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Recipe: Tortilla Espanola

7 Mar

Tortilla Espanola is a Spanish tapa (bar snack). It’s made with potatoes, onion, olive oil, and egg and is CRAZY delicious. It’s relatively easy to cook, but the execution can be tricky. You see, you cook the whole mess in a frying pan and then you have to finagle it out by flipping it onto a plate. I think I’ve FINALLY mastered the technique but I have definitely destroyed a few in my day. But, as Julia Child said, if you’re alone in the kitchen, WHO’S GOING TO KNOW? No one, that’s who. So it rips in half. You’re cutting that bitch into slices anyway. Nom.

6-7 medium sized potatoes

5-6 eggs

1 medium-large onion

Lots of olive oil

salt and pepper

Cut the potato and the onion in half lengthwise and then slice thinly. The slices will be in half-moon shapes.

Mix the potatoes and onion together in a bowl and salt liberally. Heat olive oil in a frying pan and add the onions and potatoes. You want enough olive oil to barely cover the veggies-maybe 1/2 a cup? Fry the vegetables until the potatoes are tender, but make sure they don’t burn. You’ll know they are ready when you can break a potato in half with a spatula.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk them together. Pour the potatoes and onions into the egg and mix. Add a tablespoon more oil to the frying pan and then pour the potato-onion-egg mix into it and spread it evenly around.

Allow to cook until the edges of the egg are slightly browned. The egg will still be runny, but the bottom will be cooked.

Now you can do one of two things to cook the other side. If you have a frying pan that is oven safe, turn the oven to 350 and cook the tortilla for 10 minutes to set the top. You still have to brown the top, though, so you’re going to need to flip the tortilla.

Grab a large plate and put it on top of the frying pan. Put your hand firmly on the plate and quickly flip the pan over so that the tortilla ends up on the plate. Put the frying pan back on the stove with a little more olive oil and allow to heat for a few seconds, then slip the tortilla back into the frying pan and brown for 2-3 minutes.

If you don’t have an oven safe frying pan, you’re going to have to flip the tortilla without the time in the oven first. This will work it just might be a smidge bit more messy. It’s ok though. It will be delicious either way!

When you’ve browned the other side, slip the tortilla onto a plate and cut into wedges.

Serve.

Yum yum yum.

❤ stef

The Lazy Blogger: Belgian Beef Stew with Mashed Potatoes

27 Feb

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I haven’t exactly been posting much in my dusty corner of the internets. I’d like to say that it is because I am just so super busy I barely have the time to cook for myself, forget teaching the rest of cyberspace.

But that would be a lie. A dirty, dirty lie.

The truth is, I’m lazy. I’m lazy and I’m really picky about the pictures I take, which usually means that by the time I’m cooking anything it is dark outside and my pictures are crap and I don’t want to post them. So, in recognition of this extreme condition, I’ve decided to start a new series of posts, hereby dubbed “The Lazy Blogger”, until I can come up with a better name. If I ever do.

Posts  titled with the “The Lazy Blogger” will be ones with incomplete pictures, often of only the finished product. Hopefully this will shame me into writing more, and eventually doing this right.

So to kick it off we’ve got a lovely recipe for Belgian beef stew. I made this one night for some friends on Geek Movie Night. Yeah, it’s a thing. We were headed off to see The Green Hornet and I was feeling fancy so I offered to cook. I found this recipe in a giant tome known as “The Complete Meat Cookbook”. I had been given this by a friend as a thank you gift for hosting her bridal shower years ago. I was hesitant about trying this because the authors describe it as having a sort of “sweet and sour” taste (and who wants their stew to taste like Chinese food?) but it turned out to be amazing. Also, I love dark beer so this turned out to be a win-win. Beer in my food and beer in my mouth. Yum.

Like most things I make, I think this is crazy-easy. Yes, there are directions you should probably follow, but you’re essentially just throwing a bunch of ingredients into a pot and letting them simmer for a few hours. Nothing easier than that my friend.

Belgian Beef Stew (from The Complete Meat Cookbook)

2 TB olive oil

3 lbs beef chuck, cut into 2-3 in chunks and trimmed of fat (I used beef shoulder london broil and it was amazing. Just make sure you pick something cheap with lots of fat and cartilage).

Salt and pepper

2 lbs onions, halved and thinly sliced

7 carrots, 5 cut into a small dice and 2 cut into large chunks (the dice is added first for flavor, then you add the chunks later in the cooking process).

1/4 lb prosciutto or smoked ham, diced

2 tb chopped garlic

1.5 lbs mushrooms, sliced

1 12 oz bottle of dark beer. I used Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale. Pick something that is dark but not too hoppy.

2 C beef stock

1 tsp dried thyme

3 bay leaves

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Heat the oil over high heat. It helps if you have a dutch oven, but just use the biggest pot you have. You will use the same pot for the whole recipe so you need something pig enough to hold the meat, veggies, and the liquid. Season the meat with salt and pepper and sear it on all sides in the pan, in batches if necessary. You don’t want to crowd the meat or it won’t brown. Remove the meat and set aside.

Put the onions in the pot, cover, and lower the heat to medium. Cook for 10 minutes, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the diced carrots (reserve the chunks!), prosciutto, and garlic. Cook and stir for 5-6 minutes, until the onions begin to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook for  1-2 minutes more.

Put the meat back into the pot and add the beer, stock to cover (you might need a tiny bit more or less), thyme, bay leaves, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook at a low simmer for 1.5 hours, or until the meat is fork tender (meaning you can cut it apart with just a fork).

Remove the meat from the pan and set it aside again. Add the carrot chunks and boil until the carrots are tender and the liquid has a syrupy consistency. You don’t want to boil all of the liquid down, though, so you should watch the pot. Lower the heat if necessary, or add more stock. You still want the liquid to be able to cover most of the ingredients, if that makes sense. Discard the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste.

So, to go with my delicious stew, I made mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes are super-easy. I don’t use a recipe I basically just mash them. I will attempt to describe my method below.

Mashed Potatoes

1-2 lbs potatoes

Milk or cream

Butter

Salt and pepper

Garlic if you want

Cheese if you want

Grab your potatoes. I like to use the little yellow ones, but you can use whatever you want really. I use about a pound of potatoes for 3 people, so just go with that and choose how many you think you need. If you want to, peel them. I only do this when I want the mashed potatoes to be very smooth, or when I am using regular russet potatoes. I don’t think the russet potato skins are very good. For the stew I peeled the potatoes. Then, after you’ve decided if you’re going to peel or not, cut the potatoes into chunks. You should get at least 6-8 potato chunks per potato. Put all of the potato chunks into a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Boil until you can put a fork through one of the potato chunks without getting any resistance. This usually takes at least 20-30 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and put back into the pot. Add some milk, butter, and salt and pepper, and mash. I have a potato mashed (one of the hand-held ones) and an immersion blender. Usually I use the potato masher to achieve a chunkier consistency, but I wanted these to be very smooth so I used the immersion blender. You don’t need either of these things. If you have done your job right and the potatoes are cooked through you should be able to mash them with a fork. Anyway, so mash them about until you have hit a consistency you like. Add butter and/or milk if needed. Taste and add salt and pepper, maybe some garlic powder, and/or some cheese. I put all of these things in my stew mashed potatoes.

Then, to serve the stew, put a serving of mashed potatoes in a bowl or plate, make a hollow in the center, and scoop some stew into the hollow. Yummmmm.

 

This was so amazing, you don’t even know. The meat was like meat butter it was so tender. So go forth and make yourself some stew! If you’re in New England you need it, seeing as it won’t stop effing snowing here.

❤ Stef

Recipe: Meatloaf&Roasted Potatoes, Dinner Club Edition!

29 Oct

Back in September I made my friends Elise and Kellie dinner as a thank-you for collecting my mail while I was in San Francisco. During dinner, they both mentioned how they wished they could cook because I made it look so easy. While I AM pretty awesome, and no doubt my brilliant culinary ballet stunned them senseless, I assured them that they were crazy because cooking was easy. I also said that if they wanted, I would teach them. And thus Dinner Club was born! They come over every week-ish (so far we’ve only managed to get together twice!) and we drink wine, and I teach them how to make something. The first time it was spaghetti with meat sauce, and last night it was meatloaf with roasted potatoes.

Honestly, it is so much fun. We goof around, drink wine, and I basically order them about and take pictures. At the end of it all we eat delicious food and I send them home with a recipe card of the meal we made.

And so I give you meatloaf with roasted potatoes, Dinner Club edition. Also, meet Kellie and Elise. They are fantastic.

Roasted Potatoes

1 lb red or yellow potatoes

2-3 TB olive oil

salt and pepper

dill or rosemary

Kellie was running late, so I made Elise chop the potatoes. Cut them into 1 inch pieces, which is usually fourths for little potatoes and eighths for medium sized. We cut these into eighths.

Toss the potatoes into a large glass or metal pan. Coat them with the olive oil and sprinkle liberally with the salt, pepper, and herbs. Pop them in the oven for 45 minutes at 350˚.

Then Kellie arrived!

They may think I'm a crazy.

And we started on the meatloaf.

Meatloaf (adapted from the venerable Alton Brown’s recipe)

1 LB ground beef

1 C breadcrumbs

1 egg

1 TB red wine vinegar

1 TB ketchup

1/2 TB Worcestershire sauce

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 C diced onion OR 1 TB onion powder

1/4 tsp paprika

1 TB dried herbs (basil, thyme, parsley, dill, take your pick)

salt and pepper

Go team!

Put all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix together with your hands.

Kellie's mixing, Elise is chopping garlic.

Cooking!

Using your hands, form the meat into a loaf shape and roast on a roasting pan or cookie sheet (NO loaf pans!) for 38 minutes at 350˚. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve with roasted potatoes and some kind of veggie. I like brussels sprouts, green beans, or a big green salad.

I don’t have any pictures of us eating because we were super-hungry by then. But I leave you with this.

And this.

Now go forth and cook in confidence! Just remember- if it tastes good, you did it right.

stef

Recipe: Fiddleheads, Fiddleheads (Pasta…)

6 Jun

Oh, the fiddlehead. What a strange little veggie. I had literally never seen them until a few weeks ago when I walked into Whole Foods and they were situated right in front of the produce section. I thought they were very cool looking, and the sign said that they tasted like asparagus. Plus, they were LOCAL! Hooray! I bought about 1/2lb ish.

I read a few articles about how best to prepare and cook them. I don’t usually have to do this but these little buggers are baffling. Plus the Whole Foods sign had warned about them being slightly poisonous if eaten raw, and I didn’t want to take any chances.

At least one of the articles said to trim the outer stem up to the coil, and then to cook them it was recommended that you steam them first, then stir fry in butter or olive oil and herbs, garlic, what have you.

Trim. If your fiddleheads have long handle-like stems, cut them to just where they begin to tightly coil. Discard the stems.

Rinse the coils with some water, because they can have little particle bits caught in them.

Steam them using a veggie steamer if you have one. If you don’t, that’s ok. You can just put them in a frying pan with a very little bit of water-let the water boil then put in the fiddleheads and cover with a lid. If you’re using a veggie steamer, fill a pot with an inch or two of water, put your fiddleheads in the steamer basket, put the steamer basket in the pot and set the pot at medium-high and cover.

Veggie steamer! So Sci-fi.

I steamed them for about 10-12 minutes, and I think that was too long. I would go for 7.

I made them into pasta, and it was quite delicious. If you want to go this route, have some water boiling for pasta. Boil whatever kind of pasta you like according to the package directions, but shave 2-3 minutes off of the cooking time.

When the fiddleheads are done steaming, put them in a big frying pan with about 2 TB olive oil, 1-2 tsp garlic, some parsley, about 1tsp lemon, and salt to taste. Stir fry them around for a minute or so, then add the cooked pasta and 1C chicken broth (or veggie broth if you want to keep it vegetarian-friendly). Keep it on medium-high heat and cook until the broth has reduced to about 1/2-1 inch.

Serve with lots of parmesean cheese and pepper.

Yummy yum yum!

❤ Stef

Adobo Throwdown!

24 May

Last weekend, I participated in an Adobo Throwdown. For the uninitiated, Adobo is a Spanish word that refers to multiple different kinds of spices, dishes or rubs, but in this instance it refers specifically to a Filipino dish made with chicken or pork and stewed in vinegar, garlic, sugar, soy and pepper. It’s funny because adobo can refer to either the Spanish dish or the Filipino dish. It all dates back to the Spanish invasion and occupation of the Philippines back in 1500-whatever.

So-my fiance is Filipino. Sort of.

Anders the Red!

No one ever believes us because of how he looks – plus he’s 6’5. It’s strange, because his Grandmother is full Filipino which makes Anders 25% – and my Grandfather is full Greek which makes me 25% Greek – but I consider myself much more Greek than Anders considers himself Filipino. I don’t know if this is because my father’s family kept the Greek Orthodox religion and thus all of the traditions and language and food, whereas (from what I can tell) Anders’ family’s Filipino ties are his Grandmother and her adobo. I’m really not sure what the difference is, I just think it’s interesting.

A few years ago, I asked Anders’ Grandmother for her adobo recipe. I honestly didn’t think she would give it to me, but she did! I’ve been making it for Anders and various friends for the past 4-5 years. A few weeks ago I heard about this Adobo Throwdown via Twitter. One of my favorite San Francisco food carts, AdoboHobo, entered, so I decided to. I mean, hey. I had the recipe, and it was pretty good! Plus I thought it might be a nice way to honor Anders and his family. I had to name my adobo recipe, so I named it for his family.

My application was accepted, the day came, and I made 20 pounds of chicken adobo in 5 pound batches. I borrowed a gigantic pot from my father to hold all of that chicken, and Anders and I made our way to the competition site in a taxi.

We get there (this is going to sound super-racist) and we appear to be the only white people competing. (Side note: this wasn’t true. There was one other white competitor, she just wasn’t in my kitchen area). I IMMEDIATELY feel out of place, and we both start freaking out. I have to keep my freak out under control though, because I’m carrying a vat of chicken and I came there to COMPETE dammit, and that’s what I was going to do. Anders starts to mention that maybe we should just leave the chicken and run. There is a part of me that feels this is a good idea, but the other more rational part knows that I made 20 pounds of chicken and I said I was going to show up and there is a sign bearing my name and the name of my adobo, and I am not going anywhere. So we just start doling out the adobo and try to ignore the fact that we feel really out of place and unprepared.* All I brought with me was adobo, but lots of contestants had fancy garnishes, dishes, accompaniments, and decorations for their booth. I had NOTHING! I felt like such a slacker.

My face says, oh shit. (That's my adobo vat in the back to the left).

After sticking it out, a magical thing starts to happen. People begin to tell me that they LOVE my adobo! They ask me where I learned, and I tell them about Anders and his Grandmommy. They ask if Anders is still in the picture, and I tell them that Anders is the big bearded guy helping me serve adobo. They all stare in confusion, and it’s pretty funny.

I have to prepare a sample dish for the judges, and though the competition organizers said they would have rice for participants, they are out of rice. I have to use old crappy rice for my sample dish.

I also have to tell the judges and the crowd about the adobo and the ingredients I used. This is totally nerve wracking for me, and I rarely get stage fright!

I know, I'm a big giant bag lady.

I make it through. We go back to my station, wait on more rice, and continue serving the adobo. More and more people are telling me how much they like it, and I’m starting to feel a little bit better.

Towards the end of the competition while we are waiting for the winners to be announced, the real surprise comes. There are two competitions – the taster’s choice, and the judge’s choice, for a total of six prizes. I win third place in the taster’s choice competition! I am SO surprised. So are the people giving me my prize!

What is this girl doing here? (I'm not sure).

Buuut I win them over with my irresistible charm.

I don't know why this was my first instinct.

Sometime during or between these pictures one of the lovely ladies told me that I could marry a Filipino boy now. I just laughed. I was way too flabbergasted to say that I kind of am. ❤

Accepting my prize!

Anders told me later that he didn’t snap any pictures of me (these are from the event’s photo page) because he didn’t think I would win and as a result didn’t get the camera from me! That’s ok. I didn’t think I would win anything, either.

I am so honored to have won anything. I have my little plaque in my kitchen in Boston, and it’s so awesome to think that I make anything that I can really call award winning! It wasn’t really me, though. It was Susan, Ander’s grandmommy, who gave me that recipe so I feel like it belongs more to her than to me. Without her, or without Anders, I wouldn’t have won anything at all.

Now I know you’re salivating for the recipe. I normally wouldn’t have a problem giving it to you, but Anders is super-protective of it. I gave it to a friend once and he was SO MAD! So, what I will say is this.

Always use dark meat chicken. The award winning batch I made had chicken thighs with the skin and the bone on.

Cover your chicken pieces in water.

Use 1 part vinegar.

1/2 – 1 part soy sauce.

1/2  part sugar.

LOTS of garlic

and black pepper.

Boil until you have about an inch of sauce, and serve over white rice.

❤ Stef

*I know you’re probably wondering why I thought a FILIPINO food competition wouldn’t be populated mostly by Filipinos. I thought it was a competition put on by the Art Institute’s new International Culinary School, where the competition was held. It was actually part of the Asian Culinary Forum’s 2010 Symposium, and they had borrowed/rented the facilities at AI. That said, it was an awesome experience. It also made me think about race-something no one ever wants to talk about. People in my class at BC will sympathize, because we spend a lot of time talking about race. But the competition did make me wonder about my minority status within that particular gathering. Do I, as a white person, never consider race because mine is the dominant one (within the US)? Are my feelings of awkwardness, of “not-belonging” experienced more often by people of other races when confronted with mostly white people? Food for thought, ladies and gents.

Recipe: Bouef Bourguignon

3 Apr

So I watched Julie & Julia the other day (I know I’m a bit late to the party) and Julia Child’s Bouef Bourguignon is elevated to some kind of magical cult status in that movie. It will ease your worries! Soothe your soul! Impress your friends, relatives, and newspaper columnists!!!!

So I kind of figured, geez. If this one dish can single handedly transform my life, why WOULDN’T I want to make it? And immediately, if not sooner. I found the recipe online and began my Saturday morning trek for the ingredients. I live across from a Whole Foods so most of the ingredients were not difficult to find, but I forced myself to venture to Trader Joe’s for the wine. I’m a “starving” grad student, and Boston liquor stores are a total effing ripoff for wine. I regularly find bottles of wine I would pay $5 for in a grocery store in California being peddled for $8-10 at your friendly neighborhood liquor store. Boo. TJs it was.

I gathered my ingredients. Beef, bacon, veggies, wine, broth, flour, seasonings. I looked at the instructions. SO MANY STEPS. I decide to take it slow, one step at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself, Steffany! You’re going to do this right! If Julia Child tells you to cook the mushrooms separately, you will cook them separately goddammit! You will remove the bacon to a plate before you cook the beef! None of your laziness!

So I do. And it takes FOUR HOURS. And I divided the recipe in fourths, so it would take at least six to make as written. In the third hour of cooking, I began to think to myself that the next time I went to a restaurant and they tried to charge me $20 for a serving of bouef bourguignon I would pay it gladly, because some poor schmuck had to stand in front of a stove for god knows how long making the damn thing. In the end, I had bouef bourguignon. I also had sore feet, an aching back, and I was slightly lightheaded (that was probably my fault – I didn’t eat all day because I was making something EPIC and didn’t want to spoil my appetite). It was good. Really good. And if you refrigerate the whole thing and wait until the next night, it will be really REALLY good. But I couldn’t help but think that there were much easier ways to make beef stew. There is one step that I will probably elect to skip should I ever make this dish again, and that is when you separate the broth from the meat and veggies after taking the whole thing out of the oven. I’m sure it’s there for a reason, but I found it wholly unnecessary (especially since you just turn around and add the broth BACK to the meat!) and kind of difficult. You’re supposed to pour the stew into a sieve set over a saucepan, set aside the meats, wash out the casserole, put the meats back in the casserole, simmer the liquid in the saucepan and add broth if it’s too thick, then put the liquid back in with the meats that you just separated it from. (AGH! WHY?)

I had actual homework to do that day. Instead, I made bouef bourguignon. Now, to be fair, it tastes different from any beef stew I have ever tasted. It is meant to go over boiled potatoes or rice or pasta, so it kind of has more of a ragu-like texture and is not particularly soup-y. I think it is worth trying, just be prepared to lose your day to it!

6 oz chunk of bacon

3 lbs lean stewing beef

1 sliced carrot

1 sliced onion

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 TB flour

3 C red wine, NOT cooking wine. In fact, you should never buy cooking wine. Only use a wine you would drink in your cooking. If you wouldn’t drink it, why in god’s name would you bother eating it??

2-3 C beef stock

1 TB tomato paste

2 cloves mashed garlic

1 bay leaf

18-24 small white onions, brown basted in stock (we’ll go over this)

1 lb quartered fresh mushrooms, sauteed in butter

ALRIGHTY. Here we go.

Remove the rind from the bacon a cut it into sticks 1/4″ thick and 1.5″ long. I used bacon slices.

Simmer in a pot of water for 10 minutes, drain and dry. Heat your oven to 450˚. Saute the bacon in 1TB of olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Conserve the oil, that is what you will be browning the beef in.

Cut the stewing beef into 2″ pieces. Mine are probably more like 1″, but I wanted to trick myself into thinking there was more meat than there actually was. I do this a lot…!

Dry the beef in paper towels in order to ensure that it browns. Heat the oil until it is nearly smoking. Saute the beef in the oil a few pieces at a time until it is nicely browned on all sides. Add to the plate with the bacon.

Saute the carrot and onion in the same oil until they are browned.

Pour out any excess cooking fat, then return the beef and bacon to the pot with the veggies. Add the salt, pepper and flour and toss to combine. Set the casserole uncovered into the preheated oven for 4 minutes. Take the casserole out and stir the ingredients, then return to the oven for 4 minutes more. Remove and reduce heat to 325˚.

Stir in the wine and stock so that the meat is just covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to a simmer, then cover, take off the heat, and put in the oven. Allow to cook in the oven for 2.5 – 3 hours. Try to regulate the heat so that the stew is at a gentle simmer the entire time.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and the mushrooms. Slice the mushrooms into quarters and saute in butter (I used 1 TB for 1/4lb of mushrooms). You may not want to use all that butter, which is fine by me. You can always use olive oil instead, or an olive oil/butter mix. Mushrooms sauteed in butter are really, really good though! Maybe just this once, eh? Saute until they are browned and delicious looking. Set them aside until the meat is done.

You’re basically going to do the same thing with the onions. Mrs. Child says to brown-braise them in stock, but I the recipe I downloaded from some website didn’t have the page with those specific instructions on it. So I made it up, but it seems pretty authentic to me! Peel your onions and leave them whole. Saute them with butter and when they are starting to look a little brown, add some beef stock (I used 1/2 C stock for 9 pearl onions). Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Then uncover and swirl the onions around so they get a nice deep brown color on their edges. Keep them aside with the mushrooms until the meat is ready.

This is when the recipe gets to the crazy part that I hate. The recipe says that, once the meat is done, to pour the contents into a sieve set over a saucepan. Mmkay. I used cheesecloth. That was a bad idea. Should you choose to follow this step, use a colander.

So you pour the meats into the colander/sieve/cheesecloth, separating the liquid from the meat. The liquid should all be in the saucepan. Wash out the casserole dish and return the bacon and beef to it. Add the mushrooms and the pearl onions.

Return to the liquid, and simmer for a minute or two, skimming the fat off of the surface (I saw no fat. Maybe you will). You should have about 2.5 C of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon. If it is too thick, add some beef broth. If it is too thin, boil it down some.

Pour the sauce over the meat and veggies.

You are supposed to serve it over some boiled potatoes or, failing that, some rice or some buttered noodles. I was starving so I ate it with buttered bread.

Good luck and godspeed, my friends!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Goat’s Milk CHEESE!

28 Feb

I finally got around to hauling out my kit from Urban Cheesecraft and making some queso.

And it was AWESOME.

I love making things that you usually have to buy (marshmallows, anyone?) because it makes me feel oddly powerful. Like, eff you world! I can MAKE SHIT. If the zombie apocalypse came tomorrow, you would definitely want me with your roaming band of survivors. I’m not a big fighter, but I can knit (which means I carry pointy sticks, more conducive to vampire slaughter, but still), I can sew, and I can cook. I know how to make bread and butter, though we will have to find a suitable lactating animal for the latter. You know, cow or goat. When the zombie apocalypse hits you won’t want to be too picky. For all you smartasses who think you can’t make butter from goat milk, YOU’RE WRONG.

So my cheese-making experience was fantastic, except that I almost over heated my milk. One of the crucial steps in cheese making is separating the curds from the whey, which occurs when you heat your milk. I assumed that I would be able to very visibly see the curds separate, that they would be able the size of cottage cheese curds. Not so! The curds were so tiny I could hardly see them and I thought I hadn’t heated the milk enough. Fortunately I read the FAQ over at Urban Cheesecraft and discovered that not all curds are large. In my case, I ended up dipping a metal spoon into the heated milk, and when I pulled the spoon out it was dotted with tiny white specks. Curds!

So, what follows is your basic goat cheese making technique, found in the recipe book that came with my Urban Cheesecraft kit. You can find online recipes, too, but I highly recommend buying a kit from the good people at Urban Cheesecraft! It’s not as though you can’t make cheese without it, but they make it so much easier. Mine came with yards of butter muslin, molds, a thermometer, vegetable rennet, citric acid, cheese salt, and recipe booklets.

Soft Goat’s Cheese

I cut the original recipe in half.

1 quart goat’s milk

1/2 tsp citric acid

1/4 C water

cheese salt (which is just flaked kosher salt). Make sure the salt you use doesn’t have iodine or anti-caking agents.

butter muslin (very fine cheesecloth)

thermometer

colander

big bowl

cheese mold (optional)

Grab your goat’s milk.

This is the first time I had ever bought goat’s milk. I was understandably curious.

Tastes just like moo cow milk. Yum!

Dissolve the citric acid into the water and put aside.

Pour your goat’s milk and the citric acid/water mix into a large pot and clip a thermometer to the side of the pot. You want to make sure your thermometer tip is not touching the bottom of the pot, it should be suspended in the middle of the milk so it can take an accurate reading. Don’t use an aluminum pot, either.

Slowly heat the milk to 185˚F, stirring occasionally. Keep the heat at medium-low. You do not want to over boil the milk, nor do you want to over stir. (So, just make sure you aren’t stirring constantly and you’ll be fine!)

Once the temperature reads 185˚ the curds should have separated from the whey. If you can’t tell (and like I said, I couldn’t), grab a metal spoon and dip it in to the milk and take it out. If it has little white dots on it, the curds have officially separated.

These are curds. I know, I can't see them either.

Turn off the heat and let the milk sit for about 10 minutes. While you are waiting, grab your colander, line it with the cheesecloth, and put it over a large bowl.

Slowly pour the milk into the cheesecloth lined colander, and allow to drain for 15 -30 minutes.

Once it has drained, add the salt and herbs if you like. I added a bit of rosemary, but although it flavored the cheese well, the rosemary itself was a little bitter. If I were to do it again, I would use something sweeter like basil or thyme.

Gently stir to combine.

Line a cheese mold with cheesecloth and place it over another bowl or a plate. Scoop the curds into the mold.

If you don’t have a mold that’s ok. You can just scoop the curds into a piece of cheesecloth and tie off the top. This way would probably work better if you suspend the bag over a bowl somehow, maybe by tying it to a cabinet handle with a bowl on the bottom. The reason you’re scooping the curds into the cheesecloth bag or mold is to further drain and shape the cheese. The longer you leave it to drain, the more firm your cheese will be. Regardless of which method you choose, allow to drain anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours. I left mine for about an hour.

Now that your curds are chillin’, you’ve got lots of whey to worry about.

Pour it into an airtight container. It will keep for about 2 days. Urban Cheesecraft gives lots of suggestions for how to use whey. You can feed it to your kitty, use it in place of broth in soups and stews, or make hot chocolate with it instead of using milk or water. Basically, you can use it in any recipe in place of milk or water. They do give this warning, though-whey has LOTS of lactose.

When your cheese is ready, remove it from the cheesecloth or mold and put it in a container. The cheese will keep for a week or two.

You can use it however you like! The first thing I did was put it on some leftover caramelized onion pizza.

I also made two batches of pasta – sun dried tomato and goat cheese, and brussels sprout, sausage, and goat cheese. Yum!

❤ Stef