Yesterday as I was walking around Woolworths in Katoomba I saw 600mL cream in the sale fridge as it was going to expire in a few days. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.
After doing a cheese making course with Marly of Omnom Cheesemaking (thanks to my Mum for a great Christmas gift), I felt ready to tackle making fresh cheeses at home. Already I have made halloumi a few times, marinated my own feta and made a delicious chèvre.
Mum and I both walked out of the course with Marly’s Mediterranean Cheese Kit ($54.95), which has all the ingredients, moulds and instructions for making not only halloumi, feta and goats cheese, but things like ricotta and cultured butter.
All of Marly’s recipe cards are included in the kit and are also available online. The course was great as we watched the whole process and were able to explore what the curds felt like, practise cutting them and taste the finished product at the end with a glass of wine. Marly is obviously passionate about cheese eating and cheese making, and has a really scientific understanding of the process, but with an easy-going approach.
Having looked around at cheesemaking courses, Marly’s is extremely good value (especially considering the beautiful afternoon cheese tasting).
Armed with my reduced price pure cream and some citric acid, I went about making some mascarpone using Marly’s Mascarpone Recipe.
Firstly (night before), I brought the 600mL pure cream to a simmer on the stove top, then took it off the heat and mixed through the diluted citric acid (1/4tsp diluted in 1tbsp water).
I let this cool to room temp., then chucked it in the fridge overnight.
This morning it was strained it through my cheesecloth and became beautifully creamy and ready to eat. I had a taste off the spoon and it was so much nicer than any I have bought from a shop. And considering it was made for all of about $1.80, it’s pretty good value too.
This morning my cooking buddy Eb came over with her girls and now that it’s getting cooler and windier, the basil is not going to cope. So we pulled it all out and made pesto.
Pesto is one of the things we regularly make together. We both like it cheesy so it melts through pasta, and because pine nuts are so expensive, we just tend to use cashews.
This morning we made a double batch so we could have some for lunch with pasta and mascarpone, and there was enough for us each to take a jar home. The recipe below is for a single batch.
Basil Pesto Recipe
1 clove garlic
125g parmesan cheese, in small cubes (if vegan, use nutritional yeast flakes to taste)
3/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup olive oil
2 supermarket size bunches basil
Place the garlic, cheese (or yeast flakes) and cashews in the blender or Thermomix and blend until small chunks. We did 10 seconds (3-4 seconds at a time) on Speed 6 in the Thermomix, but if you’re using a blender, just watch until they’re as fine as you like them.
Put the washed basil leaves in next and start the blender. Drizzle in the olive oil while the blades are spinning. Speed 4 on the Thermomix is fast enough.
I usually keep mine for a week in the fridge in a glass jar – you can pour a little bit of extra EVOO on the top to keep it from oxidising, but it doesn’t usually last that long for us.
For lunch we mixed about 1/4 cup of pesto and a few tablespoons of mascarpone through a couple of cups of cooked pasta. It was delicious – a bit creamier and tangier than plain pesto pasta. Everyone went back for seconds.