Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kitchen Staple: Cottage Cheese/Ricotta

I am not a person who likes to just eat cottage cheese or ricotta on its own, but I do like to use both of these in cooked applications. In a pinch, you could buy paneer and crumble it into small pieces, but making this is fairly straightforward.

Cottage Cheese
1 Liter milk
2-3 Tablespoons vinegar

You can use regular dairy milk for this application because it will be pasteurized in the process and is much cheaper than the UHT or powdered milk. Bring the milk to a boil. It should be kept at 165F for about 20 seconds, but without measuring it's around the point at which the little bubbles around the pot connect. Switch off the heat and add 2 Tablespoons vinegar. Lightly stir and allow to sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, stir the curds. If you still see milky liquid, add another Tablespoon. That should finish separating the curds from the whey. Pour the mixture through a cheesecloth or fine strainer. If you notice a strong vinegar smell, rinse the cheese with drinking water. Strain until it reaches the consistency you like.

To make paneer, place a heavy plate or can on top of the cheese overnight, slice, and cook. To make cottage cheese, you may need to add a little cream to the cooled curds to get the right consistency. A little salt will also help boost the flavor. This works great in lasagna, ravioli, Mexican casseroles, etc.

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