Sunday, May 3, 2009

Homemade Spreadable Cheese

Pioneer Woman has a great site. No, really, you should go check her out. We did! And as a result, we had "man-food" Saturday, with slow cooked beef brisket, onion strings, and scalloped potatoes. We legitimized the whole business by having something called "salad" on the side.

In the Onion Strings recipe, it calls for two cups of buttermilk, or buttermilk substitute. You soak the onions for at least an hour in the buttermilk and then proceed with the recipe. But what becomes of the buttermilk? Since we almost doubled her recipe, we had a significant amount left over. Well. We are not to be out-pioneered!

The ingredients and the method:

3 or 4 cups leftover oniony buttermilk, pour into a non-aluminum sauce pot and slowly bring to temp just shy of a low boil. Add lemon juice 1/2 TB at a time until you see the curd separate from the whey. This shouldn't take more than 2 TB. For a softer/smoother cheese, use leftover whey from a previous cheese-making adventure, adding in the same manner as described with the lemon. Once curds start to separate, pull from heat and let cool for an hour. Once cool, line a colander with thin linen cloth (the tiny curds will go right through most standard cheesecloth), and set over a large bowl. Carefully pour contents of pan into colander. Let drain for 45 minutes to 1 hour. You can scrape up some of the solids from the bottom of the cloth to make it drain faster. We used a dull bamboo chopstick.

Pull up corners of linen cloth, gently try to squeeze any excess liquid out. Tie linen with a string, and suspend the ball of almost-cheese (still wrapped in the linen) over a container in the refrigerator overnight. This will allow any remaining liquid to seep out of your cheese.

In the morning open your linen, put the ball of cheese in a container and gently scrape any excess off the cloth, this is good stuff you won't want to waste. Lightly sprinkle salt over your cheese, mix it in with a fork and repeat until you're pleased with the flavor. A few teaspoons of fresh herbs would have been delightful; think oregano, parsley, and especially chives.