How to make whole milk ricotta

31 07 2012

I’ve spent the morning with MsG making ricotta.

Not that you need a whole morning. A spare 15 minutes will do.

It’s really that easy. More people should know how easy it is. So here’s how to make a basic whole milk ricotta*.

Per litre of milk, you need:

  • up to 50ml of cream (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 60ml of white vinegar

The yield is around 200-250g per litre of milk. I’ll usually do 2L, partly because that’s the size of the milk bottle, and partly because 500g is the perfect amount for this gorgeous baked ricotta recipe

  1. Set up a budget double boiler – put a smaller pot inside a larger pot which is filled with water, such that the handles of the smaller pot rest on the rim of the larger pot. Your milk goes into the smaller pot. Have the water level in the bigger pot roughly even with the milk level in the smaller pot. Or, if you’re fancy and have a double boiler, use that. You can heat the milk directly on the stove, but I find using a double-boiler means less danger of burning the milk, less need to stir and easier cleanup. Bonus.
  2. Add the cream, if using, and the salt to the milk. Stir gently to mix. You can add up to 1 tsp of salt per litre of milk, depending on the final flavour you’re after (I usually use 1/2 tsp per litre plus a pinch extra for luck).
  3. Pop a thermometer in the milk and heat on high. Occasionally, stir gently. This is the worst part because it feels like it takes forever to get the milk hot. Although it’s probably only 5 minutes or so.
  4. When the milk hits 85°C or thereabouts (anywhere above 75°C will work, but best not to go above 95°C), stir the milk quickly to create a whirlpool. Take out the spoon, and smoothly pour the vinegar across the pot. The movement of the liquid will distribute the vinegar through the milk – there’s no need to keep stirring, and from the moment you put the vinegar in the milk, you enter the OMG BE GENTLE WITH THE CURDS stage of ricotta making. So take the spoon out and don’t put it back in, ok?
  5. You should straight away start to see small curds (solid white chunks) forming. Don’t touch or stir the curds at this point. In fact, go away and do something else for 3 minutes, to give the curds a chance to form and solidify a little. Ricotta curds are very delicate, and stirring them will break them up, leaving you with ricotta slush.
  6. After 2-3 minutes, you’ll see curds floating on the top, with greenish-yellow clear liquid in between (whey). If you want, GENTLY move the curds away from the side of the pot with a spoon. The liquid underneath will probably still be milky rather than clear. This is ok.
  7. Gently scoop the curds out of the pot with a large spoon, and gently place them into a colander  or strainer (I line mine with muslin or a clean dishcloth, but that’s more for peace of mind than any real need), with a bowl underneath to catch the whey. As you take the curds out, any remaining vinegar will react with any remaining milk, and more curds will form in the pot. It’s like magic. Try not to agitate the liquid too much as you spoon out the curds, and try not to let the curds smash into each other as you spoon them in to the colander. Have I gone on about it enough yet?
  8. Be gentle or you’ll ruin the ricotta.
  9. Once you’ve spooned most of the curds out of the pot, you can (gently) pour the remaining curds and whey into the colander, making sure that the curds tumble into the colander gently (rather than falling and smashing into the other curds from a great height).
  10. Let it drain for a few minutes – not too long, or it will get grainy and dry. Then pop into a container and into the fridge, or make that delicious baked ricotta, or smear onto some fresh bread with a drizzle of good olive oil and some cracked pepper and enjoy.

Notes

This ricotta should last for a couple of weeks in the fridge, but it’s best on the day it’s made.

You can press it in a mold (ie any container with holes to let the liquid drain out, with a weight on top) to make paneer.

Any type of milk (low fat, normal, high fat, even UHT) will work. Any type of acid, too. White vinegar gives the most consistent results and flavour, but you can also use lemon or lime juice, buttermilk, wild whey – pretty much anything acidic. Just remember that the taste of the ricotta comes from the taste of the milk and the acid. But ask the internet for variations, because there are many out there!

If you don’t have a thermometer, 85°C is the point that milk simmers (not boils!) so you can use that as a guide.

And what to do with the whey? All sorts of things – a refreshing drink, instead of milk in baking (especially bread), lactofermentation, a facewash, feeding it to your dog or houseplants or compost… except that this time I was a slacker who tipped it down the sink.

Oh well. There’s always next time. Because there will be a next time.

* Yes, I know that actual ricotta is made from whey, and this isn’t technically ‘ricotta’. But it tastes as good. And is easier than trying to find a source of fresh whey. So just make it and enjoy it already!

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Matcha milk

16 12 2009

My name is Sherdie and I am a matcha-milk-aholic.

It was when I was a young, wide-eyed teenager in Japan for the first time that I became hooked. The sweet, green, milky drink that came as a magical powder in a tube. So refreshing served cold on a humid summer day. So warming and creamy served hot to ward off the winter chill. So expensive, I realised later, with a slight pang of guilt, remembering how my host mother had bought an enormous box of it when she realised I was addicted.

Over the years, I’ve looked for it at Asian grocery shops in Oz to no avail. Every time I was in Japan, I would drink it like some dairy-deficient antioxidant-starved obsessive. I forced the Architect to mule some 40 packets back into the country just a couple of months ago (we’d taken them out of the boxes and packed them in a big cardboard tube and the customs man was at first suspicious and then gently amused). We brought back Maxim’s Matcha Latte, part of their milky drinks in a plastic stick tube thingo range, which has your usual green tea powder, sugar and milk powder, but also some crazy crackly stuff that, with water, makes the whole thing fizz and go bubbly. Just like a real latte, non? (Non – but it’s not bad). It was also on supersale at the supermarket because it had just been released. Super. We also had some of the classic (/more expensive) brand, 辻利久 (Tsujirikyu) Matcha Miruku, which is more just a standard milky drink. Which is better? It’s a matter of taste, I suppose. In the interests of science, here’s a side-by-side comparison of the two types. I think you can guess which one is which. And yes, those are heart-shaped ice cubes, what of it?

I rationed myself to one a day and still the day came when there were no more.* Oddly, despite my general tendency to try to bodge things up, I’d never thought to try to make it before now. But here I give you: the highly complex recipe for matcha milk.

1 tsp (or less, according to taste) matcha (= powdered green tea. Don’t use normal green tea – it’s not the same thing. Matcha dissolves in water so you could think of it more like instant tea than anything else. Although don’t ever tell my grandmother I said that.)

1 tsp sugar (more or less to taste)

A few tablespoons of hot water (not boiling)

Milk – cold or warm, whatever your preference

-> Mix the matcha and sugar together with the hot water and stir until the matcha and the sugar are dissolved.

-> Add milk.

-> The end.

You could froth the milk or add icecream or whatever your little heart desires, too. I also suspect I could make a pre-mix for work/camping/lulz using powdered milk… stay tuned.

————————————————————

* Until yesterday, when the Architect brought home a small pile of tubes from his work – each day I’d popped one in his bento but he hadn’t always used them. So he brought them home and gave them to me, his hopelessly addicted sweetheart. That, people, is true love.





Sambal oelek

28 11 2009

I bought a bag of red chillies at the markets to make sambal oelek. Meanwhile, my mum has requested a post on “something other than your bento”. So here we go.

The basic recipe is chillies, vinegar and a bit of salt. You’re supposed to grind it up with a mortar and pestle, but I’m far too lazy for that. It’s the blender all the way today.

I had this many chillies, which were washed in lukewarm water with a tiny squirt of detergent, rinsed well and spread out on a teatowel to dry. It’s not strictly necessary but these ones were pretty dusty.

I cut off the stalks, chopped them up roughly and put them in a blender. This is one time I take the warnings about wearing a pair of rubber gloves when chopping chillies seriously. By the end of the chopping, the tips of the gloves were stained red.

There’s also a sneaky teaspoon of tamarind paste in there. Strictly optional. I like tamarind.

I added a good splash of vinegar (I used rice wine vinegar, because that’s what I had in the cupboard. I think any vinegar would work). Add just enough to get the chillies moving around. I added a bit, blended a bit and added a bit more. I probably put in a bit over a 1/4 cup (60 ml) in all up. I also put in about 30ml water, because I’m impatient – it would’ve worked better with about 15ml more vinegar.

Once it was pretty well smooshed, I put in 4 tsp of salt – based on the ratio of 2 tsp for about 25 chillies (very exact, obviously) and did a final blast to mix the salt through. It looks quite smooth in the picture above, but it’s actually a fairly chunky paste.

The final product:

And into a sterilised jar and then to the fridge it goes. The little bit of foaminess at the top is just from the blending (and adding too much water). Should last a month or two. It’s fairly stupid mould that tries to grow on a jar of blended chilli, vinegar and salt.

The end. Hope that’s sufficient, Ma.

The final product – a little more watery than planned, but smelled very yummy.





Lentil soup for what ails ya

26 08 2009

I made lentils

A thing that frustrates me with getting sick is that I lose my appetite. Just when it would be good for me to eat a big, healthy pile of food. And even if I had an appetite, well, I never have the energy to cook anyway. I’d rather lie around and feel sorry for myself and eat dry biscuits.

Left to fend for my flu-ridden self last night for dinner, I turned to my friend the freezer food. I’m in the habit of cooking a batch of beans or lentils and freezing them in what I think of as “lunch sized” portions. I grab one, plus some rice, warm them up in the microwave at work and, with some condiments and whatever, lunch is born.

Along the same lines, I made an easy, yummy, vitamin-laden lentil soup:

1 cup cooked brown lentils*

1 tomato, chopped

handful of green beans, topped and tailed

handful of leftover roast chicken

1/2 tsp stock powder/salt

handful of baby spinach/rocket

yogurt

lemon juice

– Reheat the lentils with water to cover. Add stock powder/salt. Simmer for 5 minutes.

– Add chicken and tomato. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add green beans.

– When beans are cooked (for me that’s about a minute), serve into a bowl with some baby spinach/rocket in it.

– Top with yogurt, more baby spinach/rocket, black pepper, and lemon juice to taste.

– Yum.

* However you like. I use a variation of the basic brown lentils recipe from Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion.





Ekka Fling

25 08 2009

Maybe you had dry vermouth left over from that cocktail party where you made martinis and waltzed around asking, shaken, not stirred? in a presumably debonair way.

Maybe ruby red grapefruit juice was on sale and the bottles are good to store dried beans or grains in.

Maybe there’s a bottle of gin that’s been lurking around, waiting for its turn to shine, and it was time.

And maybe someone turned up at your house for an Ekka holiday pizza night and brought all these things, and the rest is pure supposition.

Ekka Fling by melindsay

1 part dry vermouth

1 part gin

2 parts ruby red grapefruit juice

dash of lemon or lime juice

Shake with ice, strain into a martini glass. Or a normal glass. Some sort of receptacle, anyway.





Homemade washing powder

24 08 2009

I make my own laundry detergent. No, I don’t live in a log cabin, nor am I some kind of back to nature fanatic. It fits in with the elegant frugality idea; or, I got tired of paying large amounts of money for small amounts of soap with fillers and bleach and phosphates and endangered whale cubs and optical brighteners.

A bit of googling, and props to greenlivingaustralia and the always-useful thesimpledollar for the eventual answers. I’m all about the powder rather than the liquid, so I went with the simplest powder recipe out there:

1 part washing soda: 1 part bicarb soda: 1 part soap flakes

Apparently borax is good to add as well, for extra cleaning pizazz. The Architect will attest to several random supermarket attacks of “maybe they have borax!”, followed by a dash through the aisles of random shops. Sadly, nil, nada, zip. No pizazz for my clothes. Hardware shops and different supermarkets tried, to no avail. Anyway, it seems to work just fine without it, and borax isn’t the best thing to have in your greywater, as the internerd tells me it can kill plants.

Tips for new players:

Washing soda can turn up in the laundry aisle of your larger, suburban supermarket. Not so often in the overpriced, trendy supermarket closest to me. It’s not the same as washing crystals. In Oz, the main one is Lectric brand and it comes in a plastic bag.

Soap flakes can come in a box and be expensive. With 5 minutes and a cheese grater, you can make your own with the finest cheapest toilet soap out there. Warning: this can be really, really annoying.

I use the same amount of this powder as I did of normal powder in my front loading washing machine. I use (and have for some time) straight white vinegar as fabric softener. My clothes smell clean and not at all like salad dressing.

Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup bicarbonate of soda

1 cup washing soda

1 bar toilet soap.

Method:

1. Grate the toilet soap.

2. Mix the three ingredients together.

3. Store in some sort of relatively airtight container.

4. Feel smug.





Lazy Sunday baking: Lan’s white chocolate, coconut and macadamia biscuits

2 03 2008

Last Christmas, the four QKC girls decided on a handmade-only deal for presents.

Lan, being a dab hand at all things bakery, made us these biscuits. Mine were the victim of an unfortunate post office incident in which they sat, uncollected, until after the new year had come and gone… and they were still the best damn biscuits I’ve ever tasted. I’ve since made them a few times to rave reviews. I believe the secret is the love I put into them… or maybe the four different types of fat in the oil, chocolate, macadamia nuts and coconut.

Ingredients
1 1/3 cups macadamia nuts, roasted, chopped or smashed into chunks
1 egg
3/4 cup soft brown sugar
2 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 cup self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup white chocolate bits

Method
1) Beat the egg and sugars in a bowl until light and fluffy.

Lan uses an electric beater. Me, I just have the old hand powered one. Still works good, but. This is using my hott salad bowl/small mixing bowl (I’m all about multi-use utensils… or perhaps I don’t own a “mixing bowl” as such).

Note this is a doubled batch.

2) Add vanilla and oil, mix well.

3) Stir in the sifted flours, cinnamon, coconut, macadamias and chocolate, and mix well.

Mmmm, chunky. Tastes pretty good at this stage as well.

This is after I’d realised that a double batch meant twice the volume and transferred the mixture to my rice cooker/medium mixing bowl.

4) Put in fridge for 30 mins.

5) Preheat oven to 180C.

6) Put spoonfuls on biscuit tray or similar.


The debut of my $2 shop silicone biscuit sheet. I was a little bit worried but as you can see, it worked just like a bought one.

That’s not chocolate on the right there, but a slightly over-roasted macadamia nut chunk. I got distracted while I was roasting them. I like to call it ‘caramelised’.

7) Bake for 12-15 mins, depending on how chewy/crispy you like your biscuits.

8) Allow to cool on trays (stops them cracking).

9) Eat.

I’m off to dinner at a friend’s house. I’m taking these and the smugness that comes with a good biscuit recipe.