I’ve got a couple projects going right now. Actually one is ongoing and the other I did yesterday. I make homemade pizza probably once a week. I have this great pizza stone I got from my mom and with it’s help I’ve been able to churn out gourmet pizzeria-style pizzas on a weekly basis, much to the joy and delight of my husband. I generally make up a sauce fresh, especially if we want to have a white garlic sauce on our pizza (which is fairly often). However, I did buy a canned pizza sauce a while back and we ran out which made me think… gee, I’m a pretty good cook, why shouldn’t I just make up my own sauce and can it into jars?
So yesterday on our trip to Costco I bought a giant can of tomato sauce and made up some pizza sauce. I ended up making it pretty spicy, more heat that I’d normally like, which is great for Mr. Hot Stuff (he loves spicy hot things) but that’s OK, I usually prefer ranch dressing or even just olive oil for my pizza. It went pretty well, though added to the MESS in my kitchen (that I have yet to clean up this morning).
My other project is CHEEEEESE. I’ve been interested in making cheese for quite some time. In fact, a few years ago I made some but forgot about it back in the fridge and it dried out and crumbled. My mom got me Ricki Carrol’s cheesemaking book for Christmas last year and of course I devoured it but it did take me this long to start. I’m pretty methodical and like to do lots of research and have my ducks in a row before I learn a new skill (for the most part).
I have already made mozzarella a couple times, and made Ricotta with the leftover whey (though still haven’t gotten much from that, but I’ll get there :). The other day I found out the Provolone is basically just mozzarella with sharp lipase enzymes added (gives it the distinctive flavor) and so I decided to make up a batch.
So of course I don’t have pictures of the process but I took a couple photos yesterday. I don’t know if it will be a true provolone since I never got the mozzarella to “stretch” like it’s supposed to. I suspect too little citric acid in the recipe, I used a different one this time. In any case, I soaked it in a saltwater brine for about 22 hours. It looks kinda like a BRAIN, huh? heh. After that I rubbed it with olive oil and wrapped in cheesecloth.
Then I drew up the corners, tied them up with a pretty pink shoelace, and hung the whole mess down in my creepy basement. It’s too warm in the main house to cure cheese, the basement is the right temperature though not the right humidity, but I’m sure it’ll be fine. Edible, at least 😉
My next projects for cheese will probably be either a farmhouse cheddar or maybe a gouda. I’d also like to build a cold smoker (from a cardboard box) so I can smoke my cheeses. Mr. Hot Stuff is a big cheese fan so I hope to be able to get really gourmet with them. I can only picture the smoked jalapeno cheddars I can make for him as my garden starts producing.
I don’t have access to a source of raw or fresh milk (unless I want to pay $10/gallon, yech). But I just found out that Costco doesn’t use hormones in their milk (rbst) and it’s a lot cheaper than grocery store milk so I’ll try using that next time.