Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Home-made cottage cheese with olive oil and chives 自家製カッテージチーズ

Coagulated milk protein is the base of any cheese. Trying not to be too indelicate in discussing this; the only way a calf (or any other mammalian baby including humans) can digest mother's milk is to coagulate the milk in the stomach. Babies have a special enzyme called "rennet" in their stomachs. Although rennet derived from plants is available, many traditional cheeses are made using calf rennet. Rennet is also used to make a very old fashioned custard dessert called "rennet custard" or "junket". My wife loves junket and used to get "junket custard mix" This mix is very difficult to find and she had to mail order her supply. As a result she was very reluctant to make this desert lest she deplete the cache. On a recent trip to the grocery store, she found "rennet" tablets. She started reading the recipes in the back of the box and decided to make cottage cheese.

She used 1 gallon of 1% milk warmed to 70 degrees in a pan.  She added 1/4 rennet tablet dissolved in water, and 1/4 cup buttermilk mixing well. She removed it from the heat, covered the pan with a dish towel and let it sit on the counter at room temperature for 18 hours. The next day, a nice curd had developed. She cut the curd into small 1/2 inch pieces using a long blade knife. She put the pan in a bain marie and slowly heated it to 110F and held it at that temperature for 20 to 30 minutes stirring every 5 minutes to make sure the curd heated evenly. She drained the curd using colander lined with a moistened cheese cloth. After draining several minutes she lifted the curd in the cheese cloth and immersed it in cold water stirring and pressing with a spoon to break the curd into smaller pieces. She placed the curd in a bowel added 1 tsp salt and 1/3 cup cream stirring until everything is mixed in.

After the cheese cooled down in the refrigerator, we served it with a drizzle of good extra-virgin olive oil, freshely cracked black pepper and chopped chives. The texture was a bit spongy but sort of between commercial cottage cheese and mozzarella. We liked this. Compared to "acid" coagulated curd, we like rennet coagulated curd. My wife said she was making cheddar cheese next. So please keep an eye on this blog for home-made cheddar.

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