November 14, 2010
I like to multitask when I spend time with friends. We are always doing something, whether it’s eating together, exercising together, or in the case of Kim Shiffer, cooking together. So, in search of a new and exciting cooking adventure, Kim and I made a date to make cheese. Is that cheesy? (Sorry, that is such a lame joke.)
Actually, making cheese has kind of become our thing, and we get together to do it as much as our busy schedules will allow. In the past we have made chevre, feta and ricotta. Kim has also introduced me to friends of hers who sell us fresh goat milk from their Nubian goats (of the “floppy ear” variety). Not only are they the cutest darn animals, but the milk they produce is the creamiest imaginable. I find that homemade cheese always turns out best when you start with the freshest possible ingredients. Since we are lucky enough to have access to these little cuties, we use their milk instead of the pre-pasteurized market brands.
Of course, getting fresh milk from the farm adds another step to the process, but believe me, it’s totally worth it. Another bonus is that the girls and I absolutely love making the “trip” (it’s actually not a long drive, but it always feels like an adventure) to the farm to visit the goats. Every time we go, the girls get so excited about playing with the goats, although to tell you the truth, I’m not so sure the goats are too thrilled about hanging out with the girls …
So, once Kim and I had our fresh milk, it was time to pasteurize it (this is the extra step). We ordered our chevre culture from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Co., and basically all you have to do is follow the instructions on the package.
After you’ve pasteurized your milk, just follow the instructions on the packet of chevre culture to make the cheese.
We made this batch of cheese straight from the directions on the packet of chevre we got from New England Cheesemaking Supply Co. Since Kim and I have made this type of cheese a few times, we’ve started to experiment with using different quantities of cultures, but the recipe is great just as it is. Cheese making can seem a little intimidating, but it shouldn’t be, especially if you are having fun with a friend throughout the process.
Once our cheese was done, we smothered it on crackers (I love those Lesley Stowe Rain Coast Crisps crackers — I buy them at my little local market in Montecito but they also stock them at Whole Foods) and then packaged the rest as gifts for friends. The cheese was so creamy and rich —- it goes great with a variety of herbs from the garden or cracked pepper and drizzled with olive oil in a ramekin. With the holidays just around the corner, handmade cheese would make a perfect hostess gift. Just remember to save some for yourself. Believe me, this cheese is worth every minute of the process, and I get an immense amount of satisfaction from making it. Enjoy!
For more photos of the process, see the gallery below. You can find the recipe and cheese-making supplies at New England Cheesemaking Supply Co.