“Cheese – milk’s leap toward immortality.”
Say cheese and faces light up. Big smiles all around. Cheese is a universal pleaser, a crowd puller, with few and far between who don’t fall for it’s cheesy charm. I’ve been on a soft cheese trip for a while, using my spare time trying to make mascarpone, ricotta, quark, cottage cheese etc at home. So when I got invited by Foodbuzz to post this month, I had this big SMILE!! SAY CHEESE!!
I made cottage cheese, mascarpone, ricotta, quark and mozzarella. All, but the last, were outstanding. I had little luck with the mozzarella as it didn’t get stretchy and ‘taffy like’. It reached some in between point, which could be used, but I don’t think I’ll attempt making it again. The other four were very very good, and even though I’ve made them before, I attempted a few with a different recipe. I stuck to the quark recipe though …a wonderful one from Arwen @ HogletK .
This is my own little recipe, as I love to use vanilla sugar in food now. My Mom used crushed ice to make cold coffee when we were young. We had a strong canvas bag and a mallet next to the blender at all times!
Flesh of 2 large mangoes
500 gms low fat yogurt
6-7 tbsps of vanilla sugar (adjust if required)
10 cubes of ice, crushed
Whiz all the ingredients in the blender till smooth.
Serve in tall glasses, garnished with sprig of mint, or keep chilled until required. Can be made the previous night.
Note: use regular sugar instead of vanilla sugar if you like.
I’ve made some refreshing Mango Lassi since the post is all about dairy products, so come grab a glass, & let’s SAY CHEESE!
Characterized by a mild, clean taste, and soft texture, fresh cheese is simple to make. They are unripened, rindless cheeses, which vary in consistency from the creamy and smooth – fromage frais, cream cheese and mascarpone, to thicker curd mixtures – ricotta, pot cheese and cottage cheese. The fat content varies, with many low fat and skimmed milk recipe versions available.
Mascarpone is a fresh (i.e. not aged or ripened) soft cows’ milk cheese which originated from Lombardy, Italy. Technically speaking, it is not cheese as it is produced by a culture being added to the cream which has been removed during the production of Parmesan. However it is generally described as a curd cheese. Once the culture has been added, the cream is heated and left to thicken. It has a creamy white colour, a slightly sweet taste making it highly suitable for desserts, and a soft, dense, texture which can be easily spread. Mascarpone
Recipe adapted from Addicted Sweet Tooth
1 litre cream (I used 25% low fat cream;you can use 36% whipping cream)
2 tbsp fresh lime/lemon juice ( juice of 1 ½ limes approx)
Heat the cream over a waterbath/double boiler until it reaches 180ºF/82ºC
Stir in the lime/lemon juice and keep at this temperature for a few moments longer until it starts to thicken.
Remove from heat, cover, and let sit at room temperature until it is cooled down a bit.
Refrigerate over night. The next day it will have thickened further.
Pour it in a strainer lined with multiple layers of cheesecloth or clean towel. Refrigerate for about 24 hours to let the whey drain
1/2 cup cultured buttermilk
3 1/2 cups full cream milk
If your milk is not pasteurised you should bring it to the boil, then allow it to cool to room temperature (covered with a lid).
Stir the buttermilk into the milk in a container you can cover.
Put the container in a warm place. Allow the culture to proceed for ~24 hours, or until the curds and whey separate. At first the milk will look grainy, and eventually the curds will float on the whey. The grainy stage is probably sufficient, but might give a lower yield.
Dampen a clean tea towel and use it to line a sieve. Place the sieve over a basin. Pour the curds and whey into the strainer. Bring the tea towel together so that it covers your quark and do it up with a rubber band. Place the entire draining apparatus in the fridge.
Allow to drain in the fridge overnight, or for 24 hours. The drained quark should have a consistency similar to sour cream, but it has a more sour taste.
Recipe posted by David Lebovitz of DavidLebovitz.com
2 quarts whole milk
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
Optional: 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
In a large pot, bring the milk, yogurt, heavy cream (if using), vinegar, and salt to a boil. Very gently boil for one to two minutes, until the milk is curdled.
Meanwhile, line a strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and set it over a deep bowl.
Pour the milk mixture into the strainer and let drain for 15 minutes. Gather the cheesecloth around the curds and squeeze gently to extract any excess liquid.
Storage: Homemade ricotta is best served slightly warm, although it can be refrigerated for up to three days, if desired.
Makes 2 cups.
3.5 litres whole milk
3 tbsp white vinegar
Bring 3.5 litres of milk to a boil, add 3 tbsp of white vinegar to it, & stir constantly till small curd form & whey becomes translucent.
Unmold it, rinse under cool water, place in bowl, cover with water & refrigerate until use, or use immediately.
Let’s head for the table…
Quark & Mascarpone Cream Cheese
Whisk ½ cup quark + 1 heaped tbsp mascarpone + 2 cloves of minced garlic + salt to taste in a bowl.
Toast slices of baguettes brushed with olive oil. Top with cream cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella & sliced tomatoes, or, cream cheese and pesto. You can find a wonderful recipe for Almost No Knead Baguette here (A King Arthur Flour recipe).
adapted from The Practical Encyclopaedia of Baking, pg 444
450gms all purpose flour
280ml warm water
20gms fresh yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sea salt
200gms homemade ricotta
1/2 cup Romesco sauce
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Olive oil for brushing
Take 4 tbsps of water from the 280ml, & dissolve the fresh yeast into it. Stir the salt & 2 tbsp olive oil into the remaining water.
Make a well with the flour, & pour the dissolved yeast & water mixture into it. Knead to a dough, kneading further on a floured surface for 8-10 minutes, till it gets smooth & elastic.
Place in an oiled bowl, cover the bowl with cling wrap & leave in a warm place for about an hour until doubled.
Punch down & divide into 4 balls of dough (or 2 if you have a big oven)
Roll out to about an 8″ circle, brush with 1/4 of the Romesco, sprinkle with 1/4 of the walnuts, & 1/4 of the crumbled ricotta. Season lightly with salt.
Fold over the dough 2-3 times on itself to incorporate the stuffing. Shape each back into a ball.
Flatten each & fold the bottom third up, & top third down to make an oblong.
Roll into ovals with a flat base, cut slits diagonally, three on each side. Pull slightly to open the cuts.
Place on oiled baking sheets. Cover with cling wrap & leave to double for 35-40minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220C, brush the loaves with olive oil, & bake for approximately 25-30 minutes till golden brown. Cool on racks. Serve warm or at room temperature.
It’s fun to serve slabs of cottage cheese grilled in different ways. If I make regular plain cottage cheese, I sometimes give it a Middle Eastern marinade, & serve it with cherry tomatoes. I also like using it as a savoury filling in lentil pancakes.
Grill slabs of herbed cottage cheese on a very hot grill pan brushed with oil. Carefully flip over & grill the other side too. serve hot with romesco sauce.
Note: Always serve grilled cottage cheese or paneer tikkas hot, straight off the fire/oven, because they tend to get rubbery as they get cold.
Here’s a chicken ricotta pesto lasagna, adapted from a vegetarian version of Pesto Lasagna from channel4.com. It’s a great lasagna, made interesting with the addition of pesto. It’s a wonderful make ahead recipe. Another good recipe, my fave so far is the Chicken Ricotta Lasagna, which can be found here.
Chicken Ricotta Pesto Lasagna
Adapted from Pesto Lasagna Recipe @ Channel4.com
200g fresh basil leaves, plus extra to serve
200g toasted almonds
6 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
200ml fruity extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tbsp
250g homemade ricotta, drained
1 quantity quick tomato sauce
1 quantity bechamel
500-750gms cooked chicken mince
200gms homemade mozarella
1 tsp salt
20 lasagne sheets
Put the basil, almonds, garlic, a good pinch of salt and 200ml olive oil into a food processor and pulse to give a uniform and creamy consistency. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the ricotta.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C. Cook the sheets of lasagna, and lay out flat on kitchen towels. Reserve a little pasta water.
Loosen the pesto with a little of the pasta cooking water. Spread a couple of tablespoons of tomato sauce in the base of a deep 1-litre ovenproof dish. Arrange 4 lasagne sheets on top. Spread some pesto-ricotta, some chicken mince, followed with bechamel.
Repeat 5 times, finishing with a layer of mozzarella. Bake for 15-20 minutes, covered, until cooked through and hot.
Meanwhile, preheat the grill to high.
Grill for a 5-7 minutes, until golden. Cut into wedges and serve garnished with a scattering of basil leaves.
A meal without spuds, is a meal incomplete. I used some mozarella in the lasagna and some in the crostini. The remaining went in here. Spuds we loved … full of garlicy & cheesy flavour. To keep fibre in the meal, these green beans tossed in a mix of quark and olive oil were good.
Mash some boiled potatoes. Mix in grated mozarella, minced garlic, salt & pepper. Roll into crouqttes & shallow fry on low heat till brown on all sides.
Toss blanched green beans in a mixture of roasted garlic, olive oil and a little quark.Serve warm / room temperature.
This was the most fun part of the cheesy tale. I put together a variety of desserts with mascarpone cheese as the base, oscillating between my two loves – coffee & fruit. I made a tiramisu using a batch of failed macarons, then a mango mascarpone budini using the same crisp almond cookies, and two ‘faux’ mascarpone panna cottas too. ‘Faux’ because panna cotta is cooked cream & I didn’t cook the cream here. There is a lot of variety you can get together in desserts using mascarpone.
For both the tiramisu and budini, I just whipped up the mascarpone with vanilla sugar.
Mango Mascarpone Budini
adapted from this recipe @ Epicurious.com
Crumble some macarons into the base of an ice cream/dessert bowl. Top with mascarpone. Add chopped mango pieces. Cover with a layer of mascarpone. Just before serving, top with roughly crumbled macarons.
Line a desert ring with parchment paper & place it on a lined tray. Make a layer of crumbled macarons, sprinkling of strong coffee, layer of mascarpone. Repeat twice, ending with mascarpone. Leave to set at least 6-8 hours. Dust with cocoa just before serving. Mascarpone Panna Cotta
Soften 1 tsp gelatin over 3 tbsp of cream.
Whisk 250gms of mascarpone, 200ml low fat cream (-3 tbsp) with the vanilla sugar. Strain the softened gelatin into this, & whisk till well blended. Divide into 2.
For the mango panna cotta, gently fold in some chopped mangoes, reserving a few pieces to make a sauce for the top if required.
For the coffee panna cotta, line the base of some silicon cases with crumbled macarons. Drizzle over some strong coffee. Top with whipped mascarpone. Leave to set for 6-8 hours, or better still, overnight.
Thank you for being part of my new found love. Hope you had a cheesy good time!