Fresh Ricotta Crostini

A shepherd used to live on my family’s farm in Tuscany and herd his sheep in our Pasteur. My father, a man ahead of the times, never charged the shepherd a fee. He practiced bio dynamic farming 30 years before hipsters made it cool and believed having the sheep doing their natural things on the land would be good for the fields and everyone involved. It was especially good for us when the shepherd would reward us for our generosity with a mound of fresh ricotta cheese.  Unless you have tasted ricotta fresh, you have no idea how heavenly and creamy this cheese can be. Fresh Ricotta Crostini was the perfect excuse to pile some of this cheese onto a crispy piece of bread and indulge. These days living in Los Angeles, I am without the sheep and the shepherd, but fortunately I have learned how to make my own Ricotta cheese and though it’s not exactly the same, it is still pretty darn good and better than anything you will find in the dairy section at Ralphs.

INGREDIENTI

Prep Time: 5 mins/ Cook Time: 10 mins/ Yields: 1 cup

4 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus the zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 baguette, sliced and toasted
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for serving
1.

Add three layers cheesecloth over a colander.

2.

Add the milk to a large heavy pot and place over medium high heat. Stir in the lemon juice and salt and heat until an instant read thermometer reaches 175 degrees. The milk will begin to just bubble and start to steam. At this temperature you’ll begin to see the curds separate from the whey. Be mindful of over stirring the ricotta while the curds are forming- you don’t want to make your ricotta stiff. Let it sit for 5 minutes undisturbed and you will be left with a very creamy and pleasant finished result.

3.

Gently remove curds from the pot to the colander. Use the side of the cheesecloth to very gently release some of the liquid. Tie up the curds using butcher’s twine and let drain for 5-10 minutes. Remove from cheesecloth and place in bowl. Serve warm on toasted bread with lemon zest and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

COOK’S NOTE: Refrigerate leftover ricotta in a covered container for up to 5 days.