Why do we assume certain foods are a challenge to make, when really they’re no more difficult to prepare than a pot of coffee? In the time it takes to create a pint of ricotta, you could have gone to and from the grocery store. Ricotta is typically made from whey, the watery byproduct of cheesemaking. But since whey can be difficult to find, we use a combination of whole milk and cream instead. This ricotta is similar to a queso fresco or paneer. It’s delicious baked into a cheesy spread, swirled into pancakes, stuffed into pasta, or just spread on bread with a little salt and olive oil or honey.
Special equipment: You will need a large nonreactive bowl, a fine-mesh strainer, butcher’s twine (optional), ultrafine woven cheesecloth, an instant-read thermometer, and a ladle.
Game plan: For drier ricotta, gather the corners of the cheesecloth and tie it into a sack with butcher’s twine. Tie the free end of the twine to a spatula or spoon handle and suspend it over a tall container with at least 1 inch of clearance from the bottom. Then refrigerate overnight.