Monday, 9 April 2012
Homemade goat's cheese
Cheese making has had a bit of a bad rep recently. And we all know who's fault that is....yup, smug, Tory tweed-face, Alex James. He may have been in a semi-respectable indie band once (who unfortunately refuse to retire gracefully) but that does not excuse his ongoing assault on one of the best products in the world. First there was the whole curry-ketchup-cheddar for ASDA debacle, which we could have just about moved on from, but then there was this...
There's no coming back from that. Unless he's looking over his shoulder to signal an armed vehicle. Even David Cameron's child can see how embarrassing the situation is.
But luckily cheese is so excellent that it can take a bit of a PR boo boo here and there. Thus I felt safe to undertake a bit of cheese making myself, without fear of instantly turning into the right-wing bourgeois. Now, I won't pretend that there isn't a moment where you sit there thinking, 'I'm 28, I'm on holiday and this is what I choose to do with my time?', but once you get over being prematurely middle-aged it's pretty good fun. Oh, and I will warn you, your house will smell like a goat's undercrackers for a good 24 hours.
Homemade goat's cheese
Firstly, this requires a bit of specialist equipment in the form of a sheet of muslin. The first time I made cheese (yes, I have done it more than once) I used one of Ben's bachelor days pillow cases, which works reasonably well, but you'll need to be prepared for that pillow case never to be suitable for bedding use again, and the ensuing row that follows.
To make about 200g of goat's cheese
1 litre of full fat goat's milk (I could only find semi-skimmed, so I replaced about 100ml of milk with double cream to up the fat content)
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp salt
Herbs and spices of your choice
In a pan, heat your milk gently until it comes to the boil, then remove from the heat. Add your salt and then the lemon juice bit by bit (you might not need it all), until the milk splits into solid lumps and liquid. This, Miss Muffet, is your curds and whey. Leave for about half an hour, until it has properly curdled.
Line a sieve or collander with the muslin and balance over the sink or a bowl. Pour the milk mix into the muslin, then fold over the edges of the muslin, so you've got a little cheese parcel. Sit a weight or something heavy on top of the parcel and leave for a few hours. Basically you want all the liquid to drain off, so you're left with a quite crumbly soft cheese.
So that's your basic cheese, it's then up to you how much extra faffing you want to do with it. I did some moderate faff, instructions below.
Choose some herbs and spices that you think will go well with the cheese. From left to right, I used dried chillies, wild garlic, crushed black pepper corns, pink peppercorns and chopped fresh herbs.
Line a few holes of a mini muffin/cupcake tin with tin foil (push it in very firmly so it takes the shape of the hole). Sprinkle in your herb/spice topping so it lines the bottom of the hole. Then spoon in your cheese and push down firmly so there are no gaps or bubbles. When the hole is full, fold over the top of the foil and give it a further squidge down and cover with something heavy. Leave in the fridge overnight.
Remove the cheeses from the mould and delicately remove the foil. Hopefully they will have firmed up and taken on the shape of the tray, as above.
Now, must dash, the Millibands and I need to get our Lattitude tickets.