Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cottage Cheese with Kevin Lee Jacobs

Lighter than air!

There is a lot of good information at Kevin Jacob's blog, A Garden for the House.  That's because Kevin says he "was introduced to gardening when he was no taller than a delphinium."  (I love that. He's so cute!)

When Kevin isn't gardening, he's cooking and decorating and making cheese, so there is a lot more to his site than you might expect.  He has an easy, simple way of explaining things, so I asked him if I could share the post below with you.

Homemade Cottage Cheese
By Kevin Lee Jacobs at A Garden for the House
http://www.agardenforthehouse.com/2011/07/homemade-cottage-cheese.html


MMMMM...take a bite of homemade cottage cheese, and you'll think you're eating a cloud. It's light. It's fluffy. It's the kind of thing I like to fold into pancake batter for breakfast, or to serve with blueberries for dessert. You won't believe how easy it is to make this ambrosia, or how self-reliant you'll feel after you've made it:

Now, before I get to the recipe, let me explain that this version of cottage cheese is nothing like the heavy, watery, tartly-acidic cottage cheese that American supermarkets sell. In fact, according to food-writer David Lebovitz, it's the equivalent of the cottage cheese that Parisian shops offer. David lives in Paris, so I'll take him at his word.

Homemade Cottage Cheese
Based on a recipe by David Lebovitz

Ingredients for about 2 cups (Want more? Double or even quadruple the ingredients)
1 quart whole milk
4 drops organic vegetable rennet*
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp heavy cream

Special equipment - a non-reactive, heavy bottomed pot with a lid (I used my 2-quart Le Creuset pot); a thermometer; a piece of butter-muslin* or cheese-cloth for draining the curds; a slotted spoon; a tea towel

*You can buy, as I did, both the liquid rennet and the butter-muslim here. Neither item is expensive.


Heat the milk to 85 degrees over a very low flame. (Keep an eye on both pot and thermometer -- the milk will reach the proper temperature in only a minute or two.) Remove from heat.


Add 4 drops of liquid rennet. Stir with the slotted spoon for 2 minutes.


Drape the tea towel over the pot, then put the cover on. Let sit at room temperature for 4 hours. If your kitchen is cold -- say, below 72 degrees -- wrap a big bath towel around the pot as insulation.

After 4 hours the mixture will resemble a soft custard. Using a knife, cut the mixture criss-cross into one-inch squares.


Set the pot once again over very low heat, sprinkle on the salt, and gently stir for 2 minutes, or until the curds separate from the whey. Do not overheat, or your curds will be tough.

Line a colander with the butter-muslin or cheese-cloth, then set the colander into a large bowl. Pour in the curds, and gently stir to help drain the whey. Empty the bowl once or twice so the curds are not sitting in the drained whey.

Fold the butter-muslin over the cheese, and set the colander (still in the bowl) in the refrigerator. Let chill for an hour or more, stirring once or twice to encourage further draining.


Pour the curds into a bowl, add the heavy cream, and stir with a fork, breaking up the curds as you work. Taste; add more salt if you like.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ricki's Visit to a Small Dairy in South Africa

A Destination Spot for Organic Cheese and Produce

Our intrepid traveller
Last January, Ricki and Jamie went to South Africa to participate in a Village Harmony singing camp.  (We admit we are running a little late with this article but it was worth the wait because we now have a cute video of Ricki and Jamie trying to dance at Prestige College in Hammanskraal- click here.)  

Ricki and Jamie LOVE these singing camps and in the past 5 years, they have been to Corsica, Ghana, France, Italy, Republic of Georgia and Holland.  (http://www.villageharmony.org/) They have even hosted summer camps at their own home in Ashfield.

At the camp in South Africa, the group moved around the country with the participants staying with host families in different areas. While they were spending 3 days at one house, Ricki and Jamie were able to help their host with a project. They volunteered to tile the shower!  The host didn't have any brown grout, so they mixed some red sand from the driveway into white grout to create this beautiful effect:

When they arrived in Haenertsburg, Ricki heard about a dairy in the town.  There was another cheese maker on the trip- Sophie Starr of Cobb Hill in Vermont, so she and Ricki set out to see it.
Sophie Starr and Jamie (Ricki's fiancee).  Ricki took this picture at their host's house
right before she and Sophie went to the dairy.
Wegraakbosch Organic Dairy Farm
Outside the door of the make room.
Sophie admiring the gorgeous copper pot
Pouring milk into the copper pot
Sylvia Thompson, who owns the dairy with her husband, chatting with one of the workers
Scrubbing the milk cans
Keeping the room immaculately clean is a priority
Cooling the milk to the proper temperature after it has been heated on the fire
Testing the temperature
Adding starter culture
Waiting while the curd sets
Cutting the curd
Taking a turn with the curd cutter
Showing off!
"Off the wall" press waiting for action
A well-used mold
The aging room
According to Ricki, the samples were yummy
Like the dairy, the rest of the farm is open to the public for tours, strolls and picnics.

Ricki with the owner, Nipper Thompson
That's a bee box on the roof!
The farm has won awards for its organic produce.

Kruger Park 

After the camp was over, Ricki and Jamie stayed on for a few weeks in South Africa to see Kruger Park, a large game reserve.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

No-Bake Raw (But Not Vegan) Cheesecake

This is good!!!

I went to a Raw Milk Symposium last year where I heard Sally Fallon (President of the Weston A. Price Foundation) speak about the benefits of what she calls "real" milk.  The way she explained it was this- raw milk and pasteurized, homogenized milk have the same nutrients.

However, when the milk is heated during the pasteurization process, the enzymes that allow your body to use those nutrients are destroyed.  So, you are not actually getting what you think you are.

Cliff Hatch of Upinngil Farm

I know I'm not the only one to deduce that if this is true for milk, it is probably true for all kinds of other foods.  So, I began to eat raw food.  However, most raw foodies are vegans, and I am not.

At the farm where I get my raw milk, Upinngil Farm in Gill, MA (the name comes from people asking Cliff Hatch where his farm is and him saying "up in Gill.") the cows are like pets.  I have met them, I know their names and I think they like me.  So, I'm happy to consume their milk.
I LOVE cheesecake, so I decided to do an article about making it with raw milk and other raw ingredients.  The best and, in fact, the only one I could find was Sally Fallon's recipe in her wonderful book, Nourishing Traditions.  It's a great recipe and it is the basis for this article.  The only real difference is that her recipe includes raw eggs and we, as a business, cannot recommend that.

Cheesecake is generally made with cream cheese and there are a million different ways to make it.  You can use my directions below, or any other in our book and our kits.  For the most detailed recipe, check the step-by-step recipes on our website by Jim Wallace, our technical advisor.

Raw Cheesecake

(If you will be printing this out, there is a copy-only version at the end of this article.)

Needless to say, you can use goat's milk or sheep's milk,
or any combo.
Making the cheese:

Options:  If you can make any kind of soft cheese or cheese curd, you can follow your usual directions and use 2-4 cups of it in your filling - creme fraiche,* mascarpone,* fromage blanc,* fromagina,*sour cream,* buttermilk cheese,* chevre,* ricotta, kefir cheese, Neufchatel and, of course, cream cheese.  (I am not including yogurt cheese because yogurt gets heated to 180F which is not "raw.")

*Our starter cultures for these cheeses include rennet, so just follow the directions on the packet.  If it calls for 1 packet for 1 quart or one half-gallon of milk, you may still use only one packet of culture per gallon.  That's because, in this case, you are draining it longer and you don't need the curd to be strong.

If using mesophilic, fresh or flora danica cultures, follow the directions below.

Ingredients:
1 gallon raw whole milk
1 packet starter culture
2 drops liquid animal rennet (1 drop if using vegetable rennet)

Directions:
Heat milk to 86F-90F.
Add culture (1 packet or 1/4 teaspoon) (dissolved in 1/4 cup water) and stir.
Add 2 drops liquid rennet or a tiny piece (1/8) of rennet tablet, dissolved in 1/4 cup water, and stir.
Cover pot and keep at room temperature for 12-24 hours.  In summer, it's usually easy to find a warm place and in winter, use whatever method you usually use- yogotherm(s) (my method), pot wrapped in electric blanket, pot in oven with only pilot on (be sure to put a note on the stove so you don't forget it's in there and preheat something), etc.
Pour your curds into a colander lined with butter muslin or cheese cloth.  Hang or do something like I do until the curds feel dry enough- 6-12 hours.  (With one cheesecake, I tried to use the curds after only 2 hours of draining.  This was a mistake, because the filling was too moist and the taste was somewhat sour.  So, I now recommend draining for the full 6 hours at least.)

It isn't necessary to use yogotherms, but I like them because I know they hold the heat.
I used cheese cloth, but you can use butter muslin, if you have it.
Well, this is embarrassing, but I just moved into my house less than a year ago and I don't
have a hook above my sink yet.  Needless to say, it's preferable to hang your curds.
Six hours later, the curds were dry.
The curds from 1 gallon were just enough for a medium-sized cheesecake.
Later, after realizing how delicious this cheesecake is, I got out my large pan and made the cheese with 2 gallons of milk.
I let the milk ripen in the pot.  Then, I simply wrapped the whole thing in a towel and tucked it in the warmest
corner of the house.
Making the crust:
(Depending on the size of your pan, use the smaller or larger amounts.)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups nuts -  These can be any kind of raw nuts in any combination.  Grind them in a food processor.  (If you use almonds or any other hard nut, it's best to soak them and dehydrate them before you grind them.  (This makes them easier to digest.)  Walnuts and macadamias can be used as they are.

1 1/2 cups Medjool dates You can use the packaged ones, but it is much better to use the lush, plump ones sold separately at a food co-op.  If you do have to use the others, you have 2 options-either you can moisten them by soaking them in water or you can keep adding them to the nuts until the crust is moist enough to press into your pan.
1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)

Options- For a chocolate crust, add 1/3 cup raw cocoa.  For a lighter crust, add 1/2 cup shredded coconut.

Directions:
Grind nuts and dates together in a food processor.  (If you have a very small one, do it in steps but mix the dates with the nuts each time (just because it's easier).
Add salt and any of the optional ingredients.
Press into the bottom of your pan.
I had already ground some walnuts so I added them to the dates in the food processor
(it's easier to process the dates when there are nuts in with them)
If possible, get your Medjool dates where they sell them separately (like food co-ops)
because they are usually much moister than the packaged ones.
I buttered the pan, but later realized it isn't necessary.
This is a medium sized pan.  You will need to adjust the ingredients to the size of your pans.
One variation is to add coconut (raw, unsweetened)
Making the filling:

Ingredients:
3 cups of curds
1/4 cup raw agave nectar
2 teaspoons raw vanilla
pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon agar/agar flakes dissolved in warm water, or 1 teaspoon agar/agar powder

Directions:
Dissolve the agar/agar in 1/2 cup warm water.  You can stir it off and on for 15 minutes, or you can put it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  (It will creep up the sides of your glass, so use a big one.)
Add it to the rest of the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.
Pour into pan and chill in the fridge.
Yum!
You can use agar/agar powder instead of the flakes, if you wish.
Soaking the agar/agar in 1/2 cup hot water for 15 minutes.
My first raw cheesecake.
The second time I added fresh strawberries (from Upinngil Farm) between  the crust and the filling.
The strawberries were delicious, but over time, they gave off juice into the crust, so I would not
recommend doing this unless you are going to eat the cake right away.
This was the huge cheesecake, made with 2 gallons of milk.
This was another huge cheesecake, but raw cocoa was added to the crust and the filling.
This chocolate version would have been better if I had drained the curds longer.
(Even so, it was delicious.)



Recipe for printing:

Raw Cheesecake

Making the cheese:

Ingredients:
1 gallon raw whole milk
1 packet starter culture
2 drops liquid rennet

Directions:
Heat raw milk, raw cream or combo to 86F-90F.

Add culture (dissolved in 1/4 cup water) and stir.

Add 2 drops liquid rennet or a tiny piece (1/8) of rennet tablet, dissolved in 1/4 cup water, and stir.

Cover pot and keep at room temperature for 12-24 hours. In summer, it's usually easy to find a warm place and in winter, use whatever method you usually use- yogotherm(s) (my method), pot wrapped in electric blanket, pot in oven with only pilot on (be sure to put a note on the stove so you don't forget it's in there and preheat something).

Pour your curds into a colander lined with butter muslin or two layers of cheesecloth. Hang or do something like I do until the curds feel dry enough- 6-12 hours.

Making the crust:

Ingredients:
1 - 1 1/2 cup nuts- These can be any kind of raw nuts in any combination. Grind them in a food processor. (If you use almonds or any other hard nut, it's best to soak them and dehydrate them before you grind them. (This makes them easier to digest.) Walnuts and macadamias can be used as they are.

1 - 1 1/2 cup Medjool dates- You can use the packaged ones, but it is much better to use the lush, plump ones sold separately at a food co-op. If you do have to use the others, you have 2 options-either you can moisten them by soaking them in water or you can keep adding them to the nuts until the crust is moist enough to press into your pan.

1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)

Other options- For a chocolate crust, add 1/3 cup raw cocoa. For a lighter crust, add 1/2 cup shredded coconut.

Directions:
Grind nuts and dates together in a food processor. (If you have a very small one, do it in steps but mix the dates with the nuts each time (just because it's easier).

Add salt and any of the optional ingredients.

Press into the bottom of your pan.

Making the filling:

Ingredients:

3 cups of curds
1/4 cup raw agave nectar
2 teaspoons raw vanilla
pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon agar/agar flakes dissolved in warm water, or 1 teaspoon agar/agar powder

Directions:
Dissolve the agar/agar in 1/2 cup warm water. You can stir it off and on for 15 minutes, or you can put it in the microwave for 30 seconds. (It will creep up the sides of your glass, so use a big one.)

Add it to the rest of the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.

Pour into pan and chill in the fridge.