If you've never had homemade ricotta I urge you to get to the store right now and buy the few ingredients you don't already have to make this scrumptious cheese ... yes, you can be a cheesemaker! I promise you it's a simple process as long as you have the cheesecloth (don't try and substitute paper towels like I did once!) and a sieve (strainer with a fine wire mesh) large enough to hold about 8 cups of liquid. Although you can make the ricotta ahead, The Wine Chef recommends serving immediately when done. The texture and taste is far superior than if it has been sitting in the refrigerator. Impress your guests by starting the evening off with these tasty toasts, accompanied by a palate-awakening glass of very dry bubbles (see my recommendations below).
For the ricotta:
4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons good quality white wine vinegar
For the toasts:
1 French baguette, sliced into 1/4" rounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons truffle oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
1) Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.
2) Pour milk, cream and yogurt into a stainless steel or enameled pot. Stir in the kosher salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into the thick part ( curds) and the milky part (whey).
3) Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20-25 minutes. The longer you let it drain, the thicker it gets.
4) Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Spoon room-temperature ricotta on toasted bread that has been brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Drizzle with truffle oil and honey and sprinkle on some thyme. Ricotta will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days (but it won't be nearly as tasty as when it was first made)!
THE WINE CHEF RECOMMENDS: SPARKLING WINE WITH NO ADDED SUGAR! The following wines are made in the Traditional Method, the technique originally created in the Champagne region of France. Usually some sugar, the dosage, is added at bottling to round out the high acidity typically found in the base wines. The following wines have not had any sugar added to them but they do have a small amount (up to 3 grams per liter) of residual sugar left over naturally from the grapes. I have found these bone-dry sparkling wines to be well-balanced and a delightful contrast to the sweetness of the ricotta and the honey. Click on the links for each of them to learn more and go to www.wine-searcher.com to find out where you can buy these excellent bubbles. Cheers!!
Cremant de Loire: