I have a lot of work to do. I have had subscriptions to three different food magazines for several years now. I must have hundred's of back issues with recipes that I intend to get to at some point. My project over the next year (or two, wink), one of them anyway, is to scan the recipes that I want to keep so that I can organize files on the computer for easy access. I've also decided that I need to be more diligent about actually making the recipes that I bookmark. So when I saw the recipe for fresh ricotta in the January 2009 issue of Bon Appetit, I decided to make it immediately. I had all 3 of the ingredients on hand already. In fact, they are staples in my house and probably yours.
I have learned that this recipe does not result in a true ricotta but is actually considered a fresh cheese. Ricotta is Italian for " re-cooked" and is usually made from the whey that is discarded when making other cheeses. Whatever it is, it's delicious. It's creamy and smooth, and I don't think anyone could tell the difference between this and proper ricotta, and I'm not referring to that grainy stuff they sell in tubs at the supermarket. This recipe actually reminded me of another one that I read about recently here. The only difference between the two is the one in BA uses lemon juice to curd the milk and the other one uses buttermilk. Actually, I think I prefer the one with buttermilk. It had less of a tang which allowed for the pure sweet quality of the milk to come through. The one with lemon juice will do in a pinch, but if you have buttermilk, I'd use that.
adapted from Bon Appetit
2 quarts of whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or 2 cups buttermilk
Line a strainer with 4 layers of cheesecloth and place over a large bowl. Bring the milk (and buttermilk if using) and salt to a simmer over medium heat. You will need to stir often and scrape the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching. Stir in the lemon juice. Let simmer until curds form, 1-2 minutes. Scoop the curds into the lined strainer with a slotted spoon. Let the cheese drain about 15 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. The consistency improves once it is cooled. I'd say that the cheese should keep well refrigerated for about 5 days.
I made a double batch because I was going to make some ricotta gnocchi. Instead I made a combination of potato and ricotta (I'll post about that soon), so I ended up with quite a bit of ricotta left over, more than I would use up through casual eating through the week. What better way to preserve a food than to freeze it? And I would highly recommend freezing your left over ricotta in the form of ricotta ice cream with candied kumquats and chocolate flakes. In fact, this ice cream is a perfect excuse to make homemade ricotta, period. Ricotta, Candied Kumquat and Chocolate Ice cream
2 1/2 cups fresh ricotta
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of kosher salt
1 cup cream
1-2 tablespoons Marsala
3 tablespoons chopped candied kumquats
2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
Place the ricotta, sugar, vanilla and salt in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the Marsala and cream and blend. Taste for salt. Refrigerate until cold. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.
Chop the chocolate and melt in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Let the chocolate cool a bit. When the ice cream is firm add the kumquats and drizzle in the melted chocolate. This results in thin chocolate flakes which are so much more pleasant than chunks of chocolate.
If you need a recipe for the candied kumquats, you could try these. You could also use candied orange peel like these. I also think some chopped candied meyer lemon would be great here. Yet another reason to pillage my neighbors tree.
This ice cream was so satisfying. It was extraordinarily smooth with chewy bits of candied kumquat and flaky bits of chocolate. Louis found it down right addictive. Needless to say, it didn't last long in the freezer.