Here is the feel-good recipe of the month, maybe even the whole year. Homemade ricotta cheese. It is empowering because what was once a mystery is now at your command, and it is a revelation to anyone who ever thought of ricotta as a mere ingredient as opposed to something delicious on its own.
Words cannot describe the unbelievable silky, creamy, salty, sweet smoothness of homemade ricotta - still warm-ish, slathered on crackers (also homemade - recipe to come).
Ridiculously easy, and the transformation from milk to cheese is nothing short of a miracle.
Heat 2 quarts of whole milk and 1 t. salt in a large sauce pan. When it comes to a simmer, add 2 T. lemon juice and stir gently for a minute or two - curds will form immediately and separate from the whey. Take it off the heat and let it rest a minute or two, then gently scoop the curds out with a slotted spoon and drain in a fine mesh sieve, or a coarse sieve lined with cheesecloth. Let drain a few minutes, then scoop into a bowl and let cool a bit. Eat slightly warm or at room temperature, plain, or sprinkled with pepper or herbs. Refrigerate any leftovers - (Ha ha ha - that's kind of an inside joke. Unless you double this, there will be NO leftovers!)
There is a pronounced lemony flavor when the cheese is less than an hour old, but that fades a bit into the sweetness of the cheese itself after that time.
I am trying this in lasagne soon, and will report out as soon as I do. I am also wondering if vinegar would work as well as lemon juice - chemistry say it should. More research is clearly called for.