Dreamy's Delights

It's all about the food!

Tastes like… Cheese!

Tonight I got to try my Havarti and I am pleased πŸ˜€ It tastes like cheese lol. It’s VERY different from a store bought cheese but it’s fresh, not aged. I think I’m going to take half of it and brine/age it to see how that changes the taste and texture. I’m not really sure yet because I don’t have a “cheese cave” to keep it at the proper temp. 😦

So here are my tasting notes.. It’s very tangy, which I think is to be expected in a fresh cheese. It’s also not as smooth and creamy, also because of it being fresh. My understanding is that the aging process will help mellow the flavor and make a smoother, creamier cheese. It has a very pronounced dill flavor which was exactly what I was hoping for. Dill is one of my favorite herbs! I’m not sure Jene liked it but he didn’t spit it out either πŸ˜‰Β  His palate is very used to store bought cheeses and I don’t think he was expecting how very different a fresh, homemade cheese would be.freshdillhavarti

So all in all, I’m happy with it and looking forward to seeing how the aging process changes things. Ian over at muchtodoaboutcheese.com has given me a recipe for Caerphilly that I’m going to try out as soon as I get my cheese cave situation figured out πŸ™‚Β  Thank you Ian!!

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Dill Havarti

I got a new cheese recipe book the other day and decided I wanted to try one of the recipes. The book is Artisan Cheese Making at Home by Mary Karlin. Steve, the owner of thecheesemaker.com told me about it when I talked to him on the phone Friday. Being the impatient sort, I got the Kindle version because I didn’t want to wait for a book to arrive by mail. I’ll probably still order the book but I wanted to get started NOW lol.

Anyway, this book is much more comprehensive than the other two books I have. It has a very in depth discussion about the different types of cultures as well as a website that provides additional information and charts. Artisan Cheese Making at Home provides a whole wealth of additional information for the newbie cheese maker.

After reading through the beginning and intermediate recipes I decided I wanted to make the Dill Havarti. I chose this recipe for a couple of reasons. It would let me use my cheese press, I love Havarti and it was somewhat less time consuming than something like Cheddar. When I made Cheddar curds a couple of weeks ago is was an ALL day process, about 11 hours. This Havarti recipe has only taken about 4 hours so far and I’m in the final stages of pressing the cheese.

I’m not going to post the whole recipe and I still suck at taking pictures of the whole process but a fellow blogger has a great site about making cheese. http://muchtodoaboutcheese.com has great pictures of the process of making cheese so go check them out! I suspect one of the reasons that I don’t take many pictures is that my hands are usually too dirty to touch my phone plus I get involved and forget what I’m doing.

I definitely feel that I’m getting the hang of this. My curds set properly again. Changing to a local non-homogenized milk has made a HUGE difference. I didn’t realize how prevalent homogenization really was. I still need to work on my curd cutting technique but I suspect that comes with practice. But I’m proud to say that I have my first cheese in the press and it appears to be doing what it should! pressingdillhavartiThe cheese will press at about 8lbs of pressure for half an hour then I’ll take it out, unwrap the cheesecloth, flip it over, rewrap it and press it again for another half hour. I’ll keep this up for a couple of hours until it stops leaking whey. And tah dah! I’ll have cheese πŸ˜€ Havarti can be brined and aged but I’m going to eat this batch fresh like the greedy cheese fiend I am.

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Sausage and Sauerkraut

I occasionally get really random food cravings. Yesterday I decided I wanted some polish sausage and sauerkraut. With that in mind, I got the ingredients and cooked it up tonight. It’s a pretty easy dish to put together but very tasty.

Recipe

2 packages kielabasa or polish sausage (13 oz each), sliced

1 32oz jar sauerkraut (I used Claussen brand)

1/4 large onion, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring frequently until browned. Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, bell pepper and sauerkraut. Cook, stirring frequently until the onions and peppers are tender.

That’s it lol.

sausageandkraut

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Braised Turkey

I made this at Thanksgiving and didn’t post the recipe! *GASP* Fortunately I had some thighs and legs in the freezer so I decided to make this today. The ingredient list looks a little intimidating but it’s actually really easy to make. This recipe comes from the 2011 Thanksgiving issue of Cooks Illustrated. It is one of my favorite ways to make turkey (besides smoking) and the braising liquid makes fabulous gravy.

Recipe

Published November 1, 2011. From Cook’s Illustrated.

Serves 10 to 12

Instead of drumsticks and thighs, you may use 2 whole leg quarters, 1Β½ to 2 pounds each. The recipe will also work with turkey breast alone; in step 1, reduce the salt and sugar to Β½ cup each and the water to 4 quarts. If you are braising kosher or self-basting turkey parts, skip the brining step and instead season the turkey parts with 1Β½ teaspoons of salt.

Ingredients

  • Turkey
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 (5- to 7-pound) whole bone-in turkey breast, trimmed
  • 4 pounds turkey drumsticks and thighs, trimmed
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine

Gravy

1. FOR THE TURKEY: Dissolve 1 cup salt and sugar in 2 gallons cold water in large container. Submerge turkey pieces in brine, cover, and refrigerate for 3 to 6 hours.
2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Remove turkey from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Toss onions, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, porcini, and 2 tablespoons butter in large roasting pan; arrange in even layer. Brush turkey pieces with remaining 2 tablespoons butter and season with pepper. Place turkey pieces, skin side up, over vegetables, leaving at least ΒΌ inch between pieces. Roast until skin is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
3. Remove pan from oven and reduce temperature to 325 degrees. Pour broth and wine around turkey pieces (it should come about three-quarters of way up legs and thighs). Place 12 by 16-inch piece of parchment paper over turkey pieces. Cover roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil. Return covered roasting pan to oven and cook until breasts register 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees, 1ΒΎ to 2ΒΌ hours. Transfer turkey to carving board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 20 minutes.
4. FOR THE GRAVY: Strain vegetables and liquid from roasting pan through fine-mesh strainer set in large bowl. Press solids with back of spatula to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard vegetables. Transfer liquid to fat separator; allow to settle, 5 minutes. Reserve 3 tablespoons fat and measure out 3 cups braising liquid (reserve any remaining broth for another use).
5. Heat reserved fat in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until flour is dark golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 3 cups braising liquid and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until gravy is thick and reduced to 2 cups, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove gravy from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Carve turkey and serve, passing gravy separately.

Now, before you worry about how huge the ingredient list is, most of them are ingredients most people already have in the kitchen. The dried porcini mushrooms are something I consider to be optional. They lend a tremendous amount of flavor but if you don’t have them or can’t find them at your store, don’t worry about it. As far as the fresh herbs are concerned, the thyme really is necessary. Fortunately, it’s easy to find at the store. If you don’t want to use wine, just use extra chicken stock or water. So that’s it, follow the recipe and enjoy! πŸ˜€

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Boredom lol

What can I say? It’s Friday night and I’m sort of bored. So I thought I’d give my blog a wintery theme for a while. It’s one of those weird random things I like to do. I’m surprised I kept the original theme for as long as I did. Please feel free to leave comments and let me know if you dislike this color selection and I’ll change it again πŸ˜‰

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Cheese Domination!! (I hope)

It’s here! It’s here! It’s here! My cheese press is here! *happy dance around*

Whew, now that I got that out of the way… My cheese press got here today and I am VERY excited. Tomorrow’s project will be to make a pressed cheddar cheese. The curds I made came out completely awesome (I finished off the last of them topping a shepherd’s pie earlier this week) and I’m ready to try making them into a block of cheese. I’ve also got some lovely bright red cheese wax to coat the cheese in once it’s been dried.

Now that I’ve reported all the good stuff, I’m going to wander off and work for awhile. I apologize for the short post but I had to share πŸ˜€

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Mashed Cauliflower

At long last, I’m posting my recipe for mashed cauliflower! I’ve been asked for it several times over the last few months but I’m lazy. I made it to top shepherd’s pie for dinner tonight.

Recipe

2 heads fresh cauliflower or 2 16oz bags frozen cauliflower

1/2 stick butter

1/3 cup milk or heavy cream

1/4-1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

If you’re using fresh cauliflower cut it into large pieces and remove the tough central stem. Put the pieces in a pot of boiling water. If you’re using frozen, just put it in the boiling water. Boil until the cauliflower is really tender. It would be considered overcooked if you were eating it alone but for this it needs to be soft.

Drain the cauliflower and put it back in the now empty pot with the butter, milk and parmesan cheese. Use a potato masher and mash until it is creamy and sort of smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The reason for using the parmesan cheese is it acts as a binder. With mashed potatoes the natural starch helps it hold together but since cauliflower is lacking starch you need something else.

If you want to add a little extra flavor you can peel and cube up a celery root and cook it with the cauliflower. Celery root usually takes a bit longer to get soft to boil it for a few minutes before you add the cauliflower. It has a very mild celery flavor and I really like it. I didn’t have any today so this batch is celery root free.

Now that you know how to make mashed cauliflower, it can be used for just about anything that calls for mashed potatoes. I use it for shepherd’s pie and also for a side dish when I’m making gravy. Enjoy!

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One Step Closer to Cheese Domination!

One thing that you really need to have for serious cheese making is a cheese press. I have put off ordering one until I was sure this was something I was really going to keep doing. After the cheddar curds from last weekend being so good, I went ahead and ordered my cheese press. (Edit: I forgot to post a link to the website!) I ordered it from thecheesemaker.com I love this website. It’s easy to navigate and the prices are excellent.

cheesepresspic

This press uses a heavy duty spring to apply the required amount of pressure to the cheese. I like it over the lever arm style presses because it doesn’t take up as much space. This particular model comes in two sizes. The small size will do up to 2 gallons of milk and the large one will handle up to six gallons of milk.

So why do I need a press? The press is what creates cheese in a block. Otherwise it just stays in little curds. So with this press I can form blocks of cheese and then age them properly. So some of my friend will be getting cheese for Christmas. πŸ˜€

I also ordered a few more supplies for making other cheeses with more yet to get but I’m a bit step closer to having everything I need. Well, except for a cow… still not any closer to that lol.

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All alone…

As I’m sure you guys have noticed, I haven’t had anything to say this week. That’s because Jene is out of town and I pretty much don’t cook while he’s gone. I ordered Chinese food delivered on Tuesday and I’m still eating the leftovers lol. Before Jene and I got together I used to live on frozen dinners and Sonic. Not the healthiest diet ever but I’m lazy about feeding myself.

I should mention though that I’ve also been eating the cheddar cheese curds I made Sunday. They don’t squeak properly when they’re refrigerated but they’re still mighty tasty. Princess MewMew likes to help me eat them too. Jene will be home in a few more days so I’ll get back to cooking then. Mean while, if you’re looking for good recipes, check out Epicurious.com πŸ™‚

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Making Cheddar Cheese

Today is the day! I found a source for un-homogenized milk that won’t break the bank. It’s only $4.50/half gallon. Still not cheap but doable. Eventually I’ll need a cow lol. One surprise is that the cream not only rises to the top of the bottle but actually makes a semi-solid plug.

Currently I have my milk heated to 86F in a double boiler set up. Because of the amount of time I’ll be holding the milk at certain temperatures this is important to keep from scorching the milk. Fortunately I have several large pots πŸ˜‰Β  For those of you who haven’t seen my pot selection it’s quite extensive ranging from small sauce pots to extremely large stock pots, a couple of them range in the 20+ quart range.

Anyway, the milk is currently sitting with the mesophilic culture and then I’ll get serious about making the cheese. I decided to make the traditional cheddar which is going to require that I hold the curds at 100F for a couple of hours. I never could do anything the easy way.

Time passes with much stirring and holding at 100F….

Now that it’s almost 11pm, I have finally finished making the cheese curds. They are GOOD. I am very happy with the results. This makes me much more comfortable with buying a cheese press. I’ve been putting it off because they start just under $200. Of course, I have absolutely no problem with eating just the curds but it would be nice to press it and then let the cheese age. I hope to do this as christmas presents for friends πŸ™‚

I’ve found the process to be both very frustrating and satisfying. Now that I know I can accomplish cheese it’s time to get my press and get serious about it. I need a few other cultures to create other cheeses like mozzarella and swiss cheese. I don’t see myself doing this every weekend since my fridge would rapidly fill up with aging cheeses but maybe once or twice a month lol. Maybe later this year we’ll be able to move to a larger place and I’ll have a dedicated space for cheese and sausage aging. πŸ˜‰

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