Penny and I met at a time when cooking was not much on our minds. We were both working for a record company in Milan and more interested in marketing plans and schlepping artists around than pots and pans. But I guess both of us had a knack for food as I went on to become a chef and she went on to be a writer for radio and tv programming with a passion and penchant for cuisine.
Penny is our guest blogger today – she was kind enough to send me the recipe and photos for a fresh and easy to make cheese called “Primo sale” (first salt would be the closest translation). It’s extremely easy to make, healthy and with a low-fat content and can be rendered more flavourful with the addition of herbs or other vegetables, nuts or, why not, even truffles. As a bonus, you can even get a small amount of ricotta out of what gets discarded in the process (stay tune for the next blog).
1. Heat a quart of whole milk in a pan until lukewarm – it should not reaching scalding (if you put a finger in it, it should be pretty warm but not too hot)
2. Turn off the heat and add a pinch of salt and 2 ts of liquid rennet (can be purchased at some Wholefoods stores and on-line). Cover and let rest 20 minutes.
3. In the meantime, line a sieve with doubled up cheesecloth – if you are planning to make ricotta, place a bowl under the sieve.
4. After 20 minutes, using a long, thin knife or a chopstick, cut through the milk/rennet mixture, which will have hardened, horizontally, vertically and horizontally. You should end up with small globules.
5. Pour everything in the cheesecloth and, using your hands, squeeze as much of the liquid as you can.
6. Place the cheese still in the cloth in a perforated mould of your choice and let drain a bit longer.
7. At this point you can add any chopped up aromatic herbs of your choice or sun-dried tomatoes, arugula or nuts.
8. After 30 minutes, remove the cheesecloth and place the cheese back in the mould. Let drain a few more minutes then refrigerate, covered. Or start eating straight away if you can’t resist!