Sunday, December 9, 2012

Queso Blanco with Sonia Martinez


She's one very busy food writer, columnist and cookbook author!*

Sonia was born in Cuba, took cooking classes wherever she traveled, lived in South Carolina and Florida, and, most recently, owned and operated an inn and a cooking school in Honomu, Hawaii.

When I found her blog, Sonia Tastes Hawaii, with her post about making Queso Blanco, I asked her how she got started making cheese:

I am a member of Slow Food Hawaii and when a group of members started requesting classes on how to make cheeses, I jumped on the bandwagon and signed up for a couple of them.  We have a lot of fun and it helps get over whatever nerves or trepidation you might have the first few times you learn how when done in a group.

I keep my cheesemaking simple and since I love soft cheeses, those are the ones I started with when making my own.


I'm enclosing a photo of what I did with some feta we made in the original class

I added olive oil, garlic cloves, rosemary branch and tiny hot Hawaiian chile peppers and let it sit a couple of weeks before trying it...It was creamy and delicious!



*Author of Tropical Taste
  Blog- Sonia Tastes Hawaii
  Page at gather.com
  Writes Tropical Taste monthly columns in the Hamakua Times
  Contributes to Edible Hawaiian Islands
  Corresponds for Hawaii Homegrown Food Network
  Regular contributor to Ke Ola Magazine




Homemade Queso Blanco
By Sonia Martinez at Sonia Tastes Hawaii

Queso blanco is simply 'white cheese'.  In Cuba we used to also call it farmer's cheese or 'queso de campo.'

Queso Fresco (Fresh Cheese) and Queso Blanco are slightly different in texture although even in Mexico or South America the two names are sometimes used interchangeably. They are similar in taste and style but made differently.

Queso Fresco is made with rennet and will melt when heated.

Queso Blanco can be made with lemon juice or vinegar and will soften but not melt when heated but can be sliced and fried.



Equipment needed:

Heavy bottom pot large enough to hold the amount of milk
Colander
Large bowl or 8 cup meassuring cup
Cheesecloth
Skimmer

Queso Blanco

1/2 gallon (2 quarts or 8 cups) whole milk*
1 Tablespoon sea salt
3 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar or lemon juice

*I used 1 cup half & half and made up the rest of the milk amount with the whole milk.  It gave the cheese a little creamier consistency.

Line the colander with a couple of plies of cheesecloth.  Make sure to place the colander over a bowl or an 8 cup measuring cup to catch the whey.



Pour the milk in the pot adding the salt.  Heat until just to the boiling point stirring every once in a while.  Do not let it stick to bottom or boil over.

Turn to low and add the vinegar or lemon juice, stirring for a bit.  Turn heat off.



Skim the curds into the colander that has been lined with cheesecloth.    Pour the rest of the whey to drain so that you can catch every bit of curds.  Let it sit for a bit while draining.  You might squeeze it a bit.



Unwrap the cheesecloth and press cheese into the mold, plate or bowl.  If you want a denser consistency, press out the remaining liquid by placing a plate over the cheese and a weight over it.  Let it sit for about an hour or so.
Refrigerate.



Just before serving, I sprinkled with a bit of seasoned salt that was given to us as part of a Christmas gift.

Serve with crackers.

Buen Provecho!


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