Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dairy Maiding: Goat Milk Ricotta

Once in college, I applied for a student job and was placed at the Texas A&M Dairy farm, where I expected to be interviewed and shown around.  I wore shorts and flip flops, and they asked me to go to work that night.

I ended up in overalls and flip flops, stomping through manure, slapping cow's asses to steer them to the dairy.  There they lined up in an aisle, had each teat washed with an iodine dip, and I learned to attach the milking machine.  By about 930pm, I thought I had the flow down, then someone supervising me realized I had missed something (I don't recall what, but it was vitally important) and they had to drain out about 20 gallons of milk and waste it.

I found another job editing a professor's book.  Thank GOD for English AP tests.

I have struggled and overcome my fear of milking...in fact I want a milking goat but Taste Tester wisely refuses.  One day, though, I'll get my goat.  (Why is "you really got her goat" a phrase with a negative connotation?)  Goat milk is easier for humans to digest, does not cause allergic reactions, and is naturally homogenized--you don't have to separate the milk after milking.  And I love all goat cheeses.

This was my first making-of run, next I'll try to make something cultured, but this turned out nicely tangy and great for a spread.

I boiled a half gallon of goat's milk to 180 degrees then let it rest.  I couldn't find fresh goat's milk, only pasteurized, but that would be fun to try.  I then added 1/4 of a cup of lime juice, but lemon or apple cider vinegar were also recommended.  I let that sit for ~20 min to curdle.  Above is what curdling looks like.  I expected more clumps but it was reminiscent of watching grits boil. Except more boring.

Next I ladled this into a colander lined with several layers of cheesecloth.  Next time I'll buy some loose-weave muslin, the cheese cloth eventually wasted a lot of cheese.
If yogurt making was easy, this was remedial easy.  If I had kids (and I liked them) this would probably be a fun activity.  After this, all I had to do was wait.  Once it drained low enough to tie up the bundle of cheesecloth, I let it drip over the sink for half an hour, then let it drip over a bowl in the fridge for another half hoour.  Then I turned it into a bowl and added chopped rosemary, 1 crushed clove garlic, and a dash of salt. 

I'd made some fresh French bread also, and we toasted that and schmeared the cheese. Good times.

I'm going to start adding what I thought were my overall costs to make things, and to be honest this was ~$4.00.  In reality, buying your own goat cheese would be about the same.  But if you could buy a couple gallons of goat milk for a better rate than I got, it might be a savings.  Time to consider dairy maiding again.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Gardening Like You Know What You're Doing Part Deux et Trois

DIY TCBY: Make Your Own Yogurt, Normal or Frozen

I'm never able to use up an entire half gallon of milk OR yogurt before the whole thing turns, but I've learned a few tricks that make me more likely to use them.

For the milk, I turn it into yogurt (part of this post).  When the yogurt's about ready to turn, I'll be turning into the greek style which is thicker and can substitute for sour cream and heavy cream in almost any recipe. What I'm trying tonite is turning the greek yogurt into frozen yogurt.

So to recap:
Almost bad milk--->yogurt--->Greek style yogurt--->frozen yogurt

I don't have an ice cream maker, plus I'll only be making a small amount, but according to my research, a hand blender works and it is still just as creamy as the pro stuff.

To make yogurt, you first boil your milk, bringing it to boil for just a minute before pouring it into a bowl to cool to lukewarm (plastic wrap to maintain the sterility).  After it's cooled to that warm temperature, it can begin to breed acidophilus bacteria that convert the lactose into lactic acid, which in turn performs a magic trick (hard to believe I'm a microbiologist) and ta-da, yogurt.  One catch, though, is that unless you grow acidophilus in your spit, you'll need a starter culture--a couple spoons of any live culture yogurt will do.
The rest is just waiting, and I like to use a heating pad on low beneath the bowl so that the process only takes about 12 hours.  So on the left--boiled milk; on the right, the same bowl after a night of sitting out (covered) with a spoonful of fresh yogurt added.  I'll be waiting a few more hours before straining this through cheese cloth to make...
Greek Style Yogurt!
(this was made from the leftover plain yogurt in the fridge which also was the starter for the above yogurt)

Meanwhile, more immediate gratification from my recipe-within-a-recipe, like this whole post is a molten lava brownie thingy that goos out when you cut it.  Which is a great idea for a future post.

Frozen Yogurt Recipe
Greek-style yogurt (essentially plain flavor yogurt drain to reduce water content)
Flavor concentrate (mine is vanilla and coconut)
Add-ins (mine is chips of dark chocolate)
A sweetener--a couple Splenda packets made mine great, but a purist might just go for sugar

Mix your stuff, unless your add-in could get ruined by a hand blender, then put in a bowl in the freezer.  Every hour, stir with the blender until it's completely frozen. Mine took about 3 hours.

First check: not frozen at all.

Another hour later--fairly crunch with ice crystals, so I added my dark chocolate chips,
then put it back for another 30 min...
Coconut chocolate chip fro-yo.  Ideally I think another couple hours frozen would have been good, and this was a small batch so it went fast.  But still, pretty easy plan for a dinner party dessert.  Also healthy, low fat, high in calcium, low sugar, looks like I actually tried hard when I really only stirred crap up a few times...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sushi for Beginners

For both these sushi rolls, all I had was more of the tuna from the other night, but it's my favorite anyway.  I'm out of practice with sushi making, but I got the hang of it pretty quick.  These were both rolls with spicy tuna in the center, plus some avocado and cucumber.

Spicy Tuna Filling:
Fresh tuna, chopped/minced into very small pieces
1-2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Sriracha spicy chili sauce
1 dash cayenne
This mix was a stirred up until the color changed to a redder tuna rather than pink.

Then I laid out press-n-seal plastic wrap and a half sheet of seaweed (nori) and spread cool sushi rice over it.  It won't stick if it's as cold as the fridge it came from, but a quick nuke in the microwave (about 20 seconds) brought it to the perfect just-below-room-temperature I was needing.  Then it stuck like duct tape to everything.

The layer of rice was spread out on the plastic about 1/4 inch tall and then I laid the nori on top and lightly pressed it down.  I spread my filling in the center, and for one I added a line of avocado and cucumber, but for the other I saved the avocado for a topper.

Using the plastic wrap I rolled 'em up till they just overlapped, and pressed lightly so the rice sponged together.  Yes I just used sponged as a verb.

I cooled both rolls in the fridge briefly, and sprinkled one with sesame seeds and panko bread crumbs.  The other I topped with thinly-but-not-thinly-enough-sliced avocado.  My spicy sauce from the last post was great with the panko crunch one.  Slicing them was an art, the bread knife seemed best but it was hard to keep them pretty and circular while doing so.

It just might be possible I could get this sushi stuff down and save us a lot of money eating out.  On the other hand, I might not bother.  All Taste Tester had to say was "It's good."  Not exactly the glowing praise one expects for hand-rolled custom homemade sushi, but I loved it.  Next time, I think brown rice plus a new type of fish in the mix.

Tekka Don (fish on rice)

Tekka don is tuna sliced over sushi rice, with any extras you'd like.  It's sometimes also called chirashi sushi, or "scattered sushi".  This was fun and so much easier than I expected.  I think it all came together in 20 minutes--start the sushi rice, run to the oriental market for fish, come home and slice things while the tuna defrosted, and then put it all together.

I like my sushi rice to be cool or room temp, but for this dish a little warmth is an interesting contrast to the chilled tuna.  So the sushi rice was done in my rice steamer, and to each cup of rice I add ~1/8th of a cup of rice wine vinegar, plus ~1/2 tsp  each of salt and sugar (or a sweetener like Splenda).

My toppings were julienned cucumber, pickled ginger, sliced scallions, nori seaweed cut into strips, and a little lemon and avocado on the side.  Other good toppings are sesame seed, julienned carrots, lettuce, sliced radish, anything with some texture and crunch.  I also like this spicy dressing:

1 tbsp mayo
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1-2 tsp sriracha red chili sauce
dash of cayenne if that isn't spicy enough

These ingredients well-blended make an orange dressing that is often found on spicy sushi rolls.

So once my rice was done and cooled to a warm (not hot) temp, I topped it with the veggies and then the sliced tuna atop that.  I drizzled with spicy dressing and it was an amazing meal.