I'm sure we're not the only family on earth with an outrageous dairy budget. Between milk and yoghurt and all the different cheeses for sandwiches and pasta and salads and cooking, the amount we spend in the dairy aisle of the supermarket is startling. I've been making yoghurt for the past couple of months, and a couple of weeks ago tried my hand at cheese. Well, if you could call it that. Ricotta must be the easiest cheese to make at home and everything you need for it is readily available. A quick hunt around the internet turns up loads of variations - some using vinegar, others lemon juice - but this one with citric acid claims to be the best ricotta recipe ever, so I gave it a go.
To end up with about 200g of ricotta, you need a litre of milk, half a teaspoon of citric acid (dissolved in some water) and half a teaspoon of salt. You can also add a few tablespoons of cream, if you like. First you mix everything in a saucepan and heat it gently, stirring often. The curds start to separate almost immediately, but it's not until the liquid seems more watery than milky that it is ready.
Take it off the heat and leave it to sit for 10 minutes.
Put a bowl in the sink, line it with cheesecloth (muslin) then pour in the milky cheesy liquid. Gather up the edges of the cheesecloth - a lot of liquid will come out straightaway - and tie them over something long, like a rolling pin. Let the cheese hover there for about 20 minutes to drain and then...it is done! How easy is that?
I know some people like to eat fresh ricotta straight, but I'm not so into that, in the same way I don't really enjoy a glass of plain milk. I do, however, cook with it often, and have lots of recipes to share.
But for now I'm just going to relax and enjoy all of these soothing, creamy white images.