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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mizithra, Crackers, & Habañero Honey

If you've been hanging around for a while, you know my penchant for a meal of cheese, bread, wine...perhaps some fruit and/or salume thrown in.  Well, I went for a little spin on that this time.  I made some Mizithra cheese and was wondering what to do with as usual, I started out by just eating it.  Straight up.  And some people may think me strange, but I loved the straight-up, creamy, milky taste of Mizithra.  I mean, solid milk?  Nice.  There was just something so pure about it.  A big hunk of dreamy dairy...that just makes my day.  I knew I wanted to eat up a few of the little  hand pears that my mom sent home with us a few days prior...and I wanted to drizzle them with some mind-blowing habañero honey...but I didn't have any bread...or the time to bake any.  I wanted to eat "now"!  So, I decided to go with the quicker option and bake some crackers.  Good in a pinch...but fresh, warm, crusty bread they are not.  Still tasty, though.
Greek Island Mizithra
adapted from 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes

3 quarts whole milk
1 Tbs. kosher salt
½ tsp. liquid rennet

Sterilize all equipment.
In a large stainless steel pot, heat milk gently to 90°F, stirring gently to prevent scorching.
Remove from heat and stir in salt.

Dilute rennet in ¼ cup cool water. Add to milk and, using an up-and-down motion, draw rennet down into milk until well blended. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 30 - 60 minutes, or until a firm curd has formed.

Using a whisk, gently break up curd, stirring until curd pieces are approximately ½" in size. Let stand for 2-3 minutes.

Gently pour curd into a cloth-lined colander and let drain for 1 hour. Scrape cheese into center of cloth. Gather the four corners of the cloth together and tie to create a bag. Hang the bag and let drain over a bowl or the sink for another 5 hours at room temperature. Place a colander in a bowl; place bag in the colander and let drain in the refirgerator for another 12 hours. Twist the cloth tighter from time to time to aid draining.  Instead of hanging the bag, I pressed the curd into a cheese mold at this point, added a big of weight to press it, and put it in the fridge for 2 days.

Remove cheese from cloth or mold and place in a bowl or onto a plate. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
The crackers and the cheese weren't the best "together", but separately they were just awesome.  I'm thinking thin, crisp crackers would've complimented the cheese better...
Mostly Whole Wheat Crackers
slightly adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman
yield: ~15 large rectangular crackers (double that for squares...or even more if you roll it thinner)

¼ c. all purpose flour, plus a bit more as needed
¾ c. whole wheat flour
½ tsp. sea salt
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. olive oil  garlic & thyme-infused olive oil
Hawaiian Red Sea Salt, pepper, freshly grated parmesan, sesame seeds, or whatever you else you like for sprinkling on top

Heat the oven to 400° F.  Line a baking sheet w/ parchment paper.  Put the flours, salt, butter, and oil in a food processor and pulse until combined.  Add  ¼ c. water and let the machine run for a bit; continue to add more water 1 tsp. at a time until mixture holds together, but is not sticky.

Dust a work surface with a bit of the extra ap flour and roll out the dough ~ ¼" thick, or even thinner, adding flour as needed.  Drape the sheet of dough over the rolling pin to transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.  Score the top lightly with a sharp knife, pizza cutter, or pastry wheel if you want to break the crackers into squares or rectangles later on.  I also added some decorative fork-tine pocks.  Sprinkle w/ optional toppings.

Bake until lightly browned, 10-15 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature or store in a tin for a few days.

These are fantastic and buttery and very reminiscent of shortbread.  Compare to a "Club"-type cracker.  Only way better.  Way.

Habañero Honey
inspired by my pal Butter from Hunger and Thirst

Okay, not really rocket science...

Cut up a bunch of fresh, fruity, fiery habañeros...with gloves, unless you're trying to punish yourself.

Put them all into a jar.  Pour honey over to cover.  Let sit in the sun.   Or slightly warm the honey before pouring over.  Either way.  You choose.

Use at your own risk.  It's so deceptively hot.  I constantly stick my finger in for a lick...and am amazed at how hot it is.  Each time.  I'll be roasting a pork loin in some later on in the week...can't wait!!!

The soft, sweet flesh of the hand pear was the perfect cooling agent in this combo.  With a cracking of some fresh black pepper...I was happy with my impromptu lunch!

*This post is linked to:
forgingfromagebutton2 #cheeseslut

Would you like to comment?

  1. Yay! Isn't habanero honey the best? I absolutely cannot keep it in the house when I make it. It also works well with roasted and dried chiles, doesn't get as runny. But now I'm sad that I'm going to have to wait so many months until I can have fresh chiles again, because I've got pears, darn it, and this looks like such a beautiful combo.

  2. UGGG!! YES PLEASE!! If you didn't live halfway across the country, I'd be at your door knocking for a taste. In other words, my favourite meals are cheese, bread and wine too.
    Lovely pictures too.

  3. I would love to try that honey! I imagine it explodes in your mouth. Like you, I love a simple meal of bread, cheese and fruit. This is a lovely twist on one of my favorites. Have a beautiful Wednesday full of laughter and love!

  4. I am so happy that someone found pleasure in another Greek cheese as mizithra. The best mizithra is found in the island of Crete. I know everybody knows feta but we have other cheese that are very good too. Just like mizithra. I like the combination of flavors in this appetizer.

  5. Esos crackers se ven profesionales, las recetas fantásticas.


  6. Heather your mizithra looks beautiful - I love that you pressed it. Shame it didn't go so well with your crackers, but they do look great in their own right. As for that habanero honey - that just looks amazing - yep, that would be perfect I reckon for roasting some pork - ummm, just which day exactly will that be? If I get a plane tomorrow, I can just about be there in time :-)

  7. So pretty! I love the patterning on yours. And the crackers and honey - inspired! (I'll be stealing that honey recipe...☺)

  8. Looks wonderful. I never thought to put peppers in honey...clearly I have been missing out. ;)

  9. Yum! Beautiful cheese and crackers! And the honey looks amazing. I may have to make that.

  10. Heather, OM goodness!!! What lovely simple but beautiful recipes. I'm all about less is more when cooking and you mad it happen with each of these recipes. I love making crackers at Christmas time as gifts and pairing them with my Habanero Pepper Jelly but adding the home made cheese is genius!! I'm all over this combo for gits this year! Thanks again for a trifecta of flavors♥

  11. Oh, cheese, how I love homemade cheese, big sigh. Looks delicious, Heather, and I want some of that honey.

  12. Heather, it all looks so gorgeous. I love the pattern on the cheese and your crackers are perfect! I've never had habanero honey (or heard of it) but I love SPICE!! It all looks and sounds fantastic. Especially with a bottle of wine...

  13. The dishes looks absolutely fantastic. the honey and the mizithra.. woww.. crackers were perfect too.. love to try them..

  14. Heather – After reading the comments...I feel like suach a wuss! I have a confession….I am afraid of habaneros! I’m timid about handling them (once knew a guy who was chopping them and without thinking, rubbed his eye!) I think it was habaneros…maybe a hotter pepper…..I love the crackers and cheese and MILD homey for me please!

  15. Heather – After reading the comments...I feel like suach a wuss! I have a confession….I am afraid of habaneros! I’m timid about handling them (once knew a guy who was chopping them and without thinking, rubbed his eye!) I think it was habaneros…maybe a hotter pepper…..I love the crackers and cheese and MILD homey for me please!

  16. Wow, way to go in making your own cheese. Everything you made looks delicious.

  17. Wow! I want to make every single thing in this post...the cheese, the crackers, the honey! Especially the honey.

  18. Wow, all of it looks AMAZING. And habanero honey and homemade cheese - WOW. Your snack must be SO delicious.

  19. Between that cheese and the habanero honey...I'm just not sure what to attempt first!

  20. it's a beautiful day today and all i want to do now is go on a picnic with everything pictured above. that habenero honey looks AWESOME!

  21. The cheese and crackers are superb but the habanero honey rocks my socks. I'll be stealing that one from you:)

  22. looks so wonderful. It's like foo for the Gods! mouth watering I must say:)

  23. I could live off bread and homemade cheese, homemade cracker and honey(myfav) rock!!


  24. I simple love this post, great info about the foods I adore. Cottage cheese and Honey. Lovely read.

  25. Gotta tell you that your miziritha looks amazing. What a fun mold and shape.

    Habanero honey....oh my! I could just about put that on anything. It could be my new crack - lol.

  26. I MUST make some of that honey- I love the habanero hot paired with a sweet. The mizithra looks great too- one day I'll attempt cheese making! I've never made crackers either, and these look verrry tempting.

  27. Where to begin? Habenero honey? Sounds like a dream! And you made cheese?!?!? Cooool. At first I thought the crackers were storebought. They look perfect!

  28. Your mizithra is picture=perfect. It is a favorite of mine.;-)

  29. Definitely better than Club crackers. duh.

    I could totally eat this as a meal. cheese, beautiful crackers and fruit. oh yeah!

  30. THis looks so amazing! I am sorry I haven't been able to forge fromage with you for ages. I have to shift some of the whey from the freezer before I start again!

  31. I have just discovered you and I love you Love cheese!!

    I look forward to many more delicious posts...

  32. OH MY GOODNESS!! Everything you just mentioned sounds AMAZING!!!! Gorgeous. Can I come over for lunch??