I signed into my blog to post something that I made today and realized that I never posted my last post which was quite a personal feat. A while back, I read the Omnivore’s Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and became inspired to make my own cheese from home. I even went so far as applying for a job as a cheese maker’s assistant when I returned to Canada, but due to the commute and the lack of public transportation I couldn’t figure out a way to get to work without purchasing my own car. This was not in the budget at the time. So anyway, I continued to research the cheese making process. During our WWOOFing experience on Amherst Island back in July, we met a man named Armando who was completely blind and has been making cheese at home for about a year. We tasted him Asiago cheese and it was not too bad for being made at home. I wanted to begin with something a little simpler than an aged cheese so I opted for a version of Farmer’s Cheese otherwise known as Ricotta.
Everyone knows that cheese begins with milk, so I bought a milk bag of whole milk from Reid’s Dairy. I already know that next time I will attempt to get milk directly from a farm to try this recipe instead of milk that has been treated for consumers. I added my milk to a large stainless steel pot and put in my salt and waited for it to boil. The whole time I was thinking this will sure be a lot of salted milk to drink if this cheese doesn’t work! I mean who drinks whole milk anymore. The boil started and I turned off the heat and added some lemon juice. I waited like the recipe said and nothing happened so I added more lemon juice. I thought why not. The milk concoction started to curdle, so I poured it through some cheesecloth that lined another stainless steel pot. The curds rested in the cheesecloth while the whey drained through. After about an hour all of the liquid had drained through. I looked at the amount of curd that was left and the amount of whey in the bowl underneath and I was disappointed. There was enough cheese to spread on about one bagel…bummer. I didn’t give up though. I continued to research and learned that if the whey is still white, then the whole process can be done again because there are still cheese particles in the whey. If the whey was yellow then the process is finished. So I began again. Luckily I did because the second time around yielded a lot more curd!
After all of the whey drained through the second time, it was yellow so I knew I had extracted all of the curd. Before I dumped the bowl of whey, I researched if there were any recipes that used it because I have seen whey in so many things before. Whey is very nutritious because it is protein rich. So I put the whey in a container and saved it in the fridge. I would later use it instead of water to make pizza crust, and replace the milk in muffins and pancakes with whey.
All in all the cheese turned out delicious. I served it a few different ways. We served it with crackers and used it as a spread and topped it with a horseradish tomato salsa. The next day we made pizza with Italian sausage, fresh basil, red onions and our fresh cheese. We even spread it on bagels with fresh tomato and cucumber slices. When I make this cheese again, I will increase the salt because it was slightly on the bland side and I will also try to add some fresh herbs into the finished curd. I think it would also make a perfect substitution for ricotta in lasagna. Definitely a culinary feat well accomplished!
Recipe From: allrecipes.com
Servings: 1 pound?
1 gallon whole milk
1 pinch salt
1 large lemon, juiced
1. Pour the milk into a large pot, and stir in a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom of the pot.
2. When the milk begins to boil (small bubbles will first appear at the edges), turn off the heat. Stir lemon juice into the milk, and the milk will curdle. You may need to wait 5 or 10 minutes.
3. Line a sieve or colander with a cheesecloth.
4. Pour the milk through the cloth to catch the curds. What is left in the cheesecloth is the Farmer's Cheese. The liquid is the whey. Some people keep the whey and drink it, but I throw it away. Gather the cloth around the cheese, and squeeze out as much of the whey as you can. Wrap in plastic, or place in an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator.
Recipe Created by: Gretchen Brown
Yields: A lot
2 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
8 cups chopped tomatoes (about 11 large ones)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup horseradish
2 TBS salt
1-2 TBS Worchestshire sauce
1 TBS dill weed
1 tsp dill seed
1 TBS mustard seed
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1. Bring sugar and vinegar to a boil. Remove from the heat. Cool completely.
2. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add vinegar mixture and mix well. Spoon into storage containers. All 1/2 inch of headspace. This will keep in the fridge for a about a week. It also freezes well. After defrosting, drain some of the excess liquid before serving.
Italian Sausage Pizza with Fresh Basil, Cherry Tomatoes, and Farmer’s Cheese
Recipe Created by: Gretchen Brown
Yields: 1 pizza
1 recipe of quick pizza dough (see past blog posting)
1 cup of chipotle pepper pizza sauce
1 cooked Italian sausage cut into rounds
Handful of basil chopped
1/4 red onion, sliced
1. Prepare pizza crust and spread with sauce.
2. Put a handful of mozzarella on the sauce before adding any toppings. Arrange all toppings except for the basil and sausage.
3. Add the rest of the mozzarella and scoop the farmer’s cheese into blobs. Add the sausage. Cook for 10-15 minutes at 450°F. Sprinkle with fresh basil when finished.