Tag Archives: cheese

Savoury Muffins with Cheese, Caramelized Onions and Thyme | Weekend Baking

Savoury Muffins with Cheese, Caramelized Onions and ThymeIt’s pretty easy to whip up a batch of muffins and on weekends for breakfast, we sometimes prefer baking that’s a little savory and sweet, like Muffins with Cheese, Caramelized Onion and Thyme. Also, I wanted to try these cardboard cupcake/muffin cases I’ve had for a while… I’ve only every used paper muffin/cupcake liners to bake with. Continue reading

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A Cheese making day at Corleggy

A Cheese making day at Corleggy coincided with my recent visit to Ireland. Having tried making soft cheese before (ricotta and fromage blanc), was keen to learn the process of maturing hard cheese using raw milk. Guided by a professional with a passion for cheese making was a chance not to be missed, allowing me a little insight into the art of cheese making. An enjoyable experience and a great way to spend a day outdoors.

The class was run by Silke Croppe an Artisan Cheese Maker recognized throughout Ireland for her handmade goats, cows and sheep’s cheese using raw milk. Silke is originally from Germany but moved to Ireland many years ago to live in Corleggy, Belturbet Co. Cavan where her passion for cheese making began.

The cheese making class was held outdoors on her charming farmhouse cottage nestled in the Belturbet countryside. The weather was on our side and luckily, no rain fell from the Irish skies… but it was cold! Silke and her team had a lovely log fire burning, keeping us warm throughout the day.

Breakfast was served before commencing the cheese making class and it gave us all time to introduce ourselves and have a chat.

A brief summary of the cheese making (in a bucket) process that Silke guided us through.

Fresh raw cow’s milk had already been collected early that morning from a nearby registered dairy into a large vat and mixed with a live culture (starter) to ripen the milk.

Everyone collected 10 liters of the raw cows milk into a sterilized container or bucket.

 Liquid rennet was stirred into the bucket of milk which was then left undisturbed for about 20 minutes until the milk set forming a large curd. Using a long knife the curd was carefully cut into smaller curds, this helped separate the watery whey from the curds. The curds were then gently stirred in the whey with clean hands while slowly adding some hot water until the curds reached a temperature of 39°C. During this process the curds became smaller and firmer.

Everyone busy stirring, adding hot water and emptying the excess whey until the curds reach the correct temperature.

Some of the curds were placed into a small cheese mould, this was left to drain for a couple of hours forming a soft cheese.

The rest of the drained curds and the cheesecloth were placed inside a larger cheese mould with holes at the sides which allowed further draining of the whey.

Each cheese mould was covered with a follower and pressure applied to the curds for a few hours, extracting more whey and shaping the cheese.

Time for a break…  a delicious lunch was served,  roast pork, some salads, cheese and wine were on offer. Coffee and some sweet treats were also provided!

After a few hours the cheese was removed from the press and the exterior of the cheese rubbed liberally with salt, this will help form a rind on the cheese.

The soft cheese (which is still in the white mould) only needed removing from the mould, ready to eat (or stored for about a week) and no further maturing was needed.

Our 1kilo of cheese is wrapped in cheesecloth to take home, ready for maturing into a hard cheese… over a three-month period! Maturing cheese can be a timely process and in the early stages the cheese will need to be turned daily for a couple of weeks and then every now and then until the cheese is mature. Ideal temperatures for maturing cheese are 10°C to 14°C and consistency is important… a wine cooler at home can come in handy!

Our day ended with a selection of Silkes wonderful handmade raw milk cheeses to sample before heading home.

As I was travelling back to Bahrain the following day I decided to leave my cheese with my brother, maturing alongside his cheese in his wine cooler. Up-dates have been promised (with a photo) and maybe I might just be back in Ireland to taste the cheese when it is fully matured…  in three months time.

fresh Parmesan please

DSC08693A little bit of information

Many people think that the massive wheels of Grana Padano, the semi-aged hard Italian cheese, are maybe a cheaper knock-off of better known Parmigiana-Reggiano, says Lou DiPalo, part of the fourth generation to run DiPalo’s Fine Foods in Little Italy. In fact, he says, Grana is a great cheese in its own right and well-known in Italy. Grano Padano is a subtler and less nutty and salty than Parmigiano, says DiPalo, with a more delicate flavor that he prefers on risotto or when you don’t want to overpower a dish.

via Know your Italian cheeses: Grana Padano vs. Parmigiana-Reggiano – New York Daily News.

The above link does not exist anymore… will up-date soon.

Fresh is best

None of that dried Parmesan cheese that you get in packets will ever find its way into my cooking, you cannot compare the flavour against  fresh Parmesan. Sometimes I like having more visible Parmesan cheese in my food, so shaving the Parmesan cheese with my swivel vegetable peeler makes it an easy job.

So easy

Run a swivel vegetable peeler along the narrow side of a chunk of Parmesan to obtain thin shavings of cheese.

Add a burst of flavour and make your food look good:

  • Top a caesar salad with some Parmesan shavings or toss them with a green leafy salad with fresh strawberries and balsamic dressing
  • Scatter some Parmesan shavings over a freshly baked pizza before serving
  • Before serving I like to garnish risotto and pasta dishes with a small bundle of Parmesan shavings, piled on top of the food.

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