big cheese, make me

I’m still pretty excited/jittery about being nominated for CLEO magazine/Palmolive Wonder Woman (excited/jittery for reasons outlined here.) If you’d like to help out someone who’s not likely to win but wants to win heaps, kindly email with WONDER WOMAN in the subject line and “voting for Blogger: Laura Vincent (” in the body of the email. If you want. I’ve been pretty humbled by all the niceness that has poured forth from people already, considering there’s no real benefit to anyone but myself (and Tim, for what it’s worth) if I get anywhere in this. Much love and appreciation to everyone that has voted for me.

FYI, I’m watching the Tony Awards while I’m typing this. CBS isn’t streaming outside of the USA so I’ve got this pixelated postage-stamp sized square of live feed that I found with some judicious searching through Twitter. In 2010, that just feels wrong. Live streams should be for everyone! Nevertheless it’s still very exciting. If things get a little bit “Cream the butter and sugar till fluffy ANGELALANSBURYILOVEYOU and then add the eggs ITHINKISAWIDINAMENZEL one by one” well, you’ve been warned. That said, Broadway and food blogging already co-exist most harmoniously here, so with any luck you probably won’t even notice.
So, I found this recipe for homemade ricotta cheese. It’s eyebrow-raisingly simple and after making it once you’ll be so enthralled with the deliciousness of the results, that you may consider throwing in the job to become svengali of your own small-time cheese conglomerate.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese

With thanks to Bell’Alimento for the recipe.

2 litres (8 cups) blue-top/whole milk (I used organic milk even, yusss)
250 mls cream (it comes in 300 ml bottles here, so I just threw the lot in)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice.

Get a colander and line it with muslin, cheesecloth or plain cotton (I went out and bought a big, undyed cotton serviette) OR, if you have it, a big coffee filter. Sit the colander over a large deep bowl and set aside.

Pour the milk, cream and salt into a big stockpot (seriously, use a big pot – it rises up a bit) and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. When it’s at a good solid boil – don’t be afraid to just let it bubble away, I know it looks freaky! – add the lemon or lime juice. Reduce the heat, and continue to stir while the mixture separates into curds and liquid. I continued stirring over a low heat for about a minute after adding the juice.

Carefully, carefully (with a buddy if you’re clumsy like me) pour the whole contents of the pan into the cloth-lined colander. The liquid will flow through to the bowl underneath, leaving soft, white ricotta cheese in the colander. Allow this to drain for at least an hour then transfer to the refrigerator. As soon as it’s properly cold, you can start eating it.

You should end up with about 500g of pure, fresh ricotta cheese. And how! It emerges from its cloth wrapping like a surmountable mountain of dairy joy, the only incline I’d be inclined to climb (long story short: I had a school camp once where we had to hike, and plough through plantations of cutty grass and so on – never again! Cheese mountains only for me from now on thanks.) It’s tender, incredibly creamy but with a lemony lightness that makes you want to just eat it by the fistful.
While I have a lot of time for cheese, we never really eat all that much of it, because it’s so expensive. Which is understandable – companies need to make money, and small, artisinal, niche products use a lot of dollars. You should totally support the companies who make the food you love, but now and then it’s superfun to support yourself and get a giant pile of beautiful cheese for about $5. It’s at its best eaten within around 48 hours but that’s probably the one kind of pressure-filled environment I could thrive in.
A goodly wedge of the cheese went into these gorgeous Ricotta and Polenta Hotcakes from Cuisine magazine. The recipe is can be found here (I didn’t make the syrup, by the way) They’re straightforward enough to make but still a bit of effort – if you’re looking for something more storecupboardy, that you can throw in a blender and make with your eyes closed then try Nigella’s recipe instead. They were a completely delicious start to the day – the toothsome grit of the cornmeal with the warm chunks of ricotta bound in a soft, crisp pancake spiced with cinnamon and orange.
So, the Tony Awards. Watching them via some non-authorised stream is frustrating, CBS, but it still feels exciting to be watching it at the same time as everyone else. In 12-second increments.
You don’t freeze up and start loading when Idina Menzel’s on. Learn from this.
I’m really not much of a Tony commentator because I’ve never been to New York to see any of these musicals or plays, and generally the only coverage I get is whatever goes on Youtube. I enjoyed Sean Hayes (star of Promises, Promises on Broadway with Kristin Chenoweth, or you may know him as Will & Grace’s Jack) as host, and there were some wonderful moments of theatre, but it does feel this year that they’re being really heavy-handed with the Hollywood celebrity presence (and the fact that Glee’s Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele were performing – they were on Broadway first, you know!) but what ya gonna do – they’re bankable.

Title via: Nirvana’s Big Cheese from 1989’s Bleach. I just plain love Nirvana, and this is an excellent yet relatively underexposed example of their sinister sound.

Music lately:
Lunatic Fringe by Auckland’s Drab Doo-Riffs. We caught them headlining at Mighty Mighty the other morning (ie, their set started around 1am) and they were a ton of fun. It’s a scrappy mix of surf, punk, rock, probably some other stuff, and as I’m a sucker for surf-rock drums they suit me just fine. The two frontpeople Karl Stevens and Caiomhe Macfehin kept things moving at a cracking pace, and were both incredibly entertaining to watch. I’m sure they’ll continue to do well, a) because girls can dance to it in that hunched-shoulder, foot-stampy way (hey, I was doing it too) b) their live sets are many and excellent and c) it’s such good-time music.
Sherie Rene Scott’s beautiful interpretation of Ricky Lee Jones’ Rainbow Sleeves from her semi-autobiographical musical Everyday Rapture. I’ve never even seen Sherie Rene Scott live so what do I know but I was a bit sad to see she didn’t win the Tony (Catherine Zeta Jones did, FYI…)
Next time: Mum sent me a giant parcel of giant, fragrant green limes which is very exciting as limes tend to also be really expensive. I was going to say that unlike ricotta cheese, there’s no way of making your own limes, but then I remembered you can, you know, plant a lime tree. Sometimes I worry myself. Anyway, I’m looking forward to sussing out lots of recipes.

18 thoughts on “big cheese, make me

  1. HayleyB says:

    Yay for making your own cheese! Yay for it being easy and cheap! It looks great. I'm very impressed.

    Followed your commentary on the Tony awards on twitter, sounds like it was good.

    Hoping you win the Cleo comp. 🙂


  2. Olivia says:

    Oh my that looks AMAZING. (BTW, feel free to make me food for my 21st. *wink*)

    I hated how that feed kept freezing during Idina!time. But after about 1/2 an hour it went smoothly for me.

    CZJ speech was cute! Poor thing.

    Kristin kissing Sean was just FUNNY. 😀


  3. Jacey says:

    Voted for you 🙂 I think it must be thrillingly exciting seeing yourself nominated for something like that!! 😀

    Am excited to try out this making of ricotta sometime soon 🙂 Thanks for the recipe.


  4. Rhyleysgranny says:

    Good luck with Cleo Laura,You deserve to win. Your ricotta looks amazing it makes me want to dash out and get the stuff to make it right now. That is one fabulous pic of the pikelets/pancakes.


  5. Kaz says:

    I've recently been on a cheesemaking course and I'm loving being able to make my own mozzarella and ricotta. I can also make marscapone and halloumi

    Yay me!


  6. Hannah says:

    Sure there's benefit for us! Sharing in your glee, being proud that a food blogger took the gong, living vicariously through your celebration feast and spending-prize-money exploits,and knowing that the best wonder woman was crowned wonder woman. I only wish I coudl vote multiple times (wait, can I?)

    The only thing I worry is that what if you're beaten by a Wonder Woman who doesn't only make her own ricotta and then her own ricotta pancakes, but hand-rears and milks the cow from scratch too? Oh noes! 😉


  7. Laura @ Hungry and Frozen says:

    HayleyB: Yay! It was so fun. Glad you enjoyed the Tony commentary 😀

    Livi: Haha 😉 😉 you know I love to feed people. I'm sure the whole Tonys will be available to watch at some stage soon ;);)

    Jacey: Ahh thank you! It's definitely thrilling, seriously 🙂 hope the ricotta goes well for you too 😀

    Brenda: Thank you 🙂 I rather like that photo too 😉

    Kaz: Halloumi – now THAT's something I'd love to know how to make!

    Anna: Thank you – I definitely recommend the pancakes, they were so delicious. Worth the effort!


  8. Anonymous says:

    Hi Laura, love the look of the cheese, might have a go myself at that!!
    BTW, of COURSE you will be the best, aren't you my favourite eldest grandaughter? I'm not biased at all!!! love you, Nana.


  9. Plum Kitchen says:

    Hi Laura
    Good luck, have voted for your fab blog, (although been a few years since I was in the Cleo demographic……oh well!)Made a lovely tart at the weekend using ricotta (supermarket so not nearly as good as homemade) and limes, very yummy if you find you cant stop cheesemaking….!


  10. Anonymous says:

    i've had a pile of limes stacked up in the corner of my kitchen waiting to be used for the past three weeks. hopefully i can still ressurect them before it's too late. there's the 'key lime pie' i saw on jamie olivers website, which sounds easy and sweet.

    i look forward to reading your next update with the results of the lime.


  11. Kay says:

    Hmmmm…. ricotta as a metaphor for the “All Whites” World Cup football game against Slovakia…almost crumbling towards the end but holding together …just…and worth waiting up late for… well, it was a long shot!

    Also loved the pancake shot.

    You are, perhaps, creating a new trend in “Empire Ware” china? Love the yellow plate and have been looking out for others in the usual locations – seems to be hard to find – and sells quickly when it is found.


  12. millie mirepoix says:

    I am SO making those pancakes next weekend. Heck, might even have them for dinner this week. Might even make my own ricotta! What can I say, I'm inspired… goes without saying that I voted for you too, best of luck and here's hoping you win and get to go on a fun holiday!


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