In online dating speak, "enjoys making cheese" would be my variation of "must love dogs." It's one of my deal-breakers. Sorry, but if you don't care for curds, this is never going to work.
Fortunately, I don't have to fret about that anymore because my boyfriend's back, and he is a cheese person. In fact, when I told him last week that I wanted to try making my own he said, "Cool! Like maybe on Friday night?" This is what I'm talking about. A man who wants to stay home on an evening typically associated with parties and bars to take a crack at homemade ricotta. He even took pictures with his cell phone for proof.
I got the recipe from this year's January issue of Bon Appetit (you can find it here). Basically, you add salt and lemon juice to simmering milk and then wait for soft curds to form. It's a simple--if somewhat slow--process, which for us looked like this.
After about ten minutes or maybe even longer, you have a situation that appears a little more promising.
Next, you fish out the lovely curds with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a cheesecloth-lined colander to drain for one minute. Then you plop your creation into a bowl and admire it for another minute because it's so cool to behold. See?
Finally you cover the bowl and put it in the refrigerator, not to be seen until the next morning. You think about taking your homemade cheese on a picnic to eat with toast and prosciutto. You imagine it will pair perfectly with a glass of rose.
But the next day, things seemed different. Our ricotta had lost moisture and acquired a vague chalkiness. We probably let it chill for too long. The flavor was still good, but a little too lemony for a savory preparation. We felt like failures for a moment. Then, we thought about dessert. One packet of cocoa nibs and half a jar of fancy macerated sour cherries later, we had this delicious concoction. A bit of a twist in the adventure, yes, but definitely a good one.
Email me your cheese-making tips! And yes, I am getting my own camera. Soon.