Voted most likely to be adored (by everyone).

Like the popular girl in high school who found a way to befriend every social group effortlessly, cheese knows no bounds. It can hang with the fruit and vegetable crowd and then chill with meat and pasta.

Its flavors can morph from the shy to the obnoxious; its face can change from soft and creamy to pebbled and moldy, and each is intoxicating in its own right. Every food group it pairs with is better for having known it.

What I've neglected to mention here is that I'm actually lactose-intolerant, which is basically a death sentence to my dairy-loving taste buds. So for the majority of the time, I respect that, and my stomach, and try to resist temptation.

But there are other times. Oh, are there other times. There are days when I'll actually plan to have a meal of pleasure and a night of pain. And it's almost always worth it.

A couple of months into culinary school, we had a "cheese day" in the curriculum. We each received a board of about 15 different varieties to taste and compare. By the end, when we reached the strongest cheeses, we were feeling a light-headed happiness brought on by the flavors, textures and (probably) the mold. Once I came down from my Camembert nirvana, I learned the most basic and popular of cheese recipes--ricotta--and was shocked at how simple it is to make on your own.

I mean, really. Why buy this....

...when you can have this*?

* Disclaimer: I don't intend to come off as a Negative Nellie about buying pre-packaged foods. Life is busy, and there are a lot of amazing products out there. BUT if you have the time and the interest, homemade is so rewarding and delicious.

So I'm re-gifting this gem of a recipe to you.

Homemade Ricotta
courtest of Epicurious.com

2 quarts whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1. Line a large sieve with a layer of heavy-duty (fine-mesh) cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl.

2. Slowly bring milk, cream, and salt to a rolling boil in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add lemon juice, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles, about 2 minutes.

3. Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain 1 hour. After discarding the liquid, chill the ricotta, covered; it will keep in the refrigerator 2 days.

Make a huge batch. Introduce it to honey and figs for breakfast, to sauteed kale for lunch, to fettucine for dinner and to balsamic-marinated strawberries for dessert. You'll thank me later.

1 comment:

  1. I'm craving gnocci too! And a dirty martini! They go great together!