Thursday, August 30, 2012

Latte Da Dairy in Flower Mound, Texas

She loves her "girls!"

I met Anne Jones of Latte Da Dairy a few weeks ago at the American Cheese Society's Annual Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina.  She purchased a set of our Kosikowski books to add to her collection.

At the award ceremony, I watched her accept 2 ribbons- her Latte Da Caerphilly received a 3rd place award and her Chocolate Goat Cheese Truffles received a 2nd place. To put this in perspective, there were 1,711 total entries in the competition!

I was dying to try one of her truffles at the Festival of Cheese, where all the entries in the competition were available for sampling, but, by the time I got to the table, they were gone - devoured by quicker folks to the table.

I should note that when it comes to chocolate chevre truffles, Anne's really are officially the best in the country.  I say this because she won 1st place last year and this year the first place was a cranberry-orange chevre (the category is Fresh Goat's Milk Cheeses with Flavor Added).

That means she beat out all the other chocolate chevres.  Her truffles must have been amazing because I tasted one of the third place winners and it was absolutely out of this world.

Latte Da Dairy

In 2005, Anne Jones and her husband Johnny had a long range plan to do some farming, so, they bought 5 1/2 acres of land north of Dallas.

At that time, Anne was working for a pharmaceutical company, which seemed like a good fit because she has a veterinary degree and a masters degree in marketing.  Johnny was working as a police officer in a nearby town.

But, six months after they bought the land, they bought 2 goats and that was the end of their long range plan- they were hooked.  Anne learned to milk and she began making cheese for her friends.  They loved it so much that she decided to go into business.

Sunday morning breakfast
Born that morning with a hurricane in the forecast
Winning numerous ribbons at the Fort Worth Stock Show
Johnny at the Fort Worth Farmer's Market

Now, six years later, they have 1 1/2 full time employees (not counting Johnny who retired from his police job a year ago).  Anne says they'll be hiring another employee soon because the demand for their cheese is so great, they can barely keep up with it.

Twice a year, in the spring and the fall, they have an open house (watch their Facebook page for the dates.) If you're in the area, it's a great opportunity to learn more about dairy goats and the artisan cheese making biz.

Spring, 2012 open house

Tour of the milking parlor during the open house

Buker is one of three highly effective guardian dogs (on display at the open house).

An impressive list of the cheeses they make:

Plain chèvre: tangy, creamy, mousse-like

"The works" chèvre: encrusted with pepper flakes, garlic and dill

Mango-ginger chèvre: warm mango notes, natural sweetness and a touch of ginger heat

Plain feta: salty (brined) cheese with a firm texture between creamy and crumbly

Kalamata olive feta: tangy, deep-purple olive pieces add depth and richness

Piccolo brie: creamy, with a sweet, milky flavor and subtle earthiness

Argento Capra (silver goat): ash-coated, with contrasting chalky and creamy textures and a slight peppery bite reminiscent of blue cheese

Gouda: smooth, supple texture and warm notes of hay and caramel

Caerphilly: sharp and cheddarlike, with a crumbly texture

Chocolate goat-cheese truffles

One of the cheese racks in the aging room

45 gallons of milk in the pasteurizer

Being filmed for a segment on CBS

Saint Michael's Farmers Market
If you want to try their cheese, it may be time to take a trip to the Dallas area.  Anne believes in buying local and she wants her cheese to be eaten fresh when it's at it's peak- not after it's been transported across the country and has been sitting on shelves for weeks on end.

So, you can find Latte Da Cheese at the White Rock Local MarketCowtown Farmer's Market, Coppell Farmer's Market, Saint Michael's Farmer's Market, all Central Market locations, Wine Styles, Scardello Artisan Cheese and at many restaurants in the Dallas area, including Smoke, Ellerbe Fine Foods, Bonnell's Fine Texas Cuisine, The Oceanaire, Rathbun's Blue Plate Kitchen and the Cafe Modern in Fort Worth.

However, Anne understands that you might not have local cheese available where you live, so she is trying to accommodate you.  On her website, she says you can call these two businesses to arrange shipment of her cheeses:

Scardello Artisan Cheese; phone 214-219-1300
Central Market-Southlake; phone 817-310-5600 ext 233 (gift basket dept)

According to Anne, the hard cheeses (Caerphilly and Gouda) ship very well.

Latte Da Dairy
PO Box 270355
Flower Mound, TX  75027-0355

Facebook - click here

Sunday, August 26, 2012

30 Minute Mozzarella with Kevin Lee Jacobs

"A Garden for the House" and a Mozzarella for the fridge ...

We currently have 8 articles on this blog about making 30 Minute Mozzarella.  This is the 9th and I will keep on posting them until you (and you know who you are) finally give it a try.  It's soooo easy!

And, if a busy man like Kevin Jacobs can find the time to make it, that says a lot.  He wouldn't bother doing it if it wasn't worth it, right? 

Speaking about how busy Kevin is, have you been to his website lately?  There's a lot there!  His gardening section is huge, but there's a whole lot more, including some great recipes, decorating tips, a tour of his fabulous home (built in 1826), and his very own forum- "Ask Kevin."

When he's wearing his cheese making hat, Kevin makes his own ricotta, cream cheese, cottage cheese and now mozzarella:

Mozzarella in 30 Minutes
By Kevin Jacobs at A Garden for the House

WHAT’S MORE FUN THAN A BARREL OF MONKEYS? Making your own mozzarella cheese. I made the shiny, perfectly-textured, unbelievably delicious loaf pictured up top in only 30 minutes. The ingredients are as simple as the recipe:

Homemade Mozzarella 
Based on a recipe by Ricki Carroll

Ingredients for about 1 pound

1 gallon whole milk, not “ultra pasteurized”

1 1/2 tsp. non-gmo citric acid*

1/4 tablet rennet*

1 tsp. salt (optional)

Water (non-chlorinated)

* You can obtain rennet and citric acid from healthfood stores, or you can order them online, as I did, in a kit from The New England Cheesemaking Company. Do not use “Junket” rennet — it is too weak for mozzarella-making.

Special Equipment 

A heavy-bottomed, stainless steel or enameled pot which will hold at least 6 quarts; a thermometer; a large slotted spoon; a knife which will reach the bottom of the pot; a colander. Also, a microwave oven OR a large pot of water, heated to 185F.

Preliminaries – dissolve 1/4 tablet rennet in a 1/4 cup cool water; mix 1 1/2 tsp. citric acid in 1 cup cool water

1. Pour milk into pot; stir while adding the citric acid mixture.

2. Heat the milk to 90F, stirring all the while.

3. Remove pot from heat; slowly stir in the rennet solution, using an up-and-down motion with your slotted spoon. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Then inspect the curd; it should resemble a custard if pressed gently with your finger.

4. Using your knife, slice the curd criss-cross into one-inch squares as if you were slicing brownies.

5. Return the pot to the flame, and heat to 105F as you slowly stir the curds with your spoon.

6. Remove from heat and continue to stir for 2-5 minutes. The more you stir, the firmer the cheese will be.

7. Pour into a colander in order to drain off the liquid, or whey, from the curd. Save the whey, if you wish, and use it in place of water for your next bread-baking adventure. Note: At this point, if you are not going to use a microwave oven to heat the curds, scroll down for Hot Water Bath directions

8. Pour curds into a microwaveable bowl. Holding the curds with one hand, tilt the bowl to drain off as much of the whey as you can.

9. Microwave on “High” for exactly one minute. Drain off the whey, and fold, with your gloved hands, the curds into one piece. (Okay, I didn’t wear gloves. But you should.) Then add the optional salt.

10. Microwave again for 30 seconds, drain again, and then place the solid mass on your work surface. Knead just as you would bread, folding the cheese over on itself. Keep kneading until the cheese turns glossy, and looks, well, like mozzarella. If the cheese doesn’t hold together well, give it another 30-second spin in the microwave, or until the cheese reaches 135F. You’ll know the cheese is ready when you can stretch it into a long strand.

11. Form the cheese into a loaf, a ball, or a bunch of little bite-size balls. If you like braided cheese, by all means have at it.

12. To finish, submerge the cheese in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes. This will insure the cheese holds its shape, and maintains its smooth, silky texture.

 You can eat the cheese immediately, or refrigerate it in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks. For longer storage, wrap the cheese tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze it.

Hot Water Bath Directions: Heat a pot of water to 185F. Ladle the curds into a colander, folding the curds gently as you drain off the whey. Dip the colander of curds into the hot water. After several times take a spoon and fold the curds until they start to become elastic and stretchable. This happens when the curd temperature reaches 135F. Remove the curd from the liquid and pull like taffy. This stretching elongates the proteins. If it does not stretch easily, return to the hot water bath for more heating. Then proceed with kneading, as described in Step 10.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

String Cheese with Mara Welton

Mara Welton
It couldn't be any easier!

Are you tired of spending a small fortune on those little tubes of string cheese?  Why do it?  You and/or your children will much prefer the taste of your own healthier version and you'll be using less plastic, which, of course, is better for the environment.

Thanks to our guest blogger, Mara Welton from Half Pint Farm in the Winooski Watershed area of Northern Vermont, we are presenting our first tutorial about making string cheese.  Mara took fabulous pictures of every movement she made during the process, so you can see for yourself how simple it really is.

Mara and her husband, Spencer have a small farm which is extremely productive.  Their soil is rich from frequent floodings of the watershed in the spring and fall.  This comes from their website:

On our 2 acres, we are able to produce enough to provide food for ourselves, a weekly farmers market, one grocer, 100 senior citizens through the Senior Farm Share Program, 20 families in our Half Pint Farm Food Club program, run a prepared food business at Burlington’s Winter Farmers’ Market and up to 10 area caterers and restaurants each farm season!  When we have excess, we happily donate everything to our local Food Shelf.

Isn't that amazing - from only a couple of acres?!

Spencer and Mara Welton at a Farmer's Market

The Half Pint website is an education in itself.  There are hundreds of pictures of the farm, showing their growing techniques, their produce, their recipes- and even short informative videos like the one below:

My String Cheese Incident
By Mara Welton at Half Pint Farm


While I was skimming the cream from my incredibly delicious raw milk from Bread & Butter Farm this morning, it occurred to me that I had too much milk.  We had been drinking less than usual this past week, and it appeared that I had now accumulated about a gallon and a half over the past 10 days.  Something had to be done.

Normally I would just make a quick batch of ricotta and call it done, but I was feeling like I should do something different this time and settled on making one of our favorite snacks these days: string cheese!  For those of you not in the know – string cheese is simply mozzarella shaped into long rods, usually they are in 1 oz. sizes.  These, alas, wouldn’t be wrapped in fun cartoon-laden easy-to-open single-serve plastic sleeves, but I planned on enjoying them just the same!

I entered the world of cheesemaking like most friends of mine (excepting, of course, the professional fromagers I happen to know), through the Ricki’s Cheesemaking Kits.  These are more and more available in grocery stores and cooking supply shops, but when all else fails, you can buy them online.  OR.  You could pull together your own cheesemaking kit with a few easy supplies:
    thermometer that reads up to 200°F
    cheesecloth (butter muslin for this)
    citric acid
    rennet tablets OR
    large bowls
    fine-meshed strainer

OK, now you’re ready to make some cheese!  I had only made mozzarella one time before with mixed results, but decided that today was the day that I would master it and add fresh string cheese to my repertoire.  Time to make me some string cheese!  Luckily for me, it was simple, fun, and incredibly tasty!  On to the super-simple steps:

First step: add 1½ teaspoons citric acid to a 5 or 6 quart pot with ½ c. cold non-chlorinated water.  I just used the filtered water on the door of my fridge. Swirl around until citric acid is dissolved.

I get my citric acid from our local homebrew store.

Next, measure out 1 gallon of milk, and add it to your pot with the citric acid water.

Put citric-acid-water-milk on stove on medium heat.

While your milk is heating, get your rennet ready – I use liquid rennet, usually found in the yogurt section of my grocery store.  It is vegetarian (made from cardoons, an added bonus for this cardoon lover, I tell you!).  If you use liquid rennet, you will be using ¼ teaspoon for the 1 gallon of milk.  If you end up using rennet tablets, crush up ¼ tablet in ¼ c. of water.

When your milk has reached the magic number of 88°F, take it off the heat, and stir in your liquid rennet or rennet mixture.

Stir it for about 30 seconds to make sure it is distributed evenly, then let sit for 8 minutes.  If desired, while stirring, I would add 1 tsp. of salt at this time to give the cheese some flavor.  I wish I had done that with this batch.

Using a long-bladed knife, cut up the curds.  Your knife should reach all the way to the bottom of your pot.

Should look like this when you are done

Time to take the curds off the whey!  with a slotted spoon, ladle all the curds off the whey, and don’t worry about busting up the curds too much.  This will help them release the whey, which is what you are trying to do.

This is the whey leftover from the curds – before squeezing the curds out.  As you can see, by volume, there is about ½ curds, ½ whey in this project – pretty interesting, I think.

At this stage, you have 2 options.  If you have a microwave (I do not), put your curds in a bowl, in the microwave, on high for 35 seconds.  If you do not have a microwave, fill a bowl with boiling water, and submerge the curds in that fine-meshed sieve in the hot water.

Heating the cheese makes it pliable, which is nice because you have to knead it like dough to get that classic stringy texture.  I have found that you can let the cheese sit in the hot water for as long as you need to with no drawbacks.  I am salting the cheese here – unsuccessfully – I would definitely do it in the aforementioned step instead.

Kneading the cheese.  Just like dough.  If it stiffens, just toss back in the hot water, or in the microwave for another 35 seconds.

Once pliable enough to break into nice pieces, you can start doing that – I wanted them fairly uniform, so I weighed mine out to 1 oz. each.

Then, I started the process of rolling them into shape.  I kept dunking them back into the hot water bath to soften them for rolling out.  This step is just like making playdough snakes!

As each stick is formed, and you’ve decided you are done rolling each one out, you can chill the cheese in a bowl of cold water.  I just roll them out, shape them, then toss them in the cold water to firm up until I’m done with all the mozzarella sticks.

Sticks cooling

My recipe made 15 beautiful string cheese sticks, each around 1 oz.  The recipe mentioned that a gallon of milk should make about a pound, so I am happy with this result.

I gotta say – I am thrilled with the stringy goodness that I created today!  My only critique is that I would definitely salt it earlier.  This batch is a little bland, but definitely edible.

A couple of things I forgot to mention:

  •     When making cheese, please use good hygiene.  All tools and hands should be extremely clean.  It would be so sad if all your efforts resulted in bad bacteria contamination and your hard-earned cheese went bad before its time!
  •     The recipe above is directly taken from the instructions for homemade mozzarella in Ricki’s Cheesemaking Kit.  Please support her and her efforts to get everyone making cheese at home!
  •     I am storing my string cheese in a plastic zip bag in the fridge for now.  I am not sure if we can down nearly a pound of string cheese in a few days, but if all else fails, we DO have Super Bowl coming up this weekend… do I smell homemade fried mozzarella sticks, anyone?
  •     I am going to try making bocconcini next time, and marinate them in olive oil and spices for future cheese plates.
  •     It is clear that I have far too little milk now that I know how to make cheese!
  •     Thanks for letting me give a shout-out to a great jam band from my native Colorado – THE String Cheese Incident rocks, by the way.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Stephanie Manley's Cream Cheese

Stephanie Manley knows how to copy restaurant food and she's been doing it since 1995!

If our math is right- that's 17 years!  She has a website loaded with recipes she has adapted for home use (CopyKat) and a new book - Dining Out at Home Cookbook which has 200 "unauthorized restaurant re-creations."

Stephanie goes to restaurants and if she likes one of their offerings, she goes home and recreates it with simple ingredients.  She started doing this when she was a child living in a remote rural area.  Trips to a restaurant were a major excursion for her family so her mother let her cook on the stove from the time she was 4 or 5.  Now, she has a group of testers who try all her recipes before she posts them.

One of the categories on Stephanie's nav bar is called 52 Weeks of Cream Cheese.  (Woo Hoo!)  But, there's no need to buy the cheese, of course.  Here's Stephanie's tutorial, which even includes a video:

Making Homemade Cream Cheese
By Stephanie Manley at CopyKat

Making homemade cream cheese came from I having opted this year to cook a dish each week with a chosen ingredient, and I chose cream cheese.  I love cream cheese, I think it can be the salvation of any meal.  It has been a salvation of many of my favorite meals.  When I announced that on Twitter, I got a reply back from Michael Ruhlman, who constantly asks us to cook our own food.  When I attended Blogher food, I made bacon after seeing his demo.  So I sat down, and looked up how to make cream cheese.

Why would you make your own cream cheese?  You don’t do it because it is more economical.  You do it because you can craft your own cheese.  It isn’t hard, it is pretty easy to tell you the truth.  I have personally jumped onto an organic kick, and I try to substitute organic products where I can.  For some reason organic cream cheese is expensive, and making your own from scratch isn’t quite as pricy.

A lot of homemade fresh cheeses, or cheeses that don’t have to be aged, you can make at home.  Often it is a matter of adding some lemon juice to some milk and letting your milk sit on the counter for 12-24 hours and you have homemade ricotta,  leave the curds to grow a little more, and you have farmers cheese.  This type of cheese is wonderful for breakfast, spread some on some toast, and you have a real homemade breakfast.

So my adventure to make homemade cream cheese, didn’t take too long.  You do need some supplies.  You need to purchase some bacterial culture to make the cream cheese.  I recommend on purchasing some butter muslin, it is a finer weave than cheese cloth, or you could use a flour sack towel to drain the whey from the cheese.  You will need some half and half, and then you will need some Mesophilic culture for your cheese. You must make this purchase, I don’t know of any substitutes for making homemade cream cheese.

You can use up to 2 gallons of half and half for this recipe, or if you are like me, I am going to use 1 quart, but this culture will set up to 2 gallons of milk.

Homemade Cream Cheese

Yield: 8 – 10 ounces of cream cheese
1 quart light cream or half and half
1 package Mesophilic culture
Butter muslin

Allow your half and half to reach room temperature, your cheese will set more quickly if it isn’t refrigerator chilled when you add the starter culture.

Add your half and half to your container, I like to use a flat baking dish to make mine, I am sure technically there is no real difference in how long it will take your cheese to set, but for me, I like to do this in a flat container.

Add your culture to the milk, sprinkling it over the top. I let this set for about two minutes before I stir in the culture and mix it up really well.

Next I simply place some plastic wrap overt the top of the dish, and let it set on my counter anywhere from 8 to 12 hours. While my pets would never climb on top of a countertop and see what is there, I like a little extra insurance from flying objects to land in my cream cheese.

When the cream cheese is set, it will have the texture of yogurt. It will appear to you that the whole process isn’t going to work, but here is where you wait and be patient, it really takes about 10 – 12 hours for the cream cheese to set in a cooler house, so be patient. Here is what mine looked like 10 hours after setting. When it is thick like this, you can start to drain the whey out of it.

I take the butter cloth, and make a small sling over the top of the pot, using the handles to secure the cloth. I then add my soft cream cheese into the cloth and let the whey drain out of it.

You can let the whey drain out for up to 12 hours. Then you have some delightful cream cheese you can package into smaller containers. You might like to stir in some herbs, or even some jam for a nice treat for breakfast.

I was really amazed how easy it was to make homemade cream cheese. This would be a fantastic project for kids, there is very little measuring. I have not tried making this recipe with milk, skim milk, or anything else, so I can’t speak to if that would work for those types of milk products. What I really liked was I got to make a wonderful organic cream cheese that tastes rich and tangy.