of my brain and I am very happy when I listen to them. The root of this idea came from Eric when I had asked earlier in the week … What should I cook? We had watched a food show where the chef made home made ricotta in 40 mins and she made it look easy. His answer was quick, ‘Ricotta cheese.’
That is exactly what I did. I dreamed up a full menu including another favorite of ours, Cauliflower in a new way, and a stuffed chicken breast. My brain thought Simple Italian Date Night. Maybe ‘simple’ is not the right word for this meal, because I spent 4 hours in the kitchen working on various different dishes…all those mentioned above along with two different doggie treats for Panda. (You can see some to the right of the milk on the stove. He sure loves those treats.) Not that any of these dishes were ‘hard’, but more so that some of the steps were time consuming.
For the home made ricotta, it took a while for me to know how everything would come together and after 15 minutes of nothing but warm milk, I started getting concerned. My comments were ‘I don’t know if I’m doing it right??’ and ‘Nothings happening.’ All because the pan above looked like this for the longest time.
After those comments, I no more then walked back into the kitchen and everything started to happen. Thick chunks of cheese were forming from the milk solids and cheese was very much happening in this kitchen.
Once it became apparent that everything separated, I very carefully drained the whole pan into a cheese cloth lined colander. That part was really fun, as I gently squeezed and applied pressure to drain the liquid. It was like a little pressent I got to open after it drained for about 25 minutes. A pressent that turned out quite tasty.
To bring together the ricotta spread for serving, both savory and acidic flavors were added with a hint of heat to make this a creamy spread for any toasted bread. Great to serve with white wine and a romantic outdoor dinner for two… showcased below.
Ricotta Spread with Home Made Ricotta
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Zest of half a lemon
Pinch (or more) crushed red pepper
Fresh cracked black pepper
Home Made Ricotta Ingredients:
1/2 Gallon whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbls kosher salt
Combine ricotta, oil and salt in bowl and stir until smooth. Top with thyme, lemon, and peppers and serve with toasted ciabatta bread. Finishing salt is a nice addition.
Home Made Ricotta Preparation:
Combine milk, cream, yogurt and salt in non-reactive pan over medium-low heat on the stove. Stirring frequently to prevent burning on the bottom.
Continue cooking until the milk curd is formed and floating on top. Takes approximately 25-30 minutes for this to happen. It starts slow and comes together quickly in the last 5 or so minutes.
Line a strainer with cheese cloth. When curds are done forming, pour milk mixture over the cheese cloth lined colander and allow to drain for another 20-30 minutes. The longer you drain, the firmer the ricotta.
Place in a sealable container and chill until serving. Keeps for 7-10 days, but I’m sure you can find used for that before then.
The ricotta can be used in many different applications at this point, whether it is as the above spread on ciabatta bread, plain with avocado and toast, or stuffed in ravioli. Have fun and enjoy.
*Recipe from Antonia Lofaso on Food Network