NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

December 26, 2012

Say cheese

A side of homemade crackers will make guests smile

(Continued)

Once you make these crackers and the cheese a few times, you won’t even need the recipes. They really are that easy. And they may well become your go-to entertaining recipes for 2013.

BUTTERMILK RICOTTA CHEESE DIP

Start to finish: 2 hours

Servings: 12

3 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

To serve:

Fleur de sel or pink sea salt, about 1/8 teaspoon

1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Fresh herbs, such as thyme, oregano or basil

Zest of 1/2 lemon or orange

In a large, stainless steel saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, buttermilk, cream and salt. Slowly bring the mixture to a gentle simmer.

As the milk solids begin to separate from the whey, give it a stir, then return it to a gentle simmer. When you see steam rising and solid chunks (curds) forming, turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, line a mesh strainer with several layers of cheesecloth. Using a ladle, spoon the cooled curds and whey into the strainer. Place one layer of the cloth over the cheese. It will strain quickly at first.

The longer you let it sit, the drier and more concentrated the cheese will become. Strain the cheese at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.

Once strained, discard the liquid. The cheese can be used immediately, or covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

When ready to serve, place the ricotta in a decorative bowl. Use a spoon to form a well in the center.

Sprinkle the cheese with the fleur de sel, then fill the well with olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and citrus zest.

HOMEMADE CRACKERS

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 12

12 round fresh flour or corn tortillas, at room temperature

2 tablespoons olive oil

Seasonings (such as fleur de sel, truffle salt, dehydrated minced garlic, minced dried onion, sesame seeds, etc.)

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