I’ve been going into London a lot lately. Mostly for work. Occasionally for play. This week’s trip was especially exhausting – two nights in the big smoke, Wednesday and Thursday, the latter of which involved a wowzer of a dinner at Bacchus Pub and Kitchen in Hoxton. The meal necessitated not only three courses, but two large glasses of delicious Tyrrell’s Semillon Sauvignon Blanc (Australia, 2008) and a glass of Elysium Black Muscat (USA, 2009) to go with dessert.
The meal left me aglow with the bliss of a good night out, but also a wee bit tired on Friday. And after cycling across London and travelling back to the farm, I was feeling a touch fatigued and entirely uncreative.
So I did what I do when I don’t have the energy to write or work: I cooked.
Ever since the broad beans arrived in this week’s organic box, I’ve been thinking about the broad bean and goats curd salad I had at Rachel Demuth’s French Cookery Holiday last year. But to recreate it would require goats curd. And to create goats curd in a way that would make me feel good about eating it would require fresh goat’s milk. This was becoming too difficult a project for a hungover Friday afternoon.
Since I couldn’t find any goats, I settle for cows, and took a drive to the Organic Farm Shop in Cirencester, one of my favourite places around, for some of their fresh non homgenised whole milk.
Ricotta cheese is actually very easy to make – all you need is milk, vinegar or lemon juice, and a bit of salt. There are a few techniques out there that are a touch more complex – Smitten Kitchen just posted a recipe that includes heavy cream for a richer cheese; 101 Cookbooks uses buttermilk instead of vinegar; David Lebowitz includes whole-milk yogurt and heavy cream.
However, when the milk is this fresh, I prefer a simple recipe that’s all about the milk, and so I followed Carl Legge‘s simple technique of heating the milk, adding vinegar, letting it curdle, and then straining in muslin.
The result is a crumbly, soft cheese that’s so good I can’t bring myself to stuff it in a lasagna or saturate with tomato sauce. Instead, I like my ricotta to stand on its own. I especially like it in salads, such as my recreation of the infamous goats curd salad, with broad beans, sugar snaps and tarragon vinaigrette.
I have plans to use the remaining ricotta on a bit of toast, perhaps with some basil and tomato. But again, nothing too crazy – I want the cheese to stand out.
I hear you can do this with semi-skimmed milk, too, but the yield will be less. Adapted from Carl Legge’s homemade ricotta recipe.
- 1 L whole milk
- 44 mL white wine vinegar or lemon juice
Put the milk into a large heavy bottomed pan.
Heat the milk on medium heat until its almost boiling, stirring regularly while its heating up.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the vinegar or lemon juice and salt and stir. The milk will curdle and “split”. Leave to cool.
Line a strainer with cheesecloth or muslin and set it over a deep bowl. Pour the curdled milk into the strainer and let it drain for an hour or so. What remains in the muslin is your ricotta!
Save the leftover liquid (whey) – you can add it to smoothies (it’s really good with strawberry and banana smoothies) or use it to replace water in bread recipes.