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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How to make mozzarella and ricotta at home




Making mozzarella and ricotta at home is possible and you don't need any special equipment except for a brewer or cheese maker thermometer. The basic recipe comes from my book Savour (page 12-13), it is quite detailed, so here I will do a quick step by step explanation, with a little trick to cut down time. 



Start with 2 litres of full cream not homogenised milk, if it looks too fat take away some of the cream at the top. Gently heat the milk to 38°C (110.4°F).


Add 4 heaps tbsp of live yogurt, in New Zealand I only use Cyclops Yogurt (thick and creamy type) to make cheese. I tried with a variety of yogurts, but this really seems to have the right bacterias kicking into curd action! Stir.



Usually I only add yogurt, and then the waiting time after cutting the curd is about 4 hours. if you want speedy results add a little citric acid too. I am not sure how many cheese makers would do this, on the other hand I am not sure how many cheese makers would actually use yogurt for bacterias!



If you wish to use citric acid add it now, for a 2 litres of milk I added about half a tsp.


After stirring the yogurt (and citric acid, if using) cover with a lid and keep the temperature at 38°C, wait 10 minutes and then add the rennet. I use vegetarian rennet, 1ml of it mixed to 1 ml of cold water.



Stir for one minute, check that the temperature is still 38°C, then cover with a lid and then let it rest for 45 minutes. During this time the temperature shouldn't drop, but if it is a very cold day it would pay to have your pot inside a bigger pot with hot water.


After 45 minutes the curd will be set. 


Cut the curd into 4-5 cm squares, cover and wait 15 minutes. This is the first cut.


After 15 minutes cut the curd a second time to 1cm pieces using a slotted spoon. If you didn't use the citric acid try bring the temperature to 35°C, then cover and rest the curd rest for 4 hours. During this time the temperature must be always kept at 35°C, so check often. If you used the citric acid bring the temperature up to 41°C and stir gently with the slotted spoon until the curd pieces look like a soft jelly (about 5 minutes). I am still not confident with the citric acid method but it was very successful during our Slow Food Waitekere mozzarella event, and Alli has the recipe here, so I guess that I mixed and matched a little with the two methods.


To check if the curd is ready drop a bit in hot water at 90°C, if it stretch it is ready to be rolled! I use a sieve to keep the curd in place, and the thermometer not to burn my fingers.
If the curd is not stretchy yet, wait 15 more minutes and try again, and again, and again... (if you follow the method of not adding citric acid. I guess that this is why so many people cannot be bother to make it, since you may have to wait a long time!).


Prepare a pot of water at 90°C, and one of cold water. Collect the curd into a colander or sieve and add a pinch of salt. Cover with the hot water (or lower the colander or sieve into the hot water), stir with the thermometer or a wooden spoon. I always forget to use rubber gloves, but here they would be a good idea: you need to pick up a piece and stretch it, and the water is hoooot!.


At this stage I had a surprise visit from Gwen, so I stopped everything to make us a cup of coffee (and maybe left the mozzarella in the hot water more that I had to), but on the other hand it was a good thing because I didn't consider the fact that with two hands occupied I couldn't have taken pctures. I gave Gwen my iPhone, she wasn't sure of when to click but she did a pretty good job, I think!



Stretch and stretch, working with big batches you just need to stretch and cut the end off, but with such a little batch unless you are making bocconcini instead of cutting the ends off you can just roll your mozzarella strip into a ball.


Don't roll it too tight or it will be hard, keep it really loose (I like soft mozzarella best),


and then drop it into the bowl with cold water. With 2 litres of milk I made 3 medium mozzarella and a little one. If you can, eat your homemade mozzarella on the same day :-).



Ricotta

Now with the whey you can make ricotta. Bring it back to 90°C, a froth will appear on top.


Turn the heat of and wait 5 minutes for the froth to set, then collect it with a slotted spoon,



and place it in a sieve lined with fine gauze, arranged on a container to collect the excess liquid.



I used to stop here and make very little ricotta indeed, and then I decided that patience was the best trick. So I just left the kitchen as it was, and covered the pot. Every 20 minutes or so I went back to the pot and collect the (now very fine) foam with a tea strainer (a slotted spoon is good only for the very first ricotta foam, the rest was too fine).


I did this all afternoon, I didn't need to heat the whey again, just leaving the pot to rest with the lid on was enough, and the ricotta kept coming up to the surface. I collected more that I ever expected.


By the evening I had a small ricotta, and the texture was very creamy. I think that I could have collected a little more but I got tired and needed the stove for cooking dinner, still, if next time I will use more than 2 litres of milk I could get enough ricotta for 4 portions (this one my daughter ate for dessert, and we all just had a tiny taste). We also ate the mozzarella for dinner, but I forgot to take a photo, sorry!



Well, this post was very appropriate for today, as this evening I am of to the Monteith's CheeseFest, to taste lots of cheese! Any other Kiwi blogger attending?

If you are interested in more homemade cheeses here is Halloumi (and ricotta again, this is my most popular post), and here is Labne.

Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini and Photos by Gwen Lenehan and Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, February 27, 2012

Seven sweet things to share









LaVally from the blog Il mio posto sicuro awarded me this. I often skip awards, but I couldn't resist the cute cupcake logo, in exchange I have to present 7 sweet recipes, so here they are:











The Cake



Turmeric Cake, one of my oldest post (I didn't even have the comments activated in my early blogging months) and possibly quite an unusual recipe, but a success!










The Cupcake


Photo Shaun Cato-Symonds, Recipe Alessandra Zecchini ©

Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes, a super chocolate cupcake from the book Party Food for Girls, perfect for girls and their Mums :-).













The Pie



Dolomiti Apple Strudel, my favourite of all apple pies and almost like my Mum's. In the same post also an apple cake (bonus :-))















The Pudding




Square Mangos, vegan, gluten free and super funky, mango pudding!















The Tart



Easy to impress Galliano Tart, this was also published in the Dante Alighieri newsletter, it seems that lots of people like boozy tarts here! (It's a joke...)








The Cookie





Chocolate and Macadamia Cookies, super chocolaty and easy and everybody likes them so much that they are positively dangerous!














The Sweet



Rose Turkish Delights, the most popular sweet post in this blog (the second most popular sweet is this one).
















Visto che il premio arriva dall'Italia, lo ripasso a 10 italiane, ovviamente prendetelo solo se volete, non sentitevi obbligate :-).
Ecco il regolamento, copiato pari pari da LaVally, che ringrazio tantissimo!

 - nominare e ringraziare chi vi ha inviato il premio, linkando il suo blog
-   condividere 7 ricette dolci importanti per noi, che ci hanno “cambiato la vita”
-   nominare 10 blogger a cui assegnare il premio

I
Le mie nomine sono per queste blogger che pubblicano tanti dolci:

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Miaooooo






I have been cooking so much this weekend that I actually don't feel like posting recipes, also I have guests coming soon and I don't even have the time. I thought of posting something about the garden, but the gardening too has been mostly weeding and clearing and cleaning... but there are the cats in the garden, and with very funny poses too! Look at Nikita, she is so fluffy (but really light when you lift her) that she looks so cute lying on her back to get some sun!




Yes close up she is quite sweet, but she loves to bite, especially she loves to attack my naked ankles when I walk by, especially if I am carrying the washing basket and can't defend myself. Marameo, the black and white, is older and wiser, but she is a milkoholic, sleep in unusual places (like homework, books and newspapers) and sit in strange positions. Do you like cats?




Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Pasta with silverbeet cream and pistachio pesto



I am updating this post to let you know about this initiative.
If you have a blog and would like to join in, write a post about it, use the logo and let the Doveconviene.it team know by sending them an email here, and then they will plant a tree for your blog.
I did this in June 2011 (you can find the post -in Italian- here), and so far they have planted 927 trees, but if they get to 1000 trees by the end of February iPlantatree.org will plant 100 more trees for them.





And now the pasta recipe!




Pick the silverbeet from your veggie garden (or buy it!), as much as you can, since it goes down a lot! I used young tender leaves of rainbow chard. Sauté with olive oil, one sliced shallot and salt. Cover and cook in its own steam (if you pick it fresh it will have enough water, otherwise you will need to add a little). Once it is cooked blend everything with an immersion blender until you get a dark green 'cream'.




To make the pesto I used some basil (from the garden), garlic, salt, olive oil and this ground pistachios that a Slow Food friend gave me in Italy. I really love this product, you can put it on pasta, in sauces and dips, and desserts! 




 To assemble: I cooked the pasta al dente, then tossed it in the pan with the silverbeet cream, then dished it, added a slice of ricotta on top, a tsp of pistachio pesto, a drizzle of olive oil and fresh basil leaves. Simple, and very green!




Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I hope that you are not tired of daikon...







A daikon is quite a lot to go through, really. Initially I got one to grate a bit for a tempura sauce, then I made this salad, then I used it here... and I still had half left. So today I decided to eat more in salad, with red beetroot. I used a Japanese plum flower cutter, and a small heart cutter. I just added a drop of olive oil and salt before serving. Sill have lots of daikon left, maybe I could make Chiarina-ina rawvioli (the cutting with a biscuit cutter is the same, in fact when I saw it today I thought, modestly, two great minds think alike :-D), or maybe I can cook the rest in a Japanese broth... any ideas?


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©








Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Vegetable Pâté with Salted Butter served with Daikon Slices and Edible Flowers








In my mind Pâté is something made with leftovers: mince finely and add fat, and voilà le Pâté! But leftovers in this household are very scarce indeed, so for this month MT Challenge I needed to create some!


Obviously my pâté has a vegetable base, Kazuyo gave me some runner beans, and I had some green beans myself, so I cooked them with carrot, onion and celery, and water and salt. That was going to be blended into a creamy soup, but I could use some veggies first. Then in a saucepan I cooked a couple of zucchini with a green and a red capsicum, garlic, salt and olive oil. This ended up on top of a place of potato gnocchi (after keeping a couple of spoons for the pâté). Ok, so these weren't exactly leftovers, I worked in reverse, the main meals were the leftovers from my pâté! 






How much to use? Well, a bit of all of the vegetables (without the stock) to fill a 500ml jag, to start with. Then I blended the veggies. 









And now just look at this butter! Nice, fat, yellow NZ salted butter! Perfect for a pâté. I melted 100g of it and added half of my veggie mixture (250g, the rest went into the soup).


At this point the pâté needs to be whipped, and then stored in the fridge. I looked for a rectangular container, but didn't have any free one so I put it in two jars. Also I wasn't sure how solid it was going to be!


Yes this Pâté tastes good, but ever so fat! If I had bread I could eat an entire baguette with it, but to fill less guilty instead of bread I used crispy slices of Daikon. Just peel and cut the daikon into circles and place into a bowl filled with cold water. Before serving the Pâté drain the daikon, it will be nice and crunchy, ready to use instead of bread or crackers, and healthier too. The Pâté should be taken out of the fridge about 15 minutes before serving (it gets quite firm), spread on the daikon slices and decorate with edible petals and flowers. 





Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©




With this recipe I take part in the MTChallenge di febbraio 2012





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