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March 25, 2009

CURDS OUR WHEY - MONTH 1 - 30 MINUTE MOZZARELLA

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Today is the first post of a new group I belong to - "Curds Our Whey". A group of us from the Food Forum on Slow Travel Talk decided we were interested in making home-made cheese. I decided to take the lead on this and plan the logistics of this group-what cheeses we would make, what ingredients we needed, etc.

The book we decided to use for our recipes is Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll. You can order this book from Amazon, purchase it at your local bookstore, or order from Ricki's website at New England Cheesemaking SupplyCompany. I ordered all of my supplies from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company.

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April 29, 2009

CURDS OUR WHEY - MONTH #2 - WHOLE-MILK RICOTTA

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Time for another selection of home-made cheese. This month our selection is Whole-Milk Ricotta. For those of you who may not have read my last Curds Our Whey post, we are using the book Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll, and each month are making a different cheese.

This ricotta was very easy and quick to make. Like the mozzarella, the cheese will taste very similar to what your milk tastes like, so use a milk you like and don't try to go with the cheapest.

I used my ricotta in a Ricotta Cheesecake, which wss posted on April 7th. I also mixed some of the ricotta with chopped basil, thyme, and chives, spread it on half of sliced baguette, then on the other half topped with sauteed shallots and grilled chicken, then placed under a broiler for a minute to heat the cheese. Yum!!

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May 28, 2009

CURDS OUR WHEY - MASCARPONE CHEESE

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Our choice for the May Curds Our Whey cheese was Mascarpone. I love mascarpone, so I was really excited to make this. I loved the flavor and will definately make it again, but it did not taste like mascarpone to me. It tasted like creme fraiche. It uses a creme fraiche starter, so now I'm not suprised. I did drain it in the refrigerator most of a day to get an even thicker cheese. You can use this in a variety of ways. I would probably just use it anywhere creme fraiche or sour cream is called for. It made a wonderful topping for a fruit crostada. I whipped a little heavy cream, mixed in some vanilla sugar and mascarpone, and continued whipping. The flavor was so good. I also made a sauce out of it to top a purchased ravioli I bought(asparagus and cheese). Put a large tablespoon or serving spoon of mascarpone in a skillet, add zest of 1/4 to 1/2 a lemon, and enough juice to thin (I probably used a tablespoon or two). Add a little salt and pepper. Cook pasta as directed, drain, and add to skillet with the sauce. Stir to combine, then serve topped with grated parmesan.

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July 1, 2009

CURDS OUR WHEY - CHEVRE

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I'm a few days late, but it's time for the June Curds Our Whey. This month I chose for us to make Chevre cheese. Chevre is the French word for "goat".

I was really looking forward to making the Chevre until I began my search at the grocery stores. When making cheese, you want to use pasturized, but not ultra-pasturized. The curds don't usually form properly when using ultra-pasturized. I checked every grocery store and health food store I could think of in Anchorage, and the only goat's milk I could find was ultra-pasturized. The recipe also called for a gallon of goat's milk, and the only size available to me was quarts. At around $6/quart, and when I didn't think it would turn out, I wasn't willing to try with more than one quart. So I divided my package of starter into quarters, and proceeded to make the cheese.

This recipe is very easy. Heat the milk, add the starter, and let it sit at room temperature for 12 hours. I needed to go to bed, so mine only set for about 10 hours. But it did already have the "yogurt texture" called for. Well, a little softer than yogurt, but I didn't have a choice. So before going to bed, I drained it. I let it drain overnight, and it was still too soft. This was Friday morning, and I was leaving town for the weekend, so I decided to tie the muslin to a long spoon, hang the cheese over a bowl, and refrigerate until I came home on Sunday. When I checked it on Sunday, it was perfect. A little softer than the kind I buy in the grocery store, but still firm enough that I could cut into rounds to place on a salad.

Another thing that suprised me about the cheese was the yield. I thought by using only a quart that my yield would be next to nothing. I forgot to weigh the cheese before I used it, but it was a little more than a small ball or log that you would buy at the store. So maybe between 6 and 8 ounces? If I used an entire gallon of milk, I'm not sure what I would do with that much goat cheese.

I'll post in the next couple of days how I used the Chevre. One thing the cookbook suggests is to use it as a spread, flavored with herbs and spices. Or it also can be used as a substitute for cream cheese.

Here's the ball of Chevre that was my end result.
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September 1, 2009

ANOTHER HOMEMADE CHEESE - LACTIC CHEESE

The cheese I'm making for August is called Lactic Cheese. Here's what the recipe's author has to say: "This is a delicious, soft, spreadable cheese that is easy to make and ready to eat in 24 hours. You may add herbs in a variety of combinations for truly tantalizing taste treats. I find that a combination of freshly ground black pepper, 1 clove of chopped garlic, chopped fresh chives, and a dash of paprika makes a savory cheese. Try rolling plain or sweetened cheese in crepes and topping with fruit sauce for a gourmet desert. I like to make this cheese at night and drain it in the morning."

This cheese was very easy to make, and very versatile. I think you could substitute it anywhere for goats cheese or probably homemade ricotta. Tomorrow I'll post a recipe I made with it for Vegetable Tarts.

I'm not going to show a photo of the cheese, mainly because I forgot to take a picture. It looks basically like a cream cheese. If you drain it less, a little softer.

Recipe from "Home Cheese Making" by Ricki Carroll.

LACTIC CHEESE
1 gallon pasteurized whole or skim milk
1 packet direct-set mesophilic starter or 4 oz prepared mesophilic or prepared fresh starter
3 drops liquid rennet, diluted in 1/3 cup cool, unchlorinated water
Cheese salt(optional)
Herbs(optional)
1. Heat the milk to 86degrees F. Add the starter and mix thoroughly.
2. Add 1 teaspoon of the diluted rennet and stir with an up-and-down motion. Cover and let set, undisturbed, at a room temperature of at least 72 degrees F for 12 hours, or until a solid curd forms. The curd will look like yogurt.
3. Slowly pour the curd into a colander lined with butter muslin. Tie the corners of the muslin into a knot and hang the bag to drain for 6-12 hours, or until the cheese reaches the desired consistency. A room temperature of at least 72 degrees will encourage proper drainage. If you want the curds to drain more quickly, change the muslin periodically.
4. Place the curds in a bowl and add the salt to taste, if desired. Add the herbs, if desired.
5. Store in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.(If the cheese has a hard, rubbery texture, add less rennet next time. If the cheese is too moist, add a little more rennet.)

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