Thursday, October 28, 2010

An interesting discovery

Last night I was thinking about what cheeses I've made since Feb. I have the book "Home Cheese Making", by Ricki Carroll which has 75 cheese recipes and 11 "Other Dairy Products" (chapter 10). This has been my guide for almost all my cheese making so far and already shows the signs of being in an active cheese making zone. With margin notes and drip marks of whey from spoons and fingers, anyone looking at it would instantly know what a valuable resource it has been in our "make room" (the kitchen).

With the movie "Julie & Julia" being so popular, the thought runs through the mind to do something similar with this book as well. The geek went straight to the computer, opened an Excel spreadsheet and began listing all the recipes in the book, by category and page number and which ones I've already made. The tally was 15 of the 75 I've made at least once, and 3 of the 11 other dairy products. This doesn't count a few variations I did on my own, like smoke flavored gouda and mozzarella or the 0% cow milk with powdered goat milk feta. It doesn't include the numerous flavorings of mascarpone, yogurt cheese, honey yogurt, feta in basil infused olive oil, or a feta stuffed mozzarella heart (labor intensive to say the least). The key lime mascarpone in mini filo cups is a must do again. The finger sized baked potatoes with yogurt cheese with cheddar cheese, chives and bacon bits (mini baked potato) is a special occasion appetizer that needs a little tweaking. Of course, cheese cakes made with home made cream cheese or fomage blanc are decadent desserts for times when calories don't matter.

It has been very helpful having Chef Paula as my taster. Her palate and food knowledge has been invaluable as I have progressed and improved my techniques. We have spent a couple days together making cheese and have time during the week to talk and to bring her samples of my latest attempts at cheese making. Her husband has been spoiled by the constant flow of fresh yogurt to his house. It has been encouraging to have her ask me to make cheese for special events she is doing. The school is doing a Bistro as a fund-raising event in November, and my feta in basil infused olive oil will be on every table.

I enjoyed doing the cheese making party. I know Jean got inspired to make mozzarella as soon as she could. I received an excited voice mail on Monday morning saying she got up at 6:30, went out a got some milk and by 9AM had a pound of mozzarella (partially eaten). BTW Jean makes wonderful scones that are even better with strawberry preserves and fresh mascarpone.

I wouldn't be fair if I didn't mention my wonderful and understanding wife. It is not every wife who will allow her husband to take over part of the kitchen and half the kitchen table to make cheese. Our kitchen has had a small refrigerator and a chrome cart invade the one wall. Plastic containers, cheese cloth, molds, large pots, a heating pad, weights, and various utensils adorn "My corner" of the room. Thank you, Dear, I love you.

Okay, it's on to the next adventure. Haloumi is next on my make list. Fresh goat's milk will be here on the Nov 5th. and I'll post the results here as soon as I can. That will be number 16: only 59 to go.

The Cheesy Geek

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bigger Farmhouse Cheddar

Is bigger better? Hopefully we'll find out the answer to that burning question in late December. Well, at least about farmhouse cheddar cheese. Using a borrowed 20 quart pot, I spent the day Saturday making a double batch of Farmhouse Cheddar cheese. Four gallons of milk looks huge compared to the two gallon batches I've been making. As the curds formed I wondered if the mold would hold them all. When it came time to put them in, I packed and pressed and packed some more and filled the mold to the top. Surprise, they all fit.

I put the weights on the follower and waited. The stack of weights fell over 3 times in the first four hours. And, over night they did an impersonation of the leaning tower of something, resulting in an uneven cylinder of cheese this morning. Weighing in at 4lb 10oz, this is the biggest cheese I've made so far. It is too big to wax in the deep fryer I'm using as a wax pot so I'll have to brush the wax on. Probably it will be ready for waxing Weds or I'll post another picture at that time.

Here is a comparison picture of the two lb waxed farmhouse cheddar I made last Saturday and the one I made yesterday.

Have fun and make more cheese
the Cheesy Geek

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another Cheese Cake

Chef Paula used some of the last batch of Fromage Blanc to make this cheese cake. She added 1/4 cup of lime juice to a standard New York style cheese cake recipe. As you can see, it has been enjoyed already.

I really enjoyed the texture and smoothness of the cheese cake. If a chiffon cheese cake is a one(1) on the heavy/light scale and a regular New York cheese cake is a ten(10), this comes out a seven(7). There is just enough lime to give it a distinct tang without overpowering the cheese. For me, this recipe using the fromage blanc was a treat I wouldn't mind having again. It gives me the satisfying taste and the firmness of a heavier cheese cake without the fullness.  I'll try to get the actual recipe she used and post it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

From Cream Cheese to Pumpkin Cheesecake

Freshly made cream cheese made from half and half. This is approximately 16oz by weight out of 24 oz made from two quarts of half and half. It turned out very creamy and fairly light.

Then Joan got a hold of it and added some fresh pumpkin and a few more ingredients and made this delicious pumpkin cheese cake. It was light, and creamy and very good. Thanks Honey.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cream Cheese-Second Try

I used half a Gallon of Great Value half and half from Walmart. (pull date Nov 30) I heated the milk to 70 on the induction plate then took it off the hot plate. The temperature continued to rise to 80. Room temp was 77.6. I added 3/32 tsp of the mesophilic started MA 011 bulk pack and let it sit from 10:15am until 6:30pm. It had formed a solid mass and pulled away from the sides when pressed. I poured it into butter muslin and hung it to drain. At 9:00pm I changed the butter muslin and left it to drain overnight.

At 6:30am I took it out of the muslin and put it into containers. The volume yield was just over 3 cups. The weight yield was 1lb 10oz.

It is very smooth, light and mild tasting. I thought it was a bit on the moist side but it will probably be better after it has chilled. I didn't press it so it is not as dense as store bought.

Joan has some fresh pumpkin she cooked down and is going to make pumpkin cheese cake with this batch. I'm looking forward to having it this weekend.

Note: I gave some to Chef Paula and she said it was the best cream cheese she ever had. (-:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Parmesan Cheese after 3 1/2 Months

This is the Parmesan style cheese that I made June 19 of half 1% skimmed cow milk and half fresh goat milk. The original weight was 1lb 8oz before brine bath and 1lb 6oz after. I have removed mold that formed on it every week or so, then in the first week in Sept. I wiped it down and then brushed it with extra virgin olive oil, leaving it slightly wet. It has since absorbed the oil and the surface has just a very light feel of oil and has a very hard rind. It now weighs 1lb 1oz.

I'm looking forward to May when I plan to open it up and taste it for the first time.

The Cheesy Geek

Friday, October 1, 2010

My First Waxing

I waxed my first cheese last night. It is a gouda that I made on Sept 12. It has been sitting in the "cave" since then and has lost 6oz in weight. I used a deep fryer we haven't been using for melting the wax. It is a Euro Pro F1045 which has a timer dial and a temperature control. The temperature control is marked starting at 275F but that mark is at the one o'clock position on the dial. I put 4lbs of wax in it to melt with the dial at about the 9 o'clock position. Once the wax melted completely and the heater light turned off, I checked the temperature and adjusted the dial until the temperature of the wax was a stable 235F. I added wax until it was at the "full" line. I then turned the heat off.

For my first coating I used the deep fryer's basket and dipped the wax for about 6 seconds. It completely submerged in the wax. After taking it out to cool, the bottom of the cheese stuck to the wire basket and some of the wax pulled off. )-: So I hand dipped it, half at a time. Then set it on some aluminum foil to cool. I used a brush to touch up a few of the thinner areas and the drips down the side.

For the second coating, I waited until the wax had cooled to 190F and repeated the hand dipping. The picture above is the end result. What looks like bubbles on the top is actually where the wax was dripping off the cheese when it came out of the pot.

As a friend said. "Hey, it's what's under the wax that counts!!!" We'll see in about three months if what's under the wax is worth all the "work".

If nothing else I had fun and learned a few things. One thing I think I need to pay more attention to the texture of the outside of the cheese and smooth the surface out more. Also the edges around the top and bottom were very sharp and in a couple areas had a lip on it. I probably should round the edges off a little after it comes out of the mold.

BTW I'm planning on another cheese making party on Sat. Oct 16th with a few friends. I'm looking forward to it. (-:

The Cheesy Geek