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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

Recipe: Marshmallows!

8 Feb

I know you were probably hoping for cheese. Sad day. But I got distracted yesterday when I realized that I had all of the ingredients for marshmallows in my cupboard (yeah, this is what happens when you cook a lot. You end up with random bits of foodstuff, like envelopes of gelatin and corn syrup from that one time you made that cake/pie/candy thing).

So as I was saying, I was sitting around thinking about how much I wanted some hot chocolate, but we all know that hot chocolate isn’t really worth it unless you’ve got some whipped cream or at the very least some marshmallows and I didn’t have either of those things and I didn’t want to go to the store. So I lay despondently around in total depression (tiny violin playing in the background) until I remembered that I could actually make my OWN marshmallows.

Yes.

This is the full recipe, but I actually cut everything in half. I also stole the recipe from Alton Brown. It’s ok though, he’s used to it.

3 envelopes of unflavored gelatin

1 C cold water, divided

1.5 C granulated suagr

1 C light corn syrup

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 C powdered sugar

1/4 C cornstarch

Nonstick spray, or olive oil.

Put the gelatin and half of the water in a large mixing bowl.

Mix the corn syrup, sugar, salt and the rest of the water in a saucepan, cover and heat over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Uncover, and using a thermometer heat the mixture to 240˚ F. I used my super-spiffy meat thermometer.

You can do the same, as long as you have a thermometer that goes up that high. You just have to be careful that the thermometer tip is not touching the saucepan at all, or it will mismeasure the temperature. I employed the use of a rubber band.

Once the mixture hits 240˚, take it off of the heat immediately. While you wait, grab a pan (mine is 8″x8″) and grease it all over using the cooking spray or olive oil. In a separate dish, mix the cornstarch and powdered sugar. Coat the pan using the cornstarch mix, and reserve the leftovers for later use.

Now, you’re going to combine the gelatin with the sugar mixture by slowly drizzling the heated sugar mix into the gelatin, while you constantly whisk it all together. This is super-easy if you have a stand mixer. I do not. In fact, I don’t even have a hand held electric mixer, so I used my whisk and MY HANDS. My shoulder kind of hurts, but I have fabulous muscles.

Any way you choose to mix, it takes between 10 – 14 minutes to reach the correct consistency. It will get really fluffy.

And then, it will start getting super-glossy and very difficult to whisk. That’s about when it’s done. You want to add the vanilla in the last 2-3 minutes of whisking.

Pour into your prepared pan, using an oiled spatula (or spoon, what have you) to evenly distribute.

Sprinkle the top with enough of the cornstarch mix to cover, again reserving the rest.

Let the marshmallows sit uncovered for at minimum 4 hours. Once this time has elapsed, turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting surface and cut into squares. You might need to coat your knife with some of the cornstarch mix.

Coat the cut marshmallows with the remaining cornstarch-sugar mixture.

You can store the finished marshmallows in an airtight container for up to three weeks. Enjoy!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Coffee Can Vanilla Custard Ice Cream

11 Jul

I love homemade ice cream.

I also love to make ice cream, because I can do whatever I want, however I want, whenever I want. Peach ice cream? You got it! Chocolate custard? You betcha! Caramel swirl with m&ms, chocolate chips and peanuts? Why not? Dooooo iiiiiit.

The only problem is that I don’t have an ice cream maker. I used to, but it was a cheapie one from Target and one day a few years ago it stopped working. I had it running for nearly eight hours before I realized that the little paddle inside wasn’t spinning, so the ice cream couldn’t become ice cream, just liquidy mess. It sucked.

I hadn’t bothered to make ice cream since, because I thought you needed a proper ice cream freezer and I don’t have one. It turns out, you don’t need a freezer at all, just some ice and salt and ingenuity. These things I have in spades, which is why tonight I will have vanilla custard ice cream for dessert, and you can, too.

Recipe from Fanny at Chez Panisse by Alice Waters.

2 egg yolks

1/2 C sugar

1/2 C milk

3 drops vanilla extract

lemon zest

1/2 C whipping cream

First you will need one very large jar and one small. The reason the recipe is called “coffee can” ice cream is because you are meant to use two coffee cans, but I don’t buy my coffee in cans. Jars or tupperware will work just as well. The small jar will hold the ice cream ingredients, and it needs to have a very tight seal. The large jar will hold the small jar, the ice, and the salt.

Separate the egg yolk from the white and put the yolk in a small saucepan.

Add the sugar and whisk. Heat the milk (I used the microwave) until hot, but don’t let it boil. Slowly add the milk (about 1-2 TB at a time) to the yolk and sugar until completely combined.

Heat gently, stirring all the time. You want to thicken the mixture slightly, either until it reaches 170˚ or it coats the back of a metal spoon and you are able to draw a line through it with your finger.

You are supposed to strain it at this point, but I didn’t. This did not negatively affect the finished product, but hey. If it makes you feel better, strain your custard. I don’t like to follow directions.

Add the vanilla and the lemon zest and put the mixture into the fridge and allow it to cool. Once cool, stir in the cream and put the mixture in the little jar. If you wanted to add fruit or chocolate pieces to your ice cream, this would be the time to do it. Put a piece of saran wrap between the jar and the lid.

Put the jar in the freezer overnight, until it is frozen half solid.

Take it out and pack it in the larger tupperware with ice and salt, and shake for about 20 minutes.

If the ice cream is too soft for your liking, you can put it back in the freezer until it is more hard.

Serve!

Add chocolate fudge if you like.

Hooray! Ice cream without a crazy ice cream freezer/maker/mabob.

❤ Stef

How To: Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee

9 Jun

I started drinking coffee at age 12. I started with the Starbucks pre-mixed frappuccino beverages you get in the grocery store. Then I moved to the real Starbucks frappuccinos, mocha at first, then the coffee flavor. Soon the frappuchinos were too sweet, so I started ordering caramel macchiatos. I stayed steady on those for a good year or two, until my boyfriend introduced me to Peet’s. I started drinking a macchiato with caramel and two packets of sugar. Then I stopped putting in the sugar, and eventually moved on to lattes. I now drink drip coffee almost exclusively. I like it extremely strong and dark, with lots of cream and sugar. It has to be very dark coffee, though! Anything less, once the addition of cream and sugar, tastes weak to me.

My cafe of choice has also changed–I absolutely hate Starbucks. I can appreciate what they have done for the coffee business, and cafe culture, but their coffee is just terrible. Sorry Starbucks!

I was making my drip coffee with a regular machine, sometimes with a french press, until I first went to a coffee shop called Philz here in San Francisco.

Oh. My. Jesus.

Philz makes its coffee using drip cones exclusively. They also roast all of their own beans, and I have to tell you that one taste of that coffee and I was hooked. In my opinion, a ceramic drip cone creates coffee that is better than any espresso.

First, a few pointers.

1. Always grind your own beans. You can easily get a grinder for $10, probably less.

2. Use filtered water.

3. Use 3 TB of coffee to 8 oz of water.

4. Use beans that are dark and shiny in appearance. I don’t think there is anything particularly documented about this, but that is how I choose beans and my coffee is always awesome!

You will need:

A teapot.

Your mug of choice.

A ceramic coffee dripper (mine is from Beehouse).

Coffee filters.

Cream and sugar.

Coffee beans!

Set a pot of water to boil. You should boil 3 times the amount of water that you need. While you wait for the coffee to boil, grab a mug and put your desired amount of cream and sugar in it. Microwave it for about 30 – 45 seconds.

Grind your beans. For this style of brewing, the beans should be a medium grind, about the texture of coarse sand.

Put the ground beans into a coffee filter, and put it all in the cone.

Set the cone onto the mug.

Pour 8 oz of water into a measuring cup, preferably a glass pyrex one.

Pour just enough water onto the ground to allow them to expand, and stir the grounds. Then slowly add the rest of the water.

Stir the grounds gently as the coffee drips. You don’t have to stir consistently, just a few times to make sure the grounds and the water are mixed.

Stir your finished coffee, and enjoy!

I guarantee that this will be the best cup of coffee you have ever had! I should know; I’m obsessed!

❤ Stef

How to Read Recipes: Measurement Abbreviations

25 Mar

I’ve been writing this blog for a bit now, and it recently occurred to me that not everyone may be familiar with the measurement abbreviations found in many recipes, including mine.

I started this blog in an attempt to spread around my cooking philosophy–basically, it’s easy, quick, and fun, and anyone can do it! In this spirit, I’ve decided to start posting little mini-tutorials on basic kitchen tasks, like proper knife handling technique and how to peel garlic effectively, all of that good stuff. The first one, as you may have figured out from the title of this blog, is how to read recipes effectively by deciphering those pesky measurement abbreviations.

The three used the most are for cup, teaspoon, and tablespoon. These are abbreviated as:

C for cup
tsp for teaspoon
TB for tablespoon

A few more:

lb = pound
oz = ounce
gal – gallon
pt = pint
qt = quart

You might also find liter, which is:

L

You probably won’t find many recipes in liters in the US, but it never hurts to know. Learning is half the battle, after all.

These are the basics. If you feel I’ve missed anything, or have any questions, leave it in the comments!

❤ Stef