You can use fresh ricotta for a many things, last night I used it in a favorite thousand-layer lasagna I make by rolling out fresh pasta into parchment-thin sheets. I usually salt it if I am going to use it for savory applications - spreads, pasta stuffings, casseroles, etc. For sweet applications I might salt just a touch, and then taste as I go - you can drizzle it with honey and pair with berries - and it works wonderfully as a base for all kinds of desserts and baked goods.
1 gallon good-quality whole milk
1 quart good-quality buttermilk
Combine both milks into a large nonreactive saucepan over medium high heat, preferably a thick-bottomed pan if you have one. You will need to stir occasionally, scraping the pan bottom, to avoid scorching. Once the milk is hot, stop stirring. You will start to see curds rise and come to the surface. Run a spoon or spatula along the bottom of the pan occasionally to free up any stuck curds.
While the milk is heating, select a sieve or colander with a wide surface area. This will help your curds cook more quickly. Line the colander with a large piece of cheesecloth that has been folded numerous times - until you have about 5 or six layers. Place the lined colander over a large bowl or sink.
When the mixture reaches about 175F degrees, you will see the curds and whey seperate. The curds are the clumpy white mass. Now, remove the pan from heat, and gently begin to ladle curds into the prepared sieve. Pull up on the sides of the cheesecloth to drain off any extra liquid, but resist pressing on the curds. Gather the edges of the cloth, tie or fasten them into a knot and allow them to drain for another 15 minutes minimum. Move to an airtight container and refrigerate if you aren't going to use it immediately. Try to use or eat it within a few days, it really is best that way.
Makes about 4 cups.
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