Not a long time ago I shared on The Untamed Cook Facebook page an article titled 6 Things Italian Women Can Teach Us About Appreciating Food . A couple of “Things” the article was talking about are perfect to illustrate this post: Consider food part of your lifestyle and Eat locally and seasonally.
Katrina, my friend that is sharing this recipe with us today, comes from an Italian family. She has two precious grandmothers or “Nunnas” how they are called in Sicily, where they came from.
Food in Italy, as in most of the Latin countries (that includes my Brazil), is part of our lives and as such cooking skills are treasures passed down from generation to generation. So, Nunna Mary Catanzano and Nunna Sarina Fiamingo taught Katrina how to cook many awesome Italian treats and above all passed to their families the love and respect for good fresh food.
The day that I visited Katrina to hand her Tilly the travelling swirly pan (want to know what is it? Check here), she kindly taught me how to make this fresh Whole Milk Ricotta, Nunna Sarina’s recipe, that she makes every week. For my happiness it also happens to taste exactly like Minas Cheese, a Brazilian cheese from my family region that I have been craving for a long time.
In that day I came back home with Calcium Lactate for making Ricotta, eggs from the chickens she has in her backyard and fresh Spinach from her garden patch that she with her beautiful five months pregnant belly and her little boy Ryan had just picked from her backyard with some nice home grown beetroots that were going to be prepared for dinner. Eat locally and seasonally in its best 🙂
I made the Whole Milk Ricotta / Minas Cheese at the same week and it was amazing. I tried to make fresh cheese at home before with lemon and it never worked out – I know it works for many people and I blame the quality of the milk for my failures. The trick here is mixing cream to the milk.
It really works with any fresh milk (I still haven’t tried with long life milk though). I tested it with different brands, different cream and the result was always perfect.
Most important is that you don’t need ANY special equipment, not even a thermometer. Maybe exactly because it comes from a Nunna and our grandmothers definitely didn’t have access to all kitchen paraphernalia we got today.
A few points I would like to share with you before we start:
- My first go with the recipe would have been a failure if it wasn’t by Katrina’s assistance. I removed the pan from the heat too soon because I was a bit afraid of letting the milk boil. So, boiling for a couple of minutes is not a problem, the contraire, I find that it results in a bit more firm cheese. It is crucial to remove the milk from the heat only when it is covered by a thick layer of cheese.
- Once you dissolve the calcium lactate in the milk don’t stir the pot otherwise it won’t curdle.
- According to Wikipedia 🙂 “Calcium lactate is a black or white crystalline salt made by the action of lactic acid on calcium carbonate. It is used in foods (as an ingredient in baking powder) and given medicinally”. In this case it will be the acid component to curdle the milk and you can find it in health stores (Google and you will find a bunch of places to buy online).
- You can buy a ricotta basket if you like (in Australia you can find it online at Mad Millie) but is not really necessary, you can just drain in a sift (colander). I bought the basket and container in the supermarket (Coles) and payed 4 dollars for it – pretty good investment. First time I made I used a cheese cloth to cover the basket but it’s also not necessary and I haven’t been using it anymore.
- The leftover whey can be used as a milk replacement in cakes and pancakes
- The cheese can be kept in the fridge for two weeks and it will become more firm after a week if you resist the temptation to devour all of it at once 🙂
These are all the advices I have for you! It is really easy, 15 min and you can enjoy the fresh cheese still warm and as suggested by Katrina, drizzled with honey (fruits are my special touch) 🙂
Following other Italian philosophy in the article, remember sharing your beautiful cheese and this recipe : eating with others makes most meals a whole lot better.
I am looking forward to visiting Katrina again as she will teach me how to make Nunna Sarina’s “Fiore” 🙂 For now, enjoy this lovely recipe and help me thanking Nunna Sarina.
Nunna Sarina, grazie mille per la tua ricetta, sei bravissima!!! 🙂 Un Bacio a te! xxx Rachel
- 1.5l Full cream milk
- 250ml Fresh cream
- 2 Teaspoons salt
- 3 Well measured teaspoon calcium lactate
- Warm up the milk, salt and cream in a large pan over medium heat
- Add the calcium lactate and stir until it is dissolved
- Change to medium high heat (just a dash under high)
- Don’t stir and let it heat up until a thick layer of curd forms on the surface of the milk – it is fine if it boils for a couple of minutes.
- Remove from the heat and leave it to set uncovered for five more minutes
- With a ladle scoop out the curd and drain in a sift/colander – put a bowl under it to collect the whey . You can use a spoon to speed up draining by carefully stirring the curds in the sift/colander.
- Once it is drained put the cheese “dough” in a cheese mold or just leave it in the sift, covered in the fridge.
- After a couple of hours it will be set and you will be able to remove it from the mold and have a beautiful perfectly shaped cheese. You can also eat it while it is still warm or use it as it is for your favorite recipe.
Now that you know how to make Whole Milk Ricotta / Cheese Minas you can use it for: