- 1 gallon Whole Milk (avoid UHT milk, the high temperatures delivers a milk that will not curdle)
- 1/3 cup Distilled White Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- Red Grapes (as many as you'd like)
- Thyme (a few sprigs per handful of grapes)
- Olive Oil (a thin drizzle)
Greater chefs and cooks than me have already done the hard science and legwork on making ricotta/paneer/queso fresco at home, but I wanted to try my hand at it anyway. There is no innovation on my part, just a deep abiding love for the work of eaters over the past centuries. Cheese is normally relegated to the realm of experts and masters, but quick cheeses (those acidified with vinegar or lemon juice instead of rennet) are firmly within the grasp of the home cook.
My sister chides me for calling grapes the poor-man's berry, but the truth is that the gems of summer (straw/blue/rasp-berries) can be quite costly and for someone who eats fruit by the handful I needed something more cost-effective. Hence my deep love for grapes (red only, I'm a bit of a grapecist). As with most food, something magical happens with the application of heat. The juices bubble inside the grape skin, slowly reducing and caramelizing, then bleeding out from fissures on the surface, leaving a sugary trail on your roasting tray.
Directions for quick Ricotta Cheese:
- Heat the milk in a large stockpot until it is at least 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
- When it has reached the correct temperature and is steamy and frothy, remove it from the heat and add the vinegar. Stir gently.
- The curds will immediately form, allow them to sit for ten minutes.
- Spoon the curds out of the stockpot into a strainer lined with cheesecloth over a deep bowl. The whey will drain out of the cheese leaving you with a soft spreadable treat. Drain as much liquid out as you like, the more you remove, the harder the cheese will be (running the gamut from spreadable ricotta to crumbly queso fresco).
Directions for Roasted grapes:
- Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Place grapes and thyme in a roasting dish, drizzle with oil.
- Put the tray in your oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, until the juice begins to escape from the grapes.
For more information on quick cheese, please visit: http://www.renegadekitchen.com/blog/quick-cheese
For more information on Dan Kohler, go to: www.renegadekitchen.com/
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