Sunday, October 3, 2010

Insalata Caprese!

This post is backwards. It starts with a lovely salad of Tomato, Basil leaves and the best Mozzarella we can lay our hands on. And a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

 the finished salad
It takes seconds to prepare it all, toast some good, crusty bread, and eat. But, in reality, this one took over 8 hours to make.
with all the trimmings...

In fact, the Mozzarella was very nice, tasted good, but the texture of it was a little rubbery, more akin to the blocks of mass-produced cheese you find in the section of the supermarket where all cheese is vacuum-packed, than the fibrous, soft and delicate balls of mozzarella in the delicatessen, flown straight from the buffaloes of Italy to the mouths of us mere mortals. But then again, the manufacturers of our Mozzarella were amateurs, and I know this because those makers were LW and I!

Jean Mansfield runs cheese-making courses, and, yesterday, we attended one at the Kerikeri Culinary Institute

which was excellent. It was an all-day affair, and in the space of only a few hours, we learned to make Mozzarella, Feta and Ricotta. At $195 each, I thought that it was going to be poor value for the day, but I was wrong, not least because the delightful Jean and her husband (who is a Dairy farmer) made the day really good fun, as well as teaching us well, and supplying excellent quality equipment, facilities and lovely, raw Jersey milk! And we came home with about a kilo of feta (which is currently sitting in some brine and will be ready to eat in about 3 weeks), a bagful of ricotta, which I will use for something... I'm not sure what yet, and 6 good sized balls of the Mozzarella, half of which is now sitting in some weak brine so that we can see if it softens as it get a little older... We also had a very good lunch of wine, cheeses, ham, chicken, olives and fresh fruit. By the end of the day we were tired, enthused, and keen to sign up to the next course which will involve making Blue Gouda, Camembert and Marscapone. We can't wait!

some milk. Waiting to become Mozzarella
on it's way.
closer still... 

and now the stretching...
and the final result!
I was wondering why our Mozzarella is so dense compared to the ideal; after all, it stretched beautifully, but I think the reason is that we didn't stretch it enough, and, in the process include more air and fibres of stretched cheese into the final product. We will know next time.

Having said that, the salad was really good, more so because it was our own home-made cheese that we were eating. I think we'll fire up the pizza oven and make some pizzas to do justice to the other half of the cheese.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to try a cheese making course ... really glad you had a great time.