In a decision to make lasagna, I decided first to learn to make ricotta cheese. Italian ricotta cheese is light and not entirely different to its close cousin cottage (Indian paneer). However, varied textures and a subtle difference in taste separate these two. What impressed me most on my first-ever mission to concoct cheese, was how easy this was. Because my grocer is without ricotta, this will definitely be a regular recipe in my home. The best thing about ricotta? It only requires 2 ingredients. Now not many recipes can boast that ease!
I sourced many different recipes online, but found the instructions and simplicity of 101 Cookbooks to be the best.
: : Ingredients : :
1 part Buttermilk
4 parts Full Cream Milk
[2c Buttermilk to 8c Milk = 2 c cheese; 1qt Buttermilk to 1gal Milk = 4 c cheese]
: : Preparation : :
You’ve never had it easier. Heat the milks combined in a saucepan on medium high heat, stirring to prevent pot sticking. Meanwhile, place a sieve/colander over a larger bowl and line with cheese cloth, muslin or thin dish cloths. Layer 2 dish cloths (the cheapest, holiest variety is what I chose, for better drainage) or 4-6 layers of cheese cloth.
After about 10 minutes or so, as curds start to form, measure the heating milks’ temperature. When it reaches 175F/80C remove from heat. Pour into the lined sieve slowly, allowing water to drain out. Use the back of a spoon to ease the excess cheese away from cloth so that it can drain more easily. Gather up the excess cloth and gently press water out from cheese, without applying much pressure to the curds. Allow to drain for about 15-20 minutes, until water has been drained away. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Some important ways to use your Ricotta:
Enjoy the fresh ricotta cheese in lasagna or baked dishes
Add to 1 T to each egg in scramble for the fluffiest results
Drizzle with honey and fruit
Top off a cracker with a savoury addition such as red pepper
Enrich sauces with ricotta as a light substitute for cream (or in addition to!)