Sunday, December 12, 2010

Homemade Mozeralla

1. Getting everything together:
We begin by collecting and sanitizing all of our equipment and gathering the ingredients. A 2 gallon pot for the milk, a sharp knife, a colander, a couple of bowls, measuring cup, and slotted spoon plus the ingredients and thermometer that came in your '30 minute mozzarella kit' are what should be in front of you now. Also place another pot of water on to heat (you will need to get it to 175F.. this will be used later for stretching). Measure 1/4 tsp of liquid or add 1/4 rennet tablet into 1/4 cup of cool water and set aside.Next Measure out 1.5 tsp of citric acid into a 1/2 cup measure of cool water and place this in your milk pot. Now pour your milk into this pot with the citric acid and stir well. Some curdling will take place because the milk is now quite acidic .. No worries. Place the milk pot into the sink and fill your sink with very hot water (110-125F should do). Stir the milk while watching the temperature rise to 90F. If your sink water bath is still very hot you may need to add some cold water to it to keep the milk from rising over 90F at this point. ...NOTE... if having problems with milk forming a proper curd you may need to increase this temp to 95 or even 100F ... 
2. Setting the milk:
Now we are ready to make the milk into Mozzarella. Begin by adding the rennet diluted in water to the milk, stirring up and down for 30 seconds and then letting everything rest quietly. In about 5 minutes a curd should have formed as shown in the 2 photos on the right. If it seems a bit soft at this point it will be OK to wait another 3-5 minutes. Test it by pulling the curd away from the pot with the back of the hand and it should show a bit of clear whey. If a firm curd does not form please see note above.
3. Separating the curds and whey:
First you will cut the curd with the knife into about 1 inch squares. Let this rest for 2-3 minutes. While you are waiting drain the water from the sink and add new hot water to the sink at about 110-115F. Using your slotted spoon, scoop the curd from the pot into the colander and allow the whey to drain into another bowl. When done transferring the curd to the colander, pour the whey back into your milk pot resting in the sink of hot water. Rest the colander with curd in the pot of whey (notice that the curd in the photo above is reading an ideal pH of 5.2 due to the citric acid you added) to keep the curd warm and add a little salt to your taste (1/4-1/2 tsp if you like), the salt will work into the cheese in the following steps . You may now fold this curd over on itself as it drains to increase the amount of whey running off. The more you work the curd at this point the drier the Mozzarella will be.
4. Stretching the curds:
Now we are ready to heat the curds and stretch them. Begin by pouring some of the hot water that has been simmering on the stove into another bowl and adjust it's temp to about 175F. This will be too hot for your hands so have thick rubber gloves or use the slotted spoon to work the curd in the hot water. Next cut or break the curd into 1-2 inch pieces and begin placing them into the hot water. Work the curd quickly at this point by pressing them together and folding over in the hot water to facilitate even heating. It will begin to get quite sticky at this point. As the curd begins to meld together pull it from the hot water and begin to stretch it. If the curd does not stretch check and adjust your water temperature and re immerse the curd. At first it may be a bit lumpy but as you stretch the curd, it will become quite smooth. Stretch it out several times and fold it back on itself and repeat. If it begins to cool too much (you will notice it begin to tear), place it back in the hot water to reheat. When it seems to form a consolidated mass and develop a sheen (stretches like taffy) you are ready to pull it all back into a ball for your final cheese.
At this point your Mozzarella is finished and you can make a brine with 2-3 tbs. of salt plus 2-3 tbsp of your clear whey in a quart of very cold water. This will chill the cheese and help it hold it's shape. 

The beauty of this process is two fold:
1. You can control the amount of moisture in the cheese by the amount of kneading and stretching you do.
2. You can stop at the end of step #3, place it in a sealed bowl, chill, and take it out the next day and complete the process when you are ready for fresh Mozzarella.

Friday, November 26, 2010

How To Relax In The Desert... Eid Kabir

Making tea, BBQ'ing our Eid Meat and enjoying watching the kids run around playing. It's one of the things I do love about living in the Sahara, the desert really is beautiful.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Eid!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Happy Eid

May Allah accept all your good deeds from the blessed month and give us the ability to carry them on through the year, ameen.

This Eid and every day take a moment and remember all of the our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering.

Don't forget that these are the days of Thikr!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lemon Pound Cake

So here it is, my very favorite lemon pound cake, although our lemons are still limes, it is still so yummy! I made this cake two days in a row, Thursday and Friday, kinda silly I know. But one cake I tried with goat's butter, uhhh, I didn't enjoy it at all, I totally forgot that I have found goat's butter has a horrible smell most of the time, although I have eaten it when it tasted sweet. I think it's the diet or age of that particular goat that makes the difference. Anyhow, I cut it up and gave it away to the neighbors IE. in laws. They absolutely loved it, surprising but true! Last time I made a pound cake all but one person told me it wasn't cooked well, you know pound cakes are really soft, they don't particularly care for that here. On Friday, I made the regular cake I have been making for years same recipe but using cow's butter. Yummy!!!! I gave half to the English class that DH teaches every Friday and we ate the last piece last night before crawling into a cold bed.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ts baking powder
1 ts salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
zest of 4 nice sized lemons
4 eggs + 2 egg yolks you can add up to 6 egg actually and I bet if you increase the flour to 3 cups you can add more
2 ts vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk + juice of one lemon stirred together

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Butter and flour a loaf pan, I have decided that I don't like these silicone baking pans. Crack all your eggs set aside. Juice your limes and add to the buttermilk and set aside. Combine the dry ingredients including the lemon zest and set aside.

Cream the butter in a mixer or by hand. Add the sugar continue creaming until it's, well, creamy. Slowly add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla.

Working in alternating batches, mixing just to incorporate after each addition, add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk, to the butter mixture. Mix until just smooth. Don't over mix! Give it a good stir and then carefully spoon it out into your cake pan.

Bake until raised in the center and a tester inserted into the center comes out dry and almost clean, takes about an hour. Let the cake sit for about ten minutes, then flip it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

If you are making a glaze or syrup now is the time. I made syrup for the goat's butter cake, trying in a desperate attempt to cover that goaty taste, didn't work. For the cow's butter cake I just added a lemon glaze. For the glaze I just added the juice of three lemons and powdered sugar to a nice consistency, then I dumped it on the cake. Serve at room temperature, in thin slices.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tuna Casserole

We used to eat this a lot when we were kids. I crave it every time I'm pregnant but don't think much about it otherwise. It's really easy to make, but if you are living in Algeria I'm pretty sure you don't have access to Mushroom soup, so there are no mushrooms like in my mom's version. I substituted with adding lots of onions and garlic. My kids loved it so I will try to make it more often for them.

Saute green winter onions and garlic in 1/8 cup of butter and 2 tbs olive oil. After they are wilted, starting to brown a bit and losing their water add a couple of blended tomatoes.

Add a couple of tbs of flour and cook that a bit so not to taste the flour in the sauce. It will thicken up, keep stirring it and making sure not to burn the flour.

There are three cheeses here in this part of Algeria that I like, the one pictured below and on occasion I like their Swiss and something they call Camareah. Chop up the cheese and add it, stirring to melt, then add some water and bring it up to a simmer until you have the thickness you are looking for.

 By now your peas and macaroni should be well drained and your tuna should be waiting. Throw everything into a pot and serve hot!