When I was planning my Thanksgiving weekend food extravaganza, I suddenly seemed inspired to at least look into making my own creamy delicious ricotta, if it was really as easy as it sounded. And you know what I found? It's is easier than it sounds. In fact, I'm still blown away that I made something so creamy and delicious with such little effort.
Rich Homemade Ricotta
recipe from Smitten Kitchen
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Candy or deep-fry thermometer
Large mesh strainer
(I ended up buying the cheesecloth and strainers online through Amazon as linked to above).
Pour the milk, cream and salt into a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan. Attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer. Heat the milk to 190°F, stirring it frequently to keep it from scorching on the bottom. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, then stir it once or twice, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
Line a large mesh strainer with 3 layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the mesh strainer and let the curds strain for two hours. Discard the whey (liquid in the bowl), or, if you’re one of those crafty people who use it for other things, of course, save it.
Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
For my Thanksgiving appetizers, I decided to make two types of crostinis: ricotta with roasted beets and arugula, and ricotta with tomatoes and basil. In both cases, I toasted some fresh baguette slices, then rubbed them with garlic cloves before spreading the ricotta on top. With the roasted beet crostinis, I roasted the beets ahead of time, diced and chilled them in the fridge, and then assembled and finished with a sprinkle of black pepper and a light drizzle of olive oil. For the tomato crositinis, I simply halved some beautiful multi-colored small tomatoes and finished with a pinch of coarse sea salt and of course another drizzle of olive oil.
What I loved about this ricotta recipe, compared with others I looked up, is that it uses lemon juice instead of other acids like vinegar. You could definitely taste a very, very faint touch of lemon, which I thought really took the flavor to a whole different level.
Give it a try!