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 flambé) 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 sautéed 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.