I am serious about cannolis. I am real serious. In my mind, there is no debate over marscapone versus ricotta…there is one answer and it is and always will be ricotta. A true cannoli’s filling should be creamy, yet just lumpy enough to remind you there is cheese in there…subtle, supple, slightly sweet ricotta…just sweetened with bits of orange zest, sugar, and vanilla. It must be blended just right otherwise you are left with sop. I believe so strongly in a pure ricotta filling (screw you marscapone) that I make my own ricotta to ensure the freshest cheese I can get. Cannoli’s are tough. I won’t even go into the making of the shell (maybe another time), but what I will share is how my love for cannoli’s turned into a journey into making cheese at home.
Now that we are on the same page about cannoli’s, you will understand the necessity behind making my own ricotta. Fresh cheeses are easy to make at home I discovered. Here’s how: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Fresh-Homemade-Ricotta-234282
2 quarts whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Place a colander over a bowl and line the colander with cheesecloth. Slowly bring cream and milk to a boil. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching. Once the milk/cream rolls to a boil, add lemon juice, turn down to a simmer, stir for 2 minutes…curds begin to separate from whey. Pour into colander, let drain. After an hour, remove cheese from cheesecloth and chill.
Ricotta, done. I felt like a rock star. Like some kind of pimp cheese monger. If I could make ricotta, what other cheeses could I make at home? Couldn’t I make mozzarella? Goat cheese? I did indeed do both, but mozz is a slightly different story, and I think I’ll save that for its own special post. But here my friends is how you rock goat cheese. Again, thanks to our friends at http://wholefoodies.blogspot.com/. They showed us this: http://youtu.be/J01mYJfds2U
2 Liters of Goat’s Milk (Trader Joes, y’all)
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
Optional: Salt, chives, basil, dill, chiles, dried fruit, whatever you like really. I added chives and salt.
Prepare cheesecloth over colander over bowl. Prepare second empty bowl and any herbs or spices etc. that you are adding. Slowly bring goat’s milk to a rolling boil over medium heat. Once boiling, lower heat, add vinegar and stir slowly for 2-3 minutes. Take milk off heat and continue to stir for a minute or so. Curds will begin to form and separate from whey. Pour milk from pot into colander with cheesecloth. Whey will begin to drain, but continue to stir curds in cheesecloth. There will be a lot of water and stirring will speed up the extraction. Once the water has been removed from the curds you have goat cheese! Wrap in cheesecloth, squeeze out last bits of water, add any additional ingredients to enhance the flavor. Chill.
A lot of cheese in the house also requires making things that use a lot of cheese. Homemade pizza it is! Bon Apetite recently published an article: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2012/03/no-knead-pizza-dough. We read it, we made it, it was damn good crust and worth the extra day. Check out all things cheesey and doughy here.