I recently found a recipe for homemade ricotta cheese in the local newspaper. It looked so easy and although I am not a big ricotta fan , I love the way it tastes when it’s fresh and dolloped into a big bowl of pasta. I’m thinking roasted eggplant here and rigatoni and some red sauce.
So I bought the few ingredients I needed, whole milk, cream and some lemons and gave it a try.
The big trick was to not heat up the milk mixture on too high a heat or the bottom would scorch. I probably should have timed it better because I knew that I needed to run down to my mom’s house midday to take care of something. But I figured the milk would boil, I could add the lemon juice, let it sit the requisite 5 minutes and then pour the whole thing into a colander to drain while I did my chore.
Right! Yeah, right. Like I said I probably should have timed it better. So the milk mixture heated up slowly, very slowly and what is that about a watched pot ? Oh right- it doesn’t boil! So my mother called. I had ten minutes to get to her house and let the person in. Ten minutes, watched pot, not boiling. I gradually increased the heat to match the heat I was feeling. Still not boiling! Evidently I didn’t time this right. Finally a small bubble here and there but not a real boil and my time was up. I needed to leave. So I took the pot off the burner, added the lemon juice and made a run for it. Oh right I was in such a rush I left without my car keys and had to break into the house to get them. Great. Easy recipe. No problem. Well a half hour later I made it back home and the milk had not curdled the way I imagined.
But I poured the mixture into the cheesecloth lined colander and hoped for the best.
One hour, one hour and a half, two hours, it still looked pretty wet. I let it sit another half hour. Scooped up something that looked like wet ricotta and put it into the airtight container.
I peeled the eggplant, did I say that George thinks he is allergic to eggplant skin, so I peeled the eggplant and tossed it with some olive oil and put it in the oven to roast.
After it cooled I considered retrying the ricotta recipe but really didn’t have the patience or the time. Just because I work from home everyone thinks I’m not really working. I was bombarded with phone calls from people asking me to do them a favor and……..so whatever state the cheese was in was how we would be eating it tonight.
I took the roasted eggplant and sautéed it in a pan with some garlic and oil. Then I added some white wine, of course, and cooked it until most of the liquid was absorbed. Never use wine you wouldn’t actually drink. This Jamesport Chardonnay is rich and creamy and full of vanilla. Delicious as a sipper and delicious to cook with. Priced under $15.
Then I added some jarred sauce. Maybe a cup of sauce. You can add whichever sauce is your favorite. I like Rao’s. Then I added a squeeze or two of concentrated pesto. And salt and peppered it to taste. Yum. This part came out pretty good.
Well even after all the drama this easy ricotta recipe came out great. Only four ingredients-simple, impressive, so creamy. Really all you do is boil the milk mixture add the fresh lemon juice and let it sit in the colander. You can do other things while you wait for it to drain. Better than store bought any day. George loved it. He couldn’t believe I made it. He wants to know when I am making fresh mozzarella. Not any day soon. I can go to Uncle Giuseppe’s for that.
Oh and I was going to pair it with a nice Sangiovese but I had a bottle of Educated Guess Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 that I wanted to try. Great wine and great with the eggplant dish. I loved the label on this bottle. It is priced at around $20. Lots of berry and cherry. Fullbodied and smooth with a great finish. It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. I would definitely buy this one again.
Here is the Ricotta recipe from a column by Lauren Chattman. http://www.newsday.com/lifestyle/columnists/lauren-chattman/singing-homemade-ricotta-s-praises-1.3205522
The eggplant pasta dish I just made up as I went along.