Saturday, January 3, 2009

A New Look, a Resolution, Goat Cheese, and a Gadget!

Happy New Year!
Things have changed a bit since we last met, no? New year, slightly colder temperatures, and a new look! You might remember the photo from the banner from this post.

In honor of the new year and new look, I'm making one resolution.

I resolve to blog at least two times a month.

I know it sounds like a simple resolution and I owe this blog much more than that, but I haven't been keeping up with it, and a firm measured requirement is just what I need to get my butt moving. I have been cooking SO MUCH and it's disappointing that the blog doesn't reflect that, so I'm doing my best to keep my posts shorter and to post more frequently.

Ok, so on to the first of many many posts in the new year: goat cheese!

Every food culture has its own version of a young fresh cheese.

Think paneer.

Queso blanco.


Cottage cheese, and cheese curds. (SHOUTOUT to the Amanas!)

My guess is that this style of cheese (curds separated from whey and formed) is so ubiquitous because it's so darn simple to make. Just a few steps and you have a perfectly good compliment for bread, or base for any number of flavorings.

Making your own cheese is simple, inexpensive, and fun.

I love young soft goat cheeses, and I'm lucky enough to live near a local source for goat's milk. So, I gathered the few supplies needed for this simple project and gave it a shot.

Fair warning, this recipe won't work with ultra-pasteurized milk. Look for unpasteurized, or just pasteurized. You may use any kind of milk you can get your hands on. Each one will impart its own flavor, especially the goat milk.

All that's required to make any kind of simple cheese is milk, acid, salt, cheese cloth, a heavy bottomed pot, and a candy thermometer. The candy thermometer is a must-have in any kitchen. There are lots of things you simply cannot do without it, and this is one of them. I nabbed this one for less than $15, and it'll last until I drop it and break it. It's stainless steel, has big numbers on both sides, and has an adjustable clip on the back so it fits onto any depth pot.

So, pour about 1 qt of milk into your pot with a heavy bottom and insert your thermometer.

Slowly heat the milk to just under 180 degrees Fahrenheit. You don't want to scald it, so take it slow.

Once you've held your milk around 180 for 10 minutes, remove it from heat and add two teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice and a healthy pinch of salt.

You should see the curds (solid) start to separate from the whey (liquid)

If this isn't happening, add a little more acid.

Then it's time to separate the curds from the whey by straining them through a strainer lined with cheese cloth. Gather the edges of the cloth and press the cheese to form it into a unified ball.

From here, some people tie the cloth around a long stick and suspend the stick over a bowl allowing the whey to drip into the bowl. Me? I figure, why get a bowl dirty when you're just going to run it all down the drain anyway? And doesn't a faucet look JUST like a stick? Ok, so I was being lazy. But you know what, it worked.

Here you can see it starting to firm up.

No after pictures, but if you've seen goat cheese, well, it looks just like that.

Be sure to keep this in the fridge overnight to let the flavors develop. At this point, check for seasoning. (It might need more salt, and fresh ground pepper is fantastic in young cheese.) I love adding any and all herbs to this cheese, my favorites being lavender, rosemary, oregano, and basil.

This will come out a little on the firm side. If you prefer your cheese to be more spreadable, add a little milk. One of the great things about goat milk is that it's much closer to human milk and is thus easier for most people to digest. If you know someone who is lactose intolerant or sensitive to diary, they might do better with goat milk than cow milk.

Oh yeah, the GADGET! Guess what I GOT for Christmas??



Ok everybody, my best wishes for 2009, and see you soon!


Maggie said...

Home cheesemaking is next on our list! Beer is already in the closet, in secondary fermentation, and my preserved foods for Christmas gifts turned out perfectly! I did your pickled green beans and the apple butter, and added lemon curd (not preserved, just fresh) and orange marmalade to the mix!

Thanks for sharing - and happy new year!

Shawnda said...

How very cool - I love that you made your own goat cheese!

bensbaby116 said...

Mmm, I do love a good fresh goat cheese, but I can't say I've ever tried to make any cheese by myself. I guess I should add that to my list of things to try! Thanks for posting. :)

Joelen said...

How awesome to make your own goat cheese! I'd be using it in everything! Oh and I love your new camera!

Timothy said...

You actually eat that stuff?

Timothy said...

Your parents are really nice. I know them.............

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