No, your eyes do not deceive you. I made my own ricotta. My very own cheese! The inspiration came a few weeks ago, when I found myself missing the recently closed Fraiche Restaurant in Santa Monica. Before I moved to West Hollywood and worked at an agency, I lived near the beach and spent many week nights at Fraiche’s happy hour. With inexpensive wine, balsamic glazed prosciutto pizza, and the best burger (yeah, I said it) in Los Angeles, Fraiche was by far one of my favorite spots on the West side. Even after I moved further East I tried to make it out there to enjoy the all night specials, and would even pay – gasp! – full price for their simply sweet orange beet salad.
As you may have guessed, the salad features a homemade ricotta. With Fraiche closing late last year, my mission was clear: I had to take the plunge and make my own!
My ricotta mission also coincided with my very last Friday working out of an office. A few weeks ago I gave my notice at Buzzine and accepted a brand new job as “Content Manager” at Cyber2Media. Gone are the days of work-from-home hermitage, writing articles from the couch, and spending most of my time in PJs and workout clothes. Though working from home has an absurd amount of benefits, I’m looking forward to interacting with other people again! (For a painfully accurate account of what it’s like to work from home, check out this comic from TheOatmeal.com.)
And so I spent my last free Friday tinkering with several different ricotta recipes, from Bon Appetit, Epicurious and Martha Stewart Living. After one severely soppy failed attempt, I mastered the art of cheese-making! One cheese, anyway.
yields ~2 cups
8 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
salt & pepper, to taste
You’ll also need a sieve, cheesecloth, and an airtight container for the ricotta – I used the leftover blood orange infused tequila mason jars.
Some recipes only call for lemon juice, but I found the addition of vinegar made a huge difference in curdling. Bring milk and heavy cream to a boil over medium-high heat – it should take about 10-15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and white wine vinegar, turn down heat to low and let mixture simmer for 3-5 minutes, until it begins to curdle.
Take the pot off the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Line a sieve with 2-3 pieces of cheesecloth and place over a large bowl. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the curdled cheese into the lined sieve and let the whey (liquid) drain into the bowl. Let the curds drain for about an hour, then gather up the cheesecloth and squeeze gently to get rid of any leftover liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
I initially made this ricotta for the beet salad, but had so much cheese I was able to make a ton of different snacks! This weekend we feasted on the Fraiche-inspired beet salad, ricotta & chives scrambled eggs, and a simple rosemary ricotta on toast (recipes + photos coming soon). And the fun doesn’t end there – I’m already planning ways to incorporate this light, fluffy cheese into dessert. Stay tuned!