01 February 2010

Ricotta Cheese

Sometimes the simplest things in life are the most enjoyable; I find this to be especially true with cooking as well. There are so many simple techniques and applications that go by the wayside in favor of 'instant' and 'convenient' products; when a lot of times, making these foods from scratch is 'instant' or 'convenient'. I thrive on discovering these 'new to me' culinary treasures, and I love adding to my arsenal.

Marshmallows and peanut butter are the main things I make from scratch that I once thought to be complex to prepare. However, both are simple applications and far superior in taste to their mass market counterparts. My interest was peaked one evening while watching "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" when a restaurant owner added a little lemon juice to some hot milk; gave it a couple of stirs, and had a batch of ricotta cheese.

Talk about simple. I had to try it myself. I got on the internet to see what the exact ingredients were, and was able to find a recipe. Not having tried it before, I waited until our cousins dinner in December to give it a shot. Eva and I had a gallon of milk in a dutch oven and heated it to 200 degrees and added 3 ounces of lemon juice. We gave it a stir, and right before our eyes, the curd separated from the whey. We drained it in some cheese cloth, and we had our ricotta cheese for the lasagna. It was a real treat.

A couple weeks ago, I made some more ricotta cheese. This time, I was making calzones and cannoli's. Angela and I tried making cannoli's before, but the filling was way too loose, almost liquid. I used store bought ricotta, and I later read that it needed to be drained before using it. I thought home-made ricotta would be perfect for the cannoli's so I decided to give the recipe another try. This time, I used two gallons of milk since I needed the ricotta for both the calzones and cannoli. So, I started by heating the milk in my stock pot.

I then added six ounces of lemon juice and stirred it all together. Almost instantly, the reaction occurred.

I then poured the whole batch into some cheesecloth and let it drain until the ricotta was the consistency I was looking for.

The calzones were gone before I was able to take a picture. They were by far my best batch yet. As for the cannoli's, they turned out remarkably well this time around. We made our shells from scratch, too, and the filling was just divine. I am so glad I found out about home-made ricotta cheese! I'm even more excited about what new simple culinary treasure awaits.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Luke! Aunt Joan here! Did you know that I have many memories of Nonna in the kitchen making her own ricotta with lemon juice just the way you are doing it now? It's in our GENES!! It must be!!
    That is so great, and I love the pictures, Alton Brown would be so proud of you!

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