22/06/2014

Soft Cows’ Milk Cheese

I want to make cottage cheese. It never seems to happen though, but I keep trying. The shop bought stuff used to be lovely but these days, to me, it always tastes off, no matter what they put into it. It can’t be that hard, but I never seem to manage it.

Along the way, though, I have ended up with a very nice Something Else. A very fresh, soft cheese.

I had bought some full cream milk (found it in Sainsbury’s) so wanted to use that for my cheese attempt. I had no rennet so lemon juice it had to be. Sainsbury’s Basic lemons are quite possibly the meanest I’ve come across, juice-wise, (it took five of them to get 1/3 cup of juice) but they smelled gorgeous.

Milk and lemons

1 litre Graham’s Gold Jersey milk

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/2 tsp white vinegar

pinch salt

Put the milk in a stainless steel pan, and heat it gently until bubbles start to form around the edge and the top looks foamy.

Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice and vinegar, plus a pinch of salt, stir and then leave to sit for 10 minutes. It should curdle and start to split. It doesn’t split into large lumps, but it does split.

(If it doesn’t, heat gently again and add another tablespoon of lemon juice. NOT vinegar.)

Line a colander with a large piece of cheesecloth or a clean teatowel.

Pour the split milk into this then bring the corners together to form a bag.

I tied the top of mine with a piece of string that I could then loop over the tap to drain.

I let it drip for around 2 hours, then turned it out into a Tupperware.

I’m going to try rennet next time, as I don’t always want the lemon flavour, but this is really good on bread or crackers with honey on top, and I’m going to stuff peppers with it tomorrow.

For my taste, next time I would also not add white vinegar as it was a bit too strong. It does make for a very tangy cheese for eating on its own, but with a drizzle of honey it’s perfect.

The Gold milk gives it such a buttery colour, so I’ll definitely use that again!

The hunt for cottage cheese will continue…

Cheese

Edited: Later that weekend…

I made a salad. The cheese had sat in the fridge for 24 hours. It crumbled perfectly, and went incredibly well with not just the salad ingredients, but with chargrilled aubergine too. Lovely! Next time I shall try and turn it into feta. Sorry. Salad cheese.

Salad

Those are Essex olives, picked from my own tree and home cured. Smile

Dinner

20/06/2014

CRUMPETS!

This is all entirely Pete Favelle’s fault. All of it. It started with this post over on Kavey Eats. I couldn’t get the things out of my head.

I bought crumpet rings, but the horror tales of not being able to dislodge the crumpets put me off and I hid them away for a few months.

The germ of an idea refused to leave, and one day I decided to make just one BIG crumpet in a frying pan – no rings - and see what happened.

The batter was very thick, so the whole lot just flopped out into the hastily added cake tin. (Added as I realised the skillet had sloped sides and crumpets don’t.)

It was huge, and I faffed at it a lot,  creating the hashtag of #crumpetgate along the way, but I did it, and it tasted really good!

Batter Stage 1Batter stage 2Stage 3 with cake tinStage 4 OMGWILLITCOOKUndersideSplit

Dinner plate sized crumpet

But the thought of individual ones was stuck in my head. So I braved the dreaded rings.

I adapted the recipe as I had no white bread flour, only wholemeal, but you know, it worked! I also added lemon juice to the milk, to make it more like buttermilk, for no reason other than I was curious as to how it would taste.

Crumpets!

4 ounces plain flour

4 ounces strong wholemeal flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 pint milk and water (50/50 mix, ish) – warmed slightly in the microwave, to body temperature

1 tbs fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon light olive oil

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1 tsp honey

one packet of dried yeast

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in 1 tbs warm water

 

Add the lemon juice to the milk, and mix. It will separate, that’s ok.

Whisk everything together really well, except for the bicarb.

Leave to stand, covered, in a warm place. It should double and froth up.

Pour in the dissolved bicarb and mix very well. It will knock all the air out and hopefully make it pourable. (I had to add a bit more water to thin it out.)

Heat a griddle on a medium heat. Add the rings. I used Lurpak’s cooking mist to properly spray the rings and the pan, and poured in the batter to a depth of about 1 cm.

THIS DOES NOT ALWAYS WORK. The batter is alive. It has its own rules. Crumpet size may go up as well as down.

Gradually the sides will start to dry out, and bubbles will appear. AT NO POINT did I burst these with a skewer. Nope. Not me.

I turned the heat down so that the bottoms didn’t burn. Each one takes maybe 5 minutes to dry out, and then I removed the rings – carefully – and flipped the crumpet to brown the top.

They aren’t as light in texture as a purely white flour mix would be, but they are damned tasty. I am looking forward to toasting some for breakfast tomorrow.

Rings stage 1

Rings stage 2

Released

Released side view

I had one with Blueberry No Sugar Jam for tea.

Blueberry No Added Sugar Jam

Bear in mind this will not last long, as there is no sugar to preserve it apart from that in the blueberries.

1 large punnet of blueberries

2 tsp Splenda

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbs water.

Mix everything together well in a saucepan, bring to the boil, then simmer on low until all the juices have reduced and you have a thick jam. Keep in the fridge.

Crumpet in the sun

Bavette, Flat Iron and my version of chimichurri

Whenever I go and stay in Penge on a weekend, it’s very hard not to head straight to The Butchery in Forest Hill. Every single piece of meat that I have bought from there has been exceptional, and the prices are very good considering the high quality of the meat that you are getting.

Last time I was there,  I bought one large piece each of bavette and flatiron steak, two bags of proper pork scratchings and 1/2 a pound of smoked bacon. That was £16. The steaks easily did two dinners, and possibly four had I not eaten all of mine.

I’ve had onglet before, as that seems to be the steak of fashion these days, but I hadn’t had flatiron or bavette, and wanted to give them a try. They have a reputation for being incredibly flavourful, but also for being tough if not cooked right, so I decided on a marinade. Red wine, lots of garlic, thyme. Can’t go wrong with that.

Roughly 2 glasses of red wine, 5 cloves chopped garlic, handful of chopped parsley, teaspoon of dried thyme and a glug of olive oil.

Put the steaks in it, leave for 2 hours, turning every half hour.

Steaks

Cook on a searing, smoking hot griddle for 3 minutes per side. Serve with chimichurri sauce.

Chimichurri Sauce (not authentic so don’t kill me)

Bunch flat parsley

3 spring onions

2 cloves garlic

Olive oil

Red wine vinegar

1 tsp sugar

Chop the garlic, parsley and onions all together until very fine.

Put in a bowl, pour over equal parts olive oil and vinegar.

Stir in 1 tsp sugar until dissolved ands add salt and pepper to taste. Add in some dried chilli flakes if you want a kick.

Almost chimichurri

The steaks cooked up brilliantly, despite it being my first steaks cooked on an electric hob.

Steak and chimichurri

08/06/2014

Tahini & Rose Cookies

This was inspired by a recipe that Rebecca Bakes Cakes put up. I did have some nut butters, but I also had the end of a jar of tahini that I needed to use. Tahini, for me, goes hand in hand with cinnamon and rose, two of my favourite flavours, so I decided to go with those rather than the orange water I’d been contemplating.

I had to adjust the recipe as I think that the egg I used was very large, and tahini may be more liquid/oily than peanut butter. Once I’d mixed in the 100g of flour, I added a bit more, 10g at a time, until the dough reached a roll-able consistency. I chilled it for half an hour to make sure.

I can’t wait to try this again, and have a bit more of a play with the recipe, perhaps make a pistachio honey paste to sandwich the cookies together.

50g soft butter

50g golden caster sugar

50g soft brown sugar

50g Cypressa tahini

1 tsp cashew butter

1 large egg

150g self raising flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp Star Kay White rose extract (the best one I’ve found)

Beat the sugars, butter, tahini, cashew butter, cinnamon and extract together until well mixed and fluffy.

Beat in the egg.

Then mix in the flour.

You should be able to roll the dough into balls about 2cm in diameter. If the dough gets too sticky, pop it back in the fridge for 5 minutes.

Space them out on a lined baking tray about an inch apart and press down lightly with the tines of a fork. They don’t spread too much.

Bake for 13 minutes at 170C fan. I turned them round halfway through. (I know it was 13 minutes, I set a timer and everything.)

Leave them to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. They will crisp up around the edges. If you can resist eating them all before then, well done.

They are quite a light biscuit, and very moreish. The tahini doesn’t overpower, and the rose/cinnamon flavours are in the background.

Tahini batter

Cookies

One missing