Ricotta is very easy to make—easier than yogurt as you won’t need a machine—and it won’t cost more than what you buy but the difference in taste and texture will be a “wow” moment. Garantie à la française. I taught my Italian friend who visited me a few weeks ago and while tasting it wanted to know where I could possibly have bought that high-quality ricotta…she was stunned to learn it was homemade and wanted to learn how to make it, and now back in Milan she makes her own.
You will need a heavy saucepan (I use my old Le Creuset), a thermometer, a bowl topped with a medium colander lined with cheesecloth, and a slotted spoon (the one I use is the type many chefs use to lift fried food from a fryer).
8 cups regular milk
4 cups 2% milk
1 ½ teaspoon salt
4 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Yield: 2-3 cups
Bring the milk and salt to 160 degrees F using a heavy-duty saucepan over medium-high heat (I don’t use a thermometer anymore…it’s at the point before boiling where little bubbles form all around the edge of the saucepan). Lower heat, add fresh lemon juice, stir a few times until curds form (it will take a few minutes), and with slotted spoon pick up ricotta and transfer to colander. Drain it quickly (a few seconds) if you want a soft texture (you may like a lighter style to use for your Magical Breakfast from The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook, or to eat as is with a drizzle of honey) or longer if you want a firmer cheese (for pasta topping, for example, or on bread), and discard the drained liquid. You can eat as is or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to chill. It will keep a few days, though in my house the 3 cups don’t last more than 48 hours if I am lucky! Kids love it, too, and with fresh fruit it makes an excellent breakfast or dessert. Have fun creating your endless options.