Fromage Homage set us a little extra challenge this month’s Cheese Please! Blog Challenge… Not only do we have to make something that includes fresh cheese, like ricotta, paneer or queso blanco (also known as queso fresco), we have to make the cheese ourselves.
I didn’t want the homemade ricotta to be buried or lost in my Cheese Please! recipe, but ricotta is a great mixing cheese, as it blends in quite smoothly with most other ingredients and leaves behind a fluffiness that is essential in certain dishes, such as cannelloni, not to mention cannoli.
So ricotta’s fluffy texture, plus the fact that vegetarians sometimes want to have pâté too, narrowed my list of possible recipes to try out for this month’s cheese challenge to one…
Recipe slightly adapted from Simon Rimmer, as found on the BBC – Food website.
Ingredients for Homemade Ricotta
- 1 litre whole milk*
- 60ml fresh lemon juice (usually from 1 lemon)**
- Pinch of sea salt (optional)
Ingredients for the Pâté
- 100g butter (plus extra melted butter to seal the pâté)
- 600g mushrooms (mixture of shitake, Swiss brown, chestnut and button)
- 1 brown onion (finely chopped)
- 1 lemon (juice only)***
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
- 150g ricotta
- 100g mascarpone
- Grain bread to serve
Method for the Ricotta
- In a large saucepan, gently heat the milk until it just begins to bubble and immediately remove from heat.
- Add the lemon juice and sea salt if using. Stir gently to combine then let stand for approximately 10 minutes while the curds and whey begin to separate. If this has not occurred in 10 minutes, add another tablespoon of lemon juice and allow to stand for a few more minutes.
- Line a colander with some cheese cloth (or any fine mesh material) and place it in either a bowl or the sink, depending on if you intend to keep the whey.
- Gently pour the curds and whey into the lined colander. Allow the ricotta to drain from anywhere between 10 to 60 minutes, depending on how much moisture you want the ricotta to maintain.
For Mushroom Pâté, let the ricotta drain for about 30 minutes and then gently press out any excess moisture before adding the ricotta to the mushroom mixture.
Freshly made ricotta can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. Makes between 150g to 200g of ricotta.
Method for the Pâté
- Heat the butter in a large saucepan. Coarsely chop the mushrooms and fry the mushrooms and onion for 10-12 minutes, or until soft. Add the lemon juice and place the mixture into a colander to drain away excess moisture.
- Blend three quarters of the mushroom mixture, the cayenne and nutmeg in a food processor until smooth. Fold in the ricotta and mascarpone, along with the rest of the mushrooms.
- Pack the mixture into eight dariole moulds or ramekins, or alternatively put it into one large air-tight jar. Cover with a layer of melted butter. Set aside to cool completely.
- Serve the pâté alongside lightly toasted grain bread.
Store leftover pâté in the fridge in an airtight jar for up to 3 days.
* If you can get your hands on unhomogenised milk, use that. If not, then supermarket milk is fine, but choose a whole cream, full fat, non-ultra high temperature (UHT) pasteurised milk to make ricotta or any cheese product at home.
** Vinegar or citric acid can be used in the same quantities instead of fresh lemon juice. Rennet can also be used to activate the separation between the curds and the whey.
*** If you make this Mushroom Pâté using store-bought ricotta, then add the juice of 2 lemons to the mushroom mixture at Step 1.