Making your own ricotta is incredibly easy, anyone can do it. You don’t need special equipment. The time investment is small, the cheese does take a few hours to drain, but the actual work only takes about 5 minutes. You could do this in the morning, leave for work/other business and when you come back you have this lovely cheese waiting for you. It only has 2 ingredients: milk and lemon juice. And you can make it with any dairy milk you like! I used full fat cows milk from the supermarket this time, but I would love to make it from farm milk or goats milk. Both are a bit harder to get, but since the flavour of the cheese is basically the flavour of the milk, it pays off to search for the best milk you can get.
After draining you can use it in the same way as you use ricotta/fresh cheese, but you can also press it. Then you will get paneer, a fresh Indian cheese that is often used cubed in curries, or fried. The pressing gets rid of a lot of moisture, which makes the cheese more firm than ricotta.
I mixed my freshly prepared ricotta with a little salt and pepper for seasoning and served it on a potato pizza. The idea of putting slices of potato on a pizza seemed very weird to me the first time I saw it, but after a while it actually made sense. The crisp pizza bottom combines very well with the slightly soft, but crispy on the edges potato. And the garlic oil I spread on top gave everything a nice, mellow garlic taste. The ricotta on top was nice to give the pizza a bit more of succulence. I imagine that something like a nice, tangy fresh goats cheese would also be very nice.
You want good potatoes for this dish! They won’t be hiding under a thick layer of sauce, you will really taste the potato.
For the pizza base I used my standard pizza base recipe that works always and with every topping. It is a dream to work with, I find that many pizza doughs are very difficult to roll out nice. They shrink and you end up with having a much thicker base than you like. This recipe does not have that problem, you can roll it out very thinly without any problems. I use Italian 00 flour suitable for pasta making, because it just gives a better result. I am still trying to find out what 00 flour exactly is, because there are many different explanations on the internet. My understanding at the moment is the following: it is made from hard (durum) wheat instead of soft wheat, it is milled very fine and the gluten strength is quite high. But you can also make this recipe with normal (bread) flour.
Home-made Ricotta (about 1 cup)
1 liter milk
3 tbsp lemon juice
Put the milk in a pan, heat slowly and add the lemon juice. Wait until the milk curdles and leave it to cool for a bit. Rinse a clean tea towel (or cheese cloth) to get rid of soap residues. Put it in a sieve above a bowl. Pour in the curdled milk. If you want, you can rinse the curd to get rid of the slightly lemony taste, but I didn’t. Leave it to drain a while in the sieve with tea towel to get rid of the largest part of the whey. Then hang the cloth from something, to drain further. You can use the cheese at any moment you like, mine took about 2-3 hours to drain. Scrape the cheese from the towel and put in a bowl. If you reserve some whey, you can mix it through in the end if you find your cheese a little too dry.
If you want to make paneer leave the cheese in the cloth, put it on a plate, put another plate on top and put weights on there, to press more moisture out.
Potato pizza (1 pizza)
Marie Claire De Ultieme Keuken – M. Cranston (potato pizza)
De Zilveren Lepel – Van Dishoeck (pizza crust)
250 g 00 flour
3/4 tsp salt
15 g fresh yeast ( or 7 gram/one packet of dried yeast)
120 ml tepid water
2 tbsp olive oil
2 big potatoes (waxy or slightly floury)
seasoning (I used garlic oil, but some rosemary, thyme or oregano would also be very nice)
Dissolve the yeast in the tepid water. Mix the flour with the salt. Make a well in the middle, pour in the water with the yeast and the olive oil, mix crudely with a fork. Then knead the dough well for at least 10 minutes, until it is silky smooth and stretchy. This is essential for the development of gluten (necessary for the crispness). Put it in a bowl, cover and let it rise on a warm spot for 3 hours.
Slice the potatoes very thinly. Roll out the dough on a silicon sheet or baking paper, put the sheet with the dough on a baking tray. Arrange the potato slices neatly on top. Brush with garlic oil and/or sprinkle with herbs, sprinkle some salt on top and bake for about 25 minutes (until edges of potatoes are golden) in a preheated oven at 190C.
Serve hot with the home-made ricotta mixed with some salt and pepper.