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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Home Made Fresh Curd Cheese

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I have made this fresh curd cheese three times this week. Having never made it before, I was keen to perfect the technique. It’s important to use full cream non-homogenized milk. This milk has a creamy top to it, has a lovely rich flavour and produces stronger curds which separate from the whey quite distinctly.

It’s important to use a thermometer and watch the temperature keenly. The magic number is 80 degrees C.

This recipe is based on that of Paul West from River Cottage Australia.

Ingredients
2 litres of full  cream non-homonogenized milk – the fresher the better

1/2 tsp of salt

1 cup cream (optional – will produce a creamier cheese, I have made the cheese with and without the cream)

1/4 cup cider or white wine vinegar

Method
Add 1/2 tsp of salt to the 2 litres of milk in a large saucepan. Add the cream also if you want a creamier mix.

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Heat the milk slowly over medium heat to 80 degrees C. Measure the vinegar.IMG_4818

As soon as the milk reaches temperature, add the vinegar. Give it a gentle stir but be careful not to stir too much as this will result in a squeaky curd. Agitate it just enough to incorporate the vinegar into the milk. You should see the curds start to separate from the whey and move to the top of the saucepan.

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Leave for about for about 5 minutes, and watch for any cracks that start to form or any swelling bubbles about to pop on the surface of the pan. You want to maintain the temperature at just below boiling point so pour a small amount of cold water into those spots as you see them pop up.

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Remove the pan from the heat. It should now be done, and have a clear separation between the green-ish colored whey and the curds. The curd is the cheese.

Pour the mixture carefully into a colander or sieve, lined with muslin, set over a large bowl. The whey will drain into the bowl, leaving behind the fresh curd in the colander or sieve.

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Once you have all of the curd in the colander or sieve, set it aside to cool and finish draining to your desired consistency. To facilitate the draining I tied the muslin cloth and gently squeezed the whey from the muslin bag. This is not strictly necessary – it just sped up the process.

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Refrigerate in a container with as little air as possible. Or you can cover with olive oil in a container if you are going to use the cheese in a savoury way.

Use the cheese as you would ricotta. The Fresh Curd Cake in the previous post is a fantastic use of the cheese.

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Fresh Curd Cake with Strawberry Conserve

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Recently I viewed an episode of River Cottage Australia in which Paul West made fresh curd cheese. He then turned it into a kind of cheesecake.

Making the cheese was fun and very satisfying! And lovely to make the cheesecake from my very own curd!

I found the recipe for fresh curd very easy to follow, but from reading a few online recipes, I discovered that you need to use non homogenized milk. The milk is a lot creamier and makes it easier to separate the curds from the whey.

http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/recipes/18613/fresh-curd

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Fresh Curd Cake

Ingredients

I kg fresh curd

1 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup cream

4 large free-range eggs

1 tsp. lemon zest

1 tsp vanilla paste

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line a 25cm spring form tin with baking paper.

Place the curd, sugar and cream in the bowl of a food processer and process until smooth.

Add the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla paste and process until thoroughly mixed.

Pour into the prepared tin and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 – 60 minutes or until just beginning to turn brown and the mixture is set. Timing will depend on the heat of your particular oven.

Serve warm or at room temperature, but not cold, with any kind of fresh or cooked fruit.

I used my own strawberry conserve, as the syrup was a nice sweet counterpoint to the creaminess of the cheese.

https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/09/06/strawberry-conserve/

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Hunter Valley Bush Retreat – Shakey Tables

Early 25 September 2013 at Shakey Tables in the Hunter Valley NSW. A crisp morning before the unseasonable heat of the day…

The light, the reflections and the nesting goose were the reward for an early ramble.

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Cakes, Cookies and Slices – Baking for the Class of 2013

IMG_4577 2So it’s good bye to my young friends who provided such inspiration for this quirky writer in her baking this year!

A wonderful and inspiring group, they have given me feedback and appreciation for my cakes, cookies and slices. Some of them are bakers too, and I wish them joy in their culinary and eating adventures!

Niki Ticki!

Here is a selection of the baking they inspired – and ate appreciatively! Use these titles in “Search” to find the recipes.

White Chocolate and Caramel Pecan Cookies with Sea Salt

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Vanilla Butter Cake with White Chocolate and Hundreds and Thousands

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White Chocolate and Cranberry Blondies

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Red Wine Pear and Almond Cake

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Chocolate Velvet Cupcakes

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Cookie Sampler

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Fancy Individual Cakes

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Decadent Brownies

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This recipe was given to me by a young friend. It’s absolutely decadent!

It’s a little like the Roman banquet concept: a live bird baked within a bird within a bird – with the mythical chirruping bird flying free at the end!

Or the contemporary and rather prosaic analogy would be the turducken

The recipe

Use your favourite chocolate brownie recipe and chocolate chip cookie recipe and buy a packet of Oreo cookies.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Make your favourite brownie mixture and cookie mixture.

Line a large baking tin with baking paper and pour brownie mixture into the tin.

Place the tin with the brownie mixture into the oven. Cook for about 10 – 15 minutes.

Wrap the Oreo cookies in the chocolate chip cookie dough (make sure that none of Oreo cookies are showing).

Take the brownie mixture out of the oven (should still be runny) and place the cookie dough containing the Oreos into the brownie mixture. Make sure the cookies aren’t touching each other.

Place mixture back into the oven for a further 15 minutes (keep an eye on it as cooking time differs depending on oven power).

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Test by inserting a skewer into the brownie mixture to see whether mixture is ready (it doesn’t matter if it’s a bit gooey as it continues to cook a little when out of the oven and it’s better to be a bit underdone than overcooked and dry). Remove from oven when you are happy with the set.

Cut into chunks when cool!

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Caramel Oat Cookies With Peanut Butter

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This recipe was recommended by a young friend from the blog Bakeaholic Mama. Here is the link:

http://www.bakeaholicmama.com/2013/05/brown-butter-oatmeal-cookies-filled.html

If you like really sweet cookies this recipe is for you. The salty peanut butter taste can be a bit disconcerting – but you could use less or leave it out I guess!

Ingredients

1/2 cup  butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup plain flour

3/4 cups rolled oats

1/2 tsp baking powder

6 jersey caramels

6 tsp peanut butter

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.

Melt butter on medium/low heat in a saucepan until it turns a nut brown colour – be careful not to burn. Remove from heat.

Mix sugars, egg and vanilla in a food processor.

Add browned butter and process again.

 Add oats, flour and baking powder and pulse briefly.

When the dough has come together, refrigerate for 20 minutes until dough is firm enough to form into balls.

Remove from refrigerator and roll into 12 equal sized balls. Place balls on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, leaving about 5 cms between balls.

Push half a caramel into the centre of each cookie dough ball. Put half a teaspoon of peanut butter on the top of each caramel. Form the cookie dough roughly around the caramel/peanut butter.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies are brown and cooked through.

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Jams, Marmalades and Conserves 2013

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Just a reminder to myself of some of my favourite preserves of the year!

Ingredients
1 kg cumquats,
1 kg white sugar
1 litre water

Method
Slice the cumquats thinly, removing the seeds, and put into a large suacepan.

Add the water, and bring to a rapid simmer, cooking until the fruit is soft, between 25 minutess to an hour. Check regularly after  25 minutes – if the fruit is a little tough still, leave for another 10 minutes, and then check again.

Once the fruit is soft, add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Bring to the boil and simmer until setting point is reached.

Testing for setting point
Take the saucepan off the heat and allow the bubbles to subside. Take out a small saucer previously placed in the freezer, and spoon a little liquid onto the saucer, then return to the freezer for 1 minute. Push the marmalade along the plate with your finger. If setting point has been reached then the marmalade surface will wrinkle slightly and the marmalade won’t run back straight away. If it’s not at setting point, return to the heat and boil again for  a few more minutes (maximum 5 minutes) before re-testing. Repeat until setting point is reached.

Leave the marmalade to stand for 10 minutes before pouring into sterilised jars.

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