Part 1: Make your handmade artisan ricotta
(You can opt to substitute homemade ricotta with store-bought. For store-bought ricotta, skip to Part 2.)
1 gallon whole milk (cow, goat or sheep milk will work)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Heat milk in a heavy pot (double-clad stainless steel or enameled cast iron works well) to 185 degrees, stirring regularly to keep from scalding. Once milk is at 185 degrees, remove from heat and stir in apple cider vinegar. Stir for a couple of minutes. You should see curds begin to develop and eventually the milk they are floating in will look somewhat clear with a yellowish tinge. If you don’t get this clear separation between the curds and whey, keep heating up to about 200 degrees and, if needed, add another teaspoon or two of vinegar. Ladle the curds into a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Drain for 1 minute. Add butter and baking soda; stir to blend.
2-3 cups fresh, warm ricotta
zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons dried herbs*
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Add lemon zest to your warm ricotta and stir. Add 1 teaspoon of your favorite dried herb blend and mix into the lemony ricotta. Put 2 tablespoons of good olive oil in an oven-proof skillet or baking dish and swirl around to coat the dish. Spoon your ricotta mixture into the dish. Drizzle the top with a little more olive oil and sprinkle on remaining herbs. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes until bubbly and slightly browned. Serve with lightly toasted baguette slices.
*Kate Johnson of Briar Gate Farm in Longmont says, “I like HerbSalt produced by Gayle’s Salts out of Boulder, but you can use any blend of herbs you like. If your blend doesn’t contain salt, add a pinch of nice sea salt to bring up the flavor.”
Recipe provided by Briar Gate Farm, theartofcheese.com.