Yesterday I was feeling domestic, so I tried my hand at making “cottage cheese” (lor or, as my husband called it, kesmik). I felt pretty pleased with how it turned out- nice and firm, but not rubbery! I only got about 1/2-3/4c of cheese curds out of 4c of 1% milk! That left me with a LOT of whey (the yellow, watery looking leftovers of milk when a lot of macronutrients like fat and proteins have settled out into cheese). I did some googling and I saw mixed opinions on whether or not an acid whey, left over from acid set cheese, such as cottage cheese/lor could be used to make ricotta. Well, I thought I’d give it a go, if it didn’t work I’d still have whey. Cranking up the heat on the stove,I was left with some creamy, semi solid substance that I had to scrape off of my tea cloth (aka- hubbys old tshirt scraps). Adding that to the solid cheese curds added a whole new dimension to the lor/curds! YUMMY! I think I’ll use the whey as a substitute for water in a bread recipe, or as a stock for a creamy soup like potato…It feels so wrong to throw it out. Later I found out from my mother-in-law that I can bring the milk and curds to a boil together the second time, saving me that extra straining step!
Today we went to the local farmers market and came back with quite a variety of goodies! This included some mild, raw banana peppers from a local farm. Cutting into them and washing away the seeds, I could smell the sweet aroma of a ripe pepper. MMMmmmm! Sautee them up in some olive oil, add the curds, and you should have biberli lor! The first time I tried this at home, I added the curds to the pan…and they began to melt a little! Hmmm! So I added a tiny bit of whey to the pan to make the mixture extra creamy. It was DELICIOUS with my homemade english muffins! Normally in Turkey, you wouldn’t add the curds to the pan but serve them cold from the refrigerator…its all up to you!
Now, down to the nitty gritty!
Acid set cottage cheese/ricotta
- 4c milk
- 1/4c vinegar
- salt to taste
- Pour the milk into a pot and heat slowly, stirring, over medium heat until it is hot to the touch, but not boiling or forming a skin on top (approx 120F). This temperature approximation is CRITICAL. If it gets too hot at any time, the curds will come out rubbery! I did it without using a thermometer…it should be “hot shower” hot, but not scalding.
- Remove the milk from the heat once the proper temperature is reached. Immediately pour in your vinegar, giving the milk a slow stir for about a minute. You will see the milk curdle before your eyes! Just scrape it off the spoon when you are done stirring.
- Cover and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. I put it in the pantry so the AC won’t cool it down.
- Put the pot back on the stove, heating it to a brief boil (around 200F or so), remove from the heat and let sit for about 30 minutes again.
- Put a colander in a bowl (that doesn’t touch the bottom) and line the colander with cheese cloth or a tea towel (or an old cotton tshirt, one layer, no graphics). Slowly pour the pots contents into this straining device and let them strain for about 5 min.
- Remove the towel with the curds in it and run them under cold water, mixing them and breaking them apart with your fingers until they are completely cooled. They will be incredibly soft. Squeeze the curds as dry as you can in the towel and put them in a container for storage or a bowl to eat them, adding salt in either case.
Creamy ricotta with peppers (biberli lor)
- Ricotta or homemade curds
- Sweet/mild raw peppers (anaheim, cubanelle, charleston, banana… your choice)
- olive oil
(I purposefully didn’t put measurements in this recipe, since it is all about preference.)
- Chop the peppers to your preferred size and sautee them in olive oil. I add just a smidge of salt to the peppers to bring out their own, unique flavor. Make sure to keep the seeds OUT! Let them cool.
- When storing, pack the cheese into a jar with the peppers (either mix the peppers in with the cheese, or layer cheese then pepper, cheese then pepper. Make sure it is packed air-tight!
- Allow to sit for one day, draining the liquid that has come out of the cheese overnight. Do this again for another day.
- Pour olive oil into the jar, as you desire, and store in the refrigerator. It should keep for a week or two.
I hope you guys like this as much as I did :). I haven’t actually tried to make the ricotta and peppers with store bought cheese, but I saw the recipe on turkishfoodandrecipes.com for using store bought. With how easy (and cheap) it is to make the curds at home, I don’t see why you wouldn’t 😉 time permitting.