Everyone has a favourite food. As a child, I loooooovvved perogies with sour cream. I still love perogies, but now I would have to say my favourite food is shellfish (oysters, scallops, clams, crab) and my favourite dessert is creme brulee, floating islands, and meringues. Those were the first that came to mind. Now, a very different question I ask myself: what food could I not live without? Bread and cheese. I could never give them up. I just couldn't.
I remember as a child my grandparents would bring home fresh cheese curds (especially for me!). I have yet to meet a cheese I didn't like. Well that's not true. The ironic thing about me loving bread and cheese is that I never liked grilled cheese sandwiches growing up. If I was hungry after school, my mum would suggest I make a grilled cheese. But I hated them! I didn't like ketchup, so I figured that was the root of my dislike for grilled cheese. But then, I had a realization. It's the Kraft singles. It's the fake cheese you hate! Ahhh, yes. That makes sense. Now, when I make grilled cheese my favourite cheese to use is Provolone. EDIT: My mum reminded me that I used to call it "girl cheese".
I remember stopping in at a cheese shop neat Borough Market in London a few years ago. The walls were covered in floor-to-ceiling shelves that were stacked with cheese wheels. It was amazing, and I thought of that little shop when I decided to make ricotta. Making ricotta was very simple and easy. You just need milk (whole milk works best) and lemon juice.
The curdling process is quickened by heating the milk and adding +ions in the form of an acid. When milk gets old, it also starts to curdle because of the lactic acid released by natural bacteria. The +ions of acids cause the normally equally distributed milk proteins to coalesce. Ta da! Ricotta cheese. But beware, it is a gateway cheese! Looking forward to getting rennet tablets to have a go at mozzarella :)
homemade ricotta cheese
1 L whole milk (3.25%)
3 Tbsp lemon juice (45 ml)
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
Line a sieve with cheese cloth and place over a bowl. Set aside.
In a saucepan bring milk to 200°F (93°C) using medium heat. Do not let milk boil. If you do not have a thermometer, the milk will appear frothy and begin to steam (just before it boils).
Remove from heat and add lemon juice and salt. Gently stir and leave untouched for 10 minutes. The milk will start to curdle.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer large curds to sieve. Pour the remaining curds and whey through sieve. They whey can be kept for another use.
Leave the curds to drain for 10-60 minutes, depending on the desired consistency. If you are going for creamy ricotta, you can add more whey if the mixture gets too dry. If you want a crumbly ricotta, you can place the ricotta wrapped in cheese cloth in the fridge with a weight on top (I used a plate with a large squash on top!).
Keep in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Use the ricotta on toast with avocado or fruit, in lasagna, or sprinkled on salads. Enjoy!
Yields ~2 cups.
*Recipe adapted from The Kitchn