Monday, April 16, 2007

Goodbye Elsie

April 16, 1941 The original Elsie the Cow died. Elsie the cow was originally a cartoon character appearing in ads for Borden Milk. At the 1939 New York World's Fair, when people began asking where Elsie was, Borden's picked a cow originally named 'You'll do Lobelia' from their herd to be Elsie. Elsie stared in commercials, made personal many appearances, and even starred in an RKO movie, 'Little Men.' Elsie was injured in a truck accident in 1941 and had to be put to sleep. She is buried in Plainsboro, New Jersey. .......

Isn’t she sweet? She rode first class, she had her own boudoir and four-poster bed. Should we take a moment to pay our respects? (Those of you who know me, know my love of cows.)

Cows make milk (about 400 glasses of milk per day actually), which is used to make cheese! Cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk and buffalo’s milk – there are hundreds of types of cheeses – hard, soft, smoked, flavored, cubed, shredded, melted, French, Swiss, Welch, farmer’s, artesian. Cheese, glorious cheese.

Cheese is organized into four main types:
.....soft (cottage, cream, mozzarella, brie);
.....semi-soft (Colby, Monterey jack, Queso Fresca);
.....semi-hard (cheddar, provolone, gouda); and
.....hard (parmesan, asiago, gruyere).
The moisture content of the cheese affects its texture and defines which category the cheese belongs to.

Great detailed list of each of these types of cheese

Soft Cheeses
Semi-Soft Cheeses
Semi-Hard Cheeses
Hard Cheeses

Making cheese at home can be really quick, easy and very tasty. This recipe is from Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses by Ricki Carroll.

30 Minute Mozzarella [more like 1 hour]
Yields 3/4 to 1 pound

1 1/2 level teaspoons citric acid dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
1 gallon pasteurized whole milk
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon lipase powder, dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water and allowed to sit for 20 minutes (optional)
1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet (or 1/4 rennet tablet) diluted in 1/4 cup cool water (unchlorinated)
1 teaspoon salt

While stirring add the citric acid solution to the milk at 55° F and mix thoroughly. (If adding lipase, add it now.)

Heat the milk to 88° F over medium/low heat. (The milk will start to curdle.)

Gently stir in the diluted rennet with an up-and-down motion, while heating the milk to between 100 and 105° F. Turn off the heat. The curds should be pulling away from the sides of the pot; they are ready to scoop out.

The curds will look like thick yogurt and have a bit of shine to them, and they whey will be clear. If they whey is still milky white, wait a few more minutes.

Scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon and put into a 2-quart microwavable bowl. Press the curds gently with your hands, pouring off as much whey as possible. Reserve the whey.

Microwave the curds on HIGH for 1 minute. Drain off all excess whey. Gently fold the cheese over and over (as in kneading bread) with your hand or a spoon. This distributes the heat evenly throughout the cheese, which will not stretch until it is too hot to touch (145° F inside the curd).

Microwave two more times for 35 seconds each; add salt to taste after the second time. After each heating, knead again to distribute the heat.

Knead quickly until it is smooth and elastic. When the cheese stretches like taffy, it is done. If the curds break instead of stretch, they are too cool and need to be reheated.

When the cheese is smooth and shiny, roll it into small balls and eat while warm. Or place them in a bowl of ice water to 1/2 hour to bring the inside temperature down rapidly; this will produce a consistent smooth texture throughout the cheese. Although best eaten fresh; if you wait, cover with the reserved whey and store in refrigerator.

Chef Jen’s notes: I was able to find rennet tables in the ice cream topping aisle of the market and both rennet and citric acid can be found in the health food stores (bulk spice aisle). I was unable to find lipase. I know all of these itmes are readily available online. Make sure you have a clean pair of dish washing gloves available, the cheese gets extremely hot and is too hard to handle without them.

For my cream cheese loving fans, here are a few links to making your own cream cheese.

Making Cream Cheese At Home
How To Make Cream Cheese

I have not made cream cheese (but am now inspired to do so) so I cannot authenticate either of these recipes. I think I will soon be making some cream cheese and will post on it when I do.

My next post will be back to spring ingredients, I just could not resist my first love (cheese).

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