Wheat bread with acorn flour

Not the largest loaf of bread but it smells great.
Not the largest loaf of bread but it smells great.

If you can’t tell I am trying to incorporate acorn flour into a lot of my recipes.  This recipe is from an old healthy eating cook book I have had for a long while.  It is not 100% whole wheat since that would be hard as a rock and very very dense.  But it is still a good bread.

ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 pkg dry active yeast or equivalent
  • 1 cup warm water.  It needs to be around 120F .
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp cooking oil (you can substitute in applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup acorn flour

what to do:

  1. in a medium bowl combine 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, rolled oats, yeast, oil, and honey.  Mix until all of it is incorporated all together.  Then mix in the wheat flour, acorn flour, and as much of the remaining all-purpose flour as you can.
  2. on a lightly floured surface knead in as much of the remaining flour as you can and continue to knead for 6-8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Then lightly spray your bowl with oil and put your ball of dough into the middle and let rise until it is doubled in size. This will take about an hour
  3. punch down when doubled and let rest for 10 minutes.  While it is resting spray a loaf pan with non stick oil.  After 10 minutes shape the dough into a loaf shape and put in pan and then let double in size in the pan.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375F and bake your loaf for 30-35 minutes or until it sounds hollow when you tap it.  Put it on a cooling rack and eat when it cools down.

According to the recipe before you add in the acorn flour it is 84 calories per slice if you cut it into 16 slices.  With the acorn flour it will bump it up 20-30 calories per slice.  Acorn flour will give it a nice protein and fat boost to make a well-rounded type of bread

My first attempt at making Cantal cheese

This is a cheese I have wanted to make for a while now but didn’t have the multiple days free to be able to make it.  Every book I have looked at has a different recipe version so I am going to do one with the recipe from Ricki Carroll’s website.  It is a not as detailed of a recipe as I would like so we will see how this one goes.  I have added to it what I can from the other recipe I have for it. Hopefully the draining and pressing additions will bring the cheese together into a delicious morsel for next Christmas.  Yes I am really going to let this one age an entire year.  It will be hard to resist eating it.  Before we start on the creation, a little background on what Cantal cheese really is.

Cantal AOC is one of the oldest cheeses in France dating to the times of the Gaul’s rule. It received an Appellation d’Origine (AOC) status from the administrative region of Cantal in the Auvergne region in 1956. This has ensured that the semi-hard, uncooked, pressed cheese has the features and characteristics attributable to the area of origin.There are three types of Cantal cheese, grouped according to age and texture. Cantal jeune, a young cheese is aged at 30 to 60 days during when it develops a thin gray-ivory crust and a smooth, pale yellow, close-textured paste. It is fresh, sweet, milky in flavor with a light hint of hazelnut, and vanilla. Cantal Entre-deux, an aged Cantal has the flavors of the green pastures and aromas of butter and cream. From 3 months of ripening, Cantal cheese starts to come into its own. A well-aged Cantal Vieux has a thick crust and is a cheese connoisseur’s delight. Due to the lengthy ripening period, the cheese has become more strongly flavored and is a typical hard cheese with a firm, brittle and crumbly paste. The 8-month stay inside the cellars let Cantal develop a peppery and spicy aroma. The cheese is additionally grouped as “fremier” and “laitier”, wherein fermier is a farmhouse cheese made of raw milk while laitier is the commercial, mass-produced version from pasteurized milk. Cantal works well with nuts, grapes and apples as well can be used in salads, soups, cheese fondue or gratins. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are a few wines that pair nicely with Cantal.

Now on to our steps and ingredients on how to make this cheese

Ingredients:

  • 3 gallons whole milk
  • 3/4 tsp calcium chloride
  • 2 cubes frozen mesophillic culture
  • 3/4 tablet of microbial rennet

Cheese making steps:

  1. Heat up milk to 90F and add mesophillic culture.  Let ripen for 30 minutes
  2. After 30 minutes add your rennet and let sit for 60 minutes to coagulate
  3. once you get a clean break in the curd cut into 1/2″ sized curds and stir for 20-30 minutes after you finish stirring allow the curds to settle
  4. Drain the whey down to within 1-2″ above the curd. Then place a plate over the curd and add 20-25lbs of weight on top of the plate (keep it around 90F while doing this)
  5. Leave the weight on for 30 minutes and then drain the curds and wrap them in cloth
  6. Move the cloth wrapped cheese to a draining spot and reapply the weight.
  7. At 30 min intervals the curd is unwrapped and cut into 2″ strips and turned over .. re-wrapped in cloth and the weight reapplied … this cycle is repeated 3-6 times w/ increasing weight to get a cheese of appropriate dryness. I did six flips on this cheese.  I noticed if I broke up the cheese into big chunks and then pressed it I got a better drain then if I just sliced it and let it drain. This step reminds me a lot of cheddaring but for a much longer period of time and with weights.

    First pressing while in the draining colander.  I had to use my daughters spoons to get it to drain correctly
    First pressing while in the draining colander. I had to use my daughters spoons and forks to get it to drain correctly
  8. The curd should be kept at 80F-90F during this period. I am setting the draining pan on top of a heating pad to keep it warm during the draining.
  9. The curd mass then is broken in to 3-4 inch blocks and left to ripen overnight.

    Curds sliced and turned for more pressing and draining
    Curds sliced and turned for more pressing and draining
  10. The curd mass is then broken into small pieces as per cheddar (3/4-1 or walnut size as I like to call it)
  11. Salt the Cheese at 1.8-2.5% by weight. Close to 3 tablespoons will be what you need.

    Curds milled and salted curds.  They were very dry at this point so it looks promising for the dryness I need them to be for this cheese
    Curds milled and salted curds. They were very dry at this point so it looks promising for the dryness I need them to be for this cheese
  12. The curd can now goes into a cloth lined mold and weight added 25 lbs at first. This is where the details are a bit vague as the instructions call for turning it 3-5 times and increasing the weight to a final press weight of 250-300 lbs.  So I will set it for 25 for 20 minutes, 50 for 40 minutes, 100 for 2 hours, 200 for 12 hours, and 300 for 24 hours.  This makes me glad I have a dutch press that can handle that much pressure.  I have used this much for cheddar before.  It creaks a lot though with that much pressure on it.
  13. Allow to ripen for 3- 9 months at 54F and 80-85% RH%.  This cheese can be aged longer if you can wait.  I make a cheese every December and then open it up the following year for Christmas. This will be next years Christmas cheese so it will be aged a little over 12 months.
  14. The cheese is supposed to ripen and form a natural rind with a gray mold forming.  Just wipe with a brine mix until the mold forms a nice gray covering and drys out.
Into the aging fridge two days after pressing.  Now for the mold to start growing
Into the aging fridge two days after pressing. Now for the mold to start growing

How to make Tiramisu

MMMMM is all I can say about how good tiramisu is to eat.  And today we will see how much better it is with the mascarpone that I made this week for it.  There are a huge amount of different recipes to make tiramisu out there.  I have used this one before so I am sticking to it for now.

ingredients:

  • 3 eggs separated
  • 2 cups mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • 3/4 cup cold espresso
  • 1/2 cup Kahlua
  • 18 ladyfingers
  • sifted cocoa powder and grated bittersweet chocolate (I like using dark chocolate instead)

Steps to design a masterpiece:

  1. Put the egg whites in a greaseless bowl and whip with an electric mixer until stiff and peaks form
  2. Mix the mascarpone, (needs to be at room temp) vanilla sugar, and egg yolks in a separate bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until everything is combined, then fold in the egg whites.

    Mascarpone all ready ready for the egg whites to be folded in
    Mascarpone all ready for the egg whites to be folded in
  3. Put a few spoonfuls of the mixture in the bottom of a large serving bowl and spread out evenly.
  4. combine the coffee and Kahlua in a shallow dish.  Dip a ladyfinger into the mix and turn coating it evenly.  Don’t let it sit to long or it will start to disintegrate. Place it on top of the layer of mixture that you had put into the bowl.  Add enough lady fingers to cover the top of the mix.
  5. Spoon in a third of the remaining mixture and repeat step 4. do this until all the mix and ladyfingers are used up.

    first layer of soaked ladyfingers
    first layer of soaked ladyfingers
  6.  Level off the surface then sift the cocoa across the surface.  Chill overnight and sprinkle the grated chocolate over the top before serving.
three layers total on this one.  Nice and rich and delicious
three layers total on this one. Nice and rich and delicious
Finished tiramisu with powdered cocoa and grated bittersweet chocolate across the top
Finished tiramisu with powdered cocoa and grated bittersweet chocolate across the top

 

Building of a new desk

My wife saw something like this when she was looking at random things online.  It looked like such a good idea that I thought I would give making a new computer desk a try.  The design is fairly simple.  It is just a wood desktop that is resting on two shelves that are the same height as you want the table to be.

Step one is lots and lots of sanding
Step one is lots and lots of sanding

For the desktop I used 2″ x 12″ utility cedar from our local hardware store (Jerry’s home improvement) .  Three that are 5′ long and two that are 3′ long. All of it is held together with some decking screws

desktop with stain
Tabletop with first coat of stain on it
Tabletop after 2nd coat of stain
Tabletop after 2nd coat of stain
Nice short shelf with my little helper removing the stickers
Nice short shelf with my little helper removing the stickers
Finished desk with one of my two monitors hooked up
Finished desk with one of my two monitors hooked up

Overall it came out very well.  Only cost me about $70 in materials to build it including the shelves.  Now to screw together another one for the wife and everything will match

Tomato-Basil Feta

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One of the easiest cheeses to make is a simple Feta.  Feta (which means slice in Greek) cheese is a classic Greek curd cheese whose tradition dates back thousands of years. It was originally made with goat’s or sheep’s milk; however, today it is often made commercially with pasteurized cow’s milk. The cheese process is similar to most of the different cheese recipes for temp and curding, but after is is molded or drained it is then cut into large slices that are salted and then packed in barrels filled with whey or brine. (This recipe will work with either mesophilic or a feta cheese starter, the dose is the same for either culture.)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp. Calcium Chloride Liquid (30%) Dissolved in 2 Tbsp. distilled water
  • 1/4 tsp. Mesophilic A Cheese Culture OR Feta Mesophilic Starter Culture
  • 1/2 tablet Rennet Tablets (microbial) Dissolved in 1/4 cup distilled water
  • 1 gallon Whole Milk Cow or Goat
  • 1/8 tsp. Lipase Enzyme Powder (Mild) Recommended for cow’s milk, but not needed if you can get goats milk
  • (optional) 1 Tablespoon each of dried basil and dried powdered tomatoes

 Cheese making steps:

  1. Dissolve lipase powder in 2 Tablespoons distilled water.
  2. Add your calcium chloride and lipase powder to your milk. Then gently stir the milk and heat to 93° F.
  3. Remove pot from heat. Sprinkle culture over milk surface and let re-hydrate for 1 or 2 minutes. Gently and thoroughly stir culture into milk. Let sit for 60 minutes
  4. Add rennet and mix it into milk with an up and down motion for about 1 minute. Let sit for 40 minutes for curd to develop.
  5. After you get a clean break cut curd into ½ inch pieces. It is okay if they are not perfect cubes. Let the curds heal for 5 minutes.
  6. Maintaining a temperature of 93°F, stir the curds gently for 30 minutes. Then allow the curds to settle for 10 minutes.
  7. Drain the whey down to the level of the curds before pouring into your cloth lined colander. If you use your hand to stop the curds from going into the cloth first you will have a faster drain time.
  8. Divide and scoop the curds into two small ricotta baskets or berry baskets (like the green pint–sized in which strawberries are packaged). I don’t have baskets so I divide mine into two sterilized handkerchiefs and hang to dry.  If you are adding herbs mix them in before you put into the molds.

Draining / Pressing time:

  1. Little to no weight is needed depending on how firm you like your feta texture.  If you use no weight it is easier to crumble and has a nice open texture.  Pressing with a couple of pounds will firm it up and make it more like the blocks in the store.
  2. Allow the curds to drain overnight at room temperature.
  3. Remove the cheese from the baskets and cut into no smaller than ½ pound pieces and place them on a draining mat at room temperature with cheesecloth loosely covering them for 6-12 hours

Brining/salting/aging time:

  1. Add your blocks of cheese to a standard brine of 2 lbs of salt per gallon.
  2. If you have it in one lb pieces soak for 8 hours. If in ½ lb blocks soak for 4 hours.  Do not go over unless you want really salty feta! Yes I did this the very first time I made it.  Luckily I know someone who loves super salty feta.
  3. Remove from the brine and put on drying racks for 1-3 days at 48° F-56° F
  4. Finally prepare a storage salt brine of 6-8% (6-8 oz. of salt in 3 qts of water will fill a 1 gallon jar to hold this batch), place Feta into a large container with lid and fill with the brine. Make sure the container has minimal head-space to avoid mold development. The feta can be aged in this brine for just a few weeks or up to a year or more at 48° F-56° F. Younger cheese will be milder in flavor.
  5. This tends to be a high salt cheese and if the salt is too high for your taste simply soak for several hours (up to a day) in milk before using.

Feta history:

Feta cheese is first recorded in the Byzantine Empire under the name πρόσφατος (prósphatos, “recent”, i.e. fresh), and was associated specifically with Crete. An Italian visitor to Candia in 1494 describes its storage in brine clearly. The Greek word “feta” comes from the Italian word fetta (“slice”). It was introduced into the Greek language in the 17th century. Opinions vary whether it refers to the method of cutting the cheese in slices to serve on a plate or because of the practice of slicing it to place in barrels

Queso Blanco

Nice little 2lb 12 oz Queso Blanco with some dried Italian sweet peppers in it
Nice little 2lb 12 oz Queso Blanco with some dried Italian sweet peppers in it

Queso Blanco is a great cheese for a beginning cheese maker to start with.  It is quick, and requires very few steps to make.  It is a Latin American cheese whose name means “white cheese”. The cheese comes out hard and rubbery with a bland, but sweet flavor.  One of my favorite things to do with it is cut it into cheese sticks and deep fry it.  Because of the way it is made this cheese will not melt.  Which makes it an excellent cheese to use as you would tofu.  It will take on the flavor of whatever you cook it with, and browns up like burger does when it is sautes.

This cheese is made in a process where you use a natural acid and it causes all the protein in the milk to curd at a high temperature.  This is a great cheese to make with children.  To them it seems like magic when the milk separates to curds and whey in less than a minute.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Gallon Whole milk
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1-3 tsp salt.  Experiment and add to taste.

1. Heat your milk slowly up to 185° F stirring often.  You have to be very careful of not scorching the bottom of the pan.  I did that once and it gave the cheese a burnt flavor.

2. Once you are at 185° F slowly add your vinegar while you are stirring.  The curds will separate out fairly quickly as you pour. After you first see your curds start to form let sit for five minutes then stir for another five minutes to keep the curds from matting together (if you don’t have all of the curds separate out you can add another 1/4 Cup of vinegar)  One gallon of milk will give you about 1 1/2-2 lbs of cheese if you are using whole milk.  I have made a fat-free version using skim milk.  but you get about half the amount of cheese as you would from the whole milk.  The fat-free style is good for those of us working on keeping to a lower fat diet.

3.  Pour your curds and whey into a cheesecloth lined colander to separate them out.  Be careful when you do this as the mix is still extremely hot. Then tie up the corners of your cloth and hang to drain.  You can hang for 10-30 minutes for a drier cheese if you intend to press your curds in your cheese mold this will give a nice firm cheese.  If pressing,  put in the mold at 25 lbs for 30 minutes then flip and repress at the same weight for another 5 hours. If you do not have a press tie up the corners of your cloth and hang for 2-3 hours.  Then slice and enjoy.  Before you put it in the mold you can also add spices to it and mix it up with a spoon.  I prefer using some dried chili flakes in it.  Makes a quick spicy snack.

Making Caerphilly cheese with a spicy twist

One of my favorite cheeses to make is Caerphilly.  Super quick aging compared to making cheddar but with the sharpness you get out of aged cheddar.  This is a different type of recipe then you will see on most other sites.  This is more of a mix of pepper jack crossed with cheddar.

Ingredients:

  • 2 gallons whole milk (in the Willamette valley the best kind is from Lochmead farms aka Dari-mart)
  • 1 packet direct-set mesophilic starter
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet (or 1/2 rennet tablet) diluted in 1/4 cup cool, unchlorinated water
  • 1/4 teaspoon calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup cool water
  • 2 dried peppers (whatever variety you prefer for spiciness)
  • non-iodized salt for brining

If you do not have a local brew store that has cheese supplies you can get them online at the New England Cheesemaking supply company  They also have a good selection of other cheese making recipes and kits that you can buy.

Steps to make you cheese

  1. Gradually heat your milk to 90 degrees in a double boiler or a water bath.  If you set it directly on a stove top you risk the chance of heating it unevenly and scorching the bottom.
  2. Once the milk is to temperature sprinkle the Mesophilic starter over the top of the milk.  Let it re-hydrate for 5 minutes before you stir.  Then stir for several minutes.  Cover and let sit undisturbed for 30 minutes.  To keep the heat in you can cover with a kitchen towel while you wait.  The starter will multiply and divide and acidify the milk slightly during this stage
  3. Add in your calcium chloride.  Since we are using store-bought milk this will allow the curds to form.  If you are lucky enough to have fresh un-pasteurized milk you do not need to add any.
  4. Make sure you milk is still near 90 degrees.  If not heat it for a short time to bring the temp back up.  Now add your rennet to the milk and stir in an up and down motion.  No making whirlpools in the milk.  Then let sit and let the curd form for 45 minutes.
  5. Once your curd show a clean break cut into ½ inch cubes.  A clean break means that the curds will hold their shape after you cut them.  If you do not know what this looks like there are several videos on youtube that give a great guide to telling you when they are at the right spot.  As with most things the more you do it the better you will be at seeing the correct curd formation. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  6. After you have cut the curds slowly heat the curds up to 95 degrees.  This needs to be done slowly over 30 minutes.  Stir the curds gently every couple of minutes to prevent them from sticking together.
  7. When you hit 95 degrees turn off the heat and keep at this temp for 45 minutes.  Stir every 5 minutes or so.
  8. Now you can drain off the whey and separate out your curds.  I use a cloth lined colander to get as much whey out as I can.  There is no reason to pour the whey down the drain.  Whey can be used in place of buttermilk in any recipe, or you can feed it to acid loving plants like blueberries and roses. And my favorite use.  Feeding it as a treat to my puppy.
  9. Mix your crushed dried peppers into the curds at this point.
  10. Line a 2 pound mold with cheese cloth and scoop your curds into it.  Cap and press with 10 pounds for 30 minutes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  11. Remove the cheese from the mold re-wrap and flip then press at 15 pounds over night or for 12 hours

    Final pressing
    Final pressing
  12. Add your finished cheese to your salt brine and let soak for 24 hours flipping once.   The standard cheese brine is 2 pounds of salt per gallon of water.  You can also use the whey to make your brine.  It will give a slightly different flavor then using just water.  I prefer to use the whey mostly because I hate wasting any part of the milk.
  13. Remove the cheese from the brine and pat dry.  Then place on your drying mat and let it dry for 2-3 days or until it is dry to the touch.  At this point you can wax it or allow it to form a rind while it ages.  You will need to age it for 3 weeks at 50-55 degrees keeping it around 90% humidity.  If you see any mold form on the outside of your cheese just take a cloth and dip in vinegar and wipe it off.  The molds that grow on cheese are easily killed and won’t harm you even if you eat them.  For all of my cheese aging I use a wine fridge with the rack pulled out. I makes it easier to keep the temp at the right spot.

    A nice looking final smoked Caerphilly.  now to let it age another 2 weeks
    A nice looking final smoked Caerphilly. now to let it age another 2 weeks

History of Caerphilly cheese:

Caerphilly is a hard, white cheese that originates in the area around the town of Caerphilly in Wales, although it is now also made in England, particularly in the South West and on the English border with Wales. It was not originally made in Caerphilly, but was sold at the market there, hence taking the town’s name.

Caerphilly is a light-colored (almost white), crumbly cheese made from cow’s milk, and generally has a fat content of around 48%. It has a mild taste, with its most noticeable feature being a not unpleasant slightly sour tang.

It is rumored that the cheese was developed over time to provide the coal miners of the area with a convenient way of replenishing the salt lost through hard work over ten hour shifts underground and so was a staple of the diet of the coal-miners.

Real Farmhouse Caerphilly production died out during World War II as all milk had to go to the Cheddar factories to help the war effort.[1] After the war these factories started making their version of Caerphilly (initially to help their cash flow as Caerphilly matures quicker than Cheddar), which is how it is mostly known today, dry and crumbly. However, there are now two or three farms making original Caerphilly which is dry in the middle and creamy around the edges.

The town of Caerphilly holds a three day festival annually to celebrate the cheese entitled The Big Cheese (Welsh: Y Caws Mawr). Also in Caerphilly, there is a sculpture of a cheese.