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Do you HEART cheese? Or at least cheesy post titles?

February 7, 2011

February, the month of love…chocolates, roses, champagne- who doesn’t like those things? But imagine if someone made you herbed chevre or some creamy ricotta in the shape of a heart? Now that’s a unique treat! I think what you need for your sweetheart (to be?) is a cheese kit and/or some heart shaped cheese!

Don’t have a heart-shaped cheese mold? Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter or muffin tin! Simply follow one of my recipes, drain most of the whey out in a colander and press your salted cheese into the heart and coat with herbs after you pop it out. LOVELY.

This would surely impress!

Find the kits around Portland, OR at New Season’s, Whole Foods (Washington too), Urban Farm Store, Mirador, Alberta Co-op, the Powell’s gift section and more! Request the heart mold and they should be able to get it from me (though maybe not fast enough for the holiday).

I can also mail a kit AND heart mold straight to you or your beloved (family members count). Order by Wednesday night and you’ll have it right on Valentine’s Day (we send by 2-3 day Priority Mail so we can only promise so much, after that, the U.S. Post Office is to blame :)).

Have a love-filled month!

2011 Cheese Class Schedule- Feta and Cultured Chevre added!

January 8, 2011

feta cubes

Feta Cubes Curing in Salt

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you’ve had some time to reflect on 2010 and dream about 2011 and beyond…if your dreams include learning to make cheese, check out the classes I will be leading this year by following the links below. I added some new ones as you’ll see; you can learn to make feta, cultured chevre and even easier cheeses.

Classes through the Urban Growth Bounty series- hosted by the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
These are demos, so you will see the process and taste the results. 15 slots available per class. Beaumont Middle School

Mount Hood Community College Community Education- David Douglas High School
These are hands-on classes. Students are paired up and work in real Home Ec. kitchenettes! 12 slots available per class.

Order kits by Dec. 17 so you can have them by Dec. 23.

December 13, 2010
mozz knot

why use ribbon to make bows for gifts when you can use mozzarella?

So…we did get a mention on HGTV after all! Orders have been insane but we’re keeping it together.

Order your kit ASAP and you can have it by Dec. 23. We will close the online shops and stop responding to emails between Dec. 18-Jan. 5 though. Yay. A break is much-needed around these parts.

Hope you have a wonderful winter solstice and happy new year celebration. A friend of mine does a “year in review” on her birthday, I think it’s a really great practice that I will try on Dec. 31! See you on the flip side- Claudia

Could it be? Cheese kit on HGTV?!

November 24, 2010
Chili Queso

Mix herbs or spices in for unique flavors. I added smoked chili powder to this wheel.

Happy autumn all! Just a quick announcement before the holiday weekend. They can’t confirm yet, but it’s possible our Paneer and Queso Blanco Cheese Kit will be on an HGTV holiday gift countdown this Friday! They can’t tell me until the last minute but it’s already on their site for sale, http://marketplace.hgtv.com/Product.aspx?Lid=4145-10110959&From=iFP

 

If this happens, I assume we will be extremely busy. Buy your holiday gift kits now and avoid the rush in a few days! Enjoy good food, good people and lots of cheer tomorrow and the entire season. Claudia

Whole Milk Ricotta

October 23, 2010

Ricotta is an example of a simple farmers cheese born out of necessity and invention.

Traditionally made from whey, a cheesemaking by-product, this cheese made sure nothing went to waste at the farm. If you don’t make hard cheeses you can make a delicious creamy ricotta from whole milk in one hour!

ricotta

Ricotta, a creamy blank canvas!

Ingredients:

1 gallon of milk

1 tsp citric acid OR 1/4 cup vinegar of choice (to purchase citric acid or a complete ricotta kit visit our SHOP.)

1 tsp Cheese salt (To Taste)


Supplies:

Large pot- at least 6 quart

Butter Muslin (fine cheesecloth)

Thermometer

Colander

Large Slotted spoon


YIELD- 1 ½ to 2lbs. (lots!)


Here we go- fresh Ricotta is within our reach!

Step 1- Measure the citric acid into ½ cup of water and stir.

Step 2- Pour your milk into the pot, pour the citric acid solution and salt (optional) into the milk and mix thoroughly.

Step 3- Heat the milk to 180°F to 185°F (do not allow to boil over). Stir often to prevent scorching.

Step 4- As soon as the curds and whey separate (make sure there is no milky whey), turn off the heat. Allow to set undisturbed for 10 minutes.

Step 5- Line a colander with butter muslin (fine cheesecloth).

Curds, no Whey

Curds draining

Drain in the colander for 15-30 minutes, or until the cheese has reached the desired consistency (you can gently expedite by lifting the muslin by the corners and rocking the curds around to unblocked cloth areas. The cheese is ready to eat in sweet or savory dishes immediately!

Step 6- Store any leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Simple Mozzarella

October 15, 2010

Who doesn’t love soft, fresh cheese with sun kissed tomatoes and bright basil? Throw in some fresh bread and a little olive oil…now imagine that with your own warm, homemade mozzarella! You can make it and have it ready in an hour. Check it out!

mozzarella knot

herbed warm mozzarella tied into a simple knot

Ingredients:

1 gallon of milk

1 ½ tsp citric acid (to purchase citric acid or a complete mozzarella kit visit our SHOP.)

¼ Rennet Tablet

1 tsp cheese salt (or to taste, herbs optional)


Supplies:

Large pot- at least 6 quart

Butter Muslin (fine cheesecloth)

Colander

Large Slotted spoon

Thermometer

microwaveable bowl

Rubber gloves or large spoon


YIELD- 1 ½ lb (2 big fists)


Ok, less than an hour to fresh Mozzarella!

If you’d like to see this process in step by step photos, check out my Facebook Album. The only part you don’t see is the heating of the curds before folding and kneading, you will choose microwave or hot water bath but the curd handling is the same.

Step 1- Dissolve ¼ rennet tablet into 1 cup of cool, chlorine-free water. Stir and set aside. Wrap the remaining pieces of tablet and store in the freezer.

Step 2- Mix 1 ½ teaspoons citric acid into 1 cup of cool, chlorine-free water until dissolved.

Step 3- Pour 1 gallon of milk into your pot. Pour the citric acid solution in and stir thoroughly. Heat to 90°F, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.

Step 4- At 90°F slowly stir in the rennet solution with a gentle up and down motion for approximately 30 seconds. Continue to heat to 105°F (110°F if you will use the water bath).

Step 5- Your curds could already show clear signs of coagulation- curds would look like shiny yogurt, you’d see a separation between curds and whey and the curds would pull from the sides of the pot.

- If so, stir very gently for another minute and turn off the heat. Skip down to step 6.

- If the curd doesn’t look like shiny custard or yogurt but looks like clumps of melted cheese floating in yellow liquid, you’re still in good shape. Skip down to step 6.

- If you don’t see any of these signs and your whey is still milky instead of yellow, heat a little more (110°F max) while gently moving the curds around with your spoon. You are now cooking the curds and expelling whey. If you reach 110°F and still don’t see any signs, let the pot sit off the heat for 15-45 minutes. Skip down to step 6 when you have coagulation.

- If your milk did not form a curd at all, you may have some unlabeled ultra-pasteurized milk on your hands. Try another brand but follow this through- cheese has a way of working out!

Step 6- Ladle your curds into a heat-resistant bowl. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the curds for stretching later or move on to the heating and stretching steps.

Note- If you will use the “Water Bath” (no microwave) method, heat your whey to 185°F and read the following instructions in bold. For microwave instructions, continue below the bold print.

______________________________________________________________________________

No Microwave? No problem! Follow these instructions:

When your water/whey bath hits 185°F (no hotter or you’ll overcook your curds!) take the pot off the stove.

Gently shape half of your curds into a ball (as much as possible) and dip into the whey for 1-3 minutes or until your curds hit 135°F (heated to the core). Put on your rubber gloves, lift the ball of curds out of the whey and proceed with salting, stretching and shaping as detailed below in steps 11 and 12 (you may also stretch with a spoon in your heat-resistant bowl).

Repeat on all curds- more than once if necessary for a smooth ball of cheese. You may need to reheat your whey if you’re slow- remember, no hotter than 185°F! If temperamental curds don’t stretch sometimes, do not despair. Just fold, salt, and shape warm curds into balls. Practice, practice- enjoy!

___________________________________________________________________________________

Step 7- Ladle your curds into a large microwaveable bowl. Put on your rubber gloves or use a large spoon for steps 7-12. Gently hold back the curds while you pour off whey (don’t press much).

Step 8- Heat the bowl in the microwave for 1 minute.

Step 9- Gently use a spoon to fold the curds over several times and evenly distribute the heat. Drain off any whey as above.

Step 10- Microwave for another 30 seconds. Drain again and knead the curd gently- try stretching. It must be 135°F to stretch properly. If it isn’t hot enough, microwave for another 30 seconds.

Step 11- Add your salt (I like 1.5 tsp or so) plus any herbs and work into the cheese by stretching and folding, stretching and folding…the more you work the curd, the firmer the cheese will be.

Step 12- Stretch the cheese until it is smooth. Shape into a ball or get creative! This mozzarella is best eaten immediately but you can store it covered. Do NOT store in water or whey or it will get slimy and disintegrate. You can however, dunk your shaped mozz into ice water for just a few minutes to retain it’s shape. Otherwise, its own heat can flatten it. Use within 1 week.

Simple Crumbly Goat Cheese

October 9, 2010

When creamy and spreadable isn’t the goal, but rather firm crumbles for salad or to top dishes, try this recipe. You’ll be done in an hour or two (depends on if you want it very firm and chilled).

Firm ‘n’ Crumbly Goat Cheese

Ingredients:

half gallon of goat milk (2 quarts)

1 tsp plus a pinch citric acid (for citric acid or a complete goat cheese kit, visit our SHOP)

1 tsp Cheese salt (to taste)


Supplies:

Large pot- at least 4 quart

Butter Muslin (fine cheesecloth)

Colander

Large Slotted spoon

Cheese Molds


YIELD- About ¾ lb



Step 1- Mix the citric acid into ½ cup of water and stir. Let it sit and dissolve.

Step 2- Heat the milk in your pot until foamy and steamy (190˚F-195˚F) while stirring often to prevent scorching.

Step 3- Turn the heat to low, before the foam subsides, drizzle in the citric acid solution. Stir and cook for 15-30 seconds. You should see some subtle curdling.

Step 4- Remove from the heat and continue to stir gently until you see a clear separation between curds and whey. If the whey is whitish (should be yellowish-green), sprinkle a tiny bit more citric acid in the pot and stir.

Step 5- Gently pour the curds and whey into a cloth-lined colander (the curds can be very small). Drain for 5-10 minutes. Mix in your salt and stir the curds gently as they dry a little more. Add herbs if desired (split the batch if you want to try different flavors).

Step 6- Time to shape and press!

-For beautiful little cheese wheels, spoon some curds to fill about 1/3 of your goat cheese molds (place a flat tray underneath to catch any liquid) and press gently with your fingertips. If you like a nice firm cheese, you can place a full glass jar or bottle in each mold to press the wheels a little more. Press down gently but stop if curds seep out.

-For a nice rustic wheel. Leave the rest of the curds (or all of the curds) in the cloth and gather them up into a mound. Fold the cloth corners over the curds, place a plate and 1/2 gal. of water as a weight on top to press.

Allow the cheeses in the molds and colander to press until your desired firmness (usually 1 hour is plenty in the fridge but overnight can give you a firm cheese similar to feta). The cheese will be ready to crumble, slice and enjoy with your favorite fruit and bread.

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