Category Archives: cheese making

Deep fried olives!

Deep fried olivesIMGP3029Take pitted green olives; pipe some mashed seasoned goat cheese into where the pit was; flour them, egg them, crumb them (mix a bit of Parmesan mixed into the breadcrumb mixture); fry them in, yes, olive oil. Let them cool a little while before letting yourself pop one into your mouth to enjoy the burst of warm, wet olive flavor. They go fantasically with goat cheese, crackers or a nice home made crusty bread, and a hearty wine!

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Filed under cheese making, Low carb foods, Recipes

Fresh mozzarella cheese

Origins of Mozzarella

According to the historian Monsignor Alicandri, Mozzarella cheese was first made in the 12th century by the monks of San Lorenzo di Capua in Italy. Originally, it was made with sheeps milk, but in the 16th century water buffaloes were introduced to Italy and the cheese makers soon discovered that the animals’ milk was rich enough to make cheese with. Henceforth the making the mozzarella from water buffalo milk was the norm and the tradition began.

Making young cheese

NOTE: When making ‘young’ cheeses, it is recommended to use pasteurized milk. If you have access to raw milk, then step one should be to pasteurize it.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice

1 gallon pasteurized milk

1/8 tsp liquid rennet, diluted in 1/4 cup of cool, unchlorinated water

1 tbsp cheese salt (salt without iodine, I use canning salt)

Directions:

1. Add the lemon juice to the milk and mix thoroughly.

2. Heat the milk over a low flame on the stove-top until it reaches 88 F. (The milk should start to curdle. If it doesn’t, add another tablespoon of lemon juice.)

3. Stir in the diluted rennet with an up-and-down motion. Continue heating the milk until it reaches 105 F. Turn off the heat and let the curd set until you get a clean break. This will only take about 6-5 minutes. At this stage, the curds will look like thick yogurt.

The clabbered mozzarella will hold the spoon up; it is thick like yogurt.

The clabbered mozzarella will hold the spoon up; it is thick like yogurt.

4. Scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon and place into a microwavable bowl. Press the curds gently and pour off as much when as possible being careful to save the whey (then make bread using the whey as the liquid, or feed to the chickens–they love whey!).

5. Microwave the curds in HIGH for 1 minute. Drain the whey and quickly work the cheese like bread dough. You can wear rubber gloves if you wish as the cheese will be quite hot to touch.

6. Microwave the cheese twice more for 35 seconds each. Again work the cheese into a ball draining the excess whey each time.

8. Knew quickly like bread dough until it is smooth, sprinkling with salt as you work. When the cheese is smooth it is ready to eat.

My first ever mozzarella cheese.

My first ever mozzarella cheese.

At this stage it is bocconcini and quite unlike the mass produced mozzarella of the grocery store. Hence, I use it right away. It is traditionally use on pizza Napoletana, though I found it doesn’t melt the way mass produced mozza does (this of course could be something I’m not doing quit correctly and you may have a different experience as so much about cheese making is precision related). However, instead of using it on pizza, my favourite thing to do with it is slice it thinly and layer it between slices of tomato. Then drizzle pesto sauce over top, sprinkle some toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil and some cracked pepper. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread or plain crackers. YUM. If you have pesto on hand, it is a quick and easy–yet elegant–appetizer.

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Filed under cheese making, Educational, How to..., Preserving the harvest, Recipes

Lotsa mozza

A fresh batch of mozzarella cheese. Photo: Gourmet Girl Magazine

A fresh batch of mozzarella cheese. Photo: Gourmet Girl Magazine

Got up this morning and did the usual chores. Took the dog for a morning walk and had coffee by the river. It’s the springtime morning routine. Got home and found an urgent message on my answering machine: “I’ve got extra milk. If you want it for cheese then come on over quick and bring containers!”

I immediately dropped all the plans I had for the day and set to collecting suitable containers to bring the milk home in. It  is not often that I get such a wonderful opportunity, in fact this is the famous first! I am now busy processing 4 gallons of beautifully fresh milk into mozzarella cheese. I’ll take one batch back to the farmer in thanks, and keep the other three for myself. Will post the how to and photos soon, when my hands are not so full!

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Ricotta cheese

There is simply nothing like home made Ricotta cheese. There are so many things you can do with it: eat it from a spoon, put it in lasagna, stuff cannelloni, piggies in blankets, make bread with it, and so on.  I have even found a flavourful ricotta doughnut recipe. The list is long and distinguished and every  growing thanks to inventive minds. It is easy-peasy to make and provides and almost instant treat when complete. My favourite thing to do with it is eat it like the Greeks do: with strong espresso coffee and a drizzle of honey–it is simply divine!

Here’s how:

Two gallons of milk heating on stove.

Two gallons of milk heating on stove.

Put a gallon of milk (fresh from the cow if you have access, but store-bought will work) in a large pot.

Heat until the milk reaches 200 degrees F, do not let it boil (it will be very close to boiling as it approaches this temperature).

Having added the lemon juice, the curds begin to form immediately.

Having added the lemon juice, the curds begin to form immediately.

Add a few tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar (apple cider or white, both work fine) and stir gently for two minutes.

Turn off the heat and let the pot sit for 10 minutes while the milk curdles into cheese (what will be in the pot is actually Little Miss Muffet’s curds and whey).

Gently remove curds from pot and place in strainer or jelly bag.
Gently remove curds from pot and place in strainer or jelly bag.

Strain through a jelly bag or cheese cloth catching all the curds. Save the whey and make bread, muffins, or pancakes with it. I always use it to make Italian Whey bread–it is fantastic bread!

Ricotta curds hanging in jelly bag draining out the whey.
Ricotta curds hanging in jelly bag draining out the whey.

Let it strain until it stops dripping, about a half an hour. I tie an elastic band around the jelly bag and hook it over a cupboard handle. While not high-tech, it works! Viola, you have ‘cottage industry’ or ‘artisan made’ ricotta cheese.

Whenever I make ricotta, I reward myself with the special Greek treat: Spoon some in to a bowl immediately and pour a couple of tablespoons of strong espresso coffee over it, drizzle over some honey and sprinkle cinnamon and enjoy!

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Filed under cheese making, How to..., Preserving the harvest