Ricotta, do you make your own?
I eat dairy. I use ricotta in a spinach casserole I like to make in the cold months. I saw a blog post that talked about making ricotta, but gave to recipe. Anyone here do this? I think you could control the richness with the sort of milk you use.
I know you need milk and lemon juice. I can Google for a recipe, but I wonder if you know of a good one.
I saw a PBS show a few months back, I think it was Mind of a Chef, and they featured a woman from Brooklyn who makes and sells ricotta directly to the public but also to some serious NYC restaurants like Per Se and it was really easy. She used lemon juice to curdle the milk but I don't recall the portions or temps she used to gauge her cooking process.
I looked it up and there's a lot of youtube vids of people making homemade ricotta with lemon juice. It seems professionals tend to use rennet? as their acid but almost everyone seems to use whole milk versus 2% or skim. There's also a floating debate as to whether it's really farmer's cheese (lemon) or ricotta (rennet).
Some also had suggestions for the leftover whey.
I've been dying to try this since I saw that show.
I make my own all the time - I love it. It's SO much tastier than anything you can get in a tub at the store. It's actually not traditional ricotta, though, because it's made from milk rather than the whey leftover from the cheesemaking process. That's really just semantics, though - the final product is just like ricotta, only more delicious.
I usually make it from a gallon of whole milk, which typically yields a pound and a half of ricotta and lots of whey (which can be used in bread making, etc.). Obviously you can do it with smaller quantities of milk - just adjust the quantity of vinegar accordingly. I simply heat the milk to 180 degrees, stirring frequently to ensure that the bottom doesn't burn, then stir in a half a cup of white or cider vinegar (you can use lemon juice, but the acidity is variable - it's easier to use vinegar, since you know exactly what you're getting). Usually this causes the milk to "break" and curds to form right away, in which case I turn off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes, just to ensure that everything coagulates nicely. However, sometimes it doesn't want to break right away - if that happens, I keep heating it until it gets to 190 or so, and then add a little more vinegar if I still haven't gotten a clean break. The whey should be translucent and greenish-yellow - if it's still milky, you need either more heat or more acid.
Once you've gotten a clean break and have let it sit for a few minutes, you can scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon or spider, or just dump the whole thing (gently) into a colander lined with cheesecloth. The amount of time you let it drain depends on the texture you want - 20 mins will get you a fairly loose ricotta, while an hour or so will make it pretty dense. Also, keep in mind that it will become even firmer when it's refrigerated. You can turn this cheese into paneer if you let it drain long enough and press it!
Anyway, after draining (I usually go about an hour), I like to add some salt and some heavy cream, to give it an extra luscious texture. I know people who add cream to the milk before they make the ricotta, but I find this gives the finished product a kind of pasty texture. I much prefer to add it afterwards - you can really control the final texture that way, too (e.g., if you drained it a little too much, add a little extra cream to loosen it to your desired consistency).