23 January 2008

Fresh Goat Cheese

Hello there.

I hope you had a nice long weekend. I certainly did. The impending move and new job loomed largely on the horizon, but it was full of lovely things none-the-less. There were adolescent lettuces and Eastern Shore popcorn at a fun birthday dinner, a nerve-wracking overtime game, a new episode of The Wire, and several walks in the bone-chilling, exhilarating cold. I managed to squeeze in a few yoga classes to warm me up, a cup of celeriac-kale soup with tomato dumplings shared with mom, and trolled my way through boxes of old photographs, one of those tasks that's never as productive as it's meant to be, but is a great way to while away an afternoon. What more could you ask of a weekend, really? Oh, and I bought a carton of goat milk. And then I made cheese.

I know, I'm excited just typing it. And it was so easy, too! There was that container of goat milk, slyly beckoning me from the market shelf, and my curious hands just had to buy it. Of course, I had visions of making beautiful little crottins of goat cheeses or perhaps some goat milk yogurt, but in the end I just made the simplest cheese recipe I could find. When I lived in places where ricotta cheese wasn't available, I made my own, and the technique used here is much the same. It's quick, easy, and yields delightful results. But though I've made simple cheese before, this fresh goat cheese was beyond my expectations. It has the soft-curd texture of ricotta but with an underlying flavor- don't expect anything strong or creamy like chevre, only a quiet subtle note that keeps it just this side of bland. On Monday night I mixed it into a beet salad, but the beets almost overwhelmed it, and the cheese was so delicious in its subtlety we ended up setting aside our plates and simply spooning the cheese onto little pieces of bread, carefully tasting and chewing each bite.

The recipe doesn't yield a huge amount, which is okay because it's best enjoyed at its freshest. Besides, it's ready in only half an hour, and then you'll have your own homemade cheese! I can't wait to see what next weekend holds, and I hope it includes more cheese.


Fresh Goat Cheese
This simple cheese is like a goat-milk ricotta, and is best freshly made. Its subtle flavor invites experimentation with flavors and seasonings- you could try infusing the mixture with different herbs and spices. Though this can be made with cow's milk, I think that would be rather beside the point.

1 pint goat milk
1 tablespoon mild vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt

1. Place milk in a medium saucepan, stir in the vinegar, lemon, and salt. Place the mixture over a medium flame and place a thermometer in it.
2. Meanwhile, line a mesh sieve with several layers of cheesecloth (I fold it over so it has about 4 layers). Set the sieve over a bowl.
3. Bring the milk mixture to 175 F (do not let it boil). When the milk reaches 175F (in my case it took until 180), you will see the curds and whey separate. You can give the mixture a gentle stir to encourage it, but avoid over-stirring. When it has separated, pour the warm mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and let drain. Gently lift up the corners of the cheesecloth and tie them up. Do not press on the cheese. Suspend the cheese over a sink or bowl and let drain for fifteen minutes. Gently unmold cheese, transfer to a bowl and store in the refrigerator. Keeps for over a week, but is best in the first couple days.

Whey can be discarded or reserved to use in breadmaking or soups.

18 comments:

glamah16 said...

Thanks for this! I must give it a try.

Kristin said...

Nice work! It looks wonderful. I have a question, though. A couple of times I have seen you use "mild vinegar". What exactly is it? Is it a special kind, or a lower acidity?

Aparna said...

I have eaten this in Portugal and loved it.
I make similar cheese using the same method (no salt) with regular milk and we call it paneer in India.
I also use the whey to make chapathis (Indian unleavened wholewheat bread).

Meeta said...

Oh my Mercedes - simply awesome that you made your own goats cheese. I love the stuff and this does sound delish!

bird's eye view said...

That actually sounds just like Indian paneer, only we don't add salt to the milk. We put in either vinegar or lime juice into boiling milk, park the 'curds' into a tight mould and hey presto...It lasts much better if you keep it in a bowl of water.

Rachel said...

Tomato dumplings? Yum!

The cheese looks great.

clumsy said...

Thank you! I'm excited to try this recipe!!

Luisa said...

adolescent lettuces? hee.

Mercedes said...

Glamah- I hope you do, it's easy and exciting.

Kristin- by mild vinegar I mean a vinegar like apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, white wine vinegar, and the like. I simply use this term to distinguish between stronger/assertive vinegars like balsamic and red wine vinegar. In most cases I use cider vinegar or champagne vinegar. Hope that's clear?

Aparna-huh, portugal, very cool. I think every region has it's own form of this simple cheese (milk that's curdled, heated, and strained), whether paneer, ricotta, jibne, etc. I'll have to remember that about the chapatis.

Meeta- it's not quite like commercial goat cheese (such as chevre), but it does have a nice soft goat taste. Thanks!

Birds eye- I remembered as soon as I posted this I should've included paneer in my comparison. I think the salt is a key part that keeps it from being bland, plus I looove salty cheeses. This is a soft cheese so it wouldn't do well stored in water, but that's a good tip for storing a firmer cheese.

Rachel- I know! They were sundried-tomato dumplings actually, but the soup was super yum.

Clumsy- your welcome, I hope you do!

Luisa- I know. The restaurant I linked to (Woodbury Kitchen) is great, farm-to-table, reasonable prices, excellent food and decor. A friend of mine works there so I've been following their development. Unfortunately the adolescent lettuces aren't on the menu now, but the menu used to read "adolescent lettuces, stolen keys to the car."

Sandi said...

Mercedes. I have been missing your posts. Glad you are back!

Michael said...

Hopefully we can have goat cheese when we're in heaven.

Alejandra said...

This recipe makes me so excited to try it out! I love goat cheese and have been eating so much of it lately. It's incredibly expensive though, so it would be lovely to be able to make my own. What a fantastic idea... Thank you!! :)

Cakespy said...

Of course it was a good weekend with wonderful cheese like this! Yum!

Alejandra said...

I found goat's milk at the farmer's market! I know my next weekend project...

Hillary said...

You are SO cool! You made your own goat cheese and showed me I can too...thankssss.

deeeeeeena said...

I NEED to find goat milk so that I can make this. It looks FABULOUS!

sairuh said...

Mercedes, your post inspired me to start the cheesemaking journey. :-) My version involved cow's milk and buttermilk, and I found that just a little bit of vinegar really helped things along! I love sheep's milk cheese and yogurt, but if I only could find a(n easier) source of fresh sheep's milk in the SF Bay Area...

eatyet said...

i really want to try this one. i love your blog and i m definitely comming back for more. -L