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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How to Make Mozzarella Cheese

There a few sites out there that tell you how to make mozzarella cheese, but I wanted to put together an article that gives a little history and explains the simple way of how to make mozzarella cheese. Mozzarella is one of several kinds of "plastic-curd" cheeses, originating in Italy. Mozzarella is one of the most versatile cheeses to make at home. It tastes wonderful freshly made, freezes well, can be used like an aged cheese in cooking, and melting readily when heated. Mozzarella cheese is ready the same day its made. The aged cheeses like Cheddar, Gouda and Colby are ready to eat in just a few weeks. Making Mozzarella has no smoke and mirrors. Mozzarella making, on the small home scale, is much more art than science. All you need to begin making mozzarella at home is a stainless steel pot, a dairy thermometer, measuring spoons and some cheesecloth. The basic ingredients for making cheese are milk, starter culture and or natural acids, and rennet. Traditional mozzarella is made from water buffalo not North American buffalo or bison as many mistakenly think. Buffalo milk, and its flavor are highly prized. However, any type of milk can be used to make mozzarella cheese. Homemade fresh mozzarella cheese has fabulous flavor.

Quick Recipe explaining how to make Mozzarella Cheese and enjoy the same day.

You will need:

--A 6 to 8 quart stainless steel pot. Aluminum or cast iron will not work.

--A stainless steel or strong plastic slotted spoon.

--A two quart microwave safe mixing bowl

--measuring spoons

--A thermometer which will clearly read between 80 - 120 degrees F.

Step 1 (How to make Mozzarella Cheese)

Do not prepare any other food while you are making mozzarella cheese. Put all food products away. Move all sponges, and dirty towels away from your work surface, clean your sink and stove with soap and water. Finally use an antibacterial cleaner to wipe down all surfaces.

Step 2 (How to make Mozzarella Cheese)

Crush 1/4 tablet of rennet and dissolve in 1/4 cup of cool water and set aside to use later. Heat the milk to 90F and add 1.5-2 tsp. of citric acid. This will bring the milk to the proper acidity to mold well later. As you approach 90F you will notice your milk beginning to curdle due to acidity and temperature. When at 90F add the rennet (which you prepared in previous step) to the milk and stir in a top to bottom motion for 30-60 seconds.

Step 3 (How to make Mozzarella Cheese)

Now turn the heat off (it may continue to rise as high as 105* or so) Let the milk remain still for the next 3-5 minutes during which it will form a curd. A longer set will result in a firmer curd. Cut the curds into a 1" checkerboard pattern and then scoop with a slotted spoon into a heat proof bowl for the microwave. (If the curd is too soft at this point let sit for another minute or so) Now press this curd gently with your hand, pouring off as much whey as possible. Reserve this whey to use in cooking or making ricotta cheese.

Step 4 (How to make Mozzarella Cheese)

Microwave the curd on HI for 1 minute. You will notice more whey has run out of the curd. Drain off all whey. Quickly work the cheese with a spoon or your hands until it is cool enough to touch (rubber gloves will help since the cheese is almost too hot to touch at this point) Microwave 2 more times for 35 seconds each and repeat the kneading. Drain all of the whey off as you go through these steps.

Step 5 (How to make Mozzarella Cheese)

Knead quickly now as you would bread dough until it is smooth and shiny. Add salt near the finish. At this point the cheese should be soft and pliable enough to stretch like taffy. It is ready to eat when it cools. Form it into a ball and drop into ice water to cool and refrigerate. When cold you can wrap in plastic wrap and it will last for several days but is best when eaten fresh.

That is how to make mozzarella cheese. A tasty way to enjoy this is simply layer fresh mozzarella and fresh tomatoes, then top with fresh basil leaves, coarse sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. Anyone who tries will be wowed!

By Rosanna Maywell

Check out the related article : Adventures in Cheese Making - Walk this Whey

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cream Cheese Mincemeat Pie

• bottom pie crust for a 9 or 10 inch pie plate
• 3 cups mincemeat
• 8 ounces of cream cheese (softened)
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Make the pie crust and line the pie plate with the crust (Iknow this seems obvious, but one time when I happened tolisten to Oprah -- I have listened to the show about 3 timesin my life -- there was a chef who was talking about cookingsomething in one of those plastic cooking bags. "When youtake it out of the oven, cut open the bag and throw it away,"Oprah said. "You have to say that because there are peopleout there who will eat the bag if you don't tell them to throw itaway.")

Put the mincemeat on top of the pie crust. Bake at 350degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 25 minutes.
Using an electric mixer, whip the softened cream cheese,sugar, the egg and the lemon juice until smooth. Pour ontop of the mincemeat and bake for another 25 to 30 minutesor until set.

Check Out the Related Article : Adventures in Cheese Making - Walk this Whey

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mozzarella Cheese - No Real Italian Pizza Should Be Without It

This Italian cheese has long been associated with the pizza as a topping that is as essential as tomatoes. However, it was never an ingredient for traditional pizza as made in the Greek colony of Naples centuries ago, and it’s history is not a relatively long one. In fact it has been mentioned by name in cookbooks from the 16th century.

The name mozzarella comes from Southern Italy, and from the words “mozzare” which literally means to “cut off”, and “mozza” which means “cut” and describes the method by which mozzarella is made. It is not actually one particular kind of cheese but applies to several kinds of Italian cheese made by spinning and cutting it. Made from either cows’ milk or buffalo milk, fresh mozzarella does not keep any longer than 24 hours. Of course we know that we can buy it today with a variety of stabilisers in it to last, refrigerated, for many days.

During production, as the old nursery rhyme reminds us, curds and heated whey are mixed in large sterilised containers. This thick mixture is then subject to stretching and kneading, almost like bread dough, to produce a uniform and delicate consistency. The cheese maker will keep doing this until a smooth, almost shiny, paste is achieved. The final part of production involves forming the mozzarella cheese into ball shapes or sometimes into a plait. Whilst we are more used to a rubbery consistency with our shop-bought mozzarella, made from pasteurised cows’ milk, when cooked on the pizza, the Italians would not tolerate this, preferring instead a much softer consistency.

As with many dishes originating from a particular place and culture, there is a proper way for doing things. Using fresh made mozzarella in Italian cooking is the only acceptable method in Italy, although for our fast food chains and for the sake of speed and ease we will no doubt continue to have rubbery mozzarella on our takeaway pizzas!

By Steve J Jones

Check Out the Related Article : Adventures in Cheese Making - Walk this Whey

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