1.19.2010

Tuesday Tastes: A tiptoe into the world of cheese making.

In Kingsolver's book, in a chapter I haven't even gotten to yet, is a recipe for making your own mozzarella cheese. What could be more intriguing than that? I checked it out, and the stuff has four ingredients in it. Three that I just about guarantee are sitting in your kitchen right now (lemon juice can be used instead of citric acid). The fourth is called rennet, and I must admit that this little mysterious guy intimidated me. I'll look for rennet next time I go to Whole Foods, but in the meantime my researching lead me to discover another Italian cheese that is made with only two common ingredients.

That's right! Mascarpone cheese is made from these two simple ingredients: cream and lemon juice (although you have to be sure that the cream is just pasteurized and not ultra pasteurized). 

My lovely friend and kitchen inspiration, Stephanie, came over yesterday and we got down to business. Our little bag of tricks included a large skillet, a glass bowl, water, cream, lemon juice, a kitchen thermometer, paper towels, a sieve, and another bowl.

We followed this recipe as closely as we could, and just as the author describes, we were pretty certain by the time the whole process was over that we had totally ruined it. It was difficult to get the cream up to a high enough temperature and difficult to tell if the cream actually curdled when we added the lemon juice. Just as she says, it looks exactly like a custard or creme anglaise. Then, we totally made a mess trying to use cheesecloth instead of paper towels and the liquid went straight through. (So I highly recommend using heavy paper towels instead of cheese cloth to line your sieve. )

But, in the end, it worked! I checked it about eight hours later and it was creamy, thick, sweet and buttery . . . cheese!

Basically the process goes like this . . .

You heat the cream to 190 degrees F in a double boiler-like contraption. At that point add lemon juice and stir for a few more minutes until very thick and creamy.

Take it off the heat and let it cool for 20 minutes. Then you place a metal sieve over a bowl and line it with four layers of cheese cloth or paper towel. Spoon the mixture into the sieve, cover and let it set over night. Not very much liquid comes out, but it gets super rich and creamy, almost like cream cheese. 

Tada!


The hilarious thing is that I've never actually had store bought mascarpone, so I have nothing to compare it to. Try it and let me know! Hopefully we'll be trying mozzarella soon, maybe even with local milk. In the meantime, I'll be using my mascarpone to make this lemon mascarpone blondie recipe for community group tomorrow night! 

4 comments:

melissa richie said...

good job! can't wait to taste them.

Stephanie said...

I really can't believe it worked!! Can't wait to taste it tomorrow night.
Thanks for having me over!

kristen said...

I was wondering if you had managed to make some today when I bought a pound of marscarpone for $10 for dessert making purposes... maybe I will try this next time. LMK if you want me reserve a tiny big for taste-testing purposes!

Kimberly Joy said...

Where's wednesday lainy? I was looking forward to quote day. Love you!!!