Monday, April 4, 2011

When Life Gives You Cool Milk, Make Ricotta

I’ll admit to a cooking flop here. I was making my usual crock pot yogurt and really looking forward to having a fresh batch for my Monday morning oats, but I made a mistake and then was too lazy to correct it properly. Typical.

Usually at the point where I turn the crock pot off and let the milk cool for three hours, I take my frozen yogurt cubes out and put them in a little bowl on the counter to defrost. Well, yesterday I was so into my quilting that I forgot this step and when my milk had cooled to the perfect temperature, my yogurt was still in the freezer. So I experimented and, as usual, when I experiment in the name of laziness, I failed. I plopped those frozen yogurt cubes right in to my crock pot hoping that the warm milk would melt them and that they would work just fine. After seven hours when I would normally have a nice batch of yogurt, I had cool milk with a tiny bit of yogurt on the bottom (probably just the melted cubes). Not even close. So I left it out overnight hoping that things would come together for the morning. Not so. Still just milk. Sadly, I had to eat my oats sans yogurt.

But I hate to waste half-gallon of milk so I promptly put a big pot on the stove over medium high heat and got to heating the milk again, now with a new mission in mind…cheese. I’ve done this once before, a happy accident, after another failed yogurt attempt. Then, I had reheated the milk in my crock pot only to end up, unexpectedly, with a soft ricotta-like cheese, so this time I knew I had all the elements in place.

Once the milk started a low simmer, the magic happened, and there appeared those little curds floating around in the whey. I was happy. Not as happy as I would have been with yogurt, mind you, but decently happy. I strained out my curds, mixed in some salt and started to dream about how I would use my fresh cheese. Kicking myself for my break from sugar, I tried to think up some savory dish for dinner. Perhaps pizza. But all that was going through my mind was ricotta and blueberries drizzled with some buckwheat honey. Divine!

Fresh ricotta is delightful. It’s far superior to that rubbery stuff you get at the store. Made either with yogurt or with buttermilk it’s so delicious and light. So if you ever intend to make yogurt, but you end up with cool milk, take it and make yourself some cheese. You won’t regret it!

Failed Yogurt Ricotta
Makes 2 cups

1 crockpot of failed yogurt

Cheer up! Transfer failed yogurt to a large pot and heat over medium high heat stirring constantly. Once you see the curds and whey separate (looks like egg drop soup), remove the pot from the heat and strain it over a bowl through a strainer or colander lined with several layers of cheese cloth or a thin cotton tea towel.

Let the curds drain for 10-15 minutes or until they have reached a desirable consistency. If you over-drain them, add a bit of the whey and stir it in until it’s perfectly suited to your preferences. Add a pinch of salt and some lemon juice to taste. Save the whey and store it in your refrigerator; it has many uses from watering plants to baking. 

1 comment:

  1. This is so rich. Homemade ricotta is such an epic treat. Maybe mash and microwave a banana with salt and cinnamon and then mix into the ricotta. This would elevate the sweetness and make a really decadent snack. Throw some in the freezer and make lemon ricotta pancakes when you come out of Lent!