Saturday, October 31, 2009
Homestead dream complete! Remember the last year and a half when all I wanted to talk about was how plan B was to learn to make cheese on a mountain in New Hampshire? But I never did it? Then when I pined for classes at the cheesemaking institute at UVM that were about a thousand dollars above my budget? Those days are over.
As the internet testifies, making your own fresh cheese is pretty much the easiest thing in the world. All you need is some cheesecloth or old tights and a big container of milk. Here's for ricotta-- paneer and queso blanco are basically the same thing but unsalted and strained a bit more.
So here we go. Take half a gallon of pasteurized (not ultra pasteurized) whole milk and put it in a pot to boil. You want some space on top in case it boils and starts to foam, which happened one time I made this cheese but not the other. Enh. Anyway, if your pots are too small then just scale the "recipe" down accordingly.
Ok, when the milk is just thinking about boiling softly, stir in a tablespoon of salt and three tablespoons of lemon juice. Turn the heat down until the cheese starts to form curds. Yum, cheese curds! Don't stir, just let the milk simmer for 5 more minutes or so until the curds really separate and you can see the whey, which is watery and yellow.
Line a colander with cheesecloth and strain the cheese, pouring some cold water over the top to cool the curds and rinse off some of the lemon flavor. For soft ricotta, just a few minutes in the colander is plenty. For a firmer cheese that you can cut into blocks or crumble into tacos or what have you, tie up the cheesecloth and let it hang from your faucet for an hour or so.
Recipe for my bootleg palak paneer to follow, ricotta is delicious all by itself... or with some jam or honey.
Happy halloween, everybody!