This is usually the time of year when it's easiest for me to make cheese since I have an abundance of fresh goats milk. It just so happens that this week, IHCC's starts cooking with Rick Bayless.... and I couldn't come up with a single better thing to make than Queso Fresco. I found out that Heather has made it before too and she took some pretty amazing pictures of it.
It's been super windy here today. The sun is shining and the sky is blue but the wind feels like it's coming straight off a glacier, so it was a good day to spend the afternoon inside making cheese by the wood stove anyway. The dogs were really big helps, as you can see...
This is not a difficult cheese to make, and oh so delicious. It's perfect with a lot of things, enchiladas, tacos, we love it on pizza. Tonight we are eating ours with chicken Quesadilla's made with homemade tortillas. And you want to believe there will be margaritas involved.
While I was waiting for the cheese to do it's thing, I spent a great deal of time playing with my new phone... I never thought a farm girl like me who could care less about most technology would actually find text messaging so much fun. We bought new phones this year so that while we are on the road to Alaska this spring we can check email, and still be connected. I love that while we are on the road, I can check my favorite recipe sites and find out what I want to make for dinner before we camp! We've also got a WiFi hot spot on one of the phones, so when we are camped as long as we have cell phone signal, my laptop can connect through the WiFi and I can update the blog! Usually it's a nightmare trying to find campgrounds with WiFi - even though this year with the 5th wheel we won't be able to camp in the backwoods as much as usual, if we are sitting in a Walmart parking lot, I can still update the blog!
Back to the recipe - I did not have Buttermilk... I did my grocery shopping for the weekend yesterday in the city... it was a mad house of course since the stores are closed today and I wasn't feeling great, so it was a bit of a rush. I did manage mostly everything on my list but not the Buttermilk.
So I improvised and it worked amazingly. You take 1 Tbs of lemon juice and put it in a measuring cup... pour in enough milk to bring the liquid to 1 cup. Leave for five minutes. And... voila! It really works and tastes great.
1 gallon whole or 2% milk
2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. Citric Acid
1 c. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. salt
Pour the milk into a very large pot over med-low heat and stir in the buttermilk. Bring milks to 75° F, turn off heat, cover pot and let sit for 3-4 hours.
If using citric acid, stir it into ¼ c. cold water, continuing to stir until dissolved. With lid off the pot, turn heat to medium and stir dissolved citric acid or lime juice into the milk. You will see small curds start to form. Every few minutes, stir slowly and gently until milk reaches 195°F. By now, the curds will really be showing themselves.
Remove from heat, let stand five minutes without stirring so all the curd can rise to the top.
Line a colander with a large piece of cheesecloth. Set colander in sink (or over bowl if saving the whey to feed to pigs, or in my case, other animals who think they are pigs). Carefully ladle all of the curd into the colander. Gather the cheesecloth around the curd and squeeze it to expel as much of the whey as you can.
Remove the cheese from the cheesecloth onto a plate and sprinkle with salt. With your fingers, gently mix the salt into the cheese, to your taste, and then push the cheese into a circle, and place in the fridge to set up, if you can keep from eating it all right away, which from experience is a difficult thing to do...
Then, if you are like Douglas, just go take a nap on the couch until it's time to actually eat dinner.