Oh, the weather outside is frightful. But the cheese is so delightful.
That’s not how the song goes, but the bastardized lyrics describe my day today.
Let’s just say this much about the weather in northern Illinois: It’s cold and windy and the only way to combat it is with a second pair of socks and comfort food.
This inspired me to pull out the DIY ricotta kit my sister gave me for Christmas a year ago with the words, “It might make a fun blog.”
Making ricotta cheese, it turns out, requires very few ingredients and a lot of patience: Milk, citric acid and cheese salt. I sprang for organic whole milk, and I appreciate how the packaging reminds me twice — on the kit and on the carton — where milk comes from. If one is going to embrace DIY, one ought to be aware of all the contributors to the project.
I chose to make ricotta because the recipe had only five steps; the recipe for mozzarella has 12 steps, two notes and more temperature references than I care to count (or monitor). Plus I had an idea for how to use the ricotta.
I heated the milk over medium low heat. Here’s where the patience comes in; if one uses too high a heat, the milk scorches. You can see the curds forming at about 120 degrees. It took nearly a half hour to get to 180 degrees.
After sitting undisturbed for 10 minutes, it’s time to separate the men from the boys, oops I mean, separate the curds from the whey. Cheesecloth required.
Here’s the final result. Some beautiful curds …
And a whole lot of whey. What does one do with whey? Throw it away? No way! I’ll figure out some way to use this. Smoothies, maybe?
All this work for a bit of comfort food for supper: Spoon a dollop of DIY ricotta on some warm tomatoey pasta and a bit of chicken sausage. Yum.
Stay warm, friends!