I first made ricotta in my humble kitchen in Limerick. Gravitating toward simple recipes, with only a few, easy-to-find ingredients, it came as a surprise to me that I could make cheese cheaply and often.
As a grad student, living on €50 or less per week, food became both a burden and a pleasure. I learned how to be thrifty in the grocery store, often times walking to three or more shops in one day because I knew where all of the cheapest veggies, meats, spices, you name it, could be found. And though most of my money went to providing breakfast, lunch and dinner for myself, cooking daily became a release; a giant, happy exhale after a hectic day of class and oftentimes inclement weather. One of my biggest joys was feeding home-made food to my roommates, testing out new recipes, and introducing some of my favorite comfort foods from home to tongues which would find the taste unfamiliar. However, somehow, I have a hard time recalling anyone but me eating the ricotta. That is probably because I would eat it so quickly after the last little drop of whey drained from the fluffy curds, nobody else even noticed its existence.
This ricotta shape-shifts between appetizer, dinner, breakfast, dessert, snack, midnight spoonful. It smells like buttered popcorn when it's on the stove, and cools down to become thick, yet remains moist.
We use whole Dakin milk, and organic cream and buttermilk. It's important to us that the milk, the main staple of this recipe, comes from a local, sustainable farm. Eating food which comes from our community is not only great for that community, but it nourishes the environment, as well as our bodies.
I smile at the memory of opening my fridge in Limerick and seeing happy little jars of white curds, begging to be spread on pizza dough or eaten with fruit. And when I brought a small jar of the stuff to Louise and Kiera one Saturday morning, I had a feeling that good things would happen. And now my ricotta can be yours to enjoy, too.