Foodie Fridays: How to Make Cheese in an Elfin Kitchen!

(Whoops! Sorry once again for the late Foodie Friday post! I spent the last few days in Cambodia with a group from my church (not visa related!), and due to the hours of bus travel/brutally long passport control lines/crazy outreach in Siem Reap, blogging got a little delayed).

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that I like to rant about my apartment in general, and my kitchen more specifically (see this post or this post). Basically, it was designed by/for elves. Everything is miniature, from the single hot plate, to the shelf that is perfectly positioned to smack your forehead when you stand up. The sink is so low that Todd washes dishes sitting down, and the fridge holds approximately one jug of milk and 3 eggs. Because of this, for the first few months that we lived here, we ate out most of the time. However, as time goes on, we have been craving a little home cooked (ie: not drenched in sugar and msg) goodness. This craving, coupled with the paucity of cheap dairy products in Bangkok, led me to experiment with cheese making. Unfortunately, rennet (necessary for harder cheeses) is not readily available in Bangkok, but the ingredients for ricotta/cottage cheese are easy to find. This is a great recipe for my fellow Bangkokians who have limited kitchen resources, or for anyone who wants to become reacquainted with the pioneering spirit.

Ricotta for an Elfin Kitchen

Time frame: 45min plus 1-5 hours of draining time

(recipe taken from this site)

1. Find a kitchen. Hopefully the elves haven’t hidden it.

Oops! There’s one hiding on the side of my toaster. Classy.

2. Gather your ingredients and equipment. You will need:

– A strainer/colander

– cheesecloth

– half a cup of white vinegar

– 2 litres of milk (any fat percentage will work, but remember that more fat = tastier).

– a saucepan with a lid

Tip: to make your own “cheesecloth,” you can use a tea towel, or, in this case, an old shirt. Simply find your husband or another random dude, steal his ugliest shirt, and cut it up. Wash it first if you don’t fancy man-flavoured cheese.

3. Begin by heating the milk in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. You want to heat it until it is 120F, or, if you don’t have a thermometer, until it feels warm but not hot.

Sterilize your finger with boiling water first if you’re nervous about germs.

4. When the milk has reached “warm” status, turn off the heat. Pour the vinegar into the milk, and gently stir the mixture until the ingredients are combined.

We haven’t splurged on measuring cups yet.

It will soon start to separate.

5. Cover the pot, and let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes. When you remove the cover after 30 minutes, the mixture should look something like this:

Curds and whey.

6. Line your strainer (in this case, part of my salad spinner) with the cheesecloth.

7. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the lined strainer.

Like I said, the shelf is the correct height for forehead whacking.

8. Allow it to drain for a few minutes, then gather the corners of the cloth together, and gently squeeze the mixture to release additional moisture.

Drain that sucker.

9. The next step is an optional one. Once most of the moisture has been drained from your bundle, you can rinse the bundle (still wrapped up) under the tap to get rid of the vinegar flavour, and gently massage it to break up the curd. I once forgot to follow this step, and my cheese still turned out fine.

I wasn’t able to take a photo of this step, because my photographer disappeared and I don’t have a third arm.

10. Once your cheese is rinsed (or not), hang the bundle on a protruding object to allow it to drain further. I like to use my kitchen tap. The longer you leave it, the firmer it will be. I let mine hang for 1-5 hours, depending on my mood and my schedule. If you’re unsure, open the bundle and take a peek to determine the firmness of the cheese.

11. After the cheese has hung out for a sufficient amount of time, open the bundle.

Sour milk is so tasty.

11. Scrape your fresh cheese into a container. I like to mix in some salt when I make it. You really could add any number of seasonings – pepper, garlic, chillies, jam, etc. I also like to refrigerate mine for a bit before eating, but you could also just tear into it like a ravening wolf.

It’s also great on pancakes, and I’m sure it would be charming in a lasagne, but since I don’t have an oven, I really can’t verify this.

12. Serve to your favourite elves, (now shirtless) husbands, and Intrepid Italian houseguests.

“Sorry” for cutting up your ugly shirt, T-bone.

The Italian approves.

Yum.

20 thoughts on “Foodie Fridays: How to Make Cheese in an Elfin Kitchen!

  1. Yum! That cheese is well-worth the cost of an old plaid shirt – no offense intended, Preston. My favourite experiment was when we mixed it with a bit of coconut spread (a gift from “The Italian”) and spread it on pancakes. Who knew curdled milk could be so delicious.

  2. And that shirt is NOT ugly! Your brother actually has matching shorts and I am disappointed that I can’t add a shirt to his wardrobe – what a waste!

  3. The cheese-making looks easy and delicious! The temperature check sounds similar to what you do in yogurt-making: warm but not hot – a perfectly valid method of testing for temperature.

  4. Ruth
    I can’t understand how wives can pick out an old shirt that hubby owns. It takes time to wear in a shirt so that it is comfortable and not too starchy. Todd spent all that effort in making a comfortable shirt and having it thrown out for the sake of cheese.
    old shirted dad

    • ooh. Good call on the pesto! Rent in our building ranges from 12000-16000 depending on the size of your unit. I’m told that we’re getting gouged, though.

  5. Here in Naklua in north pattaya , I am on the 7 floor ocean view ,walking to waterfront in 1 min . New 50 metre apt furnished completely without the kitchenette utensils , it’s nice! For 9990 baht a month plus electricity @ water will send pics if anyone u knows cares !

  6. On a more interesting culinary note , I bought a small Tefal Moulinette to bled chillis in oil, great hot sauce , pesto sauce is a breeze , a really easy piece to clean , and good if u don’t want a lot of equipment . Oh I put lot of garlic into it with oil , ( LOVE GARLIC) and in seconds have great strong garlic flavoring !!! Lol nice to meet you

    • Funny timing – I just bought a food processor this weekend! Have you been able to find sweet/Italian basil here? I find the Thai stuff is a bit licorice-y for certain recipes.

  7. Pingback: Butter Beef and Other Treats | The Facetious Farang

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