Dreamy's Delights

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Cottage Cheese: Take 2

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I decided to tackle cottage cheese again using a different recipe and different ingredients. Today I’m going to let you know how it came out. First off is a picture of my mise en place. That means having all my stuff set up and ready to go without fumbling around the kitchen trying to find stuff lol. All the utensils have been sterilized in boiling water and are sitting on clean paper towels to help prevent re-contamination from the counter.

cheese mise en place

It wasn’t a a total fail but it wasn’t complete success either. I added my culture, rennet and calcium chloride in the quantities called for in the book. After several hours there wasn’t even a little bit of setting. The milk hadn’t even thickened up to yogurt consistency. The recipe called for 1/4 tsp rennet diluted in 1/4 cup of water and then to use only 1 TB of that solution. Out of sheer frustration I dumped the rest of the rennet solution into the milk. Well, wadda ya know, it actually worked. When I woke up about 530am and checked it I had a soft but decent curd.

cottage cheese curds

I cut the curd and cooked it according to the directions. Here’s where I ran into some problems. I think the curds should have maybe set a bit longer. They weren’t bad when I cut them but when I started to stir it appeared that the milk hadn’t set as much on the bottom of the pan. This happened on my last batch too but that time I didn’t get anything usable. This batch is going to be edible but I don’t have the softly rounded curds that I expected from a cottage cheese recipe. This is going to be more of a crumbly cheese like a mild feta. So while it’s not exactly what I was looking for I think this will make an awesome cheese for stuffing chili rellenos.


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Cottage Cheese: Take 1.5

Alrighty. I have gotten my new batch of cheese making supplies, been back to my local supply house to get another book and some more culture, boiled all my utensils and read the instructions for making cottage cheese in the new book I got. The book is called Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Homemade Cheeses by Ricki Carroll.

I decided to boil my equipment for sterilization this time because it’s very possible there was some bleach residue left when I tried that method of sterilization. Apparently bleach is really good at killing rennet as well as the bad stuff! It’s interesting because my first book was like “OMG! Sterilize!!” This book doesn’t freak out quite so much lol. It’s like “Yeah, sterilization is important but don’t freak out, cheese has been made under all sorts of conditions for hundreds of years.” Definitely more laid back ๐Ÿ˜‰

So for today’s attempt I’m going to use the recipe in the new book, the new rennet and the new calcium chloride. And now that I think about it, I should probably explain what culture, rennet and calcium chloride do. ๐Ÿ™‚

Rennet is a coagulating agent. Basically, it causes the milk fat to come together and make curds. Without it, the culture makes a thick, tangy mixture similar to yogurt. Traditionally, rennet comes from the stomach lining of baby cows. It’s also available in vegetarian form. However, I’m not a vegetarian so I’m using calf rennet.

Culture is what adds the tangy flavor to cheese and yogurt. It comes in several different types but for today I’m using Mesophilic culture. This is a low temperature culture. It also comes in a couple of types. Direct-set means that the dried culture is sprinkled directly onto the warmed milk. A mother culture is when the dried culture is mixed with a quart of milk, boiled and left to thicken. It is then used in the recipe in place of the direct-set culture. I’m using direct set today but tomorrow I’ll make a mother culture and play with that. ๐Ÿ™‚

Calcium Chloride is a salt compound that’s used in all sort of things. In cheese making it’s used in combination with the rennet to help set the curd. Most store bought milk is homogenized, meaning that it’s had the fat from the cream broken up into tiny pieces. Because of that process it can be harder to get a firm curd. Calcium Chloride helps with that. I’m using it because I had to settle for store bought milk which is homogenized. I’m still looking for a source of non-homogenized milk.

One of the reasons I’m making cottage cheese is because it’s a fresh cheese. It doesn’t require a special mold or a cheese press. It also lets me work on learning how curd looks and feels. It’s a good place to start, plus I like cottage cheese. This isย  going to be a much drier cottage cheese than what people are used to from the store. The curds will be small, dry pieces of cheese unless I add some extra cream to it. I haven’t decided yet.

Now then, things should be ready to start working so I must head off to the kitchen. I will write more when I’m done and post some pictures this time.

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Slower Cooker Asian Pork Loin

This is actually something I threw together earlier this week and finally got around to nibbling on. Jene’s been taking it to work for lunch but I’ve been eating bagels with home made cream cheese lol. This recipe happened because I had a chunk of pork loin (3-4 lbs maybe) that I needed to do something with. I didn’t feel like stuffing it so I got out the slow cooker. I had picked up a copy of Cooking Light Best Ever Slow Cooker Recipes and one of the recipes gave me the idea of what I made.


1 pork loin roast 3-4 lbs

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 TB rice wine vinegar

1 TB garlic paste

1 TB ginger paste

1 tsp sesame oil

pepper to taste

Spray the inside of the slow cooker with some non-stick cooking spray. Put the pork loin in the pot, fat side up. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over the pork loin. Cook 3-4 hours on low until the pork is cooked through. Unlike a pork shoulder, you do NOT want to cook this until it falls apart. Pork loin is a very lean cut of meat and should only be cooked to an internal temp of 145F. If you over cook it, it gets really dry.

For the ginger and garlic pastes… if your store doesn’t carry those lovely tubes of pre-made paste, just use finely minced fresh ginger and garlic in place.

One last note… as usual, I didn’t actually measure my ingredients so I’m guessing. You want enough liquid to come about 1/2 – 3/4 inch up the side of the pork loin. So if the measurements I gave don’t make enough, just make more. ๐Ÿ˜‰

What I did today was make some rice, pour some sauce over the rice and put some slivers of pork on top. Really really tasty. This recipe is one I will put into rotation and make on a regular basis.

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Cottage Cheese: FAIL

I hate it when I do something so completely wrong that it’s not even a little bit salvageable. Unfortunately, my first attempt at cottage cheese was just that. For some reason I’m having problems with my rennet not working properly. In this case, I got a top layer of firm curds but only about the top 1/4 inch. The rest of it was about the consistency of very thick cream. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Possible problems:

1. The milk wasn’t warm enough (it’s supposed to reach 70F and I don’t currently have a thermometer that reads that low so I’m guessing)

2. I didn’t get all the bleach rinsed off from the sterilization process. (possible)

3. I just suck at this.

Option 3 is unlikely ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  So that brings me back to option 1 and option 2. I’ve decided to boil everything for sterilization and just eliminate the possible bleach problem.ย  My cheese supplies should be here some time during the next week and I’ll have a proper thermometer. It’s also remotely possible that I got a bad batch of rennet. I’ll have more rennet coming with my order.

Jene reminded me this morning that this is a LEARNING process and boy is he right! It’s unusual for me to find something in the field of food creation that I can’t just walk into the kitchen and *poof* it comes out right. But I’m not giving up! Stay tuned for more cheese making updates ๐Ÿ˜€


Cream Cheese

It’s been a wonderful Christmas Day. Jene spoiled me rotten with gifts and even went to the grocery store with me lol. Since it’s quiet now I thought I’d post about how my cream cheese attempt came out.

I’m a toss it in a pot and call it good type of person. Cheese making doesn’t let me do that. Because I’m working with dairy and bacteria I need to make sure everything I use it sterilized. That means that I actually have to think about what I’m doing. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I got all my gear sterilized and got started.

The basic steps are heat the milk, add the mesophilic culture, the rennet and let it sit. There’s only one little problem If you don’t rinse your bleached dishes well enough or you miss that one little spot in the book that says to boil the water you dilute the rennet with, your cheese doesn’t set up properly. So what happened was that after letting the cheese sit for 24 hours it wasn’t properly set. I was able to strain it and have cream cheese but it’s much closer to a spreadable cream cheese than a stiff cream cheese for baking. However, the flavor is PERFECT! It’s got that tangy cream cheese flavor that I adore. Add it’s so amazingly creamy.

I will definitely be making my own cream cheese from now on instead of buying it. Tonight’s experiment is cottage cheese. I’ve got my milk, culture, rennet and calcium chloride sitting and resting for two hours. Then I can check the curds. ๐Ÿ™‚

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My newest project: Cheese

I have long wanted to make my own cheese. However, I’ve been doing rather a lot of other stuff and cheese making has been put off. I finally got some supplies and with the long weekends for Christmas and New Year’s I’m going to tackle making cheese. Yesterday I ordered a bunch of supplies from CheeseandYogurtMaking.com.

I ordered rennet, calcium chloride and a whole bunch of cheese molds. This picture is the mold set I ordered. I’m hoping it will be here just after the first of the year.


Of course I couldn’t just be patient so I found a cheese making supply house today and got some rennet, mesophilic culture and calcium chloride. Then I stopped at the store to get milk lol. I’m going to start with cream cheese. I made some a couple of weeks ago using vinegar as the coagulating agent instead of rennet. Unfortunately, it was not what I wanted. It was ok but very soft. I need a thicker cream cheese that will hold up to being turned into a cheesecake. I also want to make cottage cheese.

The book I’m using is called 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes by Debra Amrein-Boyes. It gives a good intro that discusses all the ingredients in detail. The tools you need and why you have to do things in a specific way. I’m excited to add another skill to my culinary abilities and if I get good at this it will make awesome presents!

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Vibrant Chicken in Spicy Tomato Sauce

I think it’s safe to say that Thanksgiving wore me out given how long it’s been since I posted. Mostly I just haven’t been doing much cooking. I made a curry last week that was ok but nothing worth writing about. I made a Mexican Corn Pudding, again, nothing spectacular. However, tonight I made a curry that is VERY worth writing about. This recipe comes from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer (2008, pg 137-138). My friend Cat turned me on to this cookbook for which I am eternally grateful.


1/4 cup ginger paste (from a tube I bought at the store. you can make it at home but I’m lazy)

2 TB garlic paste (also from a tube, also used out of laziness)

1 chicken (3 1/2 lbs) cut into pieces (I used boneless skinless thighs. cutting up a chickenย  takes work!)

1 TB canola oil

1 can (14.5 oz) tomato sauce

1/2 cup Fried Onion Paste (see recipe at the end of this)

1 TB coriander seeds, ground

2 tsp sweet paprika

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cumin seeds, ground

1/2 tsp ground tumeric

1/2 tsp cayenne (i used half this amount cause I’m a wimp)

Combine the ginger and garlic pastes in a medium bow and mix well. Add the chicken and smear them all over with the paste.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the chicken pieces, meat side down, in a single layer and cook until they are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the pieces over and cook on the other side until lightly browned about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the tomato sauce, onion paste, coriander, salt, paprika, cumin, tumeric and cayenne to the skillet. The sauce will immediately start to bubble and boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally until a thin layer of oil separates from the sauce, about 20-25 minutes.

Return the chicken to the skillet and coat them with the sauce. Cook, covered, turning the chicken occasionally, untilย  the meat in the thickest parts is no longer pink, about 20-25 minutes.

Since I used boneless thighs I cut the cooking by about half since they cooked quicker.

This really is an awesome curry. It’s quick to make and has a nice rich flavor. The Fried Onion paste is a very nice addition.

Fried Onion Paste

2 lbs red onions (I used yellow since that’s what i had), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

1/4 cup canola oil

Heat a pan over medium heat without the oil in it yet. When it’s hot, add the oil Which will immediately start to shimmer. Add the onions and cook them stirring occasionally until they are caramel brown in color. 25-30 minutes (or even longer) you want a long slow caramelization process to bring out all the flavor without the onions turning bitter.

Pour 1 cup of water into a blender. Add the onions and puree to make a smooth paste. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.


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