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Fresh French Style Goat Cheese

After making the chevre, the goat blanc, and the goat milk gelato, we still had a little over a half gallon of goat milk left (frozen) which was just perfect for the Fresh French Style Goat Cheese recipe that came with my goat cheese kit from Ricki Carrol’s suppy company.

This recipe had all sorts of new things to learn: making a culture, keeping the cheese at a high temperature for a long period of time, and using molds. I made a lot of mistakes.

For the culture, I went out and purchased some canning jars and followed the directions. The goat cheese kit comes with a fresh culture packet and directions for how to do this. Basically, you just boil a quart of skim milk and then let it set out and cool. What you should try not to do is permanently warp your husband’s brew kettle and scorch the top of your stove. Which is what might happen if you have a jar sitting on the bottom of a thin metal pot which is also huge because you have no other pot that is large enough to cover the jar. And said kettle hangs over the sides of your burners by a couple inches thus creating a perfectly hot environment, reflecting the heat onto the top of your stove. Oh well, it’s an ugly stove anyway….

After the milk has cooled, you add the culture packet, swirl it around gently and let it sit. I blame the gorgeous weekend combined with family in town that caused me to let it sit a little longer than the 15-24 hours called for… say, 24-48 hours? I cautiously opened it up and it smelled good and looked good so I put that extra 24 hours out of my mind and stuck it in the fridge until I could get around to the cheesemaking.

Fresh Culture

I took a portion of the fresh culture and used it in the very simple French Style Goat Cheese recipe and then moved on to the next step which was to set the cheese out for 24 hours at 86-degrees. Um… what? There was much consulting of friends and asking around for a friend’s yogurt maker (missing) and suggestions to let it set by a heater for 24 hours (husband) and putting it in a warm oven (mine only goes down to 175) and finally I threw up my hands, wrapped it in a blanket while it was still warm and ignored it. It was a warm-ish day, around 80, and I just didn’t know what else I could do.

I took the leftover culture and froze it in an ice-cube tray which I had previously sterilized in boiling water. Supposedly, you can use a single ice-cube to make another quart of fresh culture. It’s a self-perpetuating system!

Freezing culture

So, that’s two mistakes of unknown consequences. In any case, I came back a day later and carefully lifted the lid on the pot (my new Favorit stainless steel pot that I got from IKEA for this purpose) and stuck my nose in there. Smelled good! It was still a bit warm and smelled like yummy goat cheese! Hooray!

I thought that I would need to hang this cheese before putting it in the molds or at least weighting it in molds to get the whey out but the directions said just to put it in the molds, turning them occasionally. I filled the molds about 3/4 full with the jelly-like curds and whey and set them in a casserole dish and covered it with cloth to keep cats and flies away.

Cheese molds

I was so dubious at this point. It just seemed like things would just sit there. It was like a miracle when I lifted the cloth about ten hours later to see about an inch and a half of whey sitting in the dish. I drained that off and left it for a whole day, draining it off once more. Basically, the cheeses just got firmer and firmer and the whey just drained off of its own accord. When all that was left was about a 1/2″ puck of cheese I pulled them carefully out of the molds, sprinkled them with cheese salt (does not come in the kit), wrapped them up in wax paper and put them in the fridge.

Tiny little cheese discs

The most important thing — how did they taste? Well, my husband and I smeared a good helping on some roasted garlic bread which we got from the bakery and it’s pretty good. I think it needs more salt and some herbs. I’m going over today to meet the other cheese ladies (we’re making a press!) and I’ll bring this for spreading over bagels. I think they need a little herbs as well. It’s so hard to tell how much salt to use. Obviously, you don’t want to oversalt but salt really does make the flavor emerge and really makes the cheese. When we did the fromage blanc, it didn’t really achieve a state of total tastiness until we added salt. And the fresh chevre which we made was really amazing once we added the fresh herbs and salt.

There are two notes on rennet with this recipe. One says that if the cheese comes out too rubbery then you are adding too much rennet. The other note says that if too much curd comes out the holes when you put the cheese in the molds then you did not add enough rennet. A little curd came out the holes and the cheese seems a little more on the rubbery side than I thought it would. So, I guess it’s just right? I don’t know. This recipe really brought home how many variables there can be in cheeses and how complicated things can get. On the other hand, with all my little mistakes and uncertainties, these came out pretty well. On a third hand, in the middle of all of this, with family visiting, I managed to make a very delicious blueberry ice-cream which everyone enjoyed. The end.

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More goat adventures: Goat Milk Gelato!

I almost forgot! In addition to the chevre and the fromage and the goat cheese and beer tasting, we also sampled some goat milk gelato (because I really don’t know when to stop). My mother-in-law got me the ice-cream maker attachment for the KitchenAid, which she also got me as a wedding gift way back. We share a love of delicious desserts!

I pasteurized the fresh goat’s milk and then followed this recipe from Alexandra’s Kitchen. I wish I had doubled the recipe because, unsurprisingly, 2 cups of goats milk makes about 2 cups of gelato. Though, if I had doubled that would have been 14 eggs! And, truly, the gelato was so rich and delicious and yummers that it’s probably a good thing we were limited.

The goat flavor in this was very subtle, overpowered by the rosemary, but the taste of rosemary in such a creamy concoction was really just over the top delicious, in my opinion. I love Alexandra’s beautiful plating of her gelato — after we did the beer/cheese tasting we all just grabbed spoons and dug in. This is the only photo we shot of it, almost gone:

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Project 3 (Part B): Fromage Bland… uh… I mean Blanc.

fromage blanc after draining

Goat day was actually more of a goat weekend. Check out Amanda’s chevre posting for the first part of the saga. On Sunday a big group of us got together to experience the final results of the chevre process and to try our hand at some more instantaneous cheese – fromage blanc. I have to admit, I was most excited about this. Not that I don’t like chevre, I do, I love it, but ever since Sarah made a comment a while back about a toasted bagel smothered in fromage blanc I’ve been very excited to make this cheese.

There were numerous road blocks to this process, the primary issue being that apparently all really good cheeses require at least 36 hours to make. Upon reviewing the fromage blanc recipe from my cheese book and a few others on various websites it became clear that we didn’t have enough time in our afternoon of cheese making to do fromage blanc from beginning to end. So I opted to try out a recipe from the foodnetwork.com website that promised more immediate gratification. It was actually a very simple recipe, and as far as ingredients were concerned, all could be bought from your local grocery store (the lemon juice and buttermilk acting as the starter for the cheese).

We decided to try both a goat and a cow version of the fromage blanc so we did two half batches of this recipe. In the beginning the two batches acted and looked almost identical. We heated the milk over the stove once we had added the lemon juice & buttermilk mixture to the two pans. As the milk heated to 175 degrees the cow batch (likely due to the large amounts of cream in it) started getting a little thicker and turned a butter yellow color. After reaching 175 degrees we let the pans sit for 10 minutes and then hung the two batches up to drain in cheesecloth.

The final result was … good. They were also however, bland. They lacked the tang and somewhat cream cheese consistency I associate with fromage blanc. I think if we had not let them drain as long as we did that the consistency would have been more on target. I wish now however that we had started the fromage blanc on Saturday like we did the chevre, as I think that the longer versions of the recipe would have more of the tang and richness of flavor that I was looking for. As a quick way to try cheese making at home I would say this recipe was a great find, but for anyone looking to recreate a more authentic fromage blanc I would recommend you try another recipe.

You can view the pictures of the whole day and the fromage blanc making here.

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Cheese & Beer Pairing

Inspired by the New York Times article I wrote about previously, I started looking for some recommendations for cheese and beer pairings. We like beer near as much as we like cheese so it seemed only natural to put these two together. I came across a recommendation to pair summer beers like a wheat or hefeweizen with fresh young cheeses like chevre or fromage blanc. Since we had just made a batch of chevre that morning, I thought this would be perfect. Thom, my incredibly smart and handsome husband, who also happens to be a homebrewer and writer over at the BSBrewing Blog, came along to help me choose the beers.

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Project 3: Making Chevre

For our third cheesemaking project, we wanted to make some goat cheeses. I had ordered the goat cheese kit from New England Cheesemaking Supply which came with four cheese molds, liquid rennet, chevre starter, fresh cheese starter, a yard of butter muslin and a recipe booklet. The first, easiest, recipe to make is the chevre.

The recipe booklet

 

We had gone out in the early morning and picked up the goats milk. We did a taste test of the fresh, unpasteurized goat milk and the milk was surprisingly light and not very “goaty” — it tasted almost like skim milk. As it was fresh it needed to first be pasteurized. For pasteurization, you need to keep the milk at 145 degrees for thirty minutes. Easier said than done. I think I need a better thermometer. It was pretty difficult to keep the milk at a constant temperature on my electric range.

After pasteurization, the recipe is very simple — add the chevre starter (a powder which comes in a little packet) and then you just have to wait. First the cheese needs to sit, uncovered and undisturbed for 12-20 hours or until firm and then you need to let it drain for another 6-12 hours. I let it set for about 9 hours until it kind of had a jello-like consistency. Since we wanted to eat it the next day, I needed to get it draining overnight. Next time, I’ll let it set for longer.

I was really surprised that the mixture had not separated into curds and whey but instead was still very mixed together. After making so many batches of mozzarella, I was just expecting something else. Here, I’m scooping the set chevre with my trusty “spoodle”:

Scooping the curds

I then let it hang for about 12 hours and the result was a very creamy cheese with that wonderful chevre aroma. It was quite bland just tasting it out of the bag but with the addition of cheese salt and, later, herbs, it really came out quite divine.

 

Fresh Chevre!

. . .

Sarah is going to write about our experience getting the goat milk and Nicole is going to do a writeup of the cheese we made with the group the next day. I also did a cheese and beer pairing with various goat cheeses including the fresh chevre we just made and I will write more about that.

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