Homemade Ricotta Cheese Is Your New Holiday Appetizer Board

Make homemade Buttermilk Ricotta Cheese the unexpected and delicious centerpiece of your next cheese … [+] board.

Elizabeth Karmel

If you are looking for a crowd-pleasing appetizer that is easy to make and extra special, consider making your own cheese.

Ricotta cheese that is. A few years ago, I took a cheese making class in California. It was an artisanal cheese class and we used ‘just milked’ cow’s milk and various starters. When I went home, I still wanted to make cheese but I didn’t have access to raw milk and I wanted immediate gratification.

Ricotta cheese fit the bill. We didn’t make ricotta cheese in the class, but it is easy to make and there are a lot of recipes for making it at home. The ricotta cheese that I like the best uses no special ingredients to make the cheese curds and separate the whey. The most common acids used to make the fresh cheese are white vinegar and lemon juice—and some recipes call for citric acid. I thought that I would like the lemon juice the best but I didn’t like either of them. The acidic flavors were too present in the finished cheese so I reached down to my Southern roots and created a ricotta cheese with buttermilk.

I love the round, sweet, creamy but slightly sour flavor that comes from using three types of milk; cream, whole milk and buttermilk. That and a touch of salt is all you need to make this full-flavored ricotta cheese.

Once the cheese is strained and cooled, I put it in a pretty bowl; add a sprinkle of good salt, best quality extra-virgin olive oil, your favorite fresh herbs and/or zest. You can serve it with your favorite crackers, breadsticks, fresh warm bread, and grilled bread or toast—it’s all good! I also like to add a drizzle of honey for a sweet and savory contrast.

If you double the recipe or have some left over, you can serve it for breakfast with jam and country ham or prosciutto.

Once you make it a few times, you won’t need to refer to the recipe, making it a very…

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