Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Featured Forger: Mirch Masala makes Paneer

Yesterday I came across a fabulous home cheese making post over at Mirch Masala...and the incredibly talented Superchef was kind enough to allow me to share it here at Forging Fromage!
Paneer / Cottage Cheese, the most versatile ingredient in Indian, especially vegetarian cooking is easily available in all Indian grocery stores. So, why bother making it at home??! Well, there are a couple of good reasons, at least for me. First of all, the ones that you get in stores has this rubbery texture to it. Even though you can live with it, the homemade paneer has a different fresh texture and taste and absorbs the flavour better than the store bought ones. Now especially with paneer, which doesn't have any particular taste to it, this is a very important factor. Second is the cost factor – you will easily spend 6-7 bucks for a block of paneer where as a similar quantity can be made at home with about a gallon of milk which is anywhere between 2-3 $. I know, I know its not a HUGE difference. But don't you feel good when you get better quality and better tasting product for lesser price and the best thing is the satisfaction of making paneer at home! Hope at least some of you agree with me :)You will need:
1/2 gallon 2% milk – whole milk will be better
2 oz (1/4 cup) distilled white vinegar ( you can use equal amount lime/lemon juice also)

A heavy bottomed pan
a colander
cheese cloth, to strain
heavy pans/canned food/other heavy things as weightsHeat the milk in a heavy bottomed pan/cast iron pan on medium heat. Keep stirring so that the milk doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Just when the milk starts steaming and just before it comes to a boil, add the vinegar to it. The milk will curdle and you will see something like whats shown in the photo below.Now strain this on a cheese cloth spread over a colander. If you want you can collect the whey (the liquid part) for later use. Wait for sometime till the water drains out completely and then take out the cheese cloth. Place a plate or a chopping board in the sink, place the cheesecloth folded on top it. Place another plate and put some cans of food or a heavy pan on top of it as weights. After about an hour – hour and a half, remove the plates and weights and take out the block of paneer. Chop into small pieces and store or store as it is in the refrigerator for later use. Here are some recipes using paneer :

Paneer Makhani / Paneer Butter Masala – An Easier Version
Paneer Butter Masala on a Pizza
Palak Paneer
Paneer Pulao
Um, yeah...awesome, right!? Thanks so much for sharing your Paneer making method with us, Manju! And believe me, if you don't visit Mirch Masala already...you will get lost in this fabulous world of spices n' more!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Our Cheese Dairy-filled Adventure for the month of December is...

We figured since everybody is dealing with a little seasonal/holiday madness this time of year, it best to take it easy again. We chose Créme Fraîche this month...although it's not cheese, it is a dairy product, and we've decided to broaden our focus a bit to include other dairy gems such as this! Créme Fraîche translates to Fresh Cream. Are you familiar with it? It's thick, tangy and perfectly decadent! "It originated before the days of pasteurization, when refrigeration and fast transportation weren't available. The cream collected bacteria and fermented before it was able to make its way from French dairy farms to the markets. The French developed a taste for it and still enjoy the flavor today."* Um, me too. With an average of somewhere between 30-60% butterfat, is there any question why? I'm going to provide a recipe again, in hopes that we'll have a couple more people join us in our adventure this month...you don't have to use this recipe...but it's here if you need it! And who couldn't use a good container of this gorgeous cream to drizzle on their fish, poultry, vegetable and fruit on their holiday table? Finish a pan sauce with a blob for extra creamy richness. Throw in some herbs for savory dishes...or mix in some honey and vanilla to go with fruit! Top a baked potato or an omelet with a dab. Give it a go...you will be pleased!

Créme Fraîche
from The Home Creamery by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley (see sidebar to get your own copy)

1-2 Tbs. cultured Buttermilk
2 c. (1 pint) heavy cream do not use ultra-pasteurized (needs that good bacteria!)

1. Combine buttermilk and cream in medium saucepan and heat only to tepid (not more than 85 degrees F). Pour mixture into a clean pint jar. Cover partially and let stand at room temp (between 65-75 degrees F) for 8-24 hours or until thickened. Don't be scared of leaving it out...it is an essential step and so worth it. I've made it before. Really.

2. Stir and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using. The cream will continue to thicken and develop flavor in fridge. It will keep for ~2 weeks.

We look forward to seeing your Créme Fraîche and what you've done with it this month! Once you've posted...or made and pictured...email us with a link or picture/text you'd like to be included in the roundup (by the end of the month). Forge!

*source The Home Creamery

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mascarpone RoundUp!

We had 2 takers this month...or should I say 2 makers? Hmmm. 2 takers who were Mascarpone makers. 2 part-time bakers, they ain't no fakers, Autumn leaf rakers, who may or may not like the Lakers...and occasionally walk around nakers and are both early wakers. Sorry. So, this simple Italian-style Creamier than creamy cream cheese...Mascarpone! 2 ingredients used by 2 makers were all that were required. Just look at the end results! As you may have guessed, Natashya and I were the ones who made the cheese...and I'll include the links to our original posts so you can check out the methods we used.

Just look at these beauties that Natashya made with her mascarpone. Wowza!
And now, feast your eyes upon my lovely creation.
Oh, that's right. I'm a slacker super-busy girli with no time to use her Mascarpone. Ugh. It's in the freezer...I'll post an update in the future.

Watch for next month's adventure to be announced soon! And don't forget that if you make a cheese ball or cheese dip or something cheesy this holiday season to send us a link or picture and we'll round 'em all up in the new year!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Guest Post - Liptauer Cheese from Mary of One Perfect Bite

I read this post for a savoury and delicious cheese recipe on my friend Mary's site, One Perfect Bite. It is a great way to use the fresh cheese we have been making here at Forging Fromage, or even with store-bought cheese, and she has kindly agreed to let us reproduce her post here. Can't wait to try this recipe!

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...
I know that early exposure helps us develop an affinity for certain foods. It's the only plausible explanation for my love of Central European food. I had my first taste of Liptauer cheese at the age of 4 and we've had an improbable love affair ever since. Lipto is a fresh Hungarian cheese that's made with sheep's milk. It has a very soft consistency, but it's so mild that it's almost flavorless. That's taken care of by the addition of herbs and seeds and spices that are used to flavor the food of the region. A little paprika, a few capers and a spoonful of caraway seeds help move the bland to "bingo." When we lived in Chicago, Lipto cheese was just a bus ride away. It became harder to find in the suburbs of New Jersey and I haven't been able to find it at all where we now live. This cheese spread is popular in Slovakia and Italy , where it's called Spuma di formaggio all'ungherese, as well as in Austria and Hungary. It's almost effortless to make and it's wonderful for those occasions where beer is the beverage of choice. Liptauer cheese spread can be made with any soft cheese. Cottage cheese, cream cheese, quark, and soft goat or sheep cheese are all great substitutes for Lipto. The cheese is mixed with sour cream, butter, and finely chopped onions. Spices like ground paprika, fresh parsley, and bruised caraway seeds are added to the mix along with mustard and anchovies. The cheese is served with crackers or dark breads such as rye or pumpernickel. Some folks serve it with vegetables and others use it to stuff vegetables. All in all, it's an amazingly versatile spread. If you add two or three extra tablespoons of sour cream to the mix, it becomes a dip that's not at all bad with chips or pretzels. Liptauer takes 10 minutes to assemble, but it's flavor improves if it's allowed to sit for a few hours before serving. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Liptauer Cheese Spread
from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

8 oz. of Lipto or cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup soft butter, softened
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 mashed anchovy fillets or 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 teaspoon capers
1 tablespoon finely minced onion
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds smashed or bruised to release flavor
1/2 teaspoon salt

1) Combine cream cheese, butter, sour cream and anchovies in a small bowl. Mix well to combine.
2) Add capers, minced onions, mustard, paprika, caraway seeds and salt. Mix well.
3) Form a smooth mound. Make slight indentations in mound using tines of a fork. Sprinkle with paprika.
4) Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Garnish as desired. Yield 1-3/4 cups.

Remember, November's cheese challenge is Mascarpone!
*Email your cheese-filled adventures by the last day of the month.

If you make this liptauer, or any special cheese spread or cheese ball, before the end of the year, feel free to write to us. Send in a picture and a link if you post it, and we will post an extra round-up in the new year. I think it would be a wonderful holiday appetizer.
Please direct any entries or questions...or just write to say howdeedoo...to forgingfromage at live dot com

Friday, November 6, 2009

Our Cheesy Adventure for November is.....

Yes...that is our cheese adventure for the month of November!!! This is so easy...2 ingredients!! I'm going to share the recipe that I will be using with you...it is from The Home Creamery by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley. Feel free to use any recipe you like, though.

4 cups (2 pints) heavy cream
1 Tbs. white wine vinegar

1. Pour the cream into the top of a large double boiler and slowly heat to 190 degrees F, stirring occasionally. Check the temperature with a thermometer.

2. Stir in the vinegar, and continue to stir until the cream begins to curdle. Remove the pan from the water, cover and let stand about 15 minutes or until the curds begin to firm.

3. Pour or ladle the curds into a butter muslin-lined strainer set over a large bowl. Let the curds cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for 24 hours to continue draining and to firm.

4. Discard the liquid and transfer the mascarpone to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Stir well before using.

Okay, make it and blog it and send me your link by the last day in November!! Good or bad, success or failure...share with us your cheesy adventure! And remember, if the urge ever strikes to do a guest post about a particular cheesy subject here at Forging Fromage...just say the word...and it's done! Feel free to ask any questions or make comments about MASCARPONE in the comments at the end of this post...hopefully we can learn how to do it...and what not to do...together!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Rounding up Cottage Cheese results...from our first Forging Fromage adventure!

We did it!! We successfully made Cottage Cheese. AT HOME! Only 3 of us worked our way through this month's adventure...but I would say with beautiful and surprising results!!

First up is my cheese making partner in crime...Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. Natashya was the one who actually nudged me into starting a cheese making blog...and now I've nudged her into joining me! But we have been working our way through the successes and failures over the past few months anyway...now we can just share them with others! Look at her Cottage Cheese! Pretty, huh? She used a slightly adapted recipe from The Home Creamery by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley...allowing her to "make up" for the homogenization and pasteurization of her store-bought milk.

Next we have Susan from The Accidental Farmer...who actually posted her own recipe from many, many practice rounds right here on Forging Fromage! Her method was different in she let time (and the wonders of raw milk) do the work, instead of rennet!
And bringing up the rear is yours truly...originally posted over at girlichef. I became a convert...where I once was a bit suspicious of cottage cheese...I now cannot wait to make it (and eat it) again!! But I prefer it un-creamy. I also used The Home Creamery recipe...sans changes! See how easy that was!!!??? And super rewarding...seriously, it feels really awesome to produce your own cheese. Yes, I love cheese.

Stay tuned for Novembers Cheese Adventure...I promise you...it's SUPER EASY!!! And you can jump right in without any "special" starters or cultures. No better place or time to begin.....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Accidental Farmer talks about Cottage Cheese

One of my visions for Forging Fromage was to bring in guest posters...people who have something to offer (I bet we all have a little something hidden away) by way of cheese knowledge. Home cheese makers, professionals, beginners, wanna-be's...every experience is potentially a learning experience, so please...if there's anything you'd like to talk about here, just let me know! Today, we are gonna be given a little lesson on making Cottage Cheese by Susan of The Accidental Farmer. Susan is a friend of mine who lives on and cares tirelessly for an organic farm with everything from veggies to chickens to (of course) dairy cows! She also makes my favorite lip balm of all time...has a booth at our local Farmer's Market...and now she blogs, too! One of these days, I'm going to ask her to bless us with a post filled with her fabulous insights on the benefits of Raw Milk...she's so much better at voicing it than I am! Remember, this month's Cheese Adventure is Cottage Cheese...so, if you'd forgotten, or are still searching for a recipe...Susan is giving us her tried and true method.

Susan's Cottage Cheese

I learned to make cottage cheese by reading several cheese making books and just diving in and trying it. After making several batches, I have devised my own cottage cheese recipe, using a little from this, a little from that, and a little that is all my own. However, this recipe most closely resembles the recipe for cottage cheese in Making Artisan Cheese: Fifty Fine Cheeses That You Can Make in Your Own Kitchen by Tim Smith. I do not use rennet in this recipe, but let time make the curd form. It makes a much more tender cheese. My recipe makes a little more than two pounds of cheese, but it can easily be halved. But you should still use the same amount of mesophilic starter culture, even if only making a half batch.

· A heavy bottomed two-gallon stock pot and a larger pot to make a double boiler

· An instant read thermometer (need to be able to read temps between 72º and 112º)

· A spoon for stirring (unless you are using the metal whisk – see below)

· A large metal whisk OR a long serrated bread knife OR a long frosting knife with a bend in it for cutting the curd

· Professional cheese cloth – you might find at a fabric store, or order from Dairy Connection.
~The stuff in the grocery store is too loose a weave – you will lose a lot of cheese!
~Butter muslin is too tight a weave. It will take forever to drain and it will be hard to wash the curds if you use it.
· A large colander
· A large bowl for mixing the finished product with salt

Wash and sterilize all of your equipment prior to use. Wash your hands frequently while you work. You are injecting the milk with special bacteria that will make great tasting cheese. The bacteria on your hands will not give you such great results.

· Six quarts milk, preferably raw, most of the cream skimmed off and reserved
~ If it is pasteurized, do NOT use ultra pasteurized. Meijer's house brand was not ultra pasteurized the last time I looked.
· ¼ tsp. mesophilic starter culture – get from Dairy Connection or find a cheese maker who will give you a bit.

· Canning salt or flake salt (you can get flake salt from Dairy Connection, but canning salt works well, and you can buy that in about any grocery store.)

I made my own double boiler by putting a two gallon stock pot inside a three gallon stock pot. I have two Dutch ovens and four stock pots. And some days I wish I had a couple more. My stove is always busy!! I put the milk into the smaller pot and set it into the larger pot, into which I put about 3” of water. Water should come up the sides of the pot with the milk, to about 4” from the top. This creates a water bath and prevents the milk from scorching as you heat it. If you don't have two pots, then just remember to stand over the pot as you heat the milk! Scorched milk does not make good cottage cheese. I start with six quarts of raw milk. I skim most of the cream off the milk and put the cream in a pint jar in fridge. I'll use that at the end, adding it to make the finished cottage cheese creamier and richer. If using raw or unhomogenized milk, the cream will rise to the top while you are making the cheese and you will lose some of it. That's why I save it and add it back in after the cheese is made.

Heat your milk until it reaches about 72º. Add the mesophilic starter culture to the milk and incorporate it gently into the warmed milk with a wire whisk or large spoon. Then put a lid on it and forget it for about 24 hours. It should be somewhere where the temperature doesn't fall below 68º, although mine often does and it still seems to make good cheese.

After 20 hours or so (if your house is warm), tilt the pan slightly and see if the milk pulls away from the side of the pot. It will be kind of gelatinous. If so, you are ready to go to the next step. If not, let it sit a little longer. You shouldn't have to let it sit for more than 26 hours, though.
Now very gently cut the curd. You will do this either by cutting with a knife or by using the wire whisk. If you use the whisk, do not stir, but gently drag it through the curd to break it up into smaller chunks. If using either of the knives, first cut straight down making cuts about 1/4” apart. Then turn the pot 90º and cut straight down perpendicular to your first cuts. You should have 1/4” x 1/4” strips.
Now for the hard part (and why I use the frosting knife with the bend). Lay the knife as close to horizontal as you can and begin cutting horizontally to make 1/4” cubes of curd. I know, you are thinking it can't be done. You are right – it can't be done. It really is nothing more than a laudable objective. You will not have perfect little cubes. But get them as close as you can, and stir gently to see if there are any big long “worms” of curd that need to be cut up some more. Now set your timer for 15 minutes and walk away. The curds will begin to settle a bit in the pan, and you will see the whey begin to separate out of the curd. When you cut the curds, you are exposing all of those little surfaces to the whey in the pot, and it will draw more whey out of the cubes.
After 15 minutes has passed, turn the burner on under your double boiler. The curds need to be stirred gently while heating so that they don't mat in the bottom of the pan. If you are heating directly on the burner, turn heat on lowest setting. You want to heat the curds to 100º over 25 minutes. You must do this slowly. Patience is required here. Then let the curds sit at 100º for 10 minutes. Now you will slowly raise the temperature to 112º. This should take another 15 minutes. Then let the curds sit at the target temperature for 30 minutes. If the curds still feel very soft at the end of this time, let them cook a little longer at 112º. If you exceed that temperature by more than one or two degrees, you will have tough cheese, so again, be patient and watch the heat. Let time do the cooking, not temperature.
When the curds feel fairly firm, it is time to drain them. Line your colander with sterilized cheesecloth (I steam mine in a vegetable steamer) and gently pour off a bit of the whey that should be floating on top of the curds. Now use a large ladle to ladle the curds into the colander or pour them gently directly from the pot. Let them drain for about five minutes, then gather up the ends of the cheesecloth and tie them into a hobo's bag. Slip a chopstick through the knot and let the bag hang for about 20 minutes inside your pot. (The chopstick should fit on the rim of the pot, holding the bag of curds out of the whey that will be draining from it.)
About the whey – I will tell you right now that the whey from this recipe is not good for ricotta. I don't know why, but don't bother. But there are all sorts of good things to do with whey. Put a little in your oatmeal and let it sit on the counter overnight before cooking for breakfast the next morning. Ditto with pancake batter – make it the night before and put in fridge overnight. Put some whey in homemade mayonnaise and let it sit on counter for seven hours before refrigerating – it will last several weeks instead of just a couple. Drink it. Give it to your dogs – they love it! Chickens love it even more. Water your plants with it. Pour it on your compost pile. Whey is alive and teaming with good things. Do not throw it down the drain!
Okay, by now your cottage cheese has drained enough. Fill a large bowl (or your emptied pot) with ice cold water and swish the bag of curds through the water several times. It will get kind of milky looking. Then let the whey drain again for about 15 minutes. Swish in fresh cold water and drain again for 15 minutes. This is a really important step, because the cheese will last longer if it has been washed well.
Now dump the curds into a large bowl, stir, and salt to taste. If you have used raw milk and if you have washed the curds well, then pour in the reserved cream. Your cottage cheese will stay good for a week or two. If you have used pasteurized milk or have been a bit careless about washing the curds, then save the cream and add to the cheese as you eat it, since the cream will make the cheese spoil a little faster.
Store the cheese, refrigerated, for a week or two, but best if eaten within a week.
Here is one of my favorite ways to eat my homemade cottage cheese. Oh Mama’s Deli at the South Bend Farmers Market sells this great Muffaleti Olive Salad and I mix it about 5:1, cottage cheese to muffaleti. Stir, add some fresh ground black pepper, enjoy!

Bon appétit!
Susan...thank you so much for sharing your cottage cheese making with us...It looks so delicious! We still have a couple weeks left in our Cottage Cheese Adventure....does anybody else want to say anything!?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October Adventure = Large Curd Cottage Cheese

Your assignment adventure, should you wish to accept it, is...Large Curd Cottage Cheese!

That's it...find a recipe, any recipe for making Large Curd Cottage Cheese at home. Give it your best shot, take notes, take pictures...and post about it on your blog! We'd love to know whether it works or fails....what your experience was like...would you do it again...are you totally and completely in lust with making your own cheese now!?

Please feel free to use any recipe you like...maybe one is easier than another...or tastier...we'll never know unless we try! If anybody has trouble's finding a good recipe to use, please let me know and I'll send you one I have. Don't know if it's good or not, as I haven't made it yet...but. :D

Check out this post if you have any questions about submitting your post...or feel free to ask questions here!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Let them make cheese!

I'm having an affair. A hot, steamy, lusty affair. Just the thought of it starts the craving all over again...the longing...the need. I should have known it would happen sooner or later, because I've always held a secret desire for 'C'. A long-term crush, if you will. It started when I was just a shy, soft-spoken little girl. I would see 'C'...and I would feel a little rush. When I was able to spend time with 'C', well...it was like heaven. Luckily, 'C' was never very far. Through all of the moves in elementary, middle and high school; at college. Both times. Although, much more visible the second time around. And you cannot even imagine what a comfort that was! I have fallen for many versions of 'C' over the years. Some were better looking than others. Some smelled better than others. Some were more colorful than others. But they were all dreamy in their own little ways.

Many years have past since I first fell for 'C'. I actually married and had kids, but 'C' stuck by my side through it all. And how amazing is it to have your whole family be supportive of that never-ending love!? I mean, this affair is carried out on a daily basis...IN MY OWN HOME! Yes, my love affair with CHEESE is a lifelong one that will endure!! Since I began making cheese at home, my affection has never wavered, even through the ups & downs, the twists & turns...nothing good comes easy. Right?

This brings me to my point. Yes, there was a point. I ADORE MAKING HOMEMADE CHEESE. I ADORE EATING HOMEMADE CHEESE. Won't you join me?

This blog is dedicated to all things cheesy...and attainable...in our home kitchens!!! Let's make cheese in our home kitchens...and share the experiences and trials and successes and failures HERE! Each month a new cheese will be announced. You may use any recipe you wish to make this cheese. Make your cheese and document your thoughts, observations and findings...take photos if you wish. Then write a post about it on your blog linking back to forging fromage. Email me the URL to that specific post...and attach a photo and anything else you'd like and I'll round-up all of our posts at the end of each month. I will post the name of the specific month's Adventure in Cheese and the due date on the sidebar. Round-ups will be posted sometime during the first week of the following month. All entries should be mailed to forgingfromage at live dot com. Please enter forging fromage entry + name of month in subject line when submitting.
Are you ready to be seduced by cheese? Please join me and take a chance! No judging...I am a beginner, myself. I hope to learn through trial and error...mine and yours! I say we start with some of the easier cheeses (like fresh ones) and gradually work our way towards the ones that take more care and nurturing. There are no "requirements" other than the entry requirements listed above. You do not have to participate every month. Your cheese does not have to turn out well to be included...we want the nitty gritty here!
I will be adding more helpful links to the sidebar as I find them. Places to find cheese making supplies, sites dedicated to cheese, etc. If you have a cheesy idea you'd like to post about here on forging fromage...let me know!! Guest posters are encouraged, because I definitely think many points of view will work to our benefit. We may even feature some cheesy recipes and cheesy-pairings...anything to further the love affair!
So, grab a button if you wish...and stay tuned for the announcement of our first Adventure in Cheese...coming soon!