How to Make Goat Cheese – without a goat.
Today I’m making cheese – goat cheese. Chevre to be exact. Valerie from A Canadian Foodie has challenged a bunch of us to start making cheese from scratch with her Cheesepalooza challenge. I was extremely excited when she announced this challenge because I’ve always wanted to dabble a little in artisan cheese making.
So, it’s a ‘palooza’, but not a Lala.
Can you dig?
The Red Hot Chili Peppers will not be performing at this palooza, but they will be making an appearance in my cheese!
I’ve made cheese from scratch before; Ricotta and Macarpone. I’ve also made Paneer, but I didn’t blog it, so I do have some cheese making experience under my too tight belt. However, all three were made with cow’s milk.
This time I’m working with goat’s milk and as mentioned above, making chevre. I love, love, love chevre, but the first recipe provided, from the book Artisan Cheese Making At Home by Mary Karlin , contains something called C20G Powdered Mesophilic Starter. Although I’m 99.9% sure it’s perfectly fine and won’t result in a tree growing out of my ear 20 years down the road, I just didn’t like the sound of it.
C20G Powdered Mesophilic Starter.
Mesophilic disease comes to mind.
Can’t they call it something like..Me So Making Yummy Cheese from Scratch Stuff?
I emailed Valerie about this, and she linked me to a recipe for chevre on her blog that uses buttermilk in lieu of the bacteria/organism laden
Mesophilic Disease, umm..Mesophilic stuff.
I prefer to keep my food as natural and chemical-free as possible, even in my artery-clogging desserts, SO, as long as I know exactly what’s going into the food I’m making, and it doesn’t have numbers attached to it..it’s all good.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This is just how I cook and bake. I eat my fair share of foods that contain ingredients with numbers attached to them. Golden Oreo, anyone? Yep, I take care of other people but occasionally shove Golden Oreos down my gullet at warp speed, not to mention Rice Krispie Treats, Cool Ranch Doritos, Pringles..well, you get the gist.
Look, I love ALL cheese, so I’m sure my body is saturated with C20G Powdered Mesophilic Starter, but since I have a choice in this chevre matter..I’m choosing not to use it.
Now, rennet is a different story because I read the Little House on the Prairie series and in Little House in the Big Woods, Ma used rennet to make cheese, and they used the rennet directly from the animal’s stomach lining back then…
Ma added the previous night’s skimmed milk to the cooled milk from the morning milking and put it on the stove to heat. A bit of rennet inside a cloth is soaked in warm water. Once the milk is warm, she squeezes all of the water out of the rennet in the cloth. She adds the rennet water to the milk and stirs it well. The milk mixture is left in a warm place by the stove until it thickens to a quivering mass.
The mass was cut with a long knife into cubes. The cubes were allowed to sit until the curb separated from the whey. The curds and whey were placed in a cloth and allowed to drain. When all of the whey was drained, the curds were placed in a pan and salted. The curds were then placed in the cheese hoop to be pressed.
Once all the whey had been pressed out, Ma trimmed the cheese, put a tight cloth around it, and buttered it. Each day, she wiped the cheese with a wet cloth and rubbed it with butter until the cheese was ripe and had a hard rind on it. – Laura Ingalls Wilder
And that’s how you make cheese to this day, albeit with a lot more convenience, electricity, modern appliances, and better clothes.
So I made the cheese using goat’s milk, buttermilk (which actually contains the Mesophilic stuff, a little fact alerted to me by a reader, but I just felt better using buttermilk – it’s a mind issue) and a rennet tablet crushed with some water. It turned out fantastic. I wanted to blow this whole post off and eat it all with a spoon.
But I didn’t. Thankfully.
It was so fresh that it had some subtle sweet tones to it, along with a slightly sharp and salty edge, and the mouth feel was extremely creamy, as it should be. I think everyone should make their own chevre because it’s too damn easy not to. The rennet and buttermilk gel the goat’s milk after sitting for 12 hours, or until it’s similar to the texture of yogurt. Which brings me to this;
Have you ever made yogurt cheese? Well, essentially, once the goat’s milk has formed into a jelly like mass, you do the same thing you’d do when making yogurt cheese – wrap up the milk jelly (I cut mine into pieces) in cheesecloth, tie it up tight, and let the whey drain over a strainer into a bowl, overnight.
The next morning I had creamy, dreamy chevre! I got about 16 ounces of cheese, so, after eating a few spoonfuls (uhh….4 ounces), I added crushed red-hot chili pepper flakes, herbs, garlic and lemon zest to the rest of it, rolling them into cheeseballs (I love cheeseballs as one word because it tickles the kid inside of me) and packing them into ball jars with a light olive oil. I used the other half of my spicy chevre as a filling for a Turkish bread called Pide. Pide – Pizza – Pita..you know..flatbread in any language.
The only difference is, you fold the dough on each side partially over the filling in the middle so you kind of have an oval slipper with some of the filling showing, which you can see in my bad photos.
In fact, the photo of the pide straight from the oven kind of looks like a female body part located in the nether regions, doesn’t it? Sometimes my photos are just gross, but hey, one day I will have natural light, and when I do, they’ll look less like unwashed female body parts in the nether regions. I hope.
In conclusion, be adventurous and make cheese! Then make cheeseballs. Then make pide..or just grab a huge spoon and eat cheese – cheese that YOU made from scratch – fresh, creamy cheese straight from YOUR kitchen! It beats paying mucho dinero for a half pound of it, you know?
If you have a moment, head on over to Valerie’s blog to see the chevre round-up, HERE. You’ll be amazed and inspired and hopefully it will inspire you enough make some yourself and/or take part in some of the Cheesepalooza challenges!
Turkish pide dough adapted from finedininglovers.com
- 12- ounces fresh chevre or feta cheese, cut into cubes. Cut chevre with cream cheese if you like, 6 oz each, or use all cream cheese, if you prefer
- 2 garlic cloves, minced, then mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 small lemon, zested
- 2 tablespoon red hot pepper chili flakes (you can add more or less depending on your heat tolerance)
- 1 cup of chopped herbs of your choice. I used parsley, chives and basil
- freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil
- Extra herbs for olive oil marinade for cheeseballs, Pack 'em in for even more flavor!
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- ¾ cup lukewarm water
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil,, such as vegetable
- 4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 3¼ to ½ cups All-Purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients thoroughly. Set aside, covered at room temperature to let the flavors blend while you make the dough. If you just want to make the soft cheeseballs in olive oil, refrigerate the cheese mixture until firm, covered, about 1 hour, then roll into balls, about 1 to 2 inches in diameter and pack into jars with olive oil. Stuff more herbs of your choice and add extra chili flakes into the oil around the cheeseballs or cubes of feta. and seal or cover tightly if using a bowl. Tap sealed jars on the counter to remove any air bubbles. I used 8 ounce ball jars. The cheese balls in olive oil will keep for a month in the refrigerator.
- Dissolve the yeast with the sugar in ¼ cup lukewarm water until foamy, then mix with the flour, salt, oil , yogurt, and remaining ½ cup water. Knead to a smooth dough, adding more flour or water, if needed. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for one hour or until doubled.
- Gently punch down dough by folding it over itself. On a floured board, divide the dough into two equal pieces. Cover with a tea towel and let rest for a few minutes to relax the gluten. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F - Remove the top rack. You will be using the rack on the middle shelf.
- While working with one piece of dough, keep other covered. Roll the piece nto an oval..about 14 inches by 10 inches. Place dough on a parchment lines baking sheet. Alternatively, you can use a pizza peel and baking stone, which will give you a slightly crisper bread, but either way is fine. Spread half the goat cheese mixture (6 ounces) down the center, leaving about 2 to 3 inches on each side. Fold each side of the dough toward the middle, sealing and tapering the ends so you have a slipper looking flatbread with some of the filling showing down the center (see photos above).
- Bake flatbread about 20 - 30 minutes, until golden brown and the cheese is bubbly and slightly brown (I drizzled a little olive oil over the top before baking which made it brown a little more than it should have). Quickly remove bread from baking sheet to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes before slicing. Repeat all the above with second ball of dough and remaining 6 ounces of cheese.
I’m submitting this Turkish Pide with Goat Cheese to this month’s #TwelveLoaves theme – cheese, hosted by Lora of Cake Duchess, and to Yeastspotting hosted by Susan of Wild Yeast.