Farmers Cheese

Photo by Michael Abner
Photo by Michael Abner

I have been interested in making cheese for a little while now after visiting a farmer’s market in Saint Paul, MN a few years ago.  This dairy farmer was selling his cheeses and I was intrigued about making it.  Now, a few years later, and I found myself with a few days off and time to spare, so I decided to try my hand at making cheese.  I did not want to use rennet (I have not been able to find it locally, and when the urge to make something strikes I generally do not have time to order online…), so I researched rennet free cheese.  In farmers cheese, you use lemon juice to cause the milk to curdle.

So you basically take a gallon of whole milk (Skim milk just gives you less curds, and who likes skim milk anyway, except for frothing for lattes) and bring it to 190 degrees (medium heat), stirring to keep from burning.

Photo by Michael Abner
Photo by Michael Abner

At this point you  pull the pot off of the heat and pour in the juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup), stir this in and leave it alone for 10 minutes.  Seriously, just leave it alone!  I decided that I wanted to have a bit more taste, so I added fresh rosemary leaves at this point.  You pour this into a strainer with several layers of cheesecloth and allow it to strain all of the whey out.  After most of the whey has drained off, you can gather the cheese cloth together and squeeze the rest out.

At this point, you are left with just curds, which can be salted and kneaded to mix.

Photo by Michael Abner
Photo by Michael Abner

I was concerned about there being too much salt, so held back to just a pinch.  However, when I served it, I had to salt it to bring out the flavor.  This was really good on crackers.  I would not suggest using anything sweet with this, as it does not have enough “tang” to counteract the sweetness, but it complements salty items very nicely!

A tip:

Do not use “ultra pasteurized” anything.  This prevents any curds from forming and you will just have wasted a gallon of milk and a lemon.

IMG_5887
Wasting Lemons is sad

 

When I find non-ultrapasteurized goats milk, I will make something with that!  If so, I will keep you updated.

 

Potato Gratin with Goat Cheese and Garlic

This recipe was made as a side for the 2014 annual family Christmas dinner with a bit of deception: we didn’t tell people that there was goat cheese in dish.  We didn’t want people to dismiss the dish before giving it a chance…and it went over really well!  The addition of goat cheese and nutmeg gives this dish a great nuance that I have not experienced  before in a potato gratin.
IMG_5666_2
This dish also gave Kevin and I an excuse to use our mandolin slicer which made prepping this dish so much quicker! We took the extra step of rinsing the slices to wash off the extra starch and then blotting the slices dry between two towels to avoid having a watery gratin.  Most food processors have slicer attachments that could work or you could slice the potatoes by hand.
Nod to Cooking Light for this truly delicious and simple dish!
IMG_5662_2IMG_5663

Ingredients

IMG_5660_21 cup half-and-haf, divided
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 garlic clove, minced
5 cups thinly sliced peeled Yukon gold potato (about 2 1/2 pounds)
Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine 2 tablespoons half-and-half with flour in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add the remaining half-and-half, cheese, and next 5 ingredients (cheese through garlic), stirring with a whisk. Arrange half of the potato slices in a single layer in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

IMG_5664IMG_5665

Pour half of the milk mixture over potato slices, stirring the milk mixture immediately before adding. Repeat procedure with remaining potato slices and milk mixture. Bake at 400° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden brown.

Note:  We ended up cooking this dish about 15 minutes longer to get that gorgeous golden brown color.

Who Brings Meatballs To a Cookie Exchange? –Slow Cooker Cranberry Barbecue Meatballs

 Who brings meatballs to a cookie exchange?  The answer is: this guy!  The annual cookie exchange came along and normally the party happens after work at someone’s place and the rest of us would bring cookies, alcohol, and maybe chips and dip.  I don’t know about most of you, but after work I am ravenous!!!  I also wanted something that was quick and easy, something that I could just pack up and take with me since I would be rushing in and out of the house.  I was looking around and I found this recipe at Betty Crocker.com; I could throw everything in a Crock Pot, go to work, and everything will be done when I get home!
You know your dish went over well when there is nothing left, so make this and watch it disappear.
IMG_5561
Serves: 2 dozen
Ingredients
  • 1 cup barbeque sauce
  • 1 can cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 packages (16 ounces each) frozen meatballs, thawed
  •  1 tablespoon chopped parsley for garnish
 IMG_5559
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients except meatballs and parsley in a crockpot; you can use a for or a butter knife to mash up the cranberry sauce.  Mix well.
  2. Add meat balls and stir to coat.  Cover with lid and set crockpot on low for 3 hours or until thoroughly heated.
  3. After 3 hours,  remove the lid and give the mixture a good stir to make sure every meatball is coated.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley for a pop of color.
 NOTE:  Since I would be at work all day, I added 1/4 C cup of water to the mix and cooked everything on low for 8 hours.

Preserved Lemons

So I am trying something that I have been leery of in the past – preserving lemons. IMG_0001_2 There is a very funny article at jenmenke.com that explains my trepidation with making these. However, I had a bunch of Meyer lemons languishing in the refrigerator, a box of kosher salt, and a few days off from work.  To me that equals experimentation day.

1/20/15

So, I scrubbed the lemons and removed the last bit of the stem that was left on each.  IMG_0003I then put a couple of handfuls of salt in the bottom of my current favorite canning jar.  Then I Took each lemon and cut it into quarters, but not cutting all the way through, leaving it to open up into connected quarters.  Sprinkling salt into the quarters, I pressed them as best I could into the jar, compacting them as I went.  I also added salt to each layer of lemons that I placed into the jar.   I was surprised at how many fit into the jar!IMG_0004I am, apparently, supposed to leave these on my countertop for 7-ish days then keep them indefinitely in the refrigerator.  We will see!  I will post updates as myIMG_0007_2 experiment goes on.