leaving for China is creeping up on me, our "baby" is going to start sitting on the potty, and the sun is going down earlier. This last piece, the sun setting early, is really messing with me. It was dark at 7:30 last night. So dark that these delicious baked tomatoes with homemade ricotta cheese, fresh and browned from the oven, were not captured on film. You'll have to trust me on this one. They looked divine.
Also, it doesn't feel like summer here. The island already feels lighter, we were the only ones out exploring the beach yesterday, and everyone we meet immediately gives us their "how to survive our first winter" talk. You can tell it's on their mind.
8 cups whole milk, I used The Grey Barn Farm creamline milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
2 large ripe tomatoes, sliced in half and seeds squeezed out
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper & salt
zest 1/2 lemon
So this was my first time making cheese and it turned out well but I'm by no means an expert. After the fact, I found this expert post, which is really helpful. Maybe I'll take on cheese making as my fall hobby...
1. Rinse a large, very clean, nonreactive pot with cold water. Add the milk, stir in salt, and place pot over medium heat. Stir occasionally until very hot but not boiling, about 180 - 185 degrees. Check the temperature with a thermometer.
2. Remove from the heat and add the vinegar, stirring gently for 1 minute until you see curdles begin to form. Cover with a dry, clean, kitchen towel and allow to sit for 3 hours.
3. Dampen a few layers of cheesecloth and line the inside of a strainer placed over a pot. Gently pour cheese mixture into cloth and let it drain freely for about 2 hours - less for creamier cheese and more for drier.
4. When ready, turn the ricotta out form the cheesecloth into a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate up to 1 week.
For the tomatoes-
1. Preheat oven to 400. Arrange tomatoes, cut side up, in a shallow baking dish rubbed with olive oil. In a bowl, mix ricotta, basil, garlic, Parmesan, salt and pepper.
2. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper then spoon on ricotta mixture. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon zest.
3. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the cheese mixture is lightly browned. Eat right away.