Sunday, November 11, 2012

Say cheese

Around my house, instead of a dinner bell, we rely on the smoke detector. Today I decided to try making a French Cheesecake with my homemade fromage blanc. I think the filling will turn out okay, it's the Pate Brisee crust that is failing. Instead of turning golden brown while "blind baking", the dough kind of melted and ran down the sides of the spring form pan. I decided to forge on and filled the crust with the cheesecake mixture and popped it into the oven. About ten minutes later the smoke alarm went off - something was leaking onto the floor of the oven. I slipped a baking sheet under the pan and continued to forge on (with the exhaust fan roaring and the windows wide open - good thing it is a mild day). Once the cheesecake is baked, I am supposed to turn the whole thing upside down on a cooling rack and pop it out of the pan. HA-HA! I think that is where the forging-on will come to a screeching halt.

I have been trying my hand at making cheese with some of the fresh milk I receive from my herd share. So far, I have stuck with soft cheeses because I have no place to age cheese, as this requires controlled temperature and humidity. And time, sometimes lots and lots of time. I'm a bit too impatient for that.

Some of these cheeses can be made by anyone with no fancy equipment or odd ingredients, so don't be afraid to try this at home. Just make sure your milk or cream is not ultra-pasteurized, as that process alters the milk protein which in turn interferes with the cheesemaking process.

While there are a lot of online resources, most of my information and recipes are from Home Cheesemaking by Ricki Carroll. She sells cheesemaking supplies at New England Cheesemaking Supply Co. I also patronize Hoegger Farmyard (LOVE their cheese vats!) and Cultures for Health. The next book on my cheesemaking wishlist is Artisan Cheesemaking at Home, by Mary Karlin
My cheese list (so far):

Yogurt cheese - Yogurt cheese is just yogurt with the liquid drained out. I make my own yogurt, but you can use any plain yogurt. Just dump it into a butter muslin or cheesecloth-lined colander and let it drain for 12-24 hours. Flavor to your liking.

Mascarpone - I favor this recipe and use lemon juice.

Fromange blanc - For this one, you will need a starter culture.

Whole-milk ricotta - This recipe requires citric acid.

Queso blanco - Just milk and apple cider vinegar.

30-minute mozzarella - This can be made in the microwave, but it requires rennet and citric acid.

(The cheesecake is out of the oven. It looks like it was butter from the crust that was smoking up the house. I sampled the filling - it tastes great! I'll let it set a bit before deciding whether to try to upside down thing.)

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