dairy

Sexy little dish…

I recently started following a page on Facebook called Cheese Sex Death. It’s basically cheese porn. All manner of cheeses: soft, hard, smelly, earthy are introduced and pairings suggested. It’s pretty brilliant actually, and makes me want to become a certified fromagier and play with cheese all day. (Adding that to the bucket list.) In any event, on CSD, I came across an interesting recipe for a goat cheese dill pasta with acorn squash. These are all things that I enjoy, particularly in the fall, so I picked up a few items & planned to give the recipe a spin when I got home. 

“The best laid plans of mice & men often go awry.” – Robert Burns 

These were not particularly well-laid plans, as I was missing a few of the things I needed for the dish. I did, however, have some butter, wine, and black garlic & was able to whip up a different but equally sexy dish. 

Sexy Little Dish 

(Orecchiette with a Black Garlic Brown Butter White Wine sauce and Roasted Acorn Squash)

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz orecchetiette pasta 
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4-6 cloves Black Garlic
  • Dry white wine (I used the end of a Sauv Blanc from my fridge.)
  • 4 oz goat cheese (cut into small pieces & softened)
  • 1 acorn squash, peeled & diced 
  • EVOO
  • dill
  • Kosher salt

Instructions: 

Roast the squash: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. 
  2. Peel the acorn squash. Cut it in half & remove the seeds. Cut into evenly- sized cubes. 
  3. Drizzle with EVOO and toss to coat. Sprinkle with a little dill and Kosher salt. 
  4. Roast for about 30 mins until softened & browned. 

While you are making the sauce, cook the pasta according to package directions. I like  orecchetiette for this recipe; the tiny ear-shaped shells are a great vehicle for the creamy sauce. 

Make the sauce:

  1. In a sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. 
  2. When butter has melted, add the black garlic. Mash the garlic as it cooks & cook the butter and garlic slowly until it is browned & fragrant, 5-10 mins ​
  3. Pour in the wine (enough to cover the bottom of the pan) and cook on medium high until reduced, 5-10 mins. ​
  4. Whisk in the goat cheese over medium-low heat. Keep whisking until all the goat cheese is worked in and smooth. ​
  5. Combine pasta & sauce & toss with the squash. 
  6. Enjoy a hearty, earthy sexy little dish! 🙂

Bubbling, Cheesy, Potatoey Mess

I made this delicious mess to go with this year’s Easter dinner which also included spareribs, asparagus, & beets. I was aiming for something creamy & cheesy, & I added in a little black garlic for good measure.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds red potatoes
  • 2 cloves black garlic, smashed
  • 1 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt & ground pepper (to taste)
  • 1 C smoked Gouda cheese, grated
  • 1 C Colby cheese, grated
  • 1/2 C sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven  to 375F.

  2. Peel potatoes, and place in a bowl of water to prevent discoloring.

  3. Spray inside of a 2 qt casserole dish with cooking spray.

  4. Heat cream, milk, nutmeg, black garlic, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat until bubbles form around edge. Season with pepper, if desired. Remove from heat.

  5. Using a mandolin, slice potatoes 1/8 inch thick. Watch your fingers with the mandolin! They are a great invention, but dangerous!

  6. Layer potato slices into your casserole dish artfully. I got excellent results by layering some potatoes, then some grated cheese, then potatoes again. Save some cheese to sprinkle over the top.

  7. Pour warm cream mixture over top. Gently push potatoes down, to make sure they are all covered with the cream mixture.

  8. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake (with a baking sheet placed on the rack below to catch drips) until potatoes are fork tender and top is bubbling and brown, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cover with foil if cheese begins to brown too much.

  9. Serve while hot & bubbly!

Foodie Field Trip: Shatto Milk Company

Awhile back, completely by accident, I stumbled upon the awesomeness that is fun, flavored milks by Shatto Milk Company. A quick flashback, in case you have forgotten… I could hardly contain myself when I found out the awesomeness was produced in Osborn, MO. A hop, skip, and a jump (OK, a 45 minute drive) from my casa. Trust me when I tell you I am not unfamiliar with Osborn… I let my excitement out all over social media, including this Instagram post (By the way, are you following me on Instagram yet?): IMG_0463 The folks over at Shatto were kind enough to invite me out to check out the farm & meet the cows. Really, they had me at cheese… and flavored milks… and ice cream. As soon as I had a day available, I made the trip.

It was a lovely summer’s day in Missouri (Not really, it was pouring rain.) when I arrived at Shatto. Their gift shop was absolutely FILLED to capacity with people. Young moms and preschoolers, a tour bus full of seniors, joined my teens & I waiting for the tour to start. Because of health codes, everyone was furnished with a paper hat to wear during the tour.  My teens were thrilled (sarcasm), the little kids kept taking theirs off only to have their moms plop them back on their heads, and one older lady put hers on completely upside-down (how?) which greatly amused me.

There were at least 4 tours going on simultaneously, and with great precision, each group set off in a different direction to begin the tour. Our group started with milk-tasting, led by owner Leroy Shatto. As a professional wino, a small part of me was confused by milk-tasting. Where was the dump bucket? Was I supposed to spit? Wait, just drink the milk? I kid, I kid… We tasted 8 different milks (banana, strawberry, chocolate, cotton candy, root beer, cookies & cream, coffee, and the new birthday cake flavor) while Leroy gave us some history of the family and the farm. I think root beer is still my favorite, followed by coffee. The birthday cake was delicious; it tasted just like cake batter. I’m kind of bummed that I missed out on the limited release of apple pie flavor, but maybe I’ll catch it again the next time they do it.

Owner Leroy Shatto telling us about the farm's history in front of the milk-tasting set up.

Owner Leroy Shatto telling us about the farm’s history in front of the milk-tasting set up.

We walked past a cheese-making/processing room where you could look in and see some folks working on the various stages of cheese-making including the production of those famous Shatto cheese curds! Maybe in the future they can offer a “cheese geeks” tour. I know the littler visitors might not be into it, but I nerd out over cheese and would’ve loved to hear more about it.

Then we checked out a vintage (1950s) milk truck that the family found, restored, and decked out to rep the farm in parades and such. A pretty cool feature is that you can stand up and drive it. A guy on my tour made an amusing “milkman’s kid” joke, which I had to explain to my kids later. Thanks dude. 🙂

Checking out the bottling line and the various holding tanks was next. We also learned a little about homogenizing and pasteurizing milk. Here I learned 3 very important things: 1) milk can get from the cow to the store in fewer than 12 hours 2) a milk-bottling line is very similar to a wine-bottling line, and most importantly, 3) Shatto makes pumpkin spice eggnog in the fall!

Here's a shot of some chocolate milk getting bottled.

Here’s a shot of some chocolate milk getting bottled.

Next, they brought us out to meet the calves and if we wanted to, milk a cow. The calves were very cute, but were unfortuntely upstaged by a litter of adorable barn kittens. Amazingly, no kittens found their way into my purse, and my cow-fearing daughter (When she was a toddler she had an unfortunate incident in which she was head-butted by a cow.) actually enjoyed petting one of the calves and letting it lick her.

Katie the calf meets my little bovinophobe.

Kacie the calf meets my little bovinophobe.

A bovine friend waiting for her turn in the milking parlor...

A bovine friend waiting for her turn in the milking parlor…

After visiting with the calves, cows, and barn cats, we headed over to the milking parlor (Sounds so fancy!).  Here, they can milk about a dozen cows at once. According to Shatto, an average cow produces 6-7 gallons of milk per day. The staff discussed sanitizing the cow’s udders and let us all stick our thumbs in the milking apparatus. It felt similar to a blood pressure cuff at the doctor’s office.

Here are the ladies coming into the milking parlor & getting hooked up.

Here are the ladies coming into the milking parlor & getting hooked up.

This guy was pretty amused with everyone sticking their thumbs in the milking apparatus...

This guy was pretty amused with everyone sticking their thumbs in the milking apparatus…

The tour ended (of course) back in the gift shop where we were treated to some tasty flavored butters (honey butter and garlic butter) and cheese curds (the plain ones). The seniors did some shopping and got back on their tour bus, and the little kids begged their parents for cowbells. Thank goodness my kids are big!  I picked up some birthday cake milk for the kids, some “Dill-licious” cheese curds (that barely made it home), and Lily, a hard cheese a bit milder than Parmesan that I have already used in several dishes (Stay tuned!).

I think the sign on these needs to read "MORE COWBELL!"

I think the sign on these needs to read “MORE COWBELL!”

Thanks for a fun summer field trip Shatto, I’m excited to see what outside-the-box stuff you come up with in the future!

Shatto Flavored Milks…

Recently, I stumbled upon these flavored milks in my local supermarket. They’re from a local dairy: Shatto Milk Company is about 45 minutes from my house. For some reason I have not visited yet (it might have something to do with the fact that there’s a winery close by & I usually end up there) but fear not, the field trip is in the works! There are a variety of flavors available, besides Root Beer & Cotton Candy that you will see here; including Orange Cream, Banana, Strawberry, Coffee, and Cookies & Cream. Can’t wait to make this trip & check it out!

Adventures in Cheese Making Part Deux: The Magic of Rennet

I made mozzarella!! It’s in an ice bath in my kitchen right now! The heartache of my earlier cheese making adventures has dissipated. I AM A MIGHTY CHEESE MAKER HEAR ME ROAR!! Mozzarella was so easy to make that I think one of my kids could do it, but damn, I feel impressive!

I used my kit from New England Cheese Making Supply Company. The kit came with rennet tablets (I overcompensated buying the rennet by the way, I now have enough rennet to make cheese for the masses in the event of an apocalypse.), citric acid, a thermometer, some cheesecloth, cheese salts (not sure how cheese salt is different than regular salt), and an instruction book. I already had some citric acid, and the thermometer was a wee bit too short for the pot I was using, but the instruction book was priceless. The whole process took less than an hour.

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Here are the curds forming in my pot. Yay rennet!

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Here’s my precious mozzarella chilling in a water bath! Success is so sweet! Or salty if you’re making cheese. 🙂

The mozzarella came out awesome. A gallon of milk minus 1C (I used powdered milk, which I rehydrated) and 1C of heavy cream made about a one pound round of mozzarella. You can break it down into smaller balls while it’s warm, but I decided to play it easy this time. 

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Finished mozzarella!!

The only drawback was making mozzarella seemed smellier than the other cheeses I’ve been making. I think it might be the rennet, it’s an enzyme from a baby animal’s stomach that breaks down his mother’s milk for digestion. That’s an educated guess, because I feel like the whole experience (my kitchen and my hands) kind of smelled like baby puke. Which would make sense because the rennet is “digesting” the milk just the way the calf or lamb (or baby human) would. I assure you the cheese does not smell like baby puke, please do not let this deter you from making cheese which as you can see is an amazing experience. 

Also, I now have a bunch of jars of whey. I’m going to start giving them away to people on the street. Just kidding but I guess I will have to take a mini-hiatus from my cheese obsession to find a use for all this whey.

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So. Much. Whey.

Adventures in Cheese Making: Labneh (Yogurt Cheese)

The labneh came out of the fridge yesterday and I am starting to feel more confident in my cheese making skills. Put it in a bowl and seasoned it with some EVOO and kosher salt (hopefully solving the not-enough-salt problem I ran into with the lemon cheese). From my 36oz. of Greek yogurt came 2 lovely logs of labneh. (And that big mason jar full of whey.) It has a tangy taste and a creamy consistency somewhere between cream cheese and goat cheese. I plan to serve it to some of my wino friends tomorrow- alongside some homemade jam (cherry or blueberry) and yummy wines, natch. 

Currently, I have a pitcher of milk made from dry milk and some heavy cream in my fridge waiting to try out mozzarella making! I’ve seen it done tableside, and it’s always an impressive sight. Hopefully I can pull it off. Wonderful World of Rennet here I come!

Adventures in Cheese Making: Lemon Cheese Trial

So the lemon cheese came out of the fridge yesterday. We tasted it with some nice, crusty ciabatta bread. The consistency was that of cream cheese or goat cheese- soft and spreadable but very slightly grainy. Had a nice creamy taste but definitely needed some salt. My store bought cheese making kit contains “cheese salt”. Will have to do some research about when to salt the cheese; I’m so new at this that I’m afraid that salting will hurt and possibly break down my happy little curds.

Tomorrow will be the moment of truth with the labneh– then onto mozzarella and the wonderful world of rennet! I am a burgeoning cheese maker! Who knew?