Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cheesepalooza: Mozzarella

In this month's mozzarella challenge, I was pulled into several different directions. I had made a quick mozzarella at this year's Eat Alberta conference and thought it was just a fantastic, quick little food trick to have in my repertoire. I thought the same might be said about the traditional or junket mozzarella recipes, as described in Mary Karlin's book. While not exactly quick and easy cheeses to pull out without planning, I was really excited to jump into this Intermediate Cheesemaking section and continue to build my skills. So, rolling up my sleeves, I thought it might be *fun* to make the traditional, junket, and quick mozzarellas all in one month and compare the results.

While I was excited, I was also quite nervous about this next step. Cheesemaking was about to get a whole lot more complicated... and will get a whole lot more complicated in the new year. The challenge of mozzarella was going to teach us about stretched curd cheeses. It's about learning to create the right amount of elasticity, stretch, and texture in the cheese.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Chicken and Waffles

I'm not a big fan of leftovers. I can manage eating a copy of a meal once before I need to really repurpose it or risk it going sideways in the fridge while I avoid it. To minimize this, I seem to try cooking less or inviting guests to reduce the potential amount of leftovers that I need to deal with. This time, however, I felt particularly inspired and wanted to reinvent the leftovers into a dish of its own merit and tastiness.

Enter, chicken and waffles, leftovers extraordinaire from a spectacular roasted chicken and cheese souffle dinner. I have had a few incarnations of fried chicken and waffles in restaurants. Definitely tasty. Definitely a biiiiiiig meal. Barring the fried chicken, why couldn't I make a roasted chicken and waffles dinner? (Or, for those of you facing pounds of leftover turkey, make roasted turkey and waffles??) Cheesy, herbacious waffles... warm fragrant chicken... smothered in gravy... dabbed with maple syrup. What's not to like??

Roasted Chicken with Cheese Souffle

I started my day with a few welcome lattes and laziness before moving on to attempt cultured butter for Cheesepalooza (which I will write about another day). Of course, though, I wasn't entirely focussed on the cheese between making my next latte and reading my book... and what happens?? I scald the cream. It was well well well beyond the required temperature for the butter. Instead of waiting for it to cool down (and even chancing that it could work after being burned like that), I stopped. What does one do with a pot full of scalded cream? Well, make creme brulee, of course! (Yeah, I can see your eyes rolling at that "of course." haha)

So, then I decide to give Julia Child's creme brulee recipe another try... I don't always have success with it setting up without a requisite water-bath but I continue to try. If it doesn't set, brulee it anyway! It's still a success, it's just not creme brulee... it's creme anglaise bruleed! (Whip the eggs, add the sugar, temper the eggs, then incorporate the required cream. Ladle into ramekins, then set in the fridge to cool.)

Now I have six little creme brulees cooling. What is the next logical step? Well, the next logical step would be to invite people for dinner, right? I certainly cannot eat (or rather allow myself to eat) six creme brulees on my own, so I need to invite people to join in the eating.

There was still a bit of scalded cream left, so it seemed only reasonable to melt chocolate into it, add two egg yolk, add a splash of cointreau, then ladle into little ramekins as well for little pot au cremes. Yep. 

Well, the byproduct of making creme brulee other than using up that scalded cream is that now I have a bowl full of egg whites. Six to be exact. What to do when faced with egg whites and a dinner party? Time to make souffle!

To recap, I went from cultured butter to scalded cream to creme brulees to dinner party to pot au creme to souffle. Even my eyes are rolling now...

Roasted Chicken with Thyme, Sage, Parsley and Rosemary
Aged Cheddar Souffle
Green Beans with Butter and Smoked Salt
Mixed Greens with Cherry Tomatoes and Homemade Feta
Creme Brulee and Chocolate Pots with Berries

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cheesepalooza: Crescenza

I know that there is much more to the world of cooking (and eating) than cheese. Despite the recent overwhelmingly cheesy content of my blog, I really do know this. But what you don't know is that making cheese is so completely and amazingly addictive that I can hardly stand it. 

I'd say that I would be a few cheese-ploits away from requiring an intervention. In the midst of this cheese-making, I actually woke in the middle of the night and decided to capitalize on that moment by flipping my cheese before returning to bed. Then, I brought my cheese to work, so that I could take it out of the brine on time. Yes, that is crazy. Trust me, even I thought so. But every time I have a new cheese in the cave or fridge and get to present it proudly to my friends and family... I can't help but think of what I can make next. 

In this instance, I was making crescenza, an Italian cow's milk cheese that is very soft and creamy without any real rind. It's another one of these cheeses that requires little time from start to consumption, which is always nice.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Emma's Elmo Birthday!

What is about to follow is absolutely shameless posting of an adorable little gal... our little Emma-bean, niece-extraordinaire, who is growing up to be a wonderful little person because of her great parents (Alan and Kate) and the village that they have supporting them. 

H A P P Y   B I R T H D A Y,   E M M A! !

Momma Kate has the market cornered in terms of family birthday cakes and prepares a special creation for the birthday celebrations in the family. This time, for Emma's birthday, she invited me over to help create the oh-so-loved Elmo birthday cake and Cookie Monster cupcakes for Emma's 2nd birthday.

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