Tag Archives: cheese

Make your own organic cheese, then put it on pizza toasts!

It’s really easy to make fresh cheese just with whole milk and lemon juice, a pan and a teatowel- that’s it! Follow my tutorial here to make the cheese, then before you hang it up to dry fully and shape it for cutting, nick some of the curds out to enjoy it straight away with these quick and easy pizza toasts. They’re made extra delicious with the rewarding feeling of having made the cheese yourself.

1. Take your cheese curds freshly rinsed and squeezed dry from the cheese cloth, they should look like this…

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2. Spoon some into a bowl and mix with chilli flakes, herbs and olive oil. This is also great with chopped capers and lemon zest!

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3. Cut large slices of bread

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4.  Top with tomato paste

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5. Add fresh tomato slices and sprinkle with sea salt

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6. Top with your fresh, homemade organic chilli and herb cheese

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7. Add olives then place under a hot grill for a few minutes, the cheese won’t melt but the top of the bread will toast, the cheese will brown a little and the olives will smell devine.

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8. Add fresh basil and enjoy!

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Making organic paneer

7160310722_32905aa198Today I made myself some cheese! This recipe is easy peasy, there’s no rennet, and you don’t need anything but fresh organic whole milk and something acidic (vinegar, lemon or lime juice). I set out to make Paneer, but stopped before shaping the cheese curds to enjoy some ricotta-like cheese with chilli flakes, herbs and olive oil.

This Indian cheese (Paneer) isn’t mature or ‘cheesy’ tasting, it’s very plain and doesn’t melt, this is because with matured cheese, like cheddar, rennet is added which further breaks down the proteins in the curd, forming a single mass which matures over time and melts under heat. Paneer doesn’t include rennet (from India, this cheese can be consumed by the vegetarian hindu population of the country) so it doesn’t mature well and doesn’t melt. But it does make a great creamy fresh background for strong flavours like curry, chilli or oregano.

So what’s the advantage of making your own paneer? Well first of all it’s fun, secondly it’s cheap (4  pints of milk makes a good bit of paneer and at only £1.69 for 4 pints of organic wholemilk, I think it’s at least £1 cheaper than the same cheese in the shops), thirdly it means you can make your cheese organic- I’ve never seen organic paneer in the shops.

So here’s how you make it, AND how to use it straight away on tasty pizza slices!

So you need:

4 pints of whole organic milk

Between 100 and 140ml of acid (vinegar, lemon of lime juice- I recommend the most tasteless, so rice vinegar or similar is good).

Here’s what you do:

Put the milk in a large pan

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Heat the milk until boiling and then turn it down to a simmer.

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Add the lemon juice or vinegar,  in small amounts until the white cheese curds split away from the green whey, don’t add more acid than you need to, just because you don’t want the strong lemony or vinegary flavour. It’s worth mentioning it looks gross at this point but don’t let you put that off.

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Drain the curds through a cheesecloth or piece of muslin, squeeze out all the whey you can (don’t spend a lot of money, a clean teatowel or piece of sheet is fine). It’ll look like this…

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Rinse the cheese curds in the cheesecloth to get rid of any acidic flavour,  then tie the cheese cloth into a parcel and rinse the cheese again, or soak the cheese in cold water, just to get all the lemon/lime/vinegar out.

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Squeeze the cheese again to get out as much liquid as possible.

Now it should look like this, soft crumbly curds.

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At this point hang the cheese up to drip out the last of the liquid.

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When the cheese has been hanging for a few hours and most of the moisture is gone, cut open the parcels, shape the cheesecloths with the curds inside into a block shape and wrap in more cheesecloth if available. Then squash with something heavy to form the cheese into a block.

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My version of something heavy- a cast iron pan filled with jars of garlic and coffee!

My version of something heavy- a cast iron pan filled with jars of garlic and coffee!

Before hanging it up, if you just can’t wait- nick a few of those curds out and add dried chilli flakes, dried herbs and olive oil, you can eat this smeared on bread or make into tasty pizza slices (see my post HERE 🙂 )

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Totnes Food Market

I was lucky enough to grow up in beautiful Devon, amongst the rolling hills, Torbay palms and frequent rain showers. My family home is near to the fun and intriguing town of Totnes. A middle-class hippie paradise, Totnes combines traditional english countryside pursuits with an environmental eye, a fun open attitude, a savouring of times gone by and a good healthy dose of wheatgrass shots and ylang ylang. Last weekend my parents, my brother and I went to visit the monthly food market. My dad took his new (very swanky) camera to pap the occasion! Here are some of his excellent pictures from the day.

My favourite stall was the Dartmoor Chilli Farm stall. The guy who was running it was really nice and really passionate about his plants and ‘chilli’ culture, he told us all about the different varieties, strengths and tastes of the chillis and even showed us his Trinidad Scorpian plant (the hottest chilli in the world guys!) He and his wife live in Dartmoor and grow the chillis in an unheated polytunnel, what an admirable (and highly enviable) existence. I bought some of his smoky chipotle sauce- it is delicious!

Me and my brother Will checking out some chillis!

All sorts o’ sauce

Lots of chilli plants- from Bonsai to variegated to very very hot!

Here’s a video of some chilli fanatics reviewing Dartmoor CF’s hottest product…the DEVIL naga chocolate bar!!! Skip to 2.20 to see the Devil’s effects…

There were loads of irresistible cakes and pastries everywhere…

There was fresh Devon produce, greengrocery at it’s best…

Delicious westcountry cheeses!

Westcountry Herbs

There were lots of different types and regions of cuisine…

Thai food!

Spanish tortilla and salad

Paella

Salad from ‘Jason and the Gastronauts’

The Veggie Deli- more my style!

The Alcohol Free Zone has not dampened my mood!

Searching for Deli goodies

Mediterranean food and products

All in all a fab day out and well worth a visit if you’re in Devon on the third Sunday of the month- Thanks Dad for playing journalist!

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A tiny harvest

The pots outside our one bedroom flat (which is without garden 😦 ) are flourishing with potato, courgette and tomato plants today (the few that survived the awful beginning of the summer we’ve had that is).

Tomatoes,squash, courgettes and some scraggly peppers and dwarfed aubergines- using every square inch makes plants flourish!!!

Tomatoes (which need some shoots pulling out)

Maris P’s in a pot!

Also, our allotment, despite not being tended for about 4 weeks has produced some lovely courgettes to join the couple from our pots: F1 Tristan, Black Beauty, F1 One Ball and F1 8 Ball.

Our first harvest for the year is a small bundle of these lovely fruits!

8 ball courgette! YUM!

What a handful!

A tiny harvest

We celebrated our crop, and the lovely (short-lived) weather, with a barbeque (or two) at the allotment…pure bliss!

Chopping onions for the veggie burgers

Our homemade BBQ- a shopping basket, some bricks and coals- with halloumi kebabs and Quorn best of british sausages- nom nom

Quorn burgers, Quorn sausages, frying onion in tin foil, and halloumi and veg kebabs!

Marshmallow anyone?

Despite the poor weather these few barbeques and relaxed times have made me feel very summery indeed. To make everyone else feel a little more summery and satisfied in their agricultural endeavours in the city, you may enjoy this farm and town paper animation set to Vashti Bunyan’s Diamond Day- what could be more summery?

By the way, we used the tiny harvest to make up the layers in a delicious vegetable lasagna, where instead of a layer of bechemal sauce I make a creamy layer of courgettes cooked  in garlic, herbs and cream cheese to place in between layers of quorn mince, passata and basil.

Colourful courgettes

YUM! Part of the tiny harvest cooked

Creamy courgettes in lasagna!

Finished lasagna, topped with ricotta and spinach, then gran padano and breadcrumbs for a twist

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Chargrilled peppers with cheese and coriander

This is a bit of a titchy post about my lunch, but this was so yummy I can’t not do a quick post about it.

So we had a pretty dull array of foods in for lunch a couple of weekends ago. Some hummus, bread a few sundried tomatoes in oil and some red peppers and a few grates of low fat cheese left.

I chargrilled up the red peppers in some olive oil on my chargrill pan, and whilst they were still hot added the cheese and some fresh coriander while they were in a bowl- the results made a lovely extravagant feeling lunch with little effort.

Smushed on top of some hummus-smeared bread this was really yummy. Please excuse the big bite in the photo- I couldn’t wait to sample before taking the picture!

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Asparagus Bread

 

Lots of people have signature dishes, one of mine is definitely Asparagus Bread. It’s a warm savoury accompaniment when baked fresh to go with pasta or pizza and just as good as a sandwich for munching on at lunch time the day after baking.

To make it I just make a normal 1/2 kilo white bread batch (500g flour, 300ml water, 5g dried yeast, 10g salt and a good slug of olive oil), knead, rise, knock back and shape the bread as normal and then push the dough into a roasting tray lined with baking paper, like focaccia. Rub all over with olive oil and garlic crushed and mixed with butter, then press in stalks of fresh asparagus, push them right into the dough, and sprinkle with grated parmesan (the cheap grated hard cheese in a canister is fine, the fine salty granules taste great and don’t melt in the oven). Bake at the highest temperature your oven will go (around 220C) until golden and makes a hollow sound when knocked. Lift out to cool on a wire rack…Voila!

I’ve found the best guide to getting perfect bread (with loads of great recipes) is the River Cottage  Handbook No.3 ‘Bread’  by Daniel Stevens- a beautiful and invaluable guide.

 

 

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Eye Candy

Vegetarian food porn of the month (ahem, I mean photo of the month) is provided by Daniel Eizans, who has made this lip-smacking image of the humble Enchillada available on Creative Commons 2.0 (non-com, no derivs) on flickr.

Thanks for the Mexican Splendour Daniel! A tasty start to the New Year!

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Recipe: Herby Spaghetti with Courgette, Feta and ‘Sundried’ Cherry Tomatoes

This dinner came out of pure greediness.

I was wondering if I could eat two flavour combos I love at once without it being too overpowering; these being:

-Tomatoes, Basil and garlic

-Green Veg and mint

I thought individually the flavours all worked well with each other, and worked well with feta cheese (which could be left out for a vegan recipe); and it turns out if you combine them all together they taste even better!

Ingredients for 2 generous servings:

-250g of spaghetti (we’re greedy!)

-A large mug of frozen peas

-A handful of chopped yellow cherry tomatoes

-Around 50g of sundried/blushed tomatoes in oil (we used a home dried F1 Mini Plum variety, dried in our dehydrator (not the sun…we live in England after all!))

-150-200g of feta (leave out for a vegan recipe!)

-2 medium courgettes

– 2 cloves of garlic

-A handful of fresh basil leaves (torn or chopped)

-Around 5-6 fresh mint leaves (sliced very fine)

  1. Slice the courgettes into ¼ inch (~1cm) rounds and lightly fry in just a little olive oil on a low/med heat. Don’t fry for too long, you don’t want them mushy, but fresh and just cooked.
  1. As the courgettes are just fried add the garlic, then after another minute of cooking the frozen peas.
  1. Add the mint, it should be about a pinch, don’t be excessive as fresh mint is strong. Add around half the basil to the cooking veg.
  1. Turn the heat under the veg off when done; keep warm by covering if necessary. Drain your spaghetti, place it back in the pan with a good glug of olive all.
  1. Add the cooked veg mixture to the pasta, add the raw chopped and sundried tomatoes and the fresh basil. Crumble in the feta.

Voila, Greek? Italian? Who knows….but it’s yummy!

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