Curds and Whey
It’s my last blog post on culture and I can’t believe how many recipes we’ve covered; cheeses, accompaniments, bread. It’s been fun but it's time to move on to other adventures. Leaving culture is bittersweet…just like Greek yogurt. This simple recipe is not a crock. All you need is a crockpot, plenty of milk, live cultures, and a good appetite.
HOMEMADE CROCKPOT GREEK YOGURT
Fancy some feta? This briny, crumbly, aged cheese is ranked up there with baklava and moussaka. The Greeks did it right.
If you've followed this blog from the beginning, many of the cheeses were basic and great for cheesemaking-newbs. Now with these beginner cheeses up your sleeve, it's time to risk it all...with this not-so-hard DIY feta recipe. The most difficult part of this cheese? Waiting for it to be ready! Plan a week ahead. A week is all you need.
Ever since Alissa Shethar, cheesemaker at North Bay Curds & Whey in Berkeley, announced that she was going to make buffalo milk cheese, I have been in a state of frenzied anticipation. Thank goodness she and I are both on the regulatory affairs committee of the California Artisan Cheese Guild! She was generous to bring in a wheel to share at our last meeting. At long last, I had my chance! And I got to take some home with me to photograph and share with you!
It probably goes without saying, but bacon goes well with everything—especially cheese.
As promised, here’s cheese accompaniments part deux. This entry features a savory spread to give your crusty bread and cheese some spiciness and sweetness.
TOMATO BACON CHUTNEY
Blogger Rachael Hutchings of La Fuji Mama loves culture with a capital L-O-V-E, so she was enthusiastic when I asked her about using this delish chutney recipe. You can enjoy any cheese with this bacon chutney, but Rachael strongly recommends smoked goat cheddar—“Something that is creamy with a bit of tang to compliment the acidity of the tomatoes and smokiness of the bacon! It can be eaten on bread, with crackers, on a baked potato, or even to take a hot dog up a notch.”
Makes 3 ½ cups
Bread, cheese and wine—could there be any other perfect trinity for relaxing after work and rendezvousing with friends?
This DIY series is meandering a little off the beaten path and spotlighting cheese accompaniments, beginning with warm, wholesome, crusty bread.
But instead of fantasizing about munching on bread and cheese with a tall glass of wine, people tend to take on the frightened façade of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” when they hear “bread baking.” Yeast just has that effect on even the bravest little baker. Maybe it’s that scene from I Love Lucy we can’t get out of our heads, the one where our beloved and kooky red-haired heroine keeps adding flour to a ball of dough, and after baking it in the oven, out pops a ballpark-long sub.
Of all things cheese-related, almost everyone loves to hate cottage cheese. I admit, I was a part of the cottage cheese-hating fan club—and why? What did cottage cheese ever do to me?
Was it the lunch snack mix-up in grade school, when I mistook cottage cheese for rice pudding?
Was it my arachnophobia and the Miss Muffet nursery rhyme convincing me cottage cheese (i.e. curds and whey) must be a spider sentinel?
Or is it because I just fell in with the same boat as everybody else, the “wrinkle your nose without giving ‘ol cottage cheese a chance” cruise line?
Whatever my qualms were, they disappeared once I gave cottage cheese the college try. (Really—it took me until college to try!) Since then, I haven’t gone back.
With the popularity of frozen yogurt, Green yogurt, kefir and anything else wonderfully tart, you should give cottage cheese another chance as well. Trust me on this.
Two thoughts have crossed my mind since our recent New England blizzard passed through:
- I undeniably, unquestionably, irrevocably detest snow (my years in Florida have spoiled me).
- In its purest state—before time takes its toll—snow reminds me of cream cheese.
Curling up with hot cocoa and some crackers or a toasted bagel with a tart, creamy spread by a warm fire (or apartment radiator) and a good book—or movie*—is the perfect way to spend your time if you’re snowed-in. At least, that was my weekend.
And for DIY cream cheese all you need are three ingredients—THREE ingredients! Are you sold on this idea yet? And imagine the possibilities for other recipes: carrot cake frosting; a cheesecake base; cheesecake ice cream…In case you haven’t guessed I’m a sugar-holic.
DIY CREAM CHEESE
The previous recipe, my first DIY cheese-making blog, was pretty straightforward. But there was just one problem: citric acid was really difficult to find.
A cheese-making friend of mine ran into this problem a few weeks back—and she hasn’t made cheese since. The grocery store attendants didn’t know what citric acid was and figured she was using it for a nefarious plot. Perhaps she should have referred to citric acid as “sour salt” to avert suspicion.
You can order citric acid/sour salt online, but who wants to pay extra for shipping and handling? Rennet tablets were another “controversial” ingredient. My friend surprisingly never heard of rennet tablets even though she makes cheese all the time.
When my editor assigned me this DIY blog I figured, No problem. I was ready to tackle this project and impress friends with my cheese making skills. “What is that smell?” people would ask. “Why it’s that aged artisanal cheese that girl is holding! Did you make it yourself?” Indeed I did. “Astonishing!”
But then, pages of renneting, ripening, and brining, made me wonder, What in the name of Brie did I get myself into? I was never the kid who made friendship bracelets on the playground and Lego bricks looked more like candy than robot pieces. Me make cheese? Who was I kidding?
I was tempted to dump my unfound cheese making dreams down the drain until I was introduced to cheese makers of all levels in the blogosphere. Eventually I discovered less daunting cheese recipes that even I could handle.
And so, with a relieved sigh, I began my escapade into cheese making with homemade mozzarella.
DIY HOMEMADE MOZZARELLA
It’s so lovely when you like your neighbors. Granted, sometimes I don’t think I like all of mine, but there are some awesome ones in my building! One in particular, Melissa, is an excellent hostess who ALWAYS manages to have the perfect little plates, utensils, and pretty finishing touches at every event she hosts.
This past week, Melissa made this dessert – she called it lazy cannoli. It was delicious, easy, and downright enlightening. Even a kitchen klutz like me could make it. As someone who thinks about efficiency a lot, is this “lazy” or merely “highly efficient?" Anyway, try it for yourselves! Beware, though, you might not want to share it once you taste it.
Melissa’s “Lazy Cannoli” Recipe
15oz Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
1/2 Cup Confectioners Powdered Sugar
Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips to taste (around 1/2 cup as well). You can grate a dark chocolate bar instead of using mini chocolate chips.
Optional: some diced Maraschino Cherries to taste