Friday, April 1, 2011

Gastronomy: Homemade Ricotta, Fun Making and Eating for the Whole Family

My husband and I fell in love with fresh, handmade ricotta during our first trip to Italy. Richer yet more buoyant than the ricotta we were acquainted with, these creamy cloud droplets won both our hearts and palates. Upon our return to the U.S. with our new-found penchant for good ricotta, we were left with but one choice: To make it ourselves.

Ricotta recipes overflow on the web, but the proportions vary little. We ended up trying Maria Helm Sinskey’s recipe from her cookbook, Family Meals. Beautifully illustrated and down-right fool-proof, we found Maria’s recipe deliciously easy! Whether you fold in herbs to stuff a cream puff or accompany a sandwich, top it on pizza, mix it into your favorite pasta, or create a crowd-pleasin’ lasagna, handmade ricotta is an unrivaled velvety treat that the whole family can enjoy making and eating together.

1 gallon whole milk
2 c heavy cream
¼ plus 2 T distilled white vinegar (lemon juice can also be substituted for vinegar)
1 t kosher salt

Large, nonreactive pot
Instant-read thermometer
Cheesecloth (can be purchased from any hardware store)
Large bowl
Slotted spoon or strainer
Airtight container
Clean cloth/towel

Pour the milk and cream into a pot. Over medium-high heat, heat milk and cream to just below boiling or to 185 degrees. With a spatula, keep stirring so liquid doesn’t scorch. Just before the milk boils, the surface will bubble and begin to release steam. Do not heat to over 185 degrees. Turn off heat. Add the vinegar and stir for 30 seconds; add the salt and stir for an additional 30 seconds. Cover the pot with a dish towel and let the curds stand at room temperature for two hours.

Line the colander with a large square of cheesecloth and place the colander over a bowl to catch the draining liquid. Using the strainer/slotted spoon, gently transfer the curds from the pot to the colander. Let the ricotta drain for about 30 minutes.

Gather the cheesecloth by its corners and twist together to force out the liquid. When the liquid turns from clear to milky and the cheese starts to push through the cheesecloth, stop the draining process. Remove the ricotta from the cheesecloth to an airtight container; store in the refrigerator. The ricotta can be saved for up to 1 week.


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About Mod City Mom

After becoming mothers, sisters Sarah Romine and Leah Weyandt wanted to marry the activities and interests that they experienced before motherhood with their new found lives with children. This was not always an easy task—traveling to obscure places, shopping at off-beat boutiques, and sipping lazy-afternoon cocktails doesn't always fit neatly with parenthood. Stemming from their frustration, they meticulously searched, and continue to search, for activities, establishments, and entertainment that they take pleasure in and their families benefit from. The result? Mod City Mom.

About Sarah

Sarah is a passionate cook, fashionista, writer, actor, and mother. Like all actors, she ended up working at many-a-restaurant to make ends meet and shopping at countless bargain boutiques to maintain her sense of personal style. Her culinary journey, love affair with fashion, and desire to remain true to herself after becoming a mother are the inspirations for this site. Sarah lives with her husband and two sons in Chicago.

About Leah

A polymath wannabe, Leah loves books, films, music, cooking, and travel. After co-starting a writing and editing shop in 2002, Leah has spent her spare time frequenting her favorite cities, hangouts, and haunts. Her obsession with finding the new, innovative, and quirky is the impetus behind this site. Leah lives with her two sons and husband in North San Diego County.
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