Yesterday, my friend and mentor John posted something on Facebook about a dessert he at at Palomino in downtown Seattle. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of Palomino (sorry, John!), but this looked pretty good: “SICILIAN DOUGHNUTS w/Ricotta/Orange/Honey Dipping goodness for dessert – BIG SPLURGE”.
It got me thinking about ricotta, so I figured I’d search my go-to blogs for some info. Turns out Smitten Kitchen and Serious Eats have both covered this before. Awesome. I stopped at Trader Joe’s and picked up a quart of whole milk and a half pint of heavy whipping cream while out running errands this morning.
Ricotta is really easy to make. I followed Deb’s recipe exactly, using 3 1/2 cups of whole milk and 1/2 cup of heavy cream (the Serious Eats article, written by the excellent Kenji Lopez-Alt, had some useful science info but the method didn’t work for me since we don’t have a microwave). Basically, you just heat some milk to 190 degrees, add some lemon juice, let it sit, then strain it and let it sit for about an hour, or longer. As Deb describes, “at an hour, you’ll have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, almost like cream cheese.” Serious Eats points out that you can also let it sit overnight for “firm, dry, crumbly curds that can easily be molded into firm shapes”. I let mine sit for an hour.
I’m pretty practical when it comes to kitchen gadgets, and generally don’t believe that anyone needs a bunch of extra “stuff” to cook. However, this is a good time for me to remind you that you really do need a kitchen thermometer. You don’t need a fancy $90 instant-read thermometer. I have one like this and it works great. I use it for cooking meat (you can leave the probe in while the meat is in the oven), for candy making, and for getting the perfect 175 degree water for my Aeropress coffee. They’re really useful, and you should get one.
Enough about gadgets. How should you eat this? You can spoon it over bread. You can eat it with fresh seasonal fruit and a drizzle of honey or olive oil (or both!). You can use it in your favorite lasagna recipe. The possibilities are
from Smitten Kitchen
makes about 1 cup
- 3 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Heat the milk, cream, and salt in a medium saucepan until it reaches 190 degrees (stir frequently to prevent scorching). Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Line a strainer with 2 layers of cheese cloth or 4 layers of paper towels and place it over a bowl. After 5 minutes is up, pour in the milk mixture. Let sit 1 hour or up to overnight, depending on how set you like it (see above, and remember that it will also firm up more when refrigerated). Discard the whey.
Eat, either spread on flatbread or bread, or spooned over some fresh fruit with honey and/or olive oil.