Sweet Nothings

One a penny, Two a penny, Hot Cross Buns!

One a penny, Two a penny, Hot Cross Buns!

Hot cross buns, Hot cross buns, One a penny, Two a penny, Hot cross buns. Sing along! In spite of the solemnity of the Good Friday that is approaching, there is something we can all look forward to, as Easter arrives. That’s right, you guessed […]

No-dough pizza…?

No-dough pizza…?

  Hello there all you beautiful people! It’s just past lunch time and i’m sure you’ve all had your fill, so I don’t feel so bad about perking up your appetites this Wednesday afternoon with that picture on the left displaying a gorgeous slice of…. Well, […]

Homemade cheese!

Homemade cheese!

Who run the world? Cheese!

That’s right. Without cheese, we will be barren from some of life’s greatest delicacies: Cheesecakes.. Pizza(bare necessity of life).. Mac & cheese.. Nacho sauce.. Grilled cheese sandwiches(!!!).. Cheese stuffed sausages(dat ooze).. Cheeseburgers laden with layers of melted cheese(OMG…).. Tiramisu.. Cheese fondue(needless to say)……. Somebody stop me, the list could go on forever…….. Wait, one more thing – Cheese tarts! Of course. The fad that everyone’s being going ga-ga over for the longest time.

Ok, i’ll stop for now.

So, with all these amazing cheesy delights all around us, what if we ran out of of cheese one day? What if the world just… well… stopped producing cheese? What if one day, you woke up, and realised you’ve been living a dream – A dream where cheese existed, and in reality did not. No one knew cheese, and cheese knew no one. You have to either find a way to recreate your cheesy memories, or lose them forever. Ask yourself – What’s a girl/guy gotta do to get some cheese? The answer is simple – MAKE YOUR OWN. And we’re here to show you exactly how to.

If you’re lactose intolerant or just hate cheese, go away  this article might not be the most beneficial to you. Turn away now or be tempted to convert! If you’re a cheese lover who would like fuel your passion for cheese, read on and be inspired!

 

Today, we are going to show you how to make 3 different kinds of cheese: Ricotta, Mascarpone and Cream cheese; In order of ease and also the length of time it takes to achieve the finished product.

 

RICOTTA

Ricotta is often used in pizzas, pastas, salads, desserts, or even marinated and seasoned with oils, herbs and/or spices to be used as dips, stuffings and bread spreads! It has a slighter grainy, curd-like texture similar to cottage cheese, however lighter and more perishable.

The following recipe yields approximately 1 cup of fresh ricotta.

4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt

Bring milk and salt to a simmer (around 165-185F), then stir in lemon juice. Leave it on gentle heat till curds start to form (you will see the separation of milky white curd-like substances and liquidy off-white to yellow coloured whey). Once this happens, remove it from the heat and allow the curds to fully separate from the whey. There is no hard as fast rule about how long this should take – it all depends on the humidity and atmosphere(or even the acidity of your lemons) of your kitchen – or wherever you are doing your cheese-making. It could take anywhere between 5 minutes to half an hour. Add a teaspoon more lemon juice if there is still unseparated milk at the bottom(use a perforated spoon to check this). Then, strain the curd as shown below, into a cheesecloth-lined strainer:

Leave it to strain until you achieve your desired consistency. I like it wet(don’t get me wrong) when using on pizzas or as a spread, but drier when using as a filling such as stuffing for cannolis. The latter would take a longer time. Stand around a wait for an hour or two if you have the luxury in time, or cover it with some cling wrap and store it in your refrigerator overnight.

 

MASCARPONE

Known as the cream cheese of Italy, this cheese is commonly used in Tiramisu, whipped with cream, eggs and sugar to form the deliciously light yet rich mousse it is known for. As for me, I enjoy it simply whipped with a little honey atop fresh berries – a perfect refresher for a hot, sunny day. Mascarpone has a texture that is thick and creamy, yet soft, and a consistency that is comparable to thick crème fraîche or softened butter.

The following recipe yields approximately 1 cup of fresh mascarpone.

1 cup heavy cream
1.5 tsp lemon juice

Bring the cream to a simmer (around 165-185F) for 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and continuing simmering for another 3 minutes. Take it off the heat and let it cool to room temperature. This will probably take around 30min to an hour, considering our local climate, and depending whether you are in an air-conditioned environment or not. (You can use the time to fantasize about the wonderful ways you are going to utilize your newly made cheese.) Then, line a strainer with about 3 layers of cheesecloth, over a bowl or cylinder, and pour in your mixture. Cling wrap it and leave it in your refrigerator overnight. You’ll be surprised how thick it it would have gotten despite only releasing a small amount of whey!

 

CREAM CHEESE

Cream cheese is my favourite kind of cheese. It is the most versatile for baking. Use it in cheesecakes, cake batter, cookie batter and even pie crusts – in which it lends it delightfully tender rather than flaky texture (we use it in our whole apple tart!). Simply use it on its own as a spread on a toasted bagel or slice of bread for a quick snack. It is soft and mild in flavour, having a texture akin to that of mascarpone.

The following recipe yields approximately 1 cup of fresh cream cheese.

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 tbsp buttermilk*
1/4 tsp salt
2 drops liquid rennet mixed with 1 tbsp of water (Get your rennet here!)

Combine all the above ingredients -except for the rennet- in a pot and heat it to 75F (luke warm). Then mix in the rennet solution and cover it with a towel. Allow this mixture to stand for 14 hours in an area which is 75F (for our warm climate, it would be suitable to keep it in a room with the air condition turned on to 23C). After 14 hours, you will notice that the mixture has sort of ‘gelled up’, just the slightest bit, into an almost pudding-like consistency:

Pour it into a cheesecloth-line strainer as shown above, let it strain for 4-5 hours and you’ll be the proud owner of your own little container of homemade cream cheese!

*To substitute one cup of buttermilk: Fill a 1-cup measuring cup with 2 tbsp of vinegar, top it up with milk, let it stand for 10min, then shake to combine. Use as needed.

P.S. Wanna know a little tip regarding cream cheese? It is the secret to stabilizating whipped cream and ensuring it doesn’t split 😉 Sshhh… don’t tell no one!

 

The quality of every ingredient you used in a dish truly plays a huge part in the flavours that come through and differentiates it from any other. Once you start making your own cheese, you may never want to go back to the stuff in the tub. Not only is it fun to make and it tastes better, but it costs barely a fraction of the price you would pay for these cheeses in supermarkets! Also, not much can beat waking up in the morning and opening the fridge to the sight of fresh cheese.At Tarts & Things, we use freshly made cheeses in several of our items.Here are some snapshots, to name a few:

  • PIZZA QUICHE TARTLET: A whole lot of ricotta is mixed in with the tomato-based filling encompassed within these little shells. Absolutely rich, creamy and indulgent.

Hello World: Tarts vs Cakes

Hello World: Tarts vs Cakes

Hello World! Tarts & Things is very happy to announce to all of you that we have officially launched (like finally?!) and we are ever ready to serve all of you with open arms – just ensure you have open mouths to receive all the […]