Saturday, January 9, 2010

Homemade Goat Cheese

It's wet outside, really dark and gloomy, prompting an inside project instead of an outside adventure. Just the kind of weather to mess about with a new cooking challenge.

SeriousEats ranks high on my list of favorite food blogs, one of the first sites I read each morning. There's always a link to an article that interests, a chat thread that intrigues, or a recipe that just begs to be tried. Last week a post on homemade goat cheese would not be ignored. I thought about it for days. OK, I’ll admit it, I also loved the idea of cooking something from a blog titled Kiss My Spatula.

The simple process sounded like fun and did not call for any strange ingredients, though goats milk isn’t routinely found in my fridge or on my shopping list. Is it even available at a local grocery? No problem, Trader Joe stocks it (as do Whole Foods, PCC, AmazonFresh and others).

Today had nothing pressing scheduled so it was a perfect day for the cheese making experiment. So I printed the directions...

...and gathered up all of my ingredients.

Next I slowly heated the goats milk to 180 F…

...and then added lemon juice to curdle the mix. (No, the lemon zest is not for the cheese, but you can’t waste that precious stuff. It will find a home in tomorrow’s biscotti recipe.)

Finally I ladled the lumpy, curdled mix into cheesecloth...

...tied the corners to form a bag, and hung it from a wooden spoon to drain. (At this point I had some doubts.)

It dangled there, ignored, for about an hour or so until it looked like this. Not too pretty!

Salt, grated garlic, Herbs de Provence and chopped parsley added flavor and perked up the appearance. One quart of goats milk produced a lovely 6 ounce mound of cheese. 

Bon appetit!

Tasting notes:
1. The cheese had a crumbly, grainy texture that resisted spreading on slices of French bread - so we smooshed it into submission and munched away. Next time I won't let it drain as long, or might mix some of the drained whey back in.
2. I tried mixing a 50-50 blend of goat cheese and cream cheese, hoping to improve the spreadability without impacting the flavor. The result was a tasty goat cheese spread, but not really a goat cheese.
3. The shredded, raw garlic had too pronounced a bite. I will check the remaining spoonful of cheese tomorrow and see if it has mellowed out. NOTE: the garlic's bite did ease by the next day, but the overall flavor still needs something.
4. The next batches will feature different herbs and spices, just for fun.

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