Marsha's StoryNot just for making lasagna, ricotta is great when you spread it on a slice of toasted baguette, and eat it along with a giant vegetable salad and with a crisp glass of wine and marvel at how indulgent something so simple can feel.
As an appetizer you can dress it up a little — my favorite ways are with honey, olive oil, or an aged balsamic; you can dress it up a lot...The sky is the limit.
buttermilk or heavy cream1
2 1/2 Tbsp
lemon juice, fresh
1Pour the milk, buttermilk or cream and salt into a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan. Attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer. Heat the milk to 190°F, stirring it occasionally to keep it from scorching on the bottom. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, then stir it once or twice, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
2Line 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 tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, almost like cream cheese. (It will firm as it cools, so do not judge its final texture by what you have in your cheesecloth.) Discard the whey, or, if you’re one of those crafty people who use it for other things, of course, save it. Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
3USES FOR WHEY FROM MAKING CHEESE:
1. Substitute it in any baking recipe that calls for water (or even milk).
2. Use it to soak grains. Depending on your recipe, several tablespoons or more can be added to your grain and legume preparations to make them more digestible.
3. Add it to soups and stews. Perhaps it could take the place of some of your homemade stock or broth?
4. Add it to homemade fruit smoothies or milkshakes.
5. Feed it to the dogs. Our dogs love it when I pour a little whey on their dry food and make it into a cereal. It’s quite the treat.
6. use it to water your plants. Dilute it with a good amount of water (straight whey will “burn” your plants) and pour on your veggies or flowers (avoid using acid whey here). Think how much your container garden would love that!
7. Make MORE ricotta. Ricotta cheese is traditionally made from whey.
8. Pour it in your compost bin.
9. Make a marinade. Add your favorite spices and seasonings (garlic, salt, pepper, maybe some rosemary…Yum!) to the whey and allow it to marinate your steaks, chicken, fish, or pork chops. The enzymes in the whey help to break down the meat and add flavor.