Oh Cheez

October is American Cheese Month. I visited the land of cheese, Wisconsin, earlier this month and got in the cheese mood.

You’ll enjoy this picture.

The Splendid Table had a program on Cheesemaking with Janet Hurst author of the book Homemade Cheese: Recipes for 50 Cheeses from Artisan Cheesemakers. She bragged at how easy Chèvre , French for goat cheese, was to make. It is one of my favorite cheeses and it is pretty versatile.  I’ve used it with chicken, appetizers, and salad dishes. I went to several stores on the search from Goat Milk and settled on powdered version. It was about $8 for a container that made about one gallon. It mixed easily and tasted good.

As per the recipe you need mesophilic and rennet to make the milk curdle into cheese. Mesophilic culture (far left in the picture) is used for most soft cheeses as well as any hard cheeses that are not heated over 102F.  ‘Meso’ means middle and these cultures are great for cheese making where the recipe requires ‘middle’ temperatures (between 68F and 102F). Rennet (middle in the picture) contains many enzymes, including a proteolytic enzyme that coagulates the milk, causing it to separate into solids (curds) and liquid (whey).

In the picture above, far right, is penicillium candidum, which I used in another cheese I’ll blog about later.

The mixture should sit at room temperature for 12-15 hours in a container covered by a cloth to form curds. The next day, pour the milk,water and curd mixture through a colander lined with cheesecloth.

The goat cheese mixture should hang over the sink or on the handle of a cabinet for another 12 hours so the curds stay in the cloth and the whey is filtered out.

Add in 1/2 to 1 tsp of non-iodinized salt to flavor. Serve plain or add your own seasonings like chives, minced onion or garlic. I was excited to add my lavender to a part of the batch.

The Fearless Cooking Club (TFCC) gathered to eat cheese. I used the homemade goat cheese for my favorite recipes: appetizers using goat cheese and dates and Ina Garten’s recipe for chicken, goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes.

Cindy brought an assortment of cheesecakes

Char brought an oh so creamy, cheesy dish of chile rellenos.

We  were so ambitious, we thought about fondue, but ran out of time. Maybe next time when we think about having a raclette party

Patty’s points on Chèvre:

1. You can use whole milk or goat milk to make it depending on your taste.

2. It does not take very long to heat up the milk to 85 degrees F so watch the thermometer closely.

3. I found the powdered goat milk was more economical. Once I opened the container I put the rest of the powdered goat milk in the refrigerator.

4. The biggest issue was obtaining the rennet and the mesophilic culture. I was lucky that a cheese shop I pass everyday on the way to work had the items and were very helpful with my questions.

On my next post I’ll show two more cheeses I made including brie (if you can believe it). Until next time.