Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Cheesemaking Adventures: Brunost (Scandinavian Brown Cheese)

So, I have alot of whey. I make queso blanco at least once a week, and am venturing into other cheesemaking adventures. I use it in bread, and to cook grains and beans, etc, and STILL have alot of whey. So I decided to try this unusual recipe for a scandinavian type of "brown cheese", made by essentially boiling your leftover whey (with a bit of milk and cream added, if you like) to make a thick, carmelized sort of whey-cheese. 

I used about a gallon of whey, and added 2 cups each whole milk and cream, as recommended by this recipe.

Here is the whey reduced to about half. It is starting to get darker.

Here it is reduced to about one fourth. Getting very dark,and thick, and starting to smell caramel-ey.

This is where I stopped it. It was quite thick and dark and I had to stir it constantly. Until this point, I mostly just let the mixture bubble away on medium heat on the stove, just stirring every now and again as I wandered through the kitchen. Not exactly a high-maintenance project.

I did notice at this point that the cheese was lookinga little grainy. I poured it into a shallow pan and took it outside (it's very cold here right now, so I figured that would cool it off quickly) and set it on a cold glass table and stirred until it was cool. The grainyness does not detract from it's taste, but I'd much prefer a smooth cheese.

Now, the taste. It is REALLY interesting and super hard to describe. I like it VERY much. It's both salty and sweet, with caramel overtones. I think it would go well with both sweet and savory dishes. I am going to do alot of experimentation with this fun cheese to see how I like to serve and eat it. I am most intrigued by the idea of serving it on waffles, that sounds really good to me!

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Monday, February 08, 2010

Real Food Challenge, Week 1

So, I'm sort of following this Real Food Challenge put on by Nourised Kitchen. It's really interesting and I'm leraning alot. However, the pace is WICKED fast - and nothing is announced much ahead of time so you dn't have time to, say, aquire a whole stash of organic sprouting grains, or research and buy a dehydrator and grinder. So mostly I'm watching, reading, trying a few things as I have time, inclination, and supplies. Some local natural mamas are thinking the same thing, and have a more realistic plan: do a similar challenge, but over TIME. Seems very smart to me!

Anyway, on Day one, you were supposed to toss out all your junk food, refined food. I am comfortable with the level of junk food in my house. It's very little - there's very little refined food on the premises, and what we have is what we're keeping. I don't think a can of coke (liberally laced with rum and lime) once a week or so is going to kill me. :) And, yeah, I should be making my own pasta, and I will, but for now, I'll finish off the bag of organic dried pasta. And so forth.

Day 2 - aquire new healthy foods. Again, I pretty much have those. So, easy.

Day 3 involved soaking grains. Okay, I'd been meaning to try that anyway. I've soaked my meusli in a bit of whey and water overnight for the last 3 days. in the morning, rinse it, cook it and eat it. Easy. I don't know that I notice any changes in how I digested the food. it had a slightly different texture, but tasted fine. I do have alot of whey on hand, generally, left over from cheesemaking, and usually use it in my bread dough (generally Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes bread), so I think overall I was kind of doing that anyway.

Other challenges for the week included starting a sourdough, and sprouting grains. I haven't done either of these yet. I have some Carl's Sourdough starter that i've been meaning to play with anyway, so this will be incentive to get me doing so.  And, I'll try sprouting seeds sometime, to add to bread, I think it would be an interesting texture. I like the looks of this recipe. I DO love the Artisan bread in 5 method, but also kind of miss doing the kneading and rising process, especially on snowy days at home like this. I would still like to learn more about making bread the "old-fashioned" way. So much to do, so much to learn! I have never used a dough enhancer, or vital wheat gluten. Anyone have recommendations about these, yay or nay?