Cheesepalooza

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.

Paneer cheese making

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.

Whey & PaneerCheese weights

I then made some masala chicken & fried up some onions & spinach and added in the Paneer for a tasty meal!

Masala chicken & Paneer

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.

Home made cheese molds

Makeshift cheese mold

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.

Wet goat cheese

 

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.

Chevre casserole

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.

Homemade Palak Paneer

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.

Roasted Garlic 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.

Home made Chevre

In Conclusion

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.

Samantha is a Marketing Manager and a new mom who lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Samantha also loves to backpack adventure travel & is a big foodie who loves to cook.

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7 Comments on “Cheesepalooza

  1. This is fantastic. We are looking forward to doing the cheese class as well at Smoky Valley at the end of this month. Definitely seems to be an interesting challenge.

  2. I’ve always been a cook rather than a baker. Ironically, cooking requires more artistic expression (IMHO) as opposed to baking which is an exact science.

    However, after making enough cheeses, I’ve come to realize that once you get past the hurdle of dealing with exact measures and acquire the skill and intuition to do it right, the next stage is really exciting. I’m thinking… no, dreaming… what if I wanted to create a new, never before made cheese. How would I do it!?? What cultures should I add now to my milk so that my cheese, 8 months down the line, will taste like I want it to. It’s a challenging ‘art’.

    For instance, I partnered with Smoky Valley and we came up with our own unique recipe for a cheddar that is infused with a stout (beer) – it will be ready by St. Patrick’s Day. No clue how it’s going to turn out but we’ll know soon enough 😉

    I know I’m writing a lot but part of me wishes you had tried to make one firm cheese. To be honest, chèvre is one of the hardest cheeses to make (if you don’t have proper temp control)!

    Anyway, enough of coercion … LOL. Do you have any interesting cooking projects? I am thinking of spending next year (i.e., Aug 2013 onwards) going cover-to-cover through a classic recipe book.

    • I guess I should have put in the post that I have not quit. I’d love to try making more cheeses but I just need to do it at my own pace. It’s good to hear that the goat cheese is one of the hardest. I will try a hard cheese for sure & you know I”ll be calling you up for tips when I get to it. 🙂
      Also, YUM! Stout Beer! That’s awesome!

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