As a serious cheese lover I have long aspired to try my own hand at home cheese-making. Cheese, being everything wonderful that it is, seemed like a worthy, yet considerably intimidating goal, which is why up until last week I had shied away from any home-dairy experiments.
But now everything has changed. I found the courage to try this recipe for homemade whole-milk ricotta cheese from Annie’s Eats (one of my favorite recipe resources–www.annies-eats.com) and friends, let me tell you, it was easy to make and all-too-easy to enjoy.
My first ever cheese-baby served us in a variety of delicious ways over the weekend:
First, as a topping on a homemade whole wheat pizza dough. Topping pizza with fresh ricotta is one component of my eternal quest to find a satisfactory copycat recipe for my all-time favorite pizza which is no longer available at what used to be one of my favorite restaurants in Portland. (They obviously are not any longer, ever since they struck my favorite pizza from their menu.)
Next, it starred in two quick and easy pasta dishes for a Saturday night after-a-movie dinner. His was a baked pasta with whole wheat penne, pre-made tomato sauce from a jar (he swears that he actually likes it), homemade ricotta, and shredded mozzarella. Hers was an AMAZING recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen (my other favorite recipe resource–www.smittenkitchen.com) that showcased the ricotta in a whole wheat pasta dish with snow peas, freshly squeezed lemon, mint plucked from my patio, and grated parmesan.
You may have noticed that both the pizzas and the pasta dishes were customized; his and hers. If you continue to follow this blog you will notice that this is not a rare occurrence. Whenever it’s possible to do a construct-your-own dinner, I do it. It’s absolutely worth the peace and contentment that comes with both of us getting to personalize our meal.
You may have also noticed that my food photography leaves much to be desired. I know it and I regret it. That’s pretty much the extent of my phone camera’s capacity, though I will endeavor to make the arrangements more appealing as I learn.
My whole experience with cheese-making did leave me with one pressing question: can cheese cloth be reused? If yes, then making ricotta at home is not only tasty, but also budget-friendly. If no, then having to purchase a fresh $5.60 cheese cloth for each batch may relegate this recipe to special occasions only. I would greatly appreciate information from anyone who knows about this, especially the particulars on how to properly cleanse the cloth for future use.
And now, a small town living anecdote, repeated here to satisfy my mother: Trevor and I went to the movies on Saturday night to escape thinking about a fresh crop of car troubles that are plaguing our ever-untrusty volvo. Let me put it simply; the $14 admission for two was wonderful, but our theater event was just not the cinetopia experience we had grown accustomed to in the city. For those of you who don’t know, cinetopia is like the first class of movie theaters–wide, reclining leather seats with personal ottomans, state of the art technology, and beer and wine delivered directly to your seat. Our Saturday night at the movies was more of a ride in coach, in an old plane that smelled of crushed-velvet must and stale popcorn butter. I’m trying to chalk it all up to small town “charm”.