The cheese meister

So if freshly made ricotta tastes this good, imagine if I made my own cheese! How great would that taste? I stopped buying pre-shredded cheese a while ago. It’s true I hate hate hate using the box grater (or worse the clean-up nightmare of the food processor) but if it’s good enough for Martha Stewart I suppose I can deal with it. Grating your own cheese simply tastes better. As an added plus you don’t have the non-recyclable plastic it comes in, nor do you ingest whatever they put on it to stop it from molding.

So after Karen gave me her house-made ricotta and I had spared no expense or effort (that damn box grater) to match the quality of her cheese I had a realization. I thought, hey, if ricotta is this delicious and makes this much difference, and as an added plus (I like the additional added plusses) it’s this easy to make, why not make my own . . . I don’t know. . . Stilton?

Just what I need, another hobby. And one that would make my condo smell like butt. The smell of cheese making is not always fragrant as one might imagine.

I recall that when I was in college I gave my grandfather a cheese making kit for Christmas. I have no idea what I was thinking. He, not being the most gracious person on Earth, asked me why in the world would I think he wanted to make cheese? Like I said, I don’t know what I was thinking. In any event, about a month later I received, in the mail at school in Madison, a plastic bag of something that appeared similar in consistency, but not color, to cottage cheese.

I threw it away.

I’m going to stick with being the recipient of Karen’s largess. 

Fresh ricotta

Karen has begun to make her own cheese. She’s started with ricotta and I was the beneficiary of her most recent effort. It was delicious. I know she wanted me to use it for something extraordinary (she sent me about 70 recipes for exotic things like kale stuffed ricotta balls en flambĂ©) but to me, you say ricotta, I say lasagna. I knew I need to make something out of the ordinary. And I did.

Using my recent experience with chopped mushrooms, I bought some pretty dry portobello mushrooms (the drier the better, I reasoned. The less moisture in them the better, plus the dirt falls of them if they are dry) and created the base for the lasagna. I added a half pound of fresh sautĂ©ed spinach. 

I used glorious Italian pasta, made a lovely besciamella sauce, hand-grated my other cheeses (no more plastic bagged, pre-shredded cheese in this house!) and topped it off with herb marinated olives.

I was in such a hurry to eat it I neglected to take a picture of it. And it was beautiful and tasted like heaven. 

Unfortunately, I will now have to make my own ricotta. But, you know, I just love all that fussing.