Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Say Cheese!

We got a good amount of snow yesterday here in Chicago, not as much as the 12 inches they were forecasting, but still a lot. So what better way to spend a snowed-in day than to make cheese? No, really.

Last week when my mom was here we had lunch at Terzo Piano, the restaurant in the Art Institute. The restaurant was beautiful, very white and modern looking, and the food was amazing. I had a salad consisting of arugula, prosciutto, persimmons, and house made lemon ricotta. The ricotta was my favorite part, it was so soft and had some freshly ground black pepper on it. I wish I had taken a picture...

I figured ricotta must not be that hard to make, so I did a little research...and it's not! Here's the recipe I used, which was a combination of a few different ones I found online.

4 cups whole milk
1 cup half and half
generous pinch of salt
a little under 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
**you'll also need cheesecloth

Heat the milk, half and half, and salt in a sauce pan on high heat. While you wait for it to boil, line a colander with a double layer of damp cheesecloth. Put the colander in a large bowl. Bring the milk mixture to a boil, and remove from heat. Add the lemon juice while slowly stirring, and after a minute or 2 you will see it start to separate into curds and a clear liquid (whey). Pour the contents of the saucepan into the colander and let drain for about 10 minutes. You're done! (Discard the whey, unless you want to save it for something else. If you don't, you don't even really need to put the colander in a bowl, just over the sink drain would be fine.)

You can refrigerate the cheese for a couple days, I would imagine. I just made it yesterday and used in on a pizza and it was great. It was drier and more firm that I envisioned it, but it was really good. I'm not sure what the outcome would be if I let it curdle for less time so the curds hold more liquid, or if I use less lemon juice, or slightly different ingredients, but I'll try a different way next time just to see. You can use heavy cream or buttermilk instead of half and half, and you can also use distilled white vinegar instead of lemon juice. And you can of course double this recipe. The measurements I used resulted in about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of ricotta.

Curds and whey (gross looking!)

The finished product!


  1. yummy! sounds good. what sort of pizza did you make with it?


  2. I made used it on a pizza made with whole wheat crust, tomato sauce (of course), hot turkey sausage, red onions, and LOTS of basil!