I’ve always wanted to dabble a bit in cheese making, and after seeing a recipe for homemade ricotta cheese, I knew I had to try it! In the end, it not only worked out beautifully, but it served another purpose, a pretty important one at that!.
Last Friday I was babysitting my amazing and adorable 10-month old nephew. I love this kid to pieces, so I look forward to being able spend time with him, especially since I have all the time in the world at this juncture! Naturally, the best part of being with him is cuddling him and playing with him, and the diaper changes are no big whoop because nothing ‘baby Zach’ is gross to me. One game he really loves I call ‘Bouncy Bouncy Boo Boo’. I lie on my back and lift him up and down, bringing him all the way to my face so we touch noses, then all the way back up so he can ‘fly’.
While we do this, I repeat “BOUNCY BOUNCY BOO BOO” sporadically, in a silly voice, which makes him laugh hysterically. His sweet and goofy laughter just fills my heart and makes it impossible not to smile so wide that my cheeks hurt. Well, he got into such a fit of laughter during Bouncy Bouncy Boo Boo last Friday, that when I brought him back down to touch noses, my gaping grin so wide that you could probably see my wisdom teeth from a mile away, he suddenly dropped his head full force, right onto my right front tooth. PAIN plus a cracking noise, then numbness. It felt like an anvil had crashed through my roof and onto that tooth.
My sis and baby boulder head
Of course my first concern was him, but he was fine, still laughing. The babe has one hard head! After checking his head, looking into his eyes, and panicking briefly, I afforded myself a nano-second to examine my tooth. A little blood, and boy did it hurt, but of most concern, after him, was the fact that it felt a little loose. OH NO! (stereotype alert) Is it time to pack me off to Appalachia with a case of pork rinds and a banjo?? Should I take up ice hockey? (Disclaimer: This, and stereotype #2 below, is not meant to hurt or insult anyone. I’m referring to the movie, ‘Deliverance’, not the actual, beautiful and ‘toothy’ people who live in Appalachia. I never, ever saw a person with a missing tooth when I was there.).
Just my luck, my dentist wasn’t going to be back in the office until Wednesday for evening hours, but I was told that if there’s only slight mobility, the tooth will tighten up on its own within a few days to a week and to just stay away from hard foods like apples, hard pretzels etc. Well, it has tightened up a little, and the pain has subsided, but it still feels weird, so I’m setting up an appointment for Tuesday or Wednesday, just to be safe.
Because of this, I’ve been existing on soup for the past week. I don’t want to take ANY chance of a chunk of even soft fruit in yogurt jostling that tooth. What a perfect time to try homemade ricotta cheese! It’s soft, no biting down..no gaping hole smile.
Technically, this isn’t how ricotta cheese is made, but it tastes exactly like (but better) the ricotta cheese we’re all used to and it IS ricotta cheese. Ricotta (meaning recooked) is usually made out of whey, the liquid separated out from the curds when cheese is made, like mozzarella, and recooked. In this recipe, you’re using whole milk and cream plus acid to make the ricotta, and discarding the whey (although you can use it in homemade breads, or other preparations which I can’t conjure up at this moment). This is the perfect time to ask, Can anyone think of any good uses for the liquid whey outside of watering the garden?
I have this weird obsession with waste.
That being said, not only is ricotta cheese easy to make with just 4 ingredients and a super rapid cooking time, but the results are well worth it. You’ll never want to eat store bought again, well, to a degree, since you don’t always want or have the time to make cheese However, it does take quite a bit of milk..as in 8 cups of milk plus 1 cup of cream for a yield of about 2 plus to 3 plus cups ricotta, OK, maybe you shouldn’t completely rule out store-bought, but trust me, homemade ricotta cheese is well worth tackling every so often, and the fresh, creamy result is to die for.
By the way, my tooth is back to normal, so I may not have to relocate after all. This is a good thing (stereotype alert #2) as demanding that someone bend over and “squeal like a pig!!” is not something I ever aspired to do, not even in a kinky way.
MY ‘soft’ dinner – with honey and black pepper
Finally, there’s another reason I made ricotta cheese from scratch, but you’ll have to stay- tuned to find out (don’t you hate when people do that?) I know I’ve said this before and not come through (I accidentally deleted the photos of what I did with the dark chocolate Valentino, so I will tell you. I paired it with spiced, Frangelico poached pears, hazelnuts and creme fraiche, plus, the supposed coming soon post on the A-Rod deal), but this time it’s for real. I think. I hope.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Recipe adapted from Brooklyn Farmhouse
- 8 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (more or less to taste)
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or white vinegar
- Line a large strainer or sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth * and place the strainer over a large bowl.
- In a large pot or saucepan, bring the milk, cream, and salt to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to keep milk mixture from scorching. If you have a good kitchen thermometer, about 180 to 185 F is the ideal temperature to bring it to.
- Add all the lemon juice or vinegar, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring gently once or twice, for 2 minutes. The mixture will curdle immediately. When you've got a ton of curds, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- After 45 minutes to 1 hour, pour the mixture into the cheesecloth lined strainer and let strain for an hour or two. Do not press down on it, let it strain itself. Discard the liquid whey (or keep it and use it for bread baking!) and refrigerate the ricotta or use immediately. If you want it really dry, wrap it back up with the cheesecloth, leave it in the strainer over the bowl, weighted down with something heavy, and refrigerate overnight.