FARMSTEAD RICOTTA

Our first ricotta batch of the year is in the cheese shop today. The steamy soft scent of Salud, our chief cheesemaker, pouring the curds into their moulds means spring to me. Early spring, with stalls of baby goats, milking mothers, and their unbeatable milk. We use this whole milk, frothed in a double-boiler, curdled with white wine vinegar and a little kosher salt.

Ricotta means twice-cooked, since traditional ricotta is made from the whey of other cheeses. We use that morning's whole milk, with a little salt, heated to just under 200F. It should froth but not boil. Take it off and add an acid, about a tablespoon to every cup of milk. We use white wine vinegar, but lemon works beautifully.

The steaming pan of curdled whole milk, left for about 10 minutes

Strain the curds into moulds and drain overnight. Use layers of cheesecloth for a smoother finish. We like the firmer ricotta for simply snacking, but if you're making pizza and want a damper ricotta, drain for a shorter time

Don't gloat over your ricotta. Eat it. It's utterly delicious. So good in pancakes, cheesecake, with pasta, at breakfast, any time at all

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