OK fine, people. Just… just get it off your chest now. Come on, go’on. Just do it. (….. “BALLS BALLS BALLS BALLS BALLS!!!“….) Sigh… Yeah, happy now? That’s real mature, guys… May I get on with business now? Yeah? OK, so I want to talk about something amazing we had in Ro… (“BALLS BALLS BALLS BALLS BAAALLS!!“)…
…… Grow up.
SHUSH NOW! Let me talk about my arugula ricotta!!! Yes! One more word and you are going to miss out on the easiest but most delicious hors d’oeuvres we had on our trip to Rome, served as a complimentary “welcome” in the wonderful Roscioli in the heart of Jewish Ghetto. (“…….”). Right. Thank you. So fresh ricotta-making isn’t a secret no more. The recipe published by Salvatore BKLYN, a tiny cheese maker in New York, has been spread like the gospel truth by her holiness and has since enlightened the rest of us sentient beings on the elegant pleasure of simple cheese-making. But shamefully having fresh whole-milk ricotta as a kitchen staple for quite some time now, I wasn’t even aware of its versatility until Roscioli handed us a petite cylinder-shaped ricotta flavoured with things from arugula, to smoked salmon, to dried cranberries as their “welcome appetizer”. With a basket of warm and crusty bread, these ricotta were something wonderful.
Returning home, I had to put what I learned about making fresh ricotta together with these new flavours, starting with my favorite, arugula. Without a petite cheese mold, I reverted back to the good-old cheese clothe method and (“balls…”) ..and hung them to form a round shape (“balls…”) ..which turned out wonderfully (“baaaawwlllssss…..”). ……..Imagine these as your own little “hello” to guests coming over for drinks or dinner (“I made some balls…”) ..or even as a surprising gift instead of cookies-again (“here’s some balls for you…”)….
…. Right. I see how it is. Go on, laugh. I’ll go enjoy my, yes exactly, ricotta BALLS!
- 3 cups of whole milk (the best you can find)
- 1/2 cup of heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp of sea salt
- 3 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tbsp of arugula, finely chopped
- Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
- Fine sea salt
Combine whole milk, heavy cream and sea salt in a sauce pot. Set it over low heat with a heat thermometer and slowly heat the milk to 190ºF/88ºC. Stir occasionally to prevent scolding.
Meanwhile, squeeze the lemons over a fine sieve to strain out any seeds and pulps. Finely chop the arugula. Prepare two cheese clothes draping over two large sieves, with a bowl or pot underneath to catch the draining liquid (whey).
Once the milk reaches 190ºF/88ºC, remove from the heat immediately and add 3 tbsp of freshly squeeze lemon juice. The milk curds would start to form almost immediately once the lemon juice is added. Stir gently with a spatula then leave it untouched for 5 min. After 5 min, add the chopped arugula into the milk and stir gently. Divide the mixture evenly into the prepared cheese clothes. Let the curds drain for 10~20 min, then tie the cheese clothes as closely to the amount of the curds as possible, into a little pouch.
If you have a wine fridge, it would be an excellent place to hang the cheese. If not, you could hang it over any sort of rack in the kitchen with a bowl on the bottom to catch the whey. Let the cheese drain for at least 2 hours.
You can refrigerate the cheese still inside the cheese clothe until needed.
To serve, remove the ricotta from the cheese clothe. I like to generously apply olive oil on my hand and smooth out any uneven-ness and shape (zip it) of the ricotta. Drizzle the best extra virgin olive oil you got and sprinkle with fine sea salt. Serve with warm crusty bread.