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I am a Queso Cabeza...Fromage la Tete...Cheese Head.

I finally saw Julie & Julia....and I am sooooo in love with it. It was like sneaking a peak at little aspects of my own life up on the big screen. It was so well adapted and acted. Meryl Streep. That's all. Meryl Streep. Not to take away from the rest of the cast because I thought they were all amazing in their parts. I laughed. I cried. I'm eagerly awaiting it's release on DVD. This has absolutely nothing to do with the subject of this post...I just couldn't help but let out a little giddy! On second thought, I suppose it has a little bit to do with this post...I mean, Julie was exploring, cooking and learning of her love for food...and I continue to do that every day. So, in that itty bitty way, it relates. Cheese. Fromage. Queso. That my friends, is the subject today. I know that I've told you how much I heart cheese. I am a cheese head (no matter that I only lived in Wisconsin for approximately 4 months....it comes from within). I'm breaking my way into cheese making slowly. Very slowly. I made mozzarella a while back...and tried my hand at goat cheese, which didn't work...but I'm blaming that on the ultra-pasteurized goat milk. It was all I could find and ultra = no good bacteria. Although if you check out my partner in cheesey-crimes blog Living in the Kitchen with Puppies, you'll see some tasty looking goat cheese that did turn out for her. This time, we decided to make Queso Blanco*. Queso Blanco is a fresh cheese, made from direct acidification (adding acid to the milk). It is then drained &/or pressed into shape. This makes it a great crumbling cheese...but it doesn't melt! So, you can fry it up in a pan (like JennyMac did here). Although we participate in a group of cheese makers, that is semi-monthly (or so) and we are super impatient, so Natashya & I found some recipes (okay, she found them and shared them...but I suggested the type of cheese) for Queso Blanco and decided that we cheese waits for no one! So, without further delay, I bring you....Queso Blanco. Sort of a general recipe, some use white vinegar, some us cider vinegar and some use lemon juice...

Queso Blanco 1 gallon whole milk (raw works & tastes best...but if you don't have access...regular will work) 1/4 c. cider vinegar sea salt- to taste Heat your milk slowly in a large heavy pot until it reaches 180 degrees F. Turn off heat and stir in vinegar. Let sit for 10-15 minutes (you will see a thick mass of curds). Line a sieve with cheesecloth (folded over 4x) or butter muslin. Set the sieve over a very large bowl and scoop or pour your curd into the lined sieve. Save this leftover liquid (whey) to make ricotta (which I'll show you another day), use in baking bread or pouring over your compost pile or into your garden. Lift the sieve from the bowl and place over an empty bowl. Fold over the edges. Place a small plate and some weights on top (to help press out extra whey). Refrigerate for 5-7 hours.Remove from the refrigerator and use any whey in the bottom of the bowl as you used the previous whey.Remove the plate & weight. Peel back the cheesecloth and place cheese in a bowl. Stir in sea salt to taste, if you wish. Kind of a strange way to add the cheese, right? Well, I just sprinkled it over the outsides. I think it needed a bit more salt...I wonder if you could add it earlier in the process with good results? I'll try it next time.You'll notice that I made mine in a regular old metal strainer, but you can use a cheese mold if you have one. I just ordered and received some from The Cheesemaker, but I really wanted a nice, rustic (my favorite food-related word) "disc" of cheese for this one. Unmold your cheese onto a plate or cutting board and use it within a day or two (in my opinion).

How should I use my queso blanco you ask? My favorite way is with Mexican food...like this Torta con Milanesa de Pollo...Go on over and check out Natashya's Queso Blanco here!

*Queso Blanco, while fresh, is not to be confused with Queso Fresco. Queso fresco is made by using rennet & cultures and will yield a similar cheese...but it is a bit firmer in my opinion. Plus, it'll melt if ya try. I'll make Queso Fresco soon...promise Dani.

"Blessed are the cheesemakers." -Monty Python