“A good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a kind of artist.” -Wendell Berry
As all good cooks know- the quality and origin of your ingredients make all the difference in the flavor of your dishes. This weekend I went to the Farmer’s Market at Grand Army Plaza to get the freshest milk I could find for my cheese-making expedition. Cheese is my favorite food group. Seriously, I cannot live without it. So I figured, why not try making my own. Brooklyn is a haven for locally sourced, artisanal everything!(pickles, gin, mayonnaise, bitters, popsicles, you name it!) So why not join the band wagon?
Which brings us to…….(drum roll, please!)…..making farm fresh ricotta cheese at home!! I sourced my milk from Ronnybrook Farms. They are legendary around these parts for their milk, cream, yogurt, and ice cream. And they come in glass bottles which are just too cute!
Farm Fresh Ricotta
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 1 heaping cup of ricotta
3 1/2 cups whole local milk
1/2 cup local heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used Meyer lemon, my favorite!)
Pour the milk, cream and salt into a saucepan. Heat the milk to 190°F- you can use a candy thermometer or watch it intently to the point where the milk is just beginning to boil. Stir milk mixture occasionally to keep bottom from burning. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, stir mixture once or twice in a figure eight, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. At an hour, you’ll have a soft, oozy, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, and more crumbly. Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. It’s truly incredible to slather on toast bread when its still a little warm. The lemon juice essence adds a wonderful brightness in contrast to the rich, creamy texture. Small pleasures indeed!
Keeps for up to 3 days. I dare you to let it sit in your house that long!
I made these delectable crostini with my ricotta. Truly, it was all quite simple and easy…..and an opportunity to slow down. Ahhhhh.
Roasted Red Grapes with fresh Thyme. (halve and roast grapes at 350 degrees for 15mins)
Lavendar Honey with Meyer Lemon Zest. (Let lavender soak in honey for 15 mins, make sure to purchase “for consumption.”)
“He who does not eat cheese will go mad.” -French Proverb