Tag Archives: Home Cooking

Brooklyn Chevre’

I’m back on track making cheese after a little hiatus. It was raining yesterday in Brooklyn so I decided to make some goat cheese. Chevre’, meaning goat in french, is technically the term for all goat cheese but we think of chevre’ as the soft, cream cheese like goat cheese we are often used to in the USA.


Goat's Milk

I decided to make chevre’ with dill and garlic. I bought a half gallon of pasteurized goat’s milk and used my chevre’ starter from New England Cheesemaking which I keep in the freezer.

At left is the goat’s milk right out of the bottle in a pot on my stove.

I heated it to around 80 degrees (fahrenheit), added the starter and a few tablespoons of dissolved vegetable rennet. Rennet helps to coagulate milk. Rennet is traditionally made from the stomach lining of an animal but I prefer the vegetable variety. If you want to learn more about rennet, check out this article.

After mixing the milk for a few minutes, I covered it and just let it set for around 12 hours, waiting for the curd to form. After 12 hours, I had a nice curd in the pot – the milk becomes a custard-y consistency and there was a little bit of clear liquid at the top.

Dill and Garlic

Next, I minced some dill and 1 garlic clove and mixed it all up with the curds. Then, I ladled the curds into a butter muslin (cheese cloth) that I lined inside of a colander. Last, I tied the four corners of the muslin together and fastened the whole “bag” to my kitchen faucet, handing over the sink.

I let the bag hang, draining slowly, over the sink, over night.

In the morning, I united the bag and here is what I got:

Finished Garlic and Dill Chevre

From half a gallon of goat’s milk, I ended up with one small tupperware carton of chevre’. It’s delicious, fresh and not too “goat-y.” It’s a great starter cheese for anyone interested in cheesemaking. I’m going to bring mine to a dinner party and we’ll eat it on crackers and bread with olives and fresh vegetables.

Avi's Brooklyn Chevre

In America, Chevre’ only became popular in the 1980s. Laua Chenel is known as the mother of American goat cheese. She pioneered artisan chevre’ production in California and reigned as the doyenne of American goat cheese for more than 20 years. As the NY Times reported, Chenel’s business was bought out by a larger company in 2006.

Last but not least, have a look at some great chevre’ recipe suggestions from this Chowhound page.

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Making Delicious “Mozz” at Home

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A lot of people who know about my proclivities for and activities related to cheese-making in my Brooklyn, NY apartment have asked me for an easy cheese they can try making at home.

Mozarella is by far the easiest and will give you the most instant gratification for your efforts. Before we dive into the recipe, let me digress for a moment about the history of Mozarella. It’s not clear how mozarella was invented, but like many of the best inventions, it was probably an accident. A cheese curd probably fell into a pot of boiling water, an Italian farmer fished it out and, voi la, mozarella.

We do know that the classic buffalo mozarella comes from Aversa near Naples:

Classic Buffalo Mozarella is made from the milk of water buffaloes. According to Wikipedia, “more than 33,000 tons of buffalo mozarella are produced per year in Italy and it is an industry worth more than $430 million.”

Unless you have access to water buffaloes, you will most likely make your mozarella from cow’s milk. Technically, mozarella made from the milk of cows is called Fior di latte .

OK, now for the good stuff. Here is an easy, “in-an-afternoon” cheese that anyone can make at home. If you need help with any supplies, I recommend Cheesemaking.com but you can also get all of the ingredients for Mozarella at Wholefoods or another health food store.

First, watch this video to get a visual (and aural – Spanish guitar music always helps) sense of how it looks to make Mozz and then see the recipes below for details:

Although it takes a little effort, once you’ve tasted your home-made Mozz, you’ll know it’s worth it.Most recipes for mozarella are similar so you can browse the internet for other variations. This recipe is from Instructables.com:

step 1 Equipment you will need:
Equipment: 1. At least an 8 quart pot either enameled or stainless steel. (Do not use aluminum, cast iron or other reactive pots) 2. Thermometer. (A candy thermometer will probably work but a good digital thermometer is much better for accuracy.) 3. A couple measuring cups or something to dissolve the Citric Acid and Rennet in. 4. A big strainer to strain the Curds fro…

step 2OK First things First
1. Pour 1 teaspoon Citric Acid into 1/4 cup unchlorinated water and stir. Crush the Rennet tablet and pour it into the other cup of unchlorinated water. The Citric Acid should be dissolved by the time you have to use it. Most of the Rennet will be dissolved but there will still be some residue left. 2. If you haven’t done so already, pour milk into your pot. Make sur…
step 3Pour in the Citric Acid.
1. Pour the dissolved Citric Acid in the milk and stir for 1 minute. 2. Sprinkle the other teaspoon of Citric Acid in the milk and sir for another minute. You will probably see the milk start to curdle very shortly.
step 4Heat milk to 88-90 degrees F. Stirring occasionally.
This is not an error. You are not trying to pasteurize the milk. If you get it too hot or too cold, the Rennet will not make curds. Use a low heat so it doesn’t go past the 88-90 degrees. It should take about 10-15 minutes.
step 5At 88-90 degrees turn off the heat and stir in the Rennet solution for 15-20 seconds.
Cover the pot with the lid and LEAVE IT SET UNDISTURBED FOR AT LEAST 15-20 MINUTES until you can get a clean break. I usually let mine set for 15-30 minutes. Time is not critical here as long as you get the clean break.
step 6Wait for a clean break.
This is what a clean break looks like. When you poke your finger into it and move for an inch or so and lift it out, the Curd and Whey should separate shortly. If it is still liquidy (Is that a real word?) and sticks to your finger let it set a while longer.
step 7Cut the Curd.
Cut the Curds into 1/2 inch cubes from top to bottom as shown. Then do the same thing at a 45 degree angle.
step 8Let the Curds set undisturbed for 5-10 minutes.
Just let them sit there.
step 9Apply low heat and heat to 108 degrees.
Apply low heat and stir the curds occasionally to keep them separated until they reach 108 degrees. This will take about 15 minutes. The Curds will shrink and start to sink as the Whey is expelled from them.
step 10Turn off the heat.
Turn off the heat and continue stirring every few minutes for an additional 20 minutes. The Curds will keep shrinking.
Once you’ve finished making your mozarella, you will have a pot full of whey left over. Now, for the bonus recipe:
this leftover whey is the key ingredient in making Ricotta cheese! Ricotta cheese is technically a whey cheese since it is made from re-heating and coagulating the left-over whey that results from making other cheeses. Check out the history of Ricotta here.
To make your Ricotta, follow this recipe from hobbyfarms.com.
Once you have your fresh Mozarella nd Ricotta, here are a few good “summer-y” recipes:

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Avi Bars

Granola Mix

After being inspired by #3 from my office, I decided to try my hand at whipping up a batch of Chewy Peanut Butter Granola Bars. I love anything with peanut butter and I’ve never tried my own granola bars before, so what the hell.

It turns out, they’re SO easy to make. I reviewed a bunch of recipes on the internet until I settled for Emeril Lagasse’s recipe on The Food Network:

Recipe at:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/peanut-butter-granola-bars-recipe/index.html

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup hulled green pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 by 8-inch baking dish and set aside.

In a small saucepan melt butter with honey over low heat, stirring.

In a large bowl stir together oats, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and salt. Pour butter mixture over oat mixture and stir until combined well.

On a large baking sheet, spread the granola evenly in a thin layer. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes to keep from sticking or burning, until golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes. (Do not overcook; the granola will crisp more when cooled.)

Cool the granola in the pan on top of the stove and stir in the raisins. When the granola is completely cooled, place in a large bowl.

Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, and peanut butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is at a boil. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the granola, stirring to coat well. Cool slightly and press into the prepared baking dish and let cool completely and harden. Cut the mixture into ten 1 1/4 by 4-inch bars and serve at room temperature. (The bars may be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.)

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

The whole thing, from “soup to nuts” takes about 40 minutes total and you can do three other things while you are making these bars.

If you’ve ever found yourself getting by on Clif Bars or Lara bars or any other high-tech protein or energy bars, do yourself a favor and make some kind of bars on your own to see how easy it is. You can pack lots of nuts, fruits and energy together with any binding agent (peanut butter, corn syrup, agave nectar honey, etc. etc) and get a nutritious results.

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The Hazon Food Conference

I plan on devoting the next few posts to my take-aways from the Hazon Food Conference where I was last week in in Monterey, California.

Monterey California

Monterey is gorgeous and the conference was fantastic. Hazon (Hebrew for vision) is a prominent Jewish environmental organization and the food conference brought together an eclectic mix of more than 600 farmers, wanna-be farmers, passionate eaters, activists, environmentalists.Hazon is famous for its Jewish environmental bike rides which it sponsors on the east coast, west coast and in Israel. Their slogan is: the people of the hike, the people of the bike and the people of the bite.”

“I finally found my people,” my friend Dara Frimmer said. I couldn’t agree more.
The conference reinforced my belief that the way we think about what we eat and the way we relate to our food is critical to the future of the planet and to each individuals’ health and sense of connectedness. As an activist in the Jewish community, it was great to explore these issues in a Jewish context.

At the beginning of the conference, the double decker, upside down Hazon Climate-Change bus pulled into Monterey after driving all across the United States fueled entirely on vegetable oil! Check out this video to see what this was all about:

I went to sessions on amd will write blog posts over the coming days on the following topics:

Honey Bees and “colony collapse disorder.” (did you know that we rely on honey bees for 2/3 of our fruits and vegetables?) Definitely check out the film: The Vanishing of the Bees.

Rice and how a cool companu called Lotus Foods is helping to introduce new, more efficient rice farming techniques around the world and is inyroducibg new rice varieties into the US market. (did you know that more than half of the world relies on rice for a significant part of their diet?)

Slow Money. Author Woody Tasch expounded on the Slow Money movement and how spending and investing locally can re-orient us toward building a sustainable, healthy economy.

Composting. Farmer D, an entre-manure from Atlanta, Georgia gave a presentation on the ins and outs of composting. Stop laughing- He’s litetally made a real busIness of shovelling shit.

Urban Agriculture. There are so many intrresting people doing cool things in this area. From school garden to roof-top gardens to reclaiming unused city land, this “field” is booming.

The role of “place” or “land” in Judaism. Rabbi Steve Greenberg discussed the centrality of being attached to the land in Jewish thought and history.

A do-it-yourself mozarella class. Having made a bunch of my own mozz, i skipped this one.

A do-it-yourself sourdough making class taught by Sarah Klein. She has a lot to say about bread and is a really good teacher.We made bagels. I got some pointers for my next sourdough starter.

Stay tuned for more posts about all of this and more….

Cheese in New York City

If you’ve read this blog before, you know I love cheese.

I love it so much that I make it in my own apartment in Brooklyn.On any given weekend, you can find my apartment full of cheese-cloth laden with curds hanging off of faucets and doorknobs and pots full of goats milk with assorted bacteria, yeasts, and other paraphernalia. No, my apartment doesn’t smell like a dairy. It might get a little stinky during cheese-time, but I have to keep it very clean to make sure my cheese stays pure.

Today, however, I am not making any cheese. Instead, I am talking about some of the best cheese spots in NY. One of my favorite places is Murray’s Cheese in Greenwich Village on Bleecker Street. They also have a satellite branch in the Grand Central Market. Murray’s is a Mecca for cheese-lovers. Not only do they have just about every kind of cheese any dairy-lover might crave, but they are also knowledgeable and eager to help. Murray’s also offers Cheese-University – a series of courses on cheese, cheese-making, and cheese appreciation.

My next favorite is Saxelby Cheese Mongers. Saxelby’s is in the Essex Street Market in the Lower East Side. Anne Saxelby is definitely one of the City’s premier Cheese-masters. She also offers cheese trips and tours to nearby cheesemakers and farms. On the Saxelby website is a great tool to check out cheese-makers and farms in the NY area.

In my neighborhood, a new-ish place has opened called Brooklyn Larder. Brooklyn Larder has a great cheese room and a nice selection of cheeses. They also have tons of other delicacies including smoked meats, olives, sandwiches, etc. I like the staff – nice people who give good cheese advice.

The other place I recommend is Artisinal Bistro. This place has great cheeses — 250 choices and a great wine selection with which to wash down your curds. Nothing like a stinky cheese and a strong red wine.

Anyone else have favorite cheese-places in NY or anywhere else?

More Kombucha…

Well…it’s been a few weeks and my Kombucha should be ready by now. I uncovered the jar – there’s no mushroom/SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) but it tastes like kombucha! I’m going to drink it and brew again and see if a SCOBY forms. Any ideas or suggestions would be helpful.

 

I found a really good kombucha recipe and article at The New Homemaker.

 

I am seeing more and more kombucha for sale in New York. All of the markets are carrying it now and it costs $4-5 per bottle! The homemade kind must be a better way to go…

 

Kombucha – the Brooklyn way

kombucha

My Kombucha

I first tried Kombucha  last year at the Brooklyn Food Conference. when I tasted some from a new company called Kombucha Brooklyn. The first taste made my taste buds stand up tall.

It’s a little fizzy, a drop sour, but very yummy. Now, I am seeing a variety of  kombuchas sold in all of the stores in my neighborhood. The most popular variety I have seen is GTs Kombucha.

Kombucha is fermented tea. Kombucha’s history is unclear, but according to good old wikipedia, kombucha made its debut in Russia in the 19th century and became popular in China and Japan. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kombucha was imbibed for a few thousand years in those countries. According to information on the the Raw Freedom Community website:

“In China, kombucha tea has been utilized as a health beverage for thousands of years, dating back to before 200 B.C. It has been consumed for centuries in Japan, Korea, and Russia. In the early 1900s, use of the tea spread from Russia into other European countries including Germany, where it was touted as a health elixir for many years. In the 1950s and 1960s, German and Italian researchers claimed that kombucha tea exhibited strong anticancer properties, and it was promoted as a miracle cure for cancer. Alexander Solzhenitzyn, the Nobel Prize winning Russian author, reported that kombucha tea, which he began to drink during a prison term, cured his stomach cancer.”

Lots of people claim health benefits for kombucha. I can’t find anything conclusive on the health benefitts, but according to the Mayo Clinics’ Dr. Brent A. Bauer:

“Long popular in other countries, Kombucha tea is gaining popularity in the United States. Although frequently referred to as a mushroom, which it resembles, Kombucha is not a mushroom — it’s a colony of bacteria and yeast. Kombucha tea is made by adding the colony to sugar and black or green tea and allowing the mix to ferment. The resulting liquid contains vinegar, B vitamins and a number of other chemical compounds. Kombucha tea is commonly prepared by taking a starter sample from an existing culture and growing a new colony in a fresh jar. Health benefits attributed to Kombucha tea include stimulating the immune system, preventing cancer, and improving digestion and liver function.”

I do know that I like it and it costs $5 for a bottle. So…..I had to make my own.

Kombucha is  tea that fermented using yeast and bacteria. The kombucha culture is called a SCOBY -(Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast). To make kombucha, you either need to get your hands on a kombucha mother or its babies (no kidding) which is a SCOBY mushroom that was grown by someone else — I have seen people trading SCOBYs on craigslist or go to Get Kombucha.com which sells kombucha starter kits (their tag-line is “Yeast. Bacteria. Delicious”– I love it!) OR, you can use a bottle of store-bought kombucha as your starter. I went the latter route.

Kombucha is easy to make.  A good kombucha recipe is at this page on Sadie Magazine. What you need:

–A large glass jar

–A handkerchief or porous cloth

— A rubber band (to keep the cloth on top of the jar)

–5-6 tea bags

–A cup of sugar

–A bottle of store-bought kombucha

I used this video to help make my kombucha:

My kombucha is 10 days old and I see lots of activity in the jar. it’s sitting on top of my refrigerator. All kinds of white “stuff” is forming and I’m assuming that it’s fermenting as it’s supposed to.If it works, then I can continue to make it using a little of what’s left after I’ve drunk most of what’s in the jar. I’m going to give it another week before I try it.

What’s the worst that could happen? Well, according to Dr. Bauer (above) unsterile conditions in the brewing process could lead to adverse health effects. I sterilized my jar carefully and I think my brew is clean. I’ll let you know….