Monday, May 23, 2011

Cottage Cheese from the Cheesemakers' Journal

Celebrating 30 years of recipes and news from our customers!

This month is exactly 30 years from the date when Ricki and Robert Carroll published their first newsletter- The Cheese Press.  They published 4 issues that year, then changed the name to The Cheesemakers' Journal.  It remained the Journal until 1997, when it became the online Moosletter.

I was looking through the old Journals recently and I realized that they are full of great recipes.  I thought it might be a good idea to bring some of them back in a series of blog articles.  One of the first I found was in Issue No. 6 from April/May 1982:

The Recipe Section
Cottage Cheese

Cottage Cheese is an American cheese which was developed by immigrants from central Europe.  It was known as cottage cheese due to the fact that it was made on farm cottages throughout the country.  It has also been known as pot cheese and farmers' cheese; in Scotland there is a similar cheese called Crowdie.

This a soft, cooked, unripened cheese which is usually made from skim milk, though satisfactory results can be had using whole milk; you just get more calories.  Cottage cheese is eaten fresh and can be served with fruit or salads.  It is often used in cooking, for instance, many cheesecake recipes call for cottage cheese.  It can also be used in Italian cooking as a replacement for ricotta.

American Cottage Cheese
(All drawings by Linda Taylor)

To one gallon of skim milk (whole milk can be substituted) at 72F add 8 oz of a mesophilic cheese starter culture.  (Note:  that is prepared culture, but you can more easily use 1/2 packet of the direct set Mesophilic.)  Stir in thoroughly.

Add one drop of liquid rennet to 1/4 cup of cool water and stir this gently into the milk for several minutes.  Cover the pot and leave the milk to set at 72F for 8 to 12 hours or until the curd has coagulated firmly and shows a clean break when a thermometer is inserted into the curd.

The starter culture bacteria produce lactic acid while the milk sets at 72F.  The acid, aided by the small amount of rennet added, helps to coagulate the milk.

After the milk has coagulated, cut the curd into half inch cubes.  Treat the curd gently for it is quite fragile.

Place the pot in a sink or bowl of warm water and increase the temperature of the curd 1F every 5 minutes.  Stir occasionally to keep the curd from matting together.  When the temperature reaches 100F (this should take about 2 hours and 20 minutes) you may increase the cooking temperature to 3F every 5 minutes until the temperature reaches 115F.  You will have to make the water around your pot hot in order to do this.

Hold the curd at 15F for 20 minutes or until the curd particles firm up and no longer have a custard-like interior when squeezed.  Throughout the cooking process be sure to stir the curd every 5 minutes to keep it from matting together.

When the curd is properly firm let it rest in the whey for a minute.  Pour off most of the whey.  Line a colander with cheesecloth and pour the curds and whey into it.  Allow to drain for several minutes but not longer; you do not want the curd particles to mat together.

Fill a pot with cool water (55F).  Gather the cheesecloth by the four corners and lift up the bag of curd.  Lower the bag of curd into the pot of cool water, raising and lowering the bag several times over a three minute period.

Empty the pot and refill with cold water.  Add a tray of ice cubes to the water.  Raise and lower the bag of curds into the ice water for 3 minutes.
Empty the curds into a colander and allow them to drain until the whey stops dripping.  Stir the curd occasionally and gently with a fork to keep it from matting together.

The purpose for rinsing the curd is to keep the cheese from having a pronounced "acid" flavor.  Some people like this taste so you may want to eliminate the rinsing step.

When the curd has stopped draining, place it into a bowl.  It can be consumed salt-free or salt may be added if desired; a half teaspoon to one teaspoon of salt is usually sufficient.

If you wish a moister cheese you may gently mix in 8 tablespoons of cream to the curd.  (For a variation you could make this 8 tablespoons of sour cream, instead.)

Herbs can also be added.  Chopped fresh dill leaves and chopped chives when added make a nice herbed cottage cheese.

Cottage cheese is very easy to make and is ready to eat in 2 days.  It should be stored in a covered container under refrigeration where it will keep up to 2 weeks.  It is an excellent cheese to cook with.  Here are a few recipes we really enjoy:
Cottage Cheese Pancakes
(8 pancakes)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
2 cups cottage cheese
4 eggs well beaten
4 Tablespoons milk or cream
cinnamon and maple syrup

Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add to cottage cheese.  Mix until well blended.  Beat eggs and milk (or cream) together.  Add to cheese and flour mixture.  Blend well (should be the consistency of a medium pancake batter-it might be necessary to add slightly more milk or flour to achieve the right consistency.  Fry in butter like any pancake.  Serve with cinnamon and syrup.

Super Easy Omelet
(serves 2)
8 oz cottage cheese
1 Tablespoon fresh (or dry) chopped dill
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped scallions
1 teaspoon fresh (or dried) parsley
1 Tablespoon cream
salt to taste (optional)
4 eggs
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Combine cottage cheese, dill, parsley, and cream in a bowl.  Add salt to taste, set aside.  In a second bowl, beat eggs with 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  Melt butter in a  10-inch omelet pan (or skillet) over medium heat.  Add eggs.  Stir with a wire whisk.  While stirring rotate pan back and forth over the heat until omelet is set on bottom and slightly soft on top.  Sprinkle on shredded cheese.  Spoon cottage cheese mixture in center.  Fold 1/3 of omelet over cottage cheese mixture.  With a spatula, slide omelet onto a warm platter.  Fold remaining 1/3 over.  Serve.

1 comment:

shannon i olson said...

fantastic! love nostalgia and husband has a bowling ball, never thought of that!