One of my favorite go-to ingredients for spring and summer cooking is ricotta. It is light and airy, yet creamy and luxurious. The only way ricotta could be any better- if it is made from scratch.
I promise it is easier than you might imagine! This recipe was first discovered by L (who I am forever indebted to for this one), and is inspired by Deb from Smitten Kitchen, who has earned my everlasting admiration. I promise your life will be exponentially better once you give this a try- seriously. It's that good.
It's slightly unconventional, which I am okay with if it means I can make my own ricotta whenever the mood calls for it. This recipe results in a creamier, spreadable cheese, as opposed to the familiar curd-like texture of ricotta. I think it is best smeared on crostini, topped with whatever seasonal vegetables or herbs happen to be around.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
2 cups whole milk
2 cup heavy cream*
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 tbsp lemon juice
Combine milk, cream, and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Heat mixture to 190°F. Remove from heat source, add lemon juice all at once. Stir twice, very slowly and carefully. Let sit 5-10 minutes untouched.
Line a colander with several layers of cheesecloth (I use a large square, folded into quarters at a minimum), and place over a large bowl. It is important to use a large bowl, as much liquid will strain from the cheese. Pour milk mixture into colander, and let curds strain. Let strain for as long as necessary to achieve the desired texture. At 1 hour, the mixture will be smooth and tender, but spreadable. As it continues to strain the curds will become firmer. Keep in mind the curds will firm up more when cooled. I tend to let the curds strain 2-3 hours.
Eat immediately! Or, keep refrigerated in an airtight container if you possess enough self-restraint.
*You can play with the milk-to-cream ratio, if you want a lighter (read: less caloric) cheese. It's very reliable to use 1 cup of cream and 3 cups of milk or even 1/2 cup of cream with 3 1/2 cups of milk.
I recently used homemade ricotta spread thinly on lightly toasted fresh bread, topped with local sorrel leaves, drizzled with wildflower honey, with a sprinkle of sea salt and a grind of black pepper. I can't even describe how good it was- give it a try!