Wednesday, March 20, 2013

recipe: ricotta cheese {and lasagna}

Every once in awhile, I get bit by the bug.
The domesticity bug.

Now, don't get me wrong; Tim and I cook dinner every single day and I like to think we're relatively okay cooks, but every once in awhile, we like to overachieve.

{like the day I randomly decided to make french macarons after eating them only one other time. They were delicious; I'll post the recipe sometime.}

Well, a couple months back, I spur-of-the-moment decided I wanted to try making ricotta cheese {because why the heck not?}. Ricotta is what's considered an acid cured cheese, which means it curdles/sets using some form of acid rather than rennet tablets. It was so easy and so delicious that it's now pretty much a once a month occurrence around here.

Want to try? Here's what you'll need to make about 2 cups of cheese {basic recipe adapted from Fifteen Spatulas}:

Ricotta Cheese
2 cups heavy cream
3.5 cups skim milk
1tsp salt
3 tsp white wine vinegar
possible substitutions:
heavy cream : half & half for a lighter cheese; heavy whipping cream {for a sweeter cheese}
skim milk : 1%, 2% or whole milk for richer cheese
salt : seasoned salt, garlic salt, onion salt, etc.
white wine vinegar : any other vinegar! I've tried rice vinegar, red wine vinegar, even lemon juice once. If it's an acid, you're probably okay.
Step 1. Combine heavy cream, milk and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  In this version, I used garlic salt; you can see it floating on top of the mixture below.

Step 2. Bring to a boil, stirring often.
Step 3. As soon as it starts to boil, remove from heat. Stir in your vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes (I usually wait 2-3 minutes). You will see the cheese begin to curdle along the sides of the pan.

 Step 4. While you're waiting, place a fine strainer or colander over a pot and line it with a wet paper towel. I use the ones from Costco and haven't torn one yet, but if you're worried you can double-up.

Pour your now-curdled cheese mixture into the strainer and let it sit for at least 20 minutes, mixing periodically to redistribute the cheese.

The longer you let it sit, the thicker it will become. I have let it drip for two hours; It's your call! It will thicken up nicely in the fridge as well. In this case, I left it for a half hour.

At this point, you can mix in fresh chopped herbs {about 3 Tbsp total; a mixture of parsley and basil is absolutely delicious}. Transfer to a container or use right away! It'll keep for about 4 days in the fridge.

What can you do with Ricotta cheese? We like it spread over bagels or toast, and it's really yummy just on chips too! Or, you can make lasagna, and bask in your domesticity.

1 package of no-cook lasagna noodles
2 cups ricotta cheese*
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg {in a pinch, this can be excluded}
1 large jar pasta sauce
1 lb ground meat {we used ground chicken here}
basil flakes for garnish

Step 1: Preheat oven to 400*F. Brown meat in a skillet until fully cooked. Drain, then mix in the pasta sauce with meat. In a bowl, combine egg, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese; mix well.
Step 2: Spread 1 cup of meat mixture on the bottom of a 9x13 pan {or 9x9 for a taller lasagna}.
Step 3: place one layer of uncooked pasta over sauce
Step 4. spread half of the cheese mixture on top of the noodles. Top the cheese with 1/3 of the meat mixture.
Step 5: repeat steps 3-4. {meat; noodles, cheese, meat, noodles, cheese, meat.}
Step 6: place one final layer of noodles on top, then spread the remaining meat mixture on top. Cover with foil and bake for an hour.
Step 7: After an hour, uncover and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese and basil flakes. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Remove from oven, and let stand 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

*may substitute cottage cheese for ricotta

1 comment:

  1. Yuuuuum that looks awesome!! Wow! As if you made the cheese!

    Some Snapshots Blog


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