Food · food + drink

making your own cheese!

fromage blanc or just say cheese!

After managing to make some home-made yoghurt using my yogurt/cheese appliance and being very satisfied with the results, cheese making ( had made a ricotta style cheese before) using rennet tablets was next on the list!  I thought it better to start with a basic un-ripened soft cheese. Having found a very informative site for cheese making for beginners (me) and managing to get my hands on some rennet tablets, I was very excited to get started.

Most cheese recipes start off by using large volumes of milk (10 liters) but I was using my yogurt/cheese appliance (can be made without appliance) that could only accommodate 1 liter of milk. I needed to scale down the volume of milk and hope that my cheese making attempt would work… it  did and the result was a soft dense spreadable white cheese with a slight tangy taste that I and my tasters were very happy to devour… once the camera had been set aside!

Fromage Blanc

  • 1/8 tablet rennet
  • 1 liter fresh whole milk
  • 1oz  buttermilk culture
  • fine sea salt

How to make:

Pre-heat the yogurt/cheese maker using the cheese setting.

Dissolve the rennet tablet completely in a tablespoon of warm water.

Pour the milk into a saucepan and heat the milk gently until it reaches a temperature of 35˚C (check using a thermometer), remove from heat.

Add the buttermilk and stir well. Next add the rennet and stir for about a minute until thoroughly combined.

Pour the milk into the sterilized jars (used all the jars ) and  place jars without lids into the yogurt/cheese appliance and leave undisturbed for 12 hours.

Once the twelve hours were up you could see that the milk had set (curds) and the whey was visible.  As the yogurt/cheese appliance has only two jars with strainers I used another strainer with a very fine mesh placed over a jug to strain the rest of the curds.I left the curds to drain (covered in the fridge) for 9 hours which resulted in a soft cheese.

I still felt that I wanted a firmer cheese so I achieved this by placing all the cheese together in the one strainer, laying over some grease-proof paper and placing a 1lb weight on top of the cheese to expel more whey. After another two and a half hours I decided that I was happy enough with the firmness of the cheese. Now I know why cheese-making is made with large volumes of milk… so much whey  drains from the curds and the resulting cheese was not much bigger than a Boursin Cheese!

Before shaping the cheese I mixed in about 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt for flavor, salt also helps with preserving the cheese. I only left the cheese to sit un-eaten in the refrigerator (covered) for one day to further mature.

The cheese can be eaten at this stage or matured further by salting and turning...but that will be another cheese for another day and another post!

Rather than mix the herbs into the cheese I topped the cheese with some garden fresh herbs (thyme, basil and chives), some home-dried tomatoes and a few twists of black pepper, eaten with some crackers… delicious!

food + drink · posts

A Real Hot Chocolate Fix

What to make for the Death by Chocolate Blog Hop, hosted by The Hungry Australian.

Thinking…  a decadent chocolate cake or some fudgy brownies, what about  chocolate pots, or maybe a rich chocolate mousse. The list is endless when chocolate is the subject and in the end, decided on “Real Hot Chocolate”… a fix of liquid chocolate in a mug. Good quality chocolate and cocoa percentage is the defining factor for flavour and intensity and it’s all a matter of taste.

Real Hot Chocolate with a Hint of Cinnamon


  • 200g good quality dark chocolate (around 50% to 60% cocoa solids)
  • 600ml whole fresh milk
  • 2 tablespoons powdered milk
  • 4 cinnamon sticks

How to make:

With a sharp knife chop the chocolate into small pieces and place into a heat-proof bowl.

Pour the milk into a heavy-based saucepan and with a whisk blend in the powdered milk. Place the saucepan on medium heat and bring the milk to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the boiling milk over the chopped chocolate. Use the whisk to stir continuously until the milk and chocolate combine completely.

Pour the hot chocolate into cups or small mugs and serve with a cinnamon stick. Using cinnamon sticks to stir the hot chocolate with will impart a slight cinnamon taste.

The Cocoa Bean Pod… the beginning of all our chocolate addictions.

Try different types of chocolate, milk, dark, or even white. Chocolate with chilli or flavoured with orange could also be used. Using chocolate with 70% to 90% cocoa solids will need sweetening with sugar, unless you enjoy the taste of bitter chocolate.

This post was part of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop! Click on the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop Badge to check out all the other “Death by Chocolate” entries!
food + drink · kitchen jewellery · posts

Home-made yoghurt

Used some of my dwindling supply (from the freezer) of Ekhlas dates which were from our garden date palms. Dates and yogurt a breakfast favourite…!  

The New Year has begun and the food magazines are full of great recipes helping us start the year with healthy eating plans! Having acquired a new electric Cuisinart Yogurt and Cheese Maker, thought I would kick-start the new year and introduce the family to some “good bacteria” named Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, both needed for converting milk into yogurt. Now I know I can go to a health food store or a supermarket and buy yogurt (you need to do this for your first batch anyway) with live cultures… but making my own yogurt has given me a great sense of satisfaction and culinary pride…and that you cannot find in any store-bought pot of yogurt!

The glass jars that come with the yogurt maker are really handy for storing and serving the yogurt

Yogurt making is in fact a way of preserving milk by fermentation and has been around for many many years with no fancy kitchen appliances involved…  some kitchen appliances make cooking easier and it’s 2012.

My new kitchen appliance

Many people have had success without appliances or thermometers, using ovens, crock pots, flasks, wrapping pots with towels, checking the temperature with their fingers… but I wanted to help my friendly bacteria grow without competition from unfriendly bacteria that might spoil all my yogurt making efforts… plus I like using kitchen appliances and tools.

There is a little science attached to yogurt making which you need to follow in ordered to achieve the desired results. My first try was disappointing and I ended up with a very watery type of yogurt that did not set or taste anything like yogurt should taste. What went wrong? My guess… it could have been the yogurt starter I used. Maybe I should have added the dried powdered milk before heating the fresh milk. Maybe I should have sterilized the jars rather that rinsing. Maybe the milk was too hot when I added the yogurt starter and I killed the friendly bacteria. So, adhering to some science about the why’s and how’s of yogurt making I made my second batch… success!

Thicker yogurt with a creamy consistency are the types I prefer but low-fat and other types of milk like soya and goats milk can also be used in yogurt making which of course will affect the texture and taste. Wonder what yogurt from camels milk would taste like!

The choice of natural yogurt with live cultures used as a starter can also give variations on final taste. Different types of freeze-dried cultures for yogurt making can be bought on- line.

My little stash of fresh honey which a friend kindly brought back from Yemen for me… perfect partner with yogurt.


Home-made Yoghurt


  • 600ml  whole milk  ( richer and creamier)
  • 3 tablespoons dried powdered milk  (for thicker consistency) (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of natural yogurt with live cultures  (needed as a starter for your first batch after which you can use your own yogurt as the starter)

How to make:

Turn on the yogurt maker to pre-heat.

Pour the milk into a saucepan, add the dried milk powder and whisk gently to incorporate. Place the saucepan on medium heat and slowly bring the milk to a temperature of 85°C (checking with a digital thermometer). This helps to kill any other un-wanted bacteria that may be lurking around.

No more guessing… a digital thermometer makes it easier!

Remove the saucepan from the heat and quickly cool the milk down to a temperature of 45°C ( ideal temperature for incorporating the yogurt culture ) by placing the bottom of the saucepan in a few inches of cold water.

While the milk is cooling, sterilize the 6 glass jars by filling them up with some boiling water from the kettle.

Add the yogurt culture to the cooled milk and whisk gently to incorporate.

Pour the hot water from the glass jars and keep them turned upside down on a wire cooling rack for a minute or two, the heat from the glass will dry them out, do not dry with a cloth as you may introduce bacteria that could end up spoiling the yogurt.

Pour the milk into the jars and place then into the yogurt maker (without their lids), place the cover on top and leave the milk to ferment and set for 8 hours un-disturbed.

Yogurt maker in action and the ” good bacteria” doing their job”

After the incubation time has finished remove the jars from the yogurt maker and cover with the lids and store in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight before serving.


 These earthenware yogurt pots I collected from store-bought yogurt which you can see I used in the yogurt maker, great for individual servings.

The end result is a creamy textured yogurt with a slight tart taste. Enjoy plain or sweetened with honey or pure maple syrup. Chopped fresh fruits and nuts can be sprinkled over the yogurt before serving… the choice is yours!

  • Using an electric yogurt maker assures me that the milk is fermenting at the correct temperature constantly for the specified amount of time.
  • Yogurt with live cultures has intestinal health benefits.
  • Yogurt has many culinary uses, marinades, frozen yogurt, dressings, desserts, baking and drinks to name some.
  • By making my own yogurt I have less plastic containers to throw out so I guess the  environment gets a little help.

Honey from Yemen, Ekhlas dates from our own garden and fresh home-made yogurt… this has to be food heaven… now I wonder if I could squeeze a Jersey Cow into my back yard… !

Still have some more experimenting to do… more yogurt and cheese! If you make your own yogurt let me know how it went for you! Maybe you have some great tips or a recipe that you can share!