Kitchen Sink Ricotta

My mom, not only the woman who gave birth to me, but also the woman who gave me my love of cooking and baking, is visiting with my dad (PR spokesperson for my mom's food) right now. So, being the culinary adventurers that we are, we decided we needed to make something that we had never tried before. You have to understand, that list is somewhat short. My mom is the type who made homemade yogurt in the 70s, always had a jar full of sourdough starter on the kitchen counter, and is constantly experimenting with new recipes and taste sensations. In fact, recently, on a trip to see my brother and his girlfriend in Portland (of Apizza Scholl's fame), they made corned beef from scratch. So, perhaps owing to my ultra-competitive nature, and to the curious culinary adventurer inside me, we decided to make our own cheese.

We found our recipe for homemade ricotta in the current edition of Cooking Light magazine, which my mother brought with her on the plane (although I've noticed that there are tons of recipes for ricotta, all slightly different to be found online).

We filled a large stockpot with 2% milk and buttermilk and brought the mixture to 170F. Once we hit that temperature we stopped stirring, and the curds started to separate from the whey. At 190F, we removed the pot from the heat and gently ladled the curds into a cheesecloth-lined colander that was set over a bowl. After the curds drained for about 5 minutes, we tied up the cheesecloth and hung it from the kitchen faucet for about 15 minutes to finish draining. Finally, we turned the ricotta out into a bowl, sprinkled it with salt, and tossed with a fork. YUM! This is definitely the best ricotta I have ever tasted.

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We made 2 full batches of ricotta, about 6 cups total. On Sunday evening we are going to prepare a full ricotta tasting menu, including a delicious roasted veggie lasagne and a creamy ricotta and lemon cheesecake.

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Who knew that making ricotta could be so easy? I for one will probably never (well, maybe in a pinch) purchase a tub of store-bought ricotta again. Not only is homemade ricotta cheaper, fresher, and far superior, think of how much you will impress your friends by telling them that you made the ricotta in the lasagne.

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