The morning after the Night Cheese episode of Thirty Rock aired, I woke up to at least a million text messages from my friends: “OMG you ARE liz lemon” “have you seen 30 rock? she reminded me of you last night!” I was too honored to feel pathetic — Liz Lemon is a hero and there ain’t no party like a Liz Lemon party because a Liz Lemon party is mandatory.
Anyway, cheese is my favorite food and I made some myself (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). I would love to say it took me hours and it’s really just too challenging to share with you guys, and I was only able to do it because I’m just so damn fancy and good at this whole cookin’ thing.
But it was actually really easy. Who would have thought? And it was perfect spread on little toast rounds with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt, a few crackles of fresh black pepper, and balsamic and honey on the side. Also, it’s an awesome snack for anytime of day. (Including unironic midnight snack.)
“I know you’re in there, Lemon. I can hear you singing Night Cheese.”
- 1 quart whole milk
- 2 c. heavy cream
- 1 T. salt
- 3 T. good white wine vinegar
- Toast and olive oil, for serving
- Put a colander in a large bowl, and line it with two layers of damp paper towels. Bring milk, cream, and salt to a boil, stirring occasionally to keep the milk from scorching. Once the milk comes to a full boil, stir in the vinegar and let the mixture sit, on the stovetop, for 5 minutes. The milk will start separating into curds and whey (which is really crazy and weird to watch).
- Pour the milk into the paper towel-lined strainer and let it sit for 20-40 minutes, depending on the texture you're going for. If you want delicious, still-warm cheese spread on toast or off a spoon standing in your kitchen (no judgment), 20 minutes should get you there. The cheese will be creamy, but not too thick. If you're going to use it to make ricotta gnocci, or just want a consistency closer to cream cheese than lite yogurt, let it strain for a full 40 minutes. Serve with toast or good bread, topped with olive oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt, and fresh-ground black pepper. Balsamic and honey don't hurt either.
- (To make toasts, just slice bread very thinly, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and broil until lightly browned.)
- Also, save the whey and use in place of water in other recipes for a creamier texture (I used some of mine to make moroccan chicken, but saved most of it to make pizza dough later this week -- will report back soon!). This recipe will yield about 2 cups of ricotta if you strain for 20 minutes, but slightly less if you strain it longer.