Ahem. Sorry about that; I think my love of cheese momentarily took over my brain like some sort of brain-taker-over thingy. ANYWAY, here's the thing: making ricotta is ridiculously easy. So let's go shopping, 'kay?
For about a cup of cheese you'll need:
- 1 quart whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 lemons
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Because that's what you'll need to do first: remove the zest from all your lemons and then juice them. (If you don't have a Microplane, don't fret! You can use either a vegetable peeler or the finest side of a box grater. Just make sure you only remove the outer yellow part, and none of the pithy white stuff beneath.)
Now that the hard work is done, go ahead and heat up your milk and cream. Once it comes to a boil immediately remove it from burner. Add the rest of your ingredients, stir it all together, and let it sit for 20 minutes. It'll go from this to this:
Fascinating, I know. Seriously, though, this is where it gets interesting. Remember that fine-mesh sieve of yours? Well, set that over a bowl and line it with a couple layers of cheesecloth. (Get it? Cheesecloth?) Then pour everything in that pot through that cheesecloth (get it?) and let it strain for at least two hours, until it's about as thick (heh) as you need it to be.
Then, when you dump it all out into a bowl, you can pat yourself on the back because YOU JUST MADE CHEESE.
One final note: this particular ricotta recipe is very, very lemony, which means it's best suited for desserts, or for foods that play well with lemons. So if you want a more Jack-of-all-trades cheese, omit the zest and only use the juice of 2 or 3 lemons.