First, I would like to thank all of you for your condolences and comforting in the loss of my beloved tomatoes. I am doing my best to move on from such a tragedy.
I have been trying lots of new things, many of which take several days to make. I bought my first ever fresh figs at the farmer’s market and made some spectacular Spiced Fig Preserves. I also have been experimenting with making a whole wheat sourdough starter…the jury is still out on this one. But the one thing I have been most excited about is making my own cheese!
That’s right. I said cheese.
It all started when I was at the thrift store a couple of weeks ago and came across a 1980 edition of Good Housekeeping Cookbook. We have a much more recent edition that has seen better days and a lot less duct tape. Since the condition of our current cookbook was in such bad shape, I purchased the 1980 version for a big $2.
Here’s the thing about “vintage” cookbooks. They have some fascinating recipes in them. I have never seen so many salmon pates in the shape of fish
or more food put in a ring mold with gelatin ( the Perfection Salad is my favorite)
but every now and then you come across some really good stuff. Like how to make your own cheese.
This cheese is really more of a cheese spread. It’s soft and tangy and is a great vessel for all kinds of flavors. The original recipe called for dry Italian seasoning and a layer of black pepper on the top, but I thought I would update it with some fresh herbs, lemon and garlic. You can do whatever kind of flavors you want with this. Be creative! This takes about 5 days, so plan ahead!
Lemon Basil Cheese Spread
1 pint of half and half
1 T buttermilk
1 t. salt
2 T minced basil
1 garlic clove minced
1 T lemon zest
1 t. black pepper
In a 2quart saucepan, heat the half and half to about 95 degrees and add in the buttermilk.
Pour into a bowl and cover. Let sit in a warm (80-85) spot for 24 to 48 hours until mixture is yogurt like.
Line a colander with double folded cheesecloth and place in a sink. Pour the soft curd into the colander and let it sit and drain for 10 minutes.
Bring the ends of the cheesecloth together and tie onto a wooden spoon. Suspend the cheese over the colander and bowl.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 18-24 hours ( You could just let it drain in the colander in the fridge, but I think it drains better this way).
Spoon the curd into a bowl and discard the liquid ( whey). Stir in seasonings and herbs.
Line a small plastic clamshell ( the kind for produce with the holes in the bottom)
with cheesecloth and spoon the cheese mixture in.
Place the container on a wire grate over a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 18-24 hours. Carefully unmold the cheese and serve!