Saturday, March 3, 2012

Easy (really!) cheese recipe

I've always thought of cheese as one of those basics that one just doesn't make at home. It's got to be too complicated, need too much specialized equipment, too difficult to get right and I am not, let's face it, a Julia Child or Marcella Hazan. Why did I even decide to try?

I've been going to the farmers markets in Waverly and under the JFX overpass for the last year and become totally addicted to the great, fresh food I find there. There is very delicious cheese but no feta and, more importantly to me, no gibna talega. Gibna (cheese) talega (refrigerator) is a wonderful white cheese that I am obsessed with finding here it the States. It's softer and less tangy than feta but different than goat cheese. I could have lived on it when I resided in Egypt. I haven't even found it at Middle Eastern groceries. I decided to see if I could make it.

The following is a combination of a recipe by Tom Beni and an instructional video by Chef John from food

Pour 1/2 gallon of milk into a thick-bottomed pot (not really sure if my pot has a thick bottom). Slowly heat to 165 degrees. (I did have to buy a thermometer.)Stir sometimes.Turn off heat. Pour in the juice of 4 small lemons (not quite half a cup)

Let sit for 15 minutes. The milk will start to look strange, kind of lumpy. Put two layers of cheese cloth (I didn't have any of that either) in a strainer or colander over another pot or large bowl. Pour milk into strainer.

Leave it alone for 10 minutes. Dump the watery stuff if it gets too high and cheese won't drain.

Gather the cheese cloth together. Tie something (shoelace?) around it and suspend it so it will continue to drain. I hung it from a cabinet door. You're supposed to tie it to a long spoon and set the spoon across the top of a stock pot. I'm using my stock pot for steaming my scarves.

Leave it for another 50 minutes.

Turn out of the cheese cloth onto a plate or bowl. Mix with some salt (try a quarter teaspoon). You don't have to, but it makes a nice shape if you then press it into a little container. Apparently the flavor is enhanced if you leave it in the fridge overnight. I've not been able to do that yet. Whenever you decide to eat the cheese, turn it onto a plate.

Shake pepper and oregano (if desired) over the cheese. Slather with extra virgin olive oil. Eat with pita or spread (it's too soft to slice) onto bread or melba toasts.

A few observations: This cheese has a slight lemon taste, which I think is nice with the olive oil and spices. I've heard you can make cheese using the whey (that's the watery stuff you threw away). I'm hoping that makes a non-lemon tinged cheese as my son doesn't like lemon. Also, while I think this is an amazingly delicious and EASY (I really can't stress that enough) cheese, it is not gibna talega. My search, my quest, for that particular cheese will continue.

By Susan Brandt

1 comment:

shaddock said...

Sounds like you made a ricotta.