Making your own ricotta is far superior to anything you can buy. It is easy to do: All you need is a pot, some cheesecloth and a few simple ingredients. It’s rich, not too caloric and keeps well for a few weeks.
The longer the ricotta hangs, the drier it will become. I usually save some whey just in case it seems a little dry. Mr. Kluger uses buttermilk to give a softer consistency, which you can also certainly do. Serve this with garlic bread as a first course. You won’t be able to stop eating it.
8 cups homogenized milk
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup lemon juice
2 cups ricotta
2 tablespoons buttermilk, optional
12 ounces (375 grams) rhubarb, washed, dried, cut in ½-inch pieces
¾ cup red wine vinegar
⅓ cup ruby port
¾ cup granulated sugar
2-inch piece orange peel, no pith
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Coarse ground black pepper
Bring milk and cream to a gentle boil in a pot. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the salt and stir to make sure it is well dispersed. Add lemon juice, stir once to combine then remove from heat. You should see it begin to curdle almost immediately. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Line a strainer over a mixing bowl with two layers of cheesecloth. Pour mixture through cheesecloth. The whey will drip through. Let hang for 25 to 30 minutes, or until soft curds form. Place ricotta in bowl and reserve refrigerated until needed. You should have about 2 cups.
Mix ricotta with just enough buttermilk to make the ricotta smooth enough to spread when you’re ready to serve.
Combine rhubarb, vinegar, port, sugar, orange peel, salt and cayenne in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir well and let sit at room temp for 30 minutes. Drain through a large hole strainer for 15 minutes (be sure the strainer is not sitting in the liquid). Reserve.
Put rhubarb mixture in blender and puree until nearly smooth.
Place about ⅓ cup ricotta in the centre of each plate and make a small well in the middle. Add a scant ¼ cup rhubarb compote to the well and then spread out with the back of a spoon, swirling to combine them. Top each with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Serve with slices of grilled sourdough bread.