Tuesday, September 7, 2010
This Cheese Stands Alone
In the hills of Hollywood, nothing says labor like a little Labor Day cheese-making. That's right, kids: Mr. Wonderful and I attempted to make cheese this weekend. It could have been the delicious buffalo mozzarella we shared with two of our favorite friends, Foodie and her sister Mrs. Preggerington, Saturday night. We joined these lovely ladies at their beach house and had a make-your-own-pizza night. Mr. W and Foodie exchanged some fighting words about which preparation methods were correct. And although Mr. W pulled the "I used to work in a pizzeria" card, I think Foodie may have turned out to be the better dough spreader.
But back to the cheese. So yes, likely in an effort to dazzle me, Mr. W purchased a cheese-making kit online. Its packaging sung an alluring story about how you could create everything from ricotta to cheddar to Parmesan, but we settled on mozzarella because it was one of the faster recipes. As you can see, Mr. W worked diligently, heating the milk to just the right temperature—first on the stove and then in a hot water bath.
I drank wine and watched carefully over his shoulder. There is only one domestic goddess in this relationship. And he really prefers to be called "Kitchen Boy." Or "Cookie McHotpants."
The whole process was WAY more complicated than either of us realized. And we didn't even have the citric acid or whatever sort of crazy curdling element you need whence making cheese—so we had to use lemon juice. And we sort of guessed on the amount to add... Nice curds, huh?
Because I was drinking wine (a delightful Caymus Cabernet, btw) the details of Mr. W's endeavors aren't totally crystal clear to me. I tried to document the process, but looking at the pictures now I'm not exactly sure what's happening. I think we put the curds back in the whey (above) and then like squished them together while also trying to stretch them out. Except they wouldn't really stretch...
So in the end we had mozzarella balls that you could pretty much bounce on the floor. They tasted okay...sort of like solidified whole milk. I don't know how real cheese-makers produce that cheesy flavor, but Mr. W and I certainly didn't do it. We may give this process another whirl to see if we can get it right with whatever that creepy acid ingredient is...or we may just keep hitting the refrigerator section of Trader Joe's.