Thursday, August 19, 2010

kicking back and some farmer's cheese with stone fruit

Waking up this morning with the knowledge that I had a day off I felt almost giddy and I began to make my list…

It begins with the morning ritual of a walk with my hubby and the dog and then off for coffee at a favorite local hangout.

After the legal addictive stimulant had done its handiwork, it was time to get serious. Should I finally crack open one of the many books that I’ve been meaning to get to or should I hit the beach? Or what about heading out to some of my favorite antique shops to find a lovely treasure that needs a new home? Gardening? Trying out that new recipe?

But after some thought I decided to text a good friend to see if she was up for lunch…thankfully for me she was.

Enjoying the relaxing outdoor atmosphere of my favorite local restaurant Ramos House, it was sheer bliss knowing that the most difficult thing ahead of me was deciding what to order from the menu.

I decided to start with the stone fruit with farmer’s cheese, a mix of peaches, plums and nectarines. It was the perfect start.  Especially since stone fruits are at the peak of the season right now, and with the addition of some fresh mint and blueberries it couldn’t have been a better precursor to my savory main course.

But the thing that took it over the top for me was the farmer’s cheese. The delicate creaminess and slight tang were the perfect accompaniment for the fruit. This cheese has a very creamy mouth feel and can be used in many different applications that call for ricotta and it works beautifully in lasagna as well. It is a little difficult to find, although I’ve seen it in some specialty food stores, but it couldn’t be easier to make yourself.

The process starts by basically taking 1 gallon of whole milk and bringing it up just to the boiling point (190°) over medium heat. Stir occasionally to prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom of the pot.

When the milk begins to reach the 190° point, small bubbles will begin to appear at the edges, turn off the heat. Stir in about ¼ cup lemon juice into the milk and a pinch of salt, and the milk will curdle. You may need to wait 10 to 15 minutes for the curds to fully form.

Line a sieve or colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth, and pour the milk through the cloth to catch the curds. This may take a few hours, what is left in the cheesecloth is the Farmer's Cheese. The liquid is the whey. Some people keep the whey and drink it, but I throw it away. Gather the cloth around the cheese, and squeeze out as much of the whey as you can. Wrap in plastic, or place in an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator. This yields about 1 pound of cheese.


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