Monday, April 19, 2010

Lovely Ricotta to make Mario Batali faint!

I really enjoyed my first experience playing with the “fine curds” of ricotta cheese. Grant, it doesn’t make a lot of cheese, but it does give me something to do with all this whey left over from cheesemaking escapades.

Tonight I made enough ricotta to try Mario’s ricotta gnocchi, which was simple to make and so flavorful. Just add an egg, some flour, salt, pepper, and a touch of nutmeg, and you’ve got a pretty impressive meal. We had it with braciole and tomato sauce, and I drizzled some porcini mushroom oil over the gnocchi for a finishing touch. Paired with some Palmina Undici it was a match made in heaven.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Parmesan: Round One

I loooove parmesan cheese. I even took the time to visit the city of Parma in Italy, which was, I must admit, slightly disappointing, even though they did serve prosciutto and cheese for breakfast.

So when I decided to try my hand at parmesan, I was pleasantly pleased at how easy it really was. I made this one using only cow’s milk, despite recommendations to combine this with goat’s milk for a richer flavor. (Next time.) I also neglected to read the part that mentioned you should make this in 4 pound increments; anything smaller won’t age as nicely. Oops. My single pound wheel of parmesan seems to be a little dry, but still tasty, though I’ve only nibbled on a few fallen curds from the edges.
I think this is a pretty unique cheese, and I got a kick out of soaking it in a salt brine to create the rind. Most practice is needed, but overall, this one turned out pretty good.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bee Delivery

David, my beekeeping teacher, is picking up my 2010 hive on April 24. Problem: I’ll be out of town until the 28th. He has kindly offered to install my bees for me in my hive at his house, then help me move them to the vineyard when I return.

Transporting a live hive? This could get interesting.

Friday, April 9, 2010

St. Laure

I decided to try my hand at my first mold ripened cheese. Perhaps I was a bit ambitious; the plan was to make Brie, St. Maure, and whey ricotta all in one day.
Have I learned nothing through all this?! Patience is obviously something I lack.
I used a starter culture that I’m guessing wasn’t fresh (now I will only use my favorite cheese source, not try to skimp!) so ended up with a slow coagulation. Additionally, in my rush, I left my Brie and St. Maure cheeses to coagulate for too long. They got cold. I got mush.

The Brie was a disaster, oozing all over the place when I tried to mold it. I threw a bit of a tantrum; E. watched the Olympics while I lamented my failure. The St. Maure drained in cheesecloth overnight and was somewhat salvageable; I molded it into goat cheese molds and called it a night. It has been sprayed with white mold and is now aging in the cheese fridge. Still too early to call this one a success, so it’s temporarily called St. Laure in honor of my failure.