Cheese and Wine Festival at Southbank

I like cheese and I like festivals (especially free ones), so after work today I cycled home via a Cheese and Wine Festival at Southbank. It was a nice diversion on the way home although it was more like a small  market than a festival really. There are about 20 stalls, a mixture of food stands, cheese shops and wineries, with an emphasis on European cheeses more than UK ones.

The best thing for me was  that Moorlands Cheesemakers had a stall, so I got to ask lots of questions I’d been saving up about cheese making (thank you Kathrin) and  see the different kinds of molds and presses that I can buy (although I’d also like to try and make some at home).

I would have liked to stay longer and try more of the cheeses and wine but I had to get home as I’m off to Stuttgart to play roller derby really early tomorrow. This means no chance to make any cheese this weekend. But, I did get to try a new one . I bought a wedge of Toma Maccagno at the festival from the Gastronomica stall. This is a semi-soft raw cows milk cheese from Italy that is aged for about 4 months. It is quite creamy and with a strong enough flavour to eat on its own. I would have included a photo but I only remembered after it was all gone – I really should have bought more!

Homemade mozzarella

This mozzarella is quick to make and, even better, provides instant gratification rather than the waiting that is essential for lots of other cheeses. I realised the other night that I forgot to post about  it, so here it is. Sorry there aren’t more photos, I took one (below) just after making some, then ate lots and realised I’d forgotten to take any more.
l’ll try to include more next time, including some of the interim steps.
Mozzarella
This recipe is the quick mozzarella recipe from Ricki Carroll’s Home Cheese making Book. The recipe in the book also includes the option of adding lipase but I didn’t have a chance to order any, so made it without it  and it still tasted good. There are also some more advanced versions in the book which I’ll attempt next time, maybe with some buffalo milk.
  • 3.78 litres pasturised milk (the book is american so converting makes it into odd amounts but I used a combination of 3 UK pints and 1 litre)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid (which you can buy from the supermarket or any shop with a good spice/baking range. I picked a packet up in Brixton markets for 60p)
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid Rennet, dissolved in 1/4 cup cool bottled water (I’ve read not to use tap water as the chlorine isn’t good for the various reactions). I haven’t been able to find any cheese-making supply shops in London, so ordered  vegetarian rennet online from Moorlands. If anyone does know of any london suppliers, I’d love to know.
  • Sea salt (not iodised salt)
  1. Sterilise a 5 litre stainless steel pot (with lid) by bringing about 2 inches of water to a rolling boil. Leave it boiling with the lid on for at least 5 minutes. I also sterilised my slotted spoon at the same time by putting it inside the pot.
  2. Once sterilised, put all the milk in the pot, make sure the temperature is 12C (55F) and add the citric acid.  Mix well. My milk was pretty much at this temperature by leaving it on the bench for a while after shopping (it is autumn though).
  3. Heat the milk to 32C (90F), stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from heat and slowly add in diluted rennet mixing up and down for around 30 seconds. Cover and leave for 5 minutes
  5. After 5 minutes it should look like custard, and when you slice a knife  through all the way to the bottom, the curds and whey should clearly separate.
  6. Put the pot back on the stove and heat it up to 43C (110F), carefully stirring the curds (my curd broke up onto lots of small pieces)
  7. Take off the heat and keep stirring slowly for 5 minutes, then using a slotted spoon, scoop out the curds into a bowl, draining as much whey off as possible but keeping it  in the pot.
  8. Add 1/4 cup salt to the whey, put the pot back onto the heat and bring it up to at least 79C (175F)
  9. This is the best part. After putting on rubber gloves, make a fist size ball of cheese from the curds by  pushing it firmly together. Put the ball into a metal strainer or colander (or even a ladle) and dip it into the hot whey for about 10 seconds, making sure the ball is fully covered. Pull the colander out and knead the ball with your hands (it might fall apart a little but push it back together and re-dunk it). The cheese should be really hot when you pull it out. Keep repeating this dunking and kneading process until the cheese ball is smooth, shiny and you can stretch it out without breaking to at least about 10cm.
  10. Once the ball is ready, you can eat it, or it can be placed directly into a bowl of iced water to cool down.
  11. Keep repeating steps 4 and 5 until all the curd is used.
This made about 5 balls of mozzarella. They will keep in a container for a couple of days in the fridge.

maybe I should stick to eating

The problem I regularly face is that much as I love food and love cooking, I am not very good at cooking. I have aspirations far above my skills, which tends to result in food that is good in theory (at least my theory) but not in what eventuates. I’m also a pretty careless cook…as last nights cheese efforts demonstrate.

On the upside, my chevre  was salvageable (although by no means brilliant). After draining all day while I was at work, it’s now pretty much a ricotta or cottage cheese consistency, which matches with my cheese making books description, so that’s good. Here is the final product:

I had grand visions of using it in our dinner tonight – which I did – in an eggplant, leek and goats cheese tart. I thought this sounded like a good combination, brought together two of my favourite vegetables, and included a bit of rosemary from my garden but it just didn’t quite work. It looked pretty but it just was missing the right flavours – too heavy and not enough grunt.

Maybe some rocket and tomato at the end might have lifted it a bit – I’ve got my last few tomatoes still coming from the garden, so I might try and see if that helps with the remaining piece. I should probably stick to recipes really for the moment.

In good eating news, although I wasn’t organised enough to get a booking for Hel Yes (a finnish pop-up restaurant that is part of the London Design Festival), Harley and I are  heading to Ben Greeno’s Tudor Rd supperclub in a couple of weeks. I’m really looking forward to it, as by all accounts the food is fantastic.  I just need to make sure and get a couple of bottles of nice wine to take along.