The Forging Fromage group this past month has taken a leap in complexity as we’ve moved from soft, fresh cheeses to some aged, hard cheeses.
Aged cheeses are the types I most want to learn to make, but I’ve been chicken about making them because they take work, and patience. You can spend a whole day making the cheese, and another day (or more) pressing it (if it’s a hard cheese), and then you have to put it in the “cave”, and let it age. And be patient. And wipe off the mold that inevitably accumulates on the outside. And turn it daily. And watch it. And be patient. And wonder what’s going on inside that rind that’s developing.
And hope that sometime in the future, maybe a month, maybe six, when you cut open that cheese, you’ll have something in your hands that resembles the type of cheese you set out to make, and not just a nasty science experiment gone awry.
Fortunately, for those of us who need some instant gratification, our hosts wisely threw out a quick and easy cheese challenge that anyone can meet. Anyone.
Yogurt cheese is essentially just strained yogurt. If you strain regular yogurt for just a bit (say, a few hours), you’ll get thickened yogurt: Greek Yogurt. If you continue straining (say, overnight), you get something firmer – a sort of dip-like or spreadable cheese that you can then mix with whatever additions you happen to like: spices, herbs, honey, dried fruits, roasted vegetables. Maybe even chocolate?
The process couldn’t be simpler. Line a bowl with cheese cloth or even a dish towel, get some yogurt (I used goat’s milk yogurt), pour the yogurt into the cloth-lined bowl, tie the corners of the cloth together, and hang it up somewhere convenient. I hung mine on the kitchen faucet.
Let it sit there and drain until you get the consistency you want. I let mine go overnight and I still could have strained it more to get an even firmer cheese, but I had a birthday party to go to and I wanted to take the cheese with me, so I called it ready.
I snipped some chives from the garden, minced them, and mixed them into the cheese, then added a few long sprigs for garnish.
The resulting cheese was tangy and goaty, soft and spreadable, delicious spread on bread. It even made a respectable dip for tortilla chips. I imagine if I had added some onion, it would have almost made a home-made french onion potato chip dip!
Want to make cheese but feel afraid? Make this one. It requires no special equipment, no special skills, and, best of all, hardly any patience at all.
Love being elbow deep in milk? Come join us at Forging Fromage. Check the web site for the current recipes and their due dates. Make the recipe, write about it, then email your link to the contact email listed on the site to be included in the posted round-up.