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Salad made of accidental ricotta, skin-on roast butternut pumpkin, cherry tomatoes and coriander

I decided to tick another thing off my 2015 is the Year of Dairy list. And by thing, I mean cheese.

I actually aimed to tick off Part 2 of my 3 Cottage Cheese recipe experiments (#1 being the buttermilk version), however due to a slight misunderstanding of what you can and can’t substitute in cheese recipes…

Dear Reader: I ended up making Ricotta.

Something that I only realised as I was sampling the fourth teaspoonful of my amazing cheese, trying to identify why it tasted so familiar when it was definitely too rich to be Cottage Cheese… If you look at this Fresh Ricotta recipe, you’ll see how similar the recipes are.

Although Ricotta and Cottage Cheese taste very different, they are both curd cheeses and essentially the difference between them is the type of milk used: for Cottage Cheese you use skim milk, for Ricotta you use full-cream milk. You can use either Vinegar or Lemon Juice (or Fig Milk, which is basically sap from a fig tree) to create the curds for both types of cheeses, so they are very similar.

I should preface this recipe with a note that I didn’t make Ricotta in the traditional style, where you add cream to milk, heat and then add the curdling agent. I made it in the Cottage Cheese style, where you heat the milk, add the curdling agent and once the process of straining has been completed, add cream to taste.

The accidental Ricotta recipe is based on this Quick Cottage Cheese recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1.5L full cream milk
  • 140mL of white vinegar
  • Thick cream (about 1-2 tbsp)

Pop the milk into a saucepan and heat until 48.9°C. Turn off the heat, add the vinegar and stir slowly for 1-2 minutes with a large spoon. You will start to see the curds form.

Then pop the lid on the saucepan and leave for 30 minutes.

While you are waiting, pop a large chux into a colander and pop that over a bowl (You can use the whey you collect in soups in place of stock, I actually diluted mine with cool water and put it on my garden with the view that if the dregs of milk cartons is a cheap fertiliser for plants, whey might be too).

Pour the curds and whey into the chux-lined colander and leave for 5 minutes to drain. You may need to lift up the cheese in the chux occasionally to ensure you a completely draining the curds.

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Still not quite tempted to have a Little Miss Muffet moment and eat my curds and whey…

 

Then collect up the chux-ends, so you end up with a little curd ball and rinse under the cold tap. Use your fingers to move the curds around in the chux to cool all the curds and ensure they are all rinsed.

Gently squeeze to remove all the liquid, and empty the curds into a mixing bowl. Separate the curds gently with a fork or spoon.

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Looking good!

 

If you plan to serve immediately, add the thick cream and stir gently.

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With the double cream

I estimate I made about 400gm of ricotta out of this recipe and I was light on the cream at the end (the cottage cheese recipe calls for 1/2 a cup). If I had put the whole amount of cream, I probably would have had 500gm or so of ricotta.

Et voila, served with roast butternut pumpkin salad!

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 Costings

I’ve decided to start doing costings of these recipes to compare the quantity I made, to the cost of products I needed to buy and comparable cheese quantities in the supermarket.

  • The milk cost me $4.00 and I went for the most expensive 2L of milk, in the form of the Harvey Fresh Jersey Girl milk. But I only used 1.6L for this recipe.
  • The vinegar was negligible as I always have 2L containers in my pantry as I also use it for cleaning (but if I had to buy it, it would cost about $1.20 for 2L).
  • The thick cream was also negligible as I had leftover cream from a dinner party (but if I had to buy it, it would cost about $2.20).

At the worst, it would cost: $7.40, but this experiment only cost me $4.00 (or the milk).

If you wanted to reduce the cost, you can get cheaper milk ($3.00/so) and you should have white vinegar in your pantry (so no need to spend $1.20) and wait until you have leftover cream to make it.

If I compare that to prices for ricotta on my local supermarket’s online site:

  • $3.91 for 250gm of organic ricotta (in line with the type of milk I used)
  • $4.62 for 250gm of known brand ricotta (same brand as the 500gm example below)
  • $5.63 for 250gm specialty Italian ricotta
  • $6.88 for 500gm of known brand ricotta

I produced about 400gm for $4.00 (but I could have produced over 500gm if I’d used the right amount of cream). Based on my experience, I’d estimate it’s cheaper by about $2.00 to make 500gm over buying it, if you’re using this recipe and vinegar and leftover thick cream are common items in your pantry.

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The cheeseboard

So I made a dairy and cheese board on Pinterest…as you do:

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On water crackers with Italian Salami, garnished with char-grilled capsicum, marinated mushrooms and cornichons as well as a generous amount of cracked pepper.

I’ve knocked off another item on my 2015 = Year of Dairy list: making cottage cheese with buttermilk.

I had 4 x 3/4 cups of buttermilk in my freezer (left over from a random recipe that requires buttermilk). When I found a 5-minute home made cottage cheese recipe that called for buttermilk, salt and some double cream, I decided to defrost that buttermilk and put it to good use!

You can check the recipe for portions, I only had 3 cups of buttermilk so I used less cream at the end. The first thing to do is to heat the buttermilk over a low heat, without stirring, until it steams and forms curds. But you can’t allow it to boil. And: you.do.not.stir.it.

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Buttermilk simmering on the stove (next to pot of rhubarb, also simmering)

(I spent too much time with it on a too low heat, as it took longer than 5 minutes.)

Once it is almost boiling, you take it off the heat and rest it for 5 minutes, before straining it to separate the curds (the cottage cheese) from the whey.

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This little Miss Muffet is separating her curds and whey

You can apparently use the whey for other things (to enrich smoothies and more). I discarded it as it smelled too cheesy to me, but I will consider this as I progress through my other cottage cheese recipes.

After the curds have been strained for 15 minutes, you pop them in a bowl and mix through the salt and tablespoons of double cream (the recipe calls for 3, but uses 4 cups of buttermilk. I only had 3 cups of buttermilk, so I used two tablespoons).

At first I thought I’d put too much in, as there wasn’t the curd-ish consistency you see with shop-bought cottage cheese.

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After the second two dessert spoons of double cream

But after leaving it in the fridge overnight, and stirring it the next evening, voila:

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Stirred the next day, the right texture!

It looks perfect!

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Cottage Cheese Close Up!

This version has a slightly cheesier flavour that commercial versions, it’s not as neutral. It’s also a slightly yellow-ish colour rather than the bleached white version you get in a shop.

It’s very nice for antipasto, on crackers. But it definitely needs third ingredient to cut it as it is quite rich.

I enjoyed it on water crackers, with Italian salami and a range of marinated vegetables.

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On water crackers, with Italian salami and cracked pepper (for the gourmet look)

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Now that I’ve christened 2015 as the year of dairy, it’s time to document my continuing adventures. Having made the first of HF-W’s yoghurt recipes (the River Cottage Radiator Yoghurt one), it was time to make the second (The Guardian Culture Club one): using the remaining Jersey Milk.

The Guardian recipe, where you heat the milk until it’s bubbling at the edges and then cool it to the required 46°C before adding the tablespoons of live yoghurt definitely produces a thicker yoghurt. It has lovely form on the spoon and a more structured mouth-feel:

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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s yoghurt recipe #2

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2015 = The Year Of Dairy

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There were a couple of 2015 houseolutions I left off my list, and oddly 3/4 of them have to do with dairy. So I thought I’d document my dairy aspirations and how I am progressing through them. I have found a willing accomplice in the Garden Goddess, which means I have a partner in crime 🙂

In 2015, I want to…

  • Make yoghurt:

    • Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s (aka HF-W) Culture Club version
    • HF-W’s River Cottage Radiator Yoghurt version (thoughts below)
  • Make ricotta, so I can:
    • eat it
    • bake it (baked ricotta is awesome), and…
  • Make ricotta salata (a version of ricotta that is similar to feta: it’s pressed, salted and dried)
  • Make cottage cheese:
  • Learn how to knit (the 25% of non-dairy related houseolutions. NB, it was 25% until I found more amazing cheese recipes, so I think it’s now down to the 10% of non-cheese related aspirations)
  • Possibly make a Maltese cheese for a workmate
  • Make Haloumi from scratch

So far, I’ve managed to make yoghurt with the Garden Goddess, thanks to a conveniently timed episode of River Cottage and the internet, which provided us with not one but two mostly similar Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsall (hitherto referred to as HF-W) recipes for yoghurt:

The minor difference between the two recipes  is: the Guardian recipe says to get the milk mix bubbling at the edges and then bring it down to 46°C while the River Cottage recipe says to heat the milk mix to 46°C. Toh-mah-toe, Toh-may-toe.

Basically with 3 tablespoons of yoghurt, 2 tablespoons of dried milk powder and 500mL of whole milk, you can make yoghurt. Magic!

Theoretically this means if you just reserve 3 tablespoons of your previous batch, you can keep making yoghurt. Like a perpetual machine. Also MAGIC!

The Garden Goddess and I tried the River Cottage recipe, which gave us 500mL of slightly syprupy looking yoghurt. We used Harvey Fresh Jersey Milk: of all the milks available to me in Perth, Western Australia, it seemed to me to be the most HF-W milk of all.

It was quite a mild, pleasant yoghurt: not very thick (the recipe did say if we wanted thicker yoghurt, we should strain it), very flavoured by the Jersey milk. It worked really well as a bircher muesli/overnight oats recipe. And it worked really well in a plain salt lassi.

But with 250mL each, there wasn’t a lot to experiment with.

So I am making a new batch tonight, with the remaining Jersey Milk (it only came in 2L containers, so I had 4 times the amount of milk I needed…there have been a lot of Jersey Milk-related recipes in this house).

Only this time, I followed the Guardian recipe 😀 Next up: knitting.
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