The texture of freshly made ricotta is unlike any you can buy at the market. Warm ricotta with some strawberry-rhubarb jam on toast is the perfect breakfast. Use this whenever a recipe calls for ricotta cheese, or for a light, addictive dessert, try the Ricotta Fritters with Peaches and Honey.
Line a colander or fine mesh sieve with 5 or more layers of dampened cheesecloth. Combine the milk and buttermilk in a 3 or 4 quart Copper-Core sauce pan. Scrape the vanilla seeds from the bean and add both the seeds and the bean to the pot.
Place over medium high heat, stirring the mixture with a heat-proof rubber spatula. Scrape the bottom from time to time to prevent any scorching. When the milk is warm to the touch, stop stirring.
Continue to heat the mixture. When you see curds beginning to form on the surface, gently scrape the bottom of the pan. Do not stir the liquid or break up the curds.
When the mixture reaches 175°F to 180°F you will see the curds of ricotta separate from the cloudy whey.
Remove the pot from the heat. With a skimmer, lift the curds from the pot and gently lay them into the cheesecloth lined colander. Allow the ricotta to drain for a few minutes. Do not press on the curds; rather lift the corners of the cheeseclothto help the draining. Once the curds have drained, the ricotta can be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days.
Makes 1 1/2 cups