creamy goodness

Recently for a lunch group I'm a part of, our theme was appetizers. On the morning of, I couldn't think of what to bring, but I had lots of bread dough, whole milk, and heavy cream in the fridge. So I made baguettes into crostini and home made ricotta cheese. It was really good, but definitely an indulgence. I sure felt it on my hips the next day.
 Remember when curdling the cheese to use an acid with light color and one that you like the flavor of. Your cheese will take on the flavor of the acid a little bit. I used a combination of white balsamic vinegar and lemon juice.
 True ricotta cheese is traditionally made from the leftover whey of other cheeses, in an effort to not waste it. Unfortunatley, though, this whey has to be used within an hour or so of making the other cheese, so unless you often make your own parmesan, you're probably not going to have any fresh whey on hand. Making it with milk and cream is a wonderful alternative, and results in a very creamy ricotta.

Homemade ricotta cheese
makes about 2 cups
5 cups whole milk
1 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup lemon juice, white wine vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, or other light colored acid that you like
  1. Set a large sieve or colander over a large bowl or clean food grade bucket. Dampen a large sheet of cheesecloth or butter muslin and lay it evenly in the colander.
  2. In a large stainless steel or enameled cast iron pot, combine the milk, cream, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and take off of the heat. Immediately add the acid and gently give it a stir. Allow the mixture to sit for about 1 minute to curdle.
  3. Carefully pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined colander. Let it drain for about 30 minutes. The longer you let it drain, the thicker the ricotta will be. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
*if you want to make a lower fat version, I don't recommend using less than 2% milk. Even the 2% milk ricotta won't make a creamy, smooth cheese. It will be much more rubbery, and you won't want to strain it as long because the curds and whey will separate immediately. So, the first time you try it, stick with this recipe and alter as you get used to it.

makes about 24 crostini

1 baguette
1~2 cloves garlic
extra virgin olive oil
salt *optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Slice the baguettes 1/2 inch thick at a diagonal. Lay them in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil. Bake in the oven until crisp, about 8~10 minutes, flipping them over once during baking.
  2. Rub each slice with the garlic clove and sprinkle lightly with salt, if using. Serve with bruschetta, cheese, tapenade, or any other savory spread or topping. These can be served warm or at room temperature. If not using immediately, let cool completely and put them in an airtight bag. Use withing 2 days.

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