for the fresh sheep's milk ricotta (makes 4 cups):
1 gallon of sheep's milk (don't fret, it's still tasty as f*ck with boring old cow's milk)
1 teaspoon sea salt
juice of 2 lemons (if you plan on making the cheesecake, zest the lemons first and set aside)
for the cheesecake crust:
2 1/2 cups raw, unsalted pistachios
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar, plus 1 tablespoon to coat parchment
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
pinch of sea salt
for the cheesecake:
8 large eggs, separated into yolks and whites
1/2 cup plus 4 tablespoons of sugar, divided
zest of two lemons
zest of one orange
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups fresh ricotta
a splash of cream if you need help getting ricotta lumps out
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
for the topping:
fresh fruit of your choice, cleaned and rinsed, sprinkled with lemon juice and sugar
1. For the ricotta, in a large pot, bring the milk to a simmer. This will take about 10-15 minutes, but it all depends on the stove you are using, so use your eyeballs and look for when bubbles and steam start to rise from the surface of the milk. During this time, make sure you run your rubber spatula across the bottom of the pot periodically to prevent the milk from sticking and scalding. Add your sea salt and stir. When the milk is officially simmering, add the juice of two lemons, give the rubber spatula two figure-8 turns through the milk, and turn off the burner and remove the pot from heat. Let it rest for 1 minute, then do another figure-8. Let it rest for 10 more minutes. Meanwhile, place cheesecloth that has been folded over on itself a few times over a colander. (If you are reserving the whey for another purpose, place the colander over a large mixing bowl and pour carefully. Otherwise, just place cheesecloth lined colander in sink and pour normally). Drain for anywhere from 1-2 hours depending on how loose you want your final product to be; I did 2 hours for this cheesecake.
2. For the crust, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 10-inch springform pan with parchment and butter the side that the crust will rest on. Grind the pistachios in a food processor until they are fairly fine (not quite beach sand level, but not gravel either). Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse to combine. The mixture should stick together, if it doesn't, add 1 more tablespoon of butter and pulse again. Empty the food processor bowl into the springform pan and press down with your hand until the crust feels compact and even. Bake in the oven until it starts to smell heavenly, about 7-10 minutes, checking on it to make sure it isn't toasting too quickly. It should take on only a slight golden color.
3. For the cheesecake, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Add the 8 egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar to a clean food processor and beat for 3 minutes, until the mixture has lightened to a sunny yellow hue. Add the citrus zest, the honey, and the salt, and combine. Add the ricotta, and blend until the mixture is thick and smooth (I added a splash of cream for some resistant bumps). Sprinkle the flour over the top of the mixture and pulse for 2 seconds to combine.
4. Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl. Into a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and whisk on medium high until foamy. Add the 4 tablespoons of sugar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks appear. Use broad stokes to incorporate a third of the egg whites at a time, until all are combined.
5. Scrape mixture into the springform pan with cooled pistachio crust. Tap the pan on the counter to dislodge bubbles and place in the 300 degree F oven. Check on the cheesecake after 1 hour. You want the center to no longer jiggle. If it still wiggles in the center, then bake for 10-15 minutes longer. When the center is firm, remove from the oven and let it cool in its pan.
6. Combine the fruit, lemon juice, and sugar in a mixing bowl, let it rest for 10 min, and using a large spoon, delicately scoop the fruit onto the indented top of the cheesecake. One note: My only regret was not serving this cake with whipped cream—it would've taken it to the next level.