Attempt at Cheesepalooza
I was extremly excited to start cheesepalooza with the awesome cheese lovers in Edmonton. I especially loved meeting them all & trying out all the delicious cheeses they had already fabricated. It made me thrilled to think I would be making cheeses of the same quality over the next year & to have the support of the great Cheesepalooza crowd.
Since I’m a huge foodie & I love to cook I thought this would be the best hobby to take on. I did not think about my dislike for baking. The reason why I prefer cooking over baking is because with cooking I can throw ingredients in at my own measurements, I can taste along as I go & change the flavours as I cook. Baking, you cannot do this. You need to follow the instructions exactly as it says in the recipe. If your measurements are off by a small amount, the baked goods may not turn out as you had hoped.
Paneer – August 2012
My first cheese attempt was Paneer. It was classified as an easy to make cheese. I went to Superstore & bought milk & butter cream & came home to start my very first cheese. Yay!
It certainly was easy, you just had to follow some temperature rules & mix in the butter cream at the appropriate time. The only part that I found was hard was shaping the cheese.
Following the directions, it said to let the cheese drain hanging in your sink after you had mixed in some salt. After I let the cheese dry/drain I felt that it had cooled down too much to then shape. I felt it didn’t really need to sit under a weight when it was already cold & the cheese wouldn’t shape. My cheese turned out delicious but not shaped into a brick. The cheese was more curdy.
I then made some masala chicken & fried up some onions & spinach and added in the Paneer for a tasty meal!
Basic Chevre – September 2012
I headed over to Planet Organic to pick up the goats milk & headed home in a rush, I had plans that evening (I’m a social butterfly) so I wanted to get the milk on the stove and get the temperature up to 180F as quickly as possible so I wasn’t late. Since I was pre occupied with my evening plans I failed to notice the temperature had risen past 86F and I couldn’t get the temperature to come down. I put the pot of heated milk outside, but still the temperature wouldn’t come down. This frustrated me immensely as I was going to be late for my plans. I finally got the temperature down a bit but it was still wasn’t the appropriate temperature. I started to realize that making cheese was like baking. Everything had to be precise & you couldn’t just throw in ingredients along the way like cooking.
I then stirred in the mesophilic starter (gifted to me by the generous Addie). Whisked in a few 20 odd strokes & covered it up. The next issue was keeping the temperature at 72F to 78F. Sine the temperature was already way higher than it needed to be I was worried the cheese wouldn’t turn out. I then rushed off to my evening plans.
The next morning it seemed to have worked! I stuffed all my cheese curds into my homemade molds & left for work.
When I returned that evening the cheese was still very wet & the whey hadn’t quite dripped out. Regardless I had left it for the needed 10 hours & it should have been ready. I tried the cheese & it tasted plain & it almost had a sour taste to it. I wasn’t too thrilled.
I used the cheese to make a beet, yam, spinach and goat cheese casserole for a pot luck. The casserole turned out not bad, but I felt the cheese wasn’t that great. I blamed myself for not being able to keep the temperature right & my crappy homemade cheese molds.
After the Chevre
After making the Chevre I felt that it was a lot of work for some mediocre cheese & the whole “bakingness”of cheese making just wasn’t for me. I decided i’d take a break in October. I had a lot of plans that month but I was FOR SURE going to get back into it in November. I had committed to this after all.
November rolled around, more social plans were made & Christmas planning was in full swing. I just didn’t have time or the desire to make cheese. I felt guilty I had abandoned the group & I hadn’t kept on trucking & trying to make different kinds of cheeses.
Paneer & Chevre – December 2012
Christmas was just around the corner. I thought that cheese would make excellent gifts. So I thought, why not make some more paneer & try and perfect the goat cheese.
The Paneer turned out great again & I also decided to blend up some spinach, garlic, chilis, ginger, onions & other ingredients to create a Palak. I added in the Paneer & it was amazing! I will definitely make a Palak Paneer again from scratch.
This time with the Chevre I didn’t attempt to use my homemade molds that didn’t drain properly & I watched the temperature like a hawk. I decided to make soft Goat cheese with just cheese muslin. After going through all the steps again, the cheese turned out nice & creamy but still plain tasting. Luckily it didn’t taste sour like the last time. I decided to add some roasted garlic & onion spices. That did it, I was finally proud of my Chevre.
I packaged up the cheese & gave them away as Christmas gifts & then froze some for an upcoming wine & cheese I was planning to host in the New Year.
After making 2 cheeses in 1 week I decided that extensive cheese making is just not my thing. I’m not a baker & I’m not a cheese maker but I am a cook. I’m really glad I decided to try cheese making because I learned how to do something different & it was so fun to try and create one of my favourite foods.
Thanks to everyone I met through Cheesepalooza. I’m jealous of all your wonderful cheeses you are making every month & I wish you all good luck.