Bored while traveling for work, I picked up a copy of Saveur magazine at the airport. It had an article about ricotta cheese, including a tutorial on making it at home. I knew that Sheri had made some and loved it, and of course I have to do everything she does. Because afterall, I am Not As Good As Pork Cracklins. *smooch*
According to the article, lemon juice, vinegar, or buttermilk will work to curdle the milk, but if you use rennet, you get "moister, tastier curds, as it leaves more proteins intact and does not inhibit the milk's flavor compounds as an acid would." Ok, rennet it is. I ordered it from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company and it arrived in just a couple of days. It's only a 2 ounce bottle, but I'm thinking it's pretty much a life-time supply.
Don't be afraid to make ricotta!! It was easy (though it took a little longer than we'd planned) and totally worth it!! With some of it, we made a half recipe of Spuma di Ricotta al Caffè (Ricotta and Coffee Mousse). Creamy and delicious! But our big plan with most of it was to make Pizza Bianca.
We used Peter Reinhart's recipe for pizza dough from Fine Cooking #92. The website also has a very helpful video of him demonstrating shaping the dough. I have to say, this dough is excellent. It will be my go-to pizza dough recipe from now on. It's easy to work with (our pizzas came out round!) and bakes up crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside. Use a pizza stone and the highest temperature your oven has. Eric went first, and his looked picture-perfect. My turn:
We brushed each dough with olive oil, piled on FRESH RICOTTA, tossed on roasted garlic, and sprinkled with a little bit of fontina. Some pizzas also got kalamata olives, some got spinach, and most were topped with basil from the garden. None got red sauce, which is why they are pizza bianca.