local cheese

“If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylums would be filled with mothers.”
Edgar W. Howe
Oh how I love this quote…what a lot said in a nutshell on the lives of mothers!! The kids are excited to be back to school (& so am I). Two months of vacation are finally drawn to an end, & schools have reopened. What a relief. It’s been a long two months & I’m looking forward to some sort of routine in life again. No dragging them out of bed at 9am anymore, blah, blah, blah…! Phew! They’ve enjoyed their vacations, a lot actually, despite the heat, and have been looking forward to going back to school. So I made them a ‘back to school’ special lunch to celebrate. Made them pizzas with ‘AB in 5 Minutes’ dough, adapted to include a little whole wheat flour, followed by Chocolate Cherry Muffins. I make these muffins very often, & you can find that recipe here.We all voted for a change from the regular tomato based pizza sauce. The time was right to try a sauce I’ve bookmarked off Cooking Photographers blog a while ago. She offers a 3 cream based sauces, each of which sound like a must try. I decided to make the garlic sauce, because of my love for garlic, but halfway through worked some pesto into it too. I usually keep a bottle of homemade pesto in the fridge, which comes in very handy at times like these.It made a beautiful sauce which complimented the vegetarian pizza wonderfully well. I’m trying to get the kids to eat more veggies as a meal option, because I find them increasingly going for chicken or non vegetarian food. That does bother me at times.This was my attempt to get vegetables back onto the table, & I must say I got huge thumbs up for my attempt. Even the daughter who normally has 2 slices had 4. I shall not even tell you how many the son had…LOL! The main topping was of smoked cottage cheese. The idea of cottage cheese coming from a pizza we recently had at Pizza Hut here, which had a non-tomato pizza sauce. I smoked the cottage cheese prior to using it; it enhances the flavour in a special way.To give the pizza a spicy kick, I added some homemade pickled peppers. The peppers have been sitting getting ready in the fridge for a week, & were just done right! The pizzas were delicious, & AB in 5 rules my life. Can’t get over the fact that I have dough ready in the fridge at any given time …YAY!! I love leafing through the pages of this wonderful book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François.
as adapted from the Cooking Photographer
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic; minced
400ml light cream (25% fat)
1/2teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
3 tsps pesto (I make my own, recipe for pesto here)
1/4th cup Parmesan & Romano Cheese, grated


  • In a saucepan, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
  • Turn the heat to medium low and add the rest of the ingredients, but add the cheese last so it doesn’t hit the hot pan and seize up. Stir constantly until thickened.
  • Reserve in bowl till it comes to room temperature. This sauce it continues to thicken as it stands, so don’t thicken it too much on the flame.
  • Note: This makes enough sauce for 6-8 small pizzas
As adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François
You can find the recipe for the Master dough here, or better still, buy the book.
(I made 2/3 portion of the dough with 3 1/8 cups of plain flour, 1 cup wholewheat flour, 2 cups of water, 1 sachet of yeast, 2 tbsps of olive oil, some red chili flakes & salt)
To assemble:
  • Preheat the oven to 300C.
  • 20 minutes prior to baking, line your baking sheet with parchment paper, and sprinkle with cornmeal. Flatten out a small ball of dough to make a base. (I tried both versions, a thick crust & a thin crust. Both came out superb.) Allow to rise at room temperature.
  • 5 minutes before baking, spread about 1/4 cup pizza sauce on the base, put toppings of your choice & bake for 15-20 minutes/ till done.

This goes to Susan @ Wild Yeast for Yeastspotting. This week’s edition of YeastSpotting will be hosted by Nick of imafoodblog

Note: Here is how I smoke cheese, or even burger patties, chicken tikka etc.

  • Place the cottage cheese in a big heatproof bowl ( I use steel). Keep a lid handy and a weight that you can place on top. A heavy book will do fine!
  • Heat a piece of coal on the fire till red hot. Place a small cup of foil in the same bowl , drop the hot coal into the foil, drizzle 3-4 drops of melted butter/clarified butter directly on the hot coal to intensify the smoke fumes, and quickly shut it with the lid so that minimum fumes escape. Place a weight over the lid, and leave unopened for at least 30 minutes. This will help get a deep, intense smoked flavour.
  • I smoke mozzarella the same way too. Only difference is that I clingwrap it well & place it in the fridge.
“The Sky is the daily bread of the imagination”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are 2 posts racing each other in my head at the moment, & I’ve got to panini first. The other one is about herbs, thyme & oregano, which I shall write about soon. Made Panini Rolls a couple of days ago, which I had saved off Nic’s blog @ Cherrapeno last year when she had posted them for Zorra’s World Bread Baking Day. I’ve been wanting to make them for a while, but while winter was here, all yeastly tales were done away with…

Now with spring here, birds chirping, butterflies whizzing around, I’m back to my beloved bread experiments, & decided to make panini rolls. As usual, nothing can be achieved without a little action! I tend to enter into a virtual conversation with Nic whenever I visit her place on the net, & get stupidly distracted. It happened with the Cappuccino Muffins the last time, & with no lessons learnt, happened again this time…but not without redemption! I think it’s overconfidence. First I read the flour as 5oz (the 1lb disappeared while I was reading, I swear it wasn’t there, believe me). Measured 5 oz of flour & wondered how in the world I would get 10 rolls out of 5oz. Back to Nic’s & then I saw 1lb 5oz mysteriously appear in front of my eyes. Gasp, that was a close call!

Message to new bread bakers & less experienced ones like me…learn from my mistakes please. Read the recipe at least thrice, & then set off. I even forgot the olive oil altogether in my hurry to get the dough done. With few modifications & distractions of the ‘Cherrapeno types’, my ‘fat-free’ panini rolls finally got underway…LOL!!

Now I’m calling these pitanini rolls for a reason. Nic mentioned that the rolls have to be ‘fairly thin’, & you can roll them if you like. ‘I like’… so I begin rolling them. Hmmmm …words began forming in the mind again, “Is this fairly thin? Will it rise & become rolly polly?” With this insane conversation taking over my grey matter, I continued rolling with my idea of fairly thin.

I think they became fairly too thin, did rise, but not enough to become rolls. I gave them a milk wash (I cannot do egg wash because of my eggphobia), & sprinkled the tops with oats/sesame seeds. They puffed up nicely & rose in the oven, were a little flat, but had pockets within! Thus ‘Panini roll +Pita pockets = Pitanini roll’ was born by the time we reached sandwich stage!! I substituted a portion of flour with oat flour & some whole wheat flour in the dough, & the result was delicious.

A panino is a sandwich made from a small loaf of bread, typically a ciabatta. The loaf is often cut horizontally and filled with salami, ham, meat, cheese or other food, and sometimes served hot. A grilled panino is buttered on the outside and grilled in a press. The word “panino” is Italian (literally meaning small bread roll), with the plural panini. “Panini” is often used in a singular sense by speakers of English and French. In Italian, panino refers properly to a bread roll and a “panino imbottito” (literally “stuffed panino”) to a sandwich.


as adapted from Nic’s post for Panini Rolls @ Cherrapeno
300gms flour
200gms whole wheat flour
100 gms oat flour (I ground rolled oats in my coffee grinder, & measured 1 cup)
1 tbsps active dried yeast (That’s the only sort I had)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
400ml water (approximately)


  • Put all the dry ingredients together & mix well. Add the water, about 350ml to begin with, & knead to a soft smooth dough, adding more water as required. Knead well for 5-7 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 10, & make rolls out of them, flatten to about an inch for rolls, or 1/2 an inch for pitaninis, & leave on baking sheet to rise until double.
  • Brush with milk or beaten egg (optional), sprinkle on some rolled oats or sesame seeds (optional), and bake in a pre-heated oven 180C for about 14-16 minutes until golden brown.

For the pitanini/panini/sandwich…

  • Split each roll horizontally, fill with whatever stuffing you fancy. I used chopped up Balsamic Herb Marinated Grilled Chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, a dash of mayo & mozarella. You can use cottage cheese chunks with roasted veggies in there too.
  • The mozarella is a local brand that I’ve used for the first time, Flanders, & was very good indeed. I’ve used their mascarpone just recently in Balsamic Strawberries with Whipped Mascarpone, but the texture & taste of the mascarpone was a little disappointing. On the other hand, their mozarella is quite the best I’ve tried locally.
  • I grilled my sandwiches on a grill pan after a brush of olive oil (not buttah!!). Since I don’t own a panini press, I weighed the sandwich down with a heavy something, grilled it for 5-7 minutes, turned it over & grilled the other side too. Was delicious!!

This is off to Susan @ Wild Yeast for her ongoing event Yeastspotting, & also to my good friend Ben @ What’s Cooking US for his event Homemade#2-March which has the spotlight on BREAD!!

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