Okay, so here we go. Pour your skim milk into a big pot (I used my trusty Dutch oven) and heat it to 120 degrees (I used my trusty candy thermometer). When it reaches 120, take it off the heat and pour in the vinegar. This is going to make the curds (the solid part) separate from the whey (the liquid part). Cover it and leave it alone for about 30 minutes.
When you come back, you are going to have a stringy, goopy pot of stuff that looks nothing like cottage cheese, but hang in there. Scoop out the goop and put it in a clean lightweight dishtowel. Let it drain for a few minutes, and then gather the sides of the dishtowel together so the cheese is closed inside and run cold water over it for about 3 minutes, kneading and squeezing it the whole time it is being rinsed.
When you are done, open up the dishtowel. You will have a pile of dry pieces of something that looks nothing like cottage cheese, but hang in there, because here’s where the magic happens. Transfer those dried looking curds to a bowl and pour in 1/4 cup of heavy cream and 1/4 cup half and half, along with a 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir it all around and voila! It looks EXACTLY like the best bowl of cottage cheese you’ve ever seen! Taste it and add more salt and more cream until it is the flavor and consistency you like.
Now, this cottage cheese is not going to be like that mass-produced stuff from the supermarket. It’s like a mixture of mozzarella cheese and cottage cheese, and it’s best eaten the very day you make it. (Which was not a problem for me!) If you do keep it overnight in the fridge, it will firm up a little and you may need to add a little more regular milk or cream to get it back to a consistency you like.
So if we can make butter and ricotta cheese, we can make cottage cheese too! I wonder what’s next….? I’m taking suggestions!
Recipe adapted from Alton Brown’s version