Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ricotta Salata!

Here is another great article from Andrew Wilder's I Make Cheese blog.  It had originally been submitted by a guest contributor, David Greenberg.

For many years I've been an avid amateur bread baker, cook, and general foodie. I've long been interested in owning livestock, particularly dairy animals, despite having had only limited contact with them over the years. I figure that one day owning milk-producing animals will be a good way to combine my interests in animal husbandry, cooking and eating.

This idea actually got its start about 15 years ago when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Central Africa. I lived in a small rural community in the savanna where many people have dairy cattle. In the nearest large town, there was an international collective running a commercial dairy business producing milk, cheese, and ice cream. Their milk came from the many small dairy farmers in the surrounding rural communities. Every morning a 4-wheel drive truck drove the country roads picking up the metal canisters of milk (these trucks were great to hitch rides into town since they were MUCH faster than being stuffed into a bush taxi like a sardine for hours and hours).

I naively thought that I could meet with the management of the dairy collective to teach me how to make cheese. I figured they would have the same “sustainable development” mentality I had to help the villagers improve their nutrition. As it turns out, profit-making collectives aren’t always interested in helping foreign aid workers and the villagers who supply them with cheap milk.  So cheese making went on the back shelf.

Recently, my interest in cheese has resurfaced and I decided it was time to learn more. Hours on the internet uncovered numerous websites with information about dairy animals, cheese making, and supplies needed.

I purchased Ricki Carroll's Home Cheese Making book and was off and running. I've made several soft cheeses thus far including one semi-failed attempt at feta.

One of the more successful cheeses I’ve made is a variant of a Ricotta Salata, or salted ricotta. I like this recipe because it is simple, doesn't require any fancy equipment, and you can age it in your fridge without need for an aging-cave.

In my variant, during the aging process, I rubbed the outside with smoked paprika. The idea for this came from a similar style cheese I had found in one of the local hispanic groceries.  The basic, overall concept is to make a ricotta cheese, hang it to drain, salt it again, press it, and then age it.

Here we go!

Needed:
1 gallon store-bought whole milk
1 teaspoon citric acid dissolved in 1/4 c hot water
1.5 teaspoons cheese salt
Extra cheese salt for curing process
Paprika (Smoked or Hungarian)

Large Stainless Steel Pot
Thermometer
Butter Muslin
Ricotta Mold 

Step 1:

Add citric acid solution and ONE teaspoon of salt to milk. Stir.

Step 2:

Heat milk, without boiling, to 185-195 degrees F. Do not allow to boil or scorch. Stir often. Raise temperature slowly. Be patient, this step takes time. Probably around 30-45 minutes.


Step 3:

The curds and whey will begin to separate. Make sure there is no milky whey. There should be white curds and a somewhat clear fluid. When in doubt, keep gently stirring and wait another minute or two. Turn off heat.

Step 4:

Cover and let sit for 10 minutes.



Step 5:

Line a colander with butter muslin. Ladle (don't pour) the curds into the muslin. Tie corners muslin and hang to drain for 30 minutes. I squeezed it a little initially to help express more fluid. I drained mine over the sink.


At this point you have ricotta cheese. you can stop here and eat it if you want. Some people add a tablespoon or two of heavy cream to the curds to make it a little richer. This will keep for about a week. [Andrew's note: No way it would last that long in my fridge! Gone in two days, max!]


Step 6:

If you want to make the salted ricotta, next is to salt it again. The original recipe calls for a second teaspoon of cheese salt to be mixed in. I did that. I personally think it was too much.

In this recipe I'm recommending a 1/2 teaspoon of cheese salt, and frankly, I might even consider skipping this second salting.

If adding the second round of salt, remove curds from muslin, add salt, and mix.


Step 7:

Put curds back into muslin, this time you can use single ply muslin. You want something just to help move the cheese around and hold its shape.

Place the cheese (within the single layer muslin) into the ricotta mold. I bunched up the excess muslin on top of the cheese, sticking out of the mold, so that the weight I put on top, would push down on the cheese within the mold. I used a heavy cast-iron pan.

Press for 1 hour.

Step 8:

Unmold cheese. Turn upside down. Rewrap. Put back in mold. Press for 12 hours (in sink).

Step 9:

Unmold cheese. Lightly rub outside of cheese, on all sides, with cheese salt. Cover and place in fridge.

Step 10:

Once each day, lightly salt the outside of the cheese and turn it upside down. I ended up putting the cheese inside of a salad spinner so that it could drain. Not a lot of fluid comes out, but enough to make the bottom moist.


Step 11:

Continue salting and turning for 7 days. On day 7, coat with paprika on all sides. Age for 2-4 weeks, turning every few days.

Troubleshooting:

If any mold appears, use moist cheesecloth, dipped in salt water to gently remove.

I personally found it hard to regulate moisture. Either condensation was forming on the inside of the lid/plastic wrap or fissures appeared as it dried out if I didn't cover it. Normal fridges aren't the best for aging.

After about 3 weeks, I couldn't wait anymore and had to try it. The cheese was firm, crumbled a little, and had a very nice texture and taste. As I mentioned before, it was a little salty. The paprika on the edge of the cheese was fantastic. FYI, it didn't melt very well which is characteristic of this style of cheese. It is good for eating solo, chopped up on salads, or crumbled on mexican dishes.

Good luck and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Making Cheese in Somalia


This was sent to us by our new friend, Mohamed Jesow (pictured at right).

Dear Ricki;

Happy New Year to you and your team at Cheesemaking.com. It was great dealing with you last year and I look forward to again ordering more supplies from you this year.

Really, the cheesemaking book (Home Cheese Making), rennet and some other supplies that I ordered from you last year was beneficial to us in starting our cheese making venture at Tropical Village Farms in Somalia, East Africa.

I have attached some pictures of our farm and some samples of our cheese making which I believe we can still improve and experiment in making some other types of cheese.


Tropical Village Farms is part of the Tropical Village properties located in Somalia, East Africa. The property is located on a vast piece of land, about 240 acres in size and has farming, hotel, residentials and a school.

Please see www.tropicalvillage.net for more pictures.

The Farm provides food for the Tropical Village resort. What the farm provides includes milk, cheese, vegetables, eggs, honey and meats. It also provides mangoes along with other fruits such as grape fruits, limes, guavas and papayas.





In commemoration of my school, Southwestern University of Oklahoma, formerly Central State University, we have named our ranch Oklahoma Cattle Ranch.

In our farm, we have a cheese maker whose name is Joseph "The Cheese Maker." The Cheese Maker is from the old school of Italian cheesemaking. But it is a long time since he was at the top of his trade and he is just beginning to reach there once more.

Given the colonial history of Somalia, we have a cultural heritage largely influenced by Italian culture special in the areas of food and kitchen- "Cuccina Italo-Somalo" as we call it.

You might know that on top of the rich Italian food culture is "Spaghetti e' Formaggio" or in English- Spaghetti and Cheese.



Among the cheeses we are working hard to perfect is the Parmigiano-Reggiano, Strechino, Pecorino, Romano, Ricotta and Mozzarella. The kind of cheese you see in the previous pictures is Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan in English.

I think Parmigiano-Reggiano originated from the town of Parma in Italy. We basically make it from unpasteurized cow's milk.

The country has been in civil strife for sometime now and we at the Tropical Village Farms are picking up the pieces and trying to revive the cheese producing industry again.




We are glad to have met the NE Cheesemaking Supply Co. through the internet and we look forward to dealing and at the same time learning new methods from you in future.

In fact, thanks to the quality of the rennet and cheese coloring we got from you last year, our cheese quality was much better than previous years.

Thanks again

Mohamed

Note: The cow was being milked by Dr. Aweys Ali, our veterinary doctor at Tropical Village Farms.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Horseradish Cheddar & Jalapeno Cheddar


We found this article at a great blog- Andrew Wilder's I Make Cheese.  With Superbowl Sunday coming up, this seemed like a good time to post it.

Yesterday my friend Dana and I made a special batch of Stirred-Curd Cheddar. We split it up into a Horseradish Cheddar and a Jalepeno Cheddar.

Basically, we followed the Ricki Carroll's Stirred-Curd recipe, and after the faux-cheddaring process (draining the whey, then holding the curds at 100 degrees, stirring every 5 minutes), we then divided the curds into equal parts, adding 2 tablespoons Horseradish puree to half, and 2 tablespoons finely chopped Jalapenos to the other half.

The plan was to press both at once (I only have one press, after all). However, we quickly realized that both of these are rather pungent, and that the flavors would likely combine inside the press (even if they're separated by some cheesecloth). We wanted to avoid making a Horseradish Cheddar that tasted like Jalapenos, and vice versa. Even we're not that adventurous!
The workaround was to press the Horseradish first, while continuing to hold the Jalapeno curds in the pot at 100 degrees. We pressed at 10 pounds for 10 minutes, then flipped, and again at 30 pounds for 10 minutes. We then switched, holding the shaped horseradish wheel at 100 degress, while we pressed the Jalapeno for the same amounts.

Next we stacked the two in the press (each dressed in their own cheesecloth), and pressed at 40 pounds for 2 hours. After that we flipped, redressed, and pressed at 50 pounds.

Last night I took the cheeses out of the press. Looks like we either pressed the horseradish a bit harder than the jalapeno, or we just didn't divide the curds evenly--the horseradish wheel is quite a bit smaller than the jalapeno wheel. Other than that, they're looking--and smelling--incredible!

RECIPE

2 Gallons Trader Joe's Organic Whole Milk

1 Packet Direct Set Mesophilic Starter

1/2 tsp Double-Strength Vegetarian Rennet

2 Tbs Gold's Prepared Horse Radish (Ingredients: Horseradish, Vinegar, Salt, Flavoring) 2 tbs Chopped Jalepenos (From a jar of Jalapeno Slices in Vinegar)

2 tbs Flake Cheese Salt

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ricki's Fabulous Art!!!

These are just a few of Ricki's creations...

For the full tour of her amazing house - click here.

From stained glass windows to blown glass and from gorgeous quilts to mosaics, her house is filled with her extraordinary artwork, and that of many other talented local artists.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ricki's Coeur a la Creme Recipe


Valentine's Day holds a special place in Ricki Carroll's heart. If you have been to her workshops, you have met her sweetie, Jamie (otherwise known as "he who builds everything, fixes anything, sings like an angel and is cute to boot!").

For Valentine's Day, Ricki believes there is no better gift for your sweetie than a plate of Coeur a la Crème, smothered in succulent strawberries. (Coeur a la Crème means "Heart of the Cream" in French.) Yum!

There are a zillion variations on this elegant dessert- involving some kind of cream, soft cheese and flavoring. In her book, Home Cheese Making, she has included a recipe which combines Fromage Blanc with cream. To make it, you will need one of our heart shaped molds and butter muslin. For those of you who don't have the book, here is the recipe with a few helpful hints . . .

Coeur a la Crème

1 cup (8 ounces) Fromage Blanc (Ricki prefers to use our Fromagina culture for this. The directions are on the package and it's very easy to make.)
1 T granulated sugar
1 T heavy cream
2 egg whites, beaten until stiff

1. Combine the cheese, sugar and cream. Fold in the egg whites.

2. Spoon into Coeur a la Creme mold lined with butter muslin. (It will help if the butter muslin is wet. This keeps it from sticking to the mold.)  Let set for 6-10 hours in the fridge.

3. Gently pull up the butter muslin to remove the heart from the mold.

4. Serve with fresh fruit, syrup, or melted chocolate. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ricki's Singing Workshop!!!

Ricki and her youngest daughter, Sarah
This workshop happened in 2010.  To see an album of pictures from Ricki's singing events - click here.

For info about registering for current workshops, e-mail Ricki at info@cheesemaking.com.  


From Ricki:

Here is another part of my life's joys- I have been singing with a chorus for about 8 years now and hosting many gatherings involving song in Ashfield.

My chorus experience has brought me to South Africa, Ghana, the Republic of Georgia and Corsica-all places where I have combined my cheese making work and singing together for some of the most wonderful experiences of my life.

Many of the people who have visited us here in Ashfield for our cheese making adventures have asked about this other side of my life-so, here it is-the next greatest thing on earth, where song opens the soul, brings in the light and fosters community peace.

Dr. Kathy Bullock
  Saturday, Jan. 30th and Sunday, Jan. 31st:

Another fabulous, fun-filled

Gospel Weekend
with Dr. Kathy Bullock

Kathy Bullock is currently head of the Music Department at Berea College, Berea, KY. She earned her BA from Brandeis University and her MA in Music Theory from Washington University. Among the classes Kathy teaches at Berea, are Music Theory, African-American Music, Ethnomusicology, Class Piano and Music History. Kathy also directs the Black Music Ensemble, a 70 voice choir that specializes in performances of African-American sacred music. She is charismatic, fun and will grab your heart away within seconds of meeting her!


$150 includes 4 meals and all the singing you can imagine.

$20 extra to stay overnight. (We can sleep the first 30 participants and will help find accommodations in the area for more, if needed.)

Starting time on Saturday is 9am and we will finish up sometime Sunday afternoon. Saturday will include lunch and dinner and Sunday will include breakfast and lunch.

Checks are made payable to Ricki Carroll.

This is filling up very fast and is on a first-come, first-served basis.