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2010.  My god, 2010:  the start of, not only a new year, but an entirely new decade.  *Gulp*.  Not so long ago, it seems, I was still daydreaming of running off to Japan with Ralph Macchio and mastering the art of catching flies with Mr. Miyagi’s chopsticks.  Decades later, I’m married to the love of my life, and mastering the art of….well, feeding him.  This guy, he likes to be fed, I tell ya.  Now, we daydream of someday retiring to the South of France, owning a small mas and tending to our garden.  All so, I can feed him….some more.  There would be lemon trees, rows and rows of vegetables, maybe even some grape vines, and a hen or two for fresh eggs.  After today, we’ve tacked on another necessity to the ever-growing daydream.  A goat.

We MUST own a goat.  Not only are they cute, but goats produce milk.  Which, in turn, proves useful when making something very near and dear to my heart.  Goat cheese.  Admittedly, I carry around a healthy dose of snobitude when it comes to cheese.  Especially, my goat cheese.  If you’re ever looking for me at a farmer’s market, make a bee-line for the cheese purveyors.  I’m their master sampler.  Have you ever noticed how spirited and sprightly these people are?  They surely have membership to some underground society, like the Freemasons, with secret handshakes and oaths, to guard the methods for producing those fine looking, artisanal puck-shaped discs and logs.  Well, well, well…turns out, there is no secret.

Basically, all you do is buy yourself a quart of goat’s milk.  Simmer it.  Add some lemon juice.  Tie it up in a little pouch.  Leave it out to dry.  And then….here comes the hard part.  Wait.  Drip, drip, drippity drip.  In a bit over an hour, you’ll have, at your fingertips, a batch of homemade goat cheese.  Making mozzarella in my own kitchen, which, I naively thought, was already pretty darn special, plays second, if not third, fiddle to this.  The distinct, clean and tangy taste, along side a hint of garlic, will blow your mind.  Your salads, crostinis, pizzas, omelets, cheese plates, the list goes-on-and-on, will take on  entirely new meaning.  And, probably much to their delight, I won’t be bothering my local cheese purveyors anymore.  This decade is off to a tremendous start.

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HOMEMADE GOAT CHEESE
Tweaked from Over the Rainbeau, Living the Dream of Sustainable Farming

Feel free to experiment with your herb(s) of choice and any other flavor combinations that float your boat.  The sky’s the limit!  Be careful not to drain your cheese for too long, as it may begin to dry out and lose that supple, creamy consistency you’re going after.  If you do happen to lose track of time, reserve the whey “drippings” and fold, 1/4 tsp at a time, back into the cheese until you reach your desired consistency.

Please report back – as I’d love to know your favorite variations!

Music Pairing: Yann Teirsen, La Valse d’Amelie

Ingredients

  • 1 quart pasteurized goat’s milk (avoid ‘ultra’-pasteurized)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 clove freshly grated garlic
  • a few pinches herbs de provence
  • freshly chopped parsley
  • coarse salt, to taste

Method

In a medium saucepan, slowly heat milk until it reaches 180 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.  Let stand until milk starts to curdle, about 15-20 seconds. If milk does not curdle, add a little more lemon juice.

Line a colander with several layers of cheesecloth and place over a large bowl.  Ladle milk into colander.  Pull up and tie the four corners of cheesecloth together and hang on the handle of a wooden spoon, set over a stockpot or very deep bowl.  Allow to drain until the consistency of slightly dry cottage cheese is reached, about 1-1.5 hours.  Transfer to a bowl and fold in salt, herbs and garlic.  Serve immediately atop warm crostinis.  Can be stored in an airtight container, refrigerated, up to 1 week.

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