Oh how I love food associations.
The first time I heard someone say the word Ricotta correctly without sounding like they were trying was in pastry school. Doreen, a former hairdresser from Lawrence, was one of my favorite classmates. She was the kind of woman whose tough upbringing had given her this sad-sweet effect, instead of being bitter and hard. She talked about her Italian grandfather and how he liked to eat sweetened ricotta with chocolate shavings after dinner. Her grandmother would dish it out for him as though it were ice cream and he would savor each bite, murmuring that Americans didn’t know what they were missing.
Last Saturday we had yet another delightful (and delicious) visit with my high school friend Ilana and her family, after which I returned home with some hybrid citrus fruits from her tree. When I opened my computer there was a recipe sent to me by my sister-in-law, Amy, for goat ricotta made with Meyer lemons. And although the fruits from Ilana’s tree are not quite sweet or thinned-skinned enough to be Meyers, and not sour or yellow enough to be regular lemons, they are a doing a fine job of curdling the goat milk on my counter as I write this.
Goat Ricotta, adapted from Food52
The fruits from Ilana and Ziv’s tree are called Chamshush חמשוש in Hebrew and are ever so slightly sweeter than a regular lemon with a touch of orange color on the inside. One of their neighbors pickled them and brought a jar over while we were having our visit, but pickled citrus is a taste I have yet to acquire…
1 liter (~ quart) goat milk
scant 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon (or חמשוש) juice
2 tsp grated Meyer lemon zest (optional)
salt to taste – I love the mild sweet state of unadulterated ricotta, so I left mine salt-free.
Bring the goat milk to a near-boil. Take off the heat and use a thermometer to determine if your milk has reached 185°F (85°C). If not, put it back on the flame briefly (careful, it can boil over in an instant), if it has gone past 185°F just let it cool for a couple moments, then add the lemon juice. When the juice has been added the milk will separate into curds and whey.
Set a strainer over a bowl and line it with 4 layers of cheesecloth and pour the mixture into it and let it sit for 1/2 an hour.
Tie the corners of the cheesecloth around a wooden spoon and suspend it over the strainer/bowl and let it drain for another 2 hours.
Carefully unwrap the ricotta and transfer it to a container. Mix in zest and salt if using and refrigerate for up to a week.
Makes ~ 1 cup ricotta