Monday, April 23, 2007

Say Cheese!

Here is a recipe for a cheese spread, great for sandwiches, toast or to put on biscuits. Again, slackened with creme fraiche it could make another dip.
Cheddar Cheese Spread:
1 0z (110g) Cheddar cheese, grated
2 - 3 hardboiled eggs, finely chopped
1 tblsp mayonnaise
1 tblsp. thick yogurt
1 tblsp. fresh mixed herbs, chopped: chives, parsley, tarragon
seasoning to taste
Put everything into a bowl and mix well (works even better in a food processor). Chill and use as a spread.
Tip: Save your leftover bits of hard cheese and grate up. Use these for this dish and keep the rest for using as toppings to cauliflower cheese, pizzas etc.

Stilton dressing:
Blend together one measure of milk with two measures of thick (Greek) yogurt and add a few Stilton cheese crumbs. The more cheese the tastier it will get. Season to taste. Use with salads, white fish, and topping for cauliflower cheese.

Home-made Curd Cheese:
1 pint (575ml) milk
2 tblsp. dried milk powder
1 dessp rennet essence
Heat the milk to blood heat*. Stir in the dried milk powder. Stir to dissolve then remove from heat. Stir in the rennet. Leave to stand until set. Cut through into squares with a knife, you will see the whey beginning to separate out. Tip all into a large sieve lined with clean muslin which is standing over a basin. Tie up the corners of the muslin to make a bag and hang this up to drip into the basin until the whey has drained off. The bag can be left hanging overnight
Nest day remove the cheese from the bag and place in a covered bowl. It will keep in the fridge for a few days.
* The way I test for blood heat is to dip my CLEAN little finger into the milk and when it feels neither hot nor cold to any degree (in other words I can't feel anything as it is the same temperature as me) then it is at blood heat.
Note: Use curd cheese with cooked spinach to make a vegetarian filling for lasagne, or ravioli.
Tips: If you have no muslin, line a sieve or colander with several layers of kitchen paper (a clean, boiled J.cloth also works well) and leave to stand for at least 24 hours until all the whey has drained off.
Use the whey when breadmaking instead of water, or you can make it up to milk again by adding dried milk powder.

The following is a traditional Russian Easter dessert which is normally made in a clay flowerpot lined with muslin. To improvise use a large yogurt carton pierced with holes around the sides and the base.
For general (other than festive) eating, this could be made in any container which has holes sides and base - make your own using an ice-cream carton or a plastic container for which you have no other use.
12 oz (350g) curd or cottage cheese, well drained
2 0z (50g) unsalted butter, softened
1 oz (25g) EACH: glace cherries, flaked almonds and candied peel
2 oz (50g) sultanas
2 egg yolks**
2 oz (50g) vanilla sugar*
1 tblsp. thick yogurt
Mash up the cheese or rub through a sieve and work in the butter. Chop the cherries and add them to the cheese with the almonds, peel and sultanas. Beat the eggs and sugar together and fold into the mixture. Stir in the yogurt and blend everything together gently using a wooden spoon. Pour into the chosen container which has been lined with a couple or so layers of muslin, fold the cloth over the cheese and place on a plate or fitted piece of plastic, and place over a heavy weight (about 3 lbs). Stand on an upturned saucer in a dish (to keep the base out of any whey that drips out) and chill for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
To serve, unmould and turn out onto a clean dish. Remove cloth and decorate with extra almonds and cherries.
**Note this uses raw egg yolks, so I have to give the standard warning of using very fresh eggs (those bought stamped with a lion are salmonella free), and do not feed the dessert to the very young or very old.
Tip: *make your own vanilla sugar by burying used vanilla pods into tubs of caster sugar. Alternatively add a few drops of vanilla extract (not essence) when making up the dessert.