Ever since I joined Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers, I have been able to only participate a couple of times. It’s typical isn’t it? You think forever about whether you can commit and then decide, it’ll be ok, you can do it and then BAM! One thing after another and you can’t. Some months it has been family commitments, or my health issues or challenges that themselves pose a challenge (particularly challenges heavy on pork or alcohol that we do not consume).
This month, however, I was hell bent on making sure I would participate in at least one challenge even though I have so much going on right now. I think what made it so easy was researching the challenge and finding some cheeses that are so easy to make. I have made cheese before but I wanted to try something a little harder, but not so hard that it would take up a lot of time that I don’t have. I also wanted a cheese I like to eat and use in my recipes.
Sawsan from Chef in Disguise was our March 2013 Daring Cooks’ hostess! Sawsan challenges us to make our own homemade cheeses! She gave us a variety of choices to make, all of them easily accomplished and delicious!
Sawsan’s research pointed me in the direction of another friend and fellow blogger, John from the blog from the Bartolini Kitchens. I have recently discovered John’s website and I just love all his family recipes, tips and ideas, not to mention he’s a pretty cool guy. He did a whole series on cheese making and there, I found his recipe for mascarpone. I didn’t realise how easy this cheese was to make and I could make it in one day without having to rush out and buy stuff. I absolutely love mascarpone; in tiramisu (my favourite way to devour mascarpone), in pastas, by itself and so on. It is so expensive to buy in the shops and when I found out I could make the stuff at home, it was like this revelation (imagine clouds parting and sun rays beaming down).
Every Friday, our milkman delivers fresh milk from the dairy and so I added a pint of heavy cream and a pint of half and half on my order slip. My order for milk and cream was waiting for me when I opened up the cooler on my front porch (the dairy supplies a little cooler we place by our front door for the milkman to pop in our milk bottles) on Friday morning. The same day I started making the mascarpone. By Saturday, it was draining and almost ready to be eaten. I sneaked a taste, oh so good and so unbelievably easy! Why didn’t I find John’s blog earlier??? I wasted so much money buying tiny tubs at the shops!
Now you know how easy it is to make your own cheese, check out John’s blog for more cheese making techniques and also because it has some great recipes.
Serves: ~1 pound/454g
- 1 pint/473mL heavy whipping cream
- 1 pint/473mL half-and-half
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Place the cream and half-and-half into a clean, sterile pot with a lid and heat over low to med-low heat until it reaches 185˚.
- Stir frequently to prevent cream from scorching on the pot’s bottom. A double-boiler works fine, too.
- Add lemon juice and stir until thoroughly combined.
- Cover and maintain 185˚ temperature for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Mixture should show signs of thickening.
- Remove from heat and place covered pot into the refrigerator overnight
- The next morning, the mixture should have thickened more and you should see traces of the whey beginning to separate from the curds.
- Cover a large strainer with a clean, sterile handkerchief.
- Gently pour the curds into the handkerchief.
- Grab the handkerchief’s 4 corners, tie them, and use them to hang like a sack over the sink or a large pot.
- If your kitchen is exceptionally warm or if it has drained a few hours and is still not to your liking, place everything into the fridge to drain.
- Drain until the mascarpone is the consistency you prefer. To hurry the process, carefully twist the “sack” to force the whey out of the cheese.
- Place cheese into container(s) and refrigerate. The mascarpone will remain fresh for about 1 week but is best when used immediately.
The following day, as the snow continued, I turned on my oven to bake a roulade and used the mascarpone cheese as a filling inside. That post is coming up next so stay tuned!
The homemade mascarpone was not only easy but absolutely delicious in the pasta dish I made for dinner Saturday night (first picture) and also, in the roulade the next day. My advice is to stop spending money buying mascarpone and start making some! You’ll be glad you mastered this cheese. A big thank you to John for his recipe and his help.