Cooking with curiosity is permission to play with flavours, techniques, recipes. It prompts an amateur-cook to ask, ‘how do I…’, often followed by ‘what would happen if…?’
After reading many recipes for home made “ricotta” cheese, I wondered if the simple technique will work with milk other than cow’s milk. My local grocer stocks sheep’s milk and goat milk, so goat “ricotta” cheese was first on the list.
I particularly wanted to make goat cheese for the food festival dinner. Leites Culinaria had the idea to drizzle lemon and thyme-scented oil over olives and goat cheese – the ultimate simple, elegant dinner party trick.
Making goat ‘ricotta’ cheese
Making ‘ricotta’ (or I suppose cottage) cheese was almost as easy as thinking about it. For the trial run, I used goat milk and cow’s milk yoghurt. For the dinner, I made two batches. Both used goat milk and goat yoghurt, and one batch also had half a cup of cream.
I stirred together milk, yoghurt, lemon juice and salt, and heated over low heat until it was barely simmering. At this point, the milk began to separate into curd and whey. Cook the mixture for as long as you like (the longer it’s cooked, the harder the curds will be).
Ladle into a cloth-lined sieve to drain off the whey. Tie up the cloth containing the curd into a ball, twist and squeeze to get rid of excess whey, drain for a few hours until the ball of curd has cooled.
The first batch of cheese had a slight tang from the goat milk, and was very creamy on the first afternoon. By evening, the ball was holding together, and was even slightly elastic (like mozzarella).
The batch I made for the dinner party used goat yoghurt, and double cream. As a result, it had a much stronger goat cheese taste. The cream also made the cheese much softer, so much so, it tended to crumble into large, moist chunks. I laid fresh thyme over the cream-goat-cheese chunks to give them more of a ‘farm fresh’ smell.
Pity the photo turned out so badly … (note to self #1: learn to take decent photos, and don’t just use the camera in my phone!! note to self #2: the blue rectangular tray does not photograph well at night time)
Goat ‘ricotta’ with olives, lemon and thyme
Recipe from the good hosts at Leites Culinaria.
1/2 cup assorted olives, pitted if desired
3 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves stripped from stems if desired
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
One 4-to 5- ounce fresh goat cheese medallion or two 2-ounce goat cheese buttons, at room temperature
Crackers, flatbread, or baguette slices
1. Gently heat the olives, thyme, oil, zest, and pepper in a small skillet or saucepan over low heat until fragrant. Do not allow the oil to simmer. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
2. Pour the olive mixture over the goat cheese. (This can be done up to 2 hours ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.) Serve with crackers, flatbread, or baguette slices.
Following others’ suggestions, I kept the whey from the first batch of cheese. It was surprisingly deliciously as a creamy, salty drink, and used some in bread dough. The second batch, sadly, went down the drain because our tiny fridge was full.
Since then, we have had goat cheese on crackers, in pasta and omelettes. Mr Gander said he has to remind himself it was home made (from a city-bred male, I think that is a compliment).
Tagged: Goat cheese