Wednesday, April 13, 2011
goat cheese truffles
So, I did decide to make my own goat cheese. It is way easier that making prosciutto.
The recipe calls for goat cheese from the store, and specifies a preference for Coach Farm. I found Coach Farm goat cheese at a store in Miami. But they only had little things that were like 2 ounces. The recipe called for 2 cups, and I was planning to double the recipe. And that 2 ounce package was like $11. A little quick math, and I figured that 4 cups was going to cost, like, a bajillion dollars, and that was assuming the even HAD that much back in the safe, or where ever they were keeping quantities more than 2 ounces. Plus, I didn't marry into the Coach Farm family, so I sought options.
There is a woman that sells goat cheese at the Saturday Morning Market. She makes it from milk she gets from her very own goats. My initial plan was to get the cheese from her, because that sounded cool. But she told me her goats weren't giving her enough milk to make cheese for now, and she told me why, and it had to do with bodily processes that I totally know are related to milk and everything, but sometimes just don't want to think about them relative to beautiful goat cheese truffles. I can be like that.
So I went to Whole Foods and bought goat milk. I read instructions on making goat cheese on the Internet, and it all seemed pretty simple: you heat milk to somewhere between 180 and 185 degrees, add some lemon juice, stir and strain. The thing I couldn't find in any Internet-based recipe was the yield. Literally, the recipe would say, "Heat a quart of milk. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Stir. Strain. You have cheese."
"HOW MUCH!?!?!?!?!?" I would yell at the Internet. But it never answered. So I bought a gallon of goat milk and hoped for the best.
I heated the milk. I added the lemon juice. I stirred. I strained it, then I wrapped it in cheese cloth and hung it in the refrigerator to drain overnight. The next three photos totally document that process:
Dear Internet, the yield on one gallon of goat milk is roughly 3 cups of goat cheese.
I tasted it the next morning. It was fine, but not great. Kind of bland. I added more lemon juice and some salt, and suddenly it tasted a lot like goat cheese. I think if i had let it set a few days, it might have developed more flavor on its own. So I sort of cheated.
At first I was kind of annoyed that there wasn't enough. Then I just decided that it was enough, and the truffles would be made such that however much cheese there was there would become the number of truffles I needed. I tasked Jeremy with portioning out 30 mini-balls of cheese. Here are his hands:
The cheese balls are rolled in different coatings to make them all pretty and tasty. The first is poppy seeds. I had those already. The second is pimenton (Spanish paprika). I had that already. And the third is fennel pollen, which is a cool ingredient that I had been searching for for years without finding it nor knowing what i would do with it if i did. But last October, I was in Napa, Calif., and went to the Oxbow Market. There was a spice shop there, and they had fennel pollen. I bought about $5 worth, which, when measured out, is visible, but just barely. I had no idea what I was going to use it for at the time. But now, I needed fennel pollen. And I had it.
I can't believe i did not shoot video of the rolling process. it was SO exciting.
The plate goes together with some blanched arugula and bell pepper tossed in sherry vinegar. Then each truffle gets a little round of toast (MORE TOASTING!). In the photo in the book, the toast rounds are standing up on end in a really cool composition with the truffles. I couldn't make that happen. So mine looked exactly like they do in the picture here. Because, well, this was them.
Postscript: one of the reasons I wanted to make my own goat cheese was because I figured it would be cheaper. I crunched the numbers, and it really wasn't. I probably would have paid about the same for that amount of goat cheese as I did for the gallon of goat milk at Whole Foods. Now, I have seen Internet ads for local goat farmers who sell milk for about half the price i paid at Whole Foods. But for this night, I didn't have time to track them down. Maybe I will and I'll try it again and see if it makes for better cheese.
And we totally miscounted. So there were leftovers:
Up next: bavette