I’m done! I have officially made it through graduate school, with only a few mental scrapes and a slight aversion to writing (the reason I haven’t posted lately … that and a total lack of time). I will tell you, I surely underestimated the amount of energy grad school would take. I thought I could continue my cooking blog and still have ample time to research, write my thesis and do coursework. Apparently, I was wrong.
Oh, I also adopted a cute hound mix during my semester of thesis writing (bad timing?). This has also taken far more of my time then I realized. Perhaps I should recalibrate my time management skills. Don’t worry though, our cute little beagle/foxhound/coonhound mix has adjusted to us (and we have adjusted to him). He has also given me a new friend (obstacle) in the kitchen. He seems to enjoy the smells of everything I make, even though I keep telling him tofu isn’t meat.
But now I’m done with graduate school and have my dog routine figured out (mostly). I can cook and blog again, especially since I have found myself with some free time while I look for a job. My first post since school is a little ambitious. It isn’t difficult, but it does take time (which I currently have). Believe me, you will be happy you take the time. It is also a great way to impress a friend, special someone or in-laws.
My homemade ricotta is creamy, luscious and has a hint of lemon flavor. It is delicious spread over crusty bread with a little honey, olive oil or balsamic vinegar drizzle on top. However, I used it in pumpkin gnocchi and Swiss chard lasagna. This caused my husband to ask if there was any leftover ricotta for bread. “Sorry, no, but don’t worry you can enjoy it in these dishes,” which we did (and soon you can too).
From Smitten KitchenMakes about 1 cup of ricotta* 3 cups whole milk 1 cup heavy cream 1 teaspoon coarse salt 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pour the milk, cream and salt in a 3-quart, non-reactive saucepan. Attach a candy thermometer (or digital meat thermometer as I did). Heat the milk to 190 degrees F, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching the bottom. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice. Stir slowly and gently, only once or twice! Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth (or one layer of a thin, clean dishtowel) and place over a larger bowl or your sink. Pour the curds and whey (watery liquid) into the colander and let the curds strain through for at least an hour**. (I prefer 2 hours and I move it into the refrigerator to strain.) Discard the whey and enjoy your fresh ricotta. If not using immediately, put it into an airtight container and store in your refrigerator until use.
*I doubled this to have enough for the pumpkin gnocchi and lasagna
**After one hour the ricotta will be spreadable and soft. After two hour it will be firmer, like cream cheese.