Tuesday, June 9, 2009
(Re)Starting from Scratch
At a "hail and farewell" party - held for officers when they arrive and leave post - last weekend in Mumbai (more to come), I immediately bonded with a woman who makes her own cheeses. Luckily enough, multiple people there also had brought their home-brewed beer. Although good beer and cheese are available in Mumbai, the prices can make you seriously consider making your own. And when you factor in the long term considerations of a foreign service career, being able to make the foods that you crave when resources may be limited, making cheese and beer is definitely a prized skill.
Another benefit of living in India is that you can easily get raw milk in the cities. In the US, many state governments have regulated milk production so that raw milk is not available to the consumer unless you keep your own cow (get that one by the home owner association). Since I was raised on a dairy farm - which since the 80s my family has no longer been allowed to use the raw milk from our own farm to make cheeses since it was not regulated by the state - I was elated when I realized I could make ricotta cheese like my grandparents had before.
The milk available in Kolkata is very fresh and rich, so much so that I only recently realized that my daughter has been drinking water buffalo milk for the last year! But boy is it delicious, and it also makes a delicious mozzarella!
Leeners looks like a good option for starting your food making endeavors. They have some great kits to try, or you can just find recipes online.
Here is my version of a ricotta, great for use in a lasagna or on a pizza:
1 gallon whole milk
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if you are going to use for sweets)
1. Place milk in large, heavy pan on medium heat. Add salt (if desired) and stir briefly. Allow milk to heat up slowly.
2. Just before boiling temperature, take the pot off the burner, add the vinegar and stir gently for only one minute. The curds will form immediately. Let sit undisturbed for a couple of hours.
3. With a slotted spoon, ladle out the ricotta into colander or cheese cloth. Place so it can drain freely. Let it drain for two hours or more depending on how dry you want it to be.
4. Place in container and refrigerate. The cheese should keep for up to 7 days.