Before you read my short story, you may want to take a look at The Mozzarella Maker, one of the episodes of the series "1 in 8 million" recently published in the NY Times. I was moved by this story and by the images chosen to illustrate it.
After getting the book Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll, I tried making her 30-minute Mozzarella. Making this cheese entails heating the curds, stretching the resulting pliable matter, then forming balls and plunging them in cold water. A version of the recipe is available here, and here there is a version that does not use the microwave.
I have made mozzarella in 30-minute several times (some of them using half a gallon of milk, instead of one gallon) and after the first, tentative, time, the results have been pretty consistent. I get the curds to come together and then stretch, though not as far as what Ricki shows on the page referenced above. I also never kneaded the curd outside its bowl, and tried to keep more whey in, with an eye to a softer texture (see the third bullet point under "Option"). My mozzarella is good enough to be used, for example, as topping for pizza margherita, or in a dish I created, called Pizza-inspired Beans. For something like insalata caprese, however, I need to obtain something softer, moister and more flavorful.
The book has another recipe for mozzarella, which calls for farm fresh milk and does not use citric acid. I don't have farm fresh milk, but I tried it nonetheless, because I wanted to experience the different process. The recipe requires checking the pH of the whey, a procedure with which I need to become comfortable. This recipe is more involved: it was a nice challenge and it made me try to work the hot curds with wooden spoons, which is kind of fun.
Like with all the other cheese adventures I have embarked on so far, this has enlightened me on a process with which I was not familiar, content to enjoy the delicious result. I am determined to get better: as you can see from the photo, my mozzarella also needs to acquire a smoother surface. I have some time to practice before summer arrives and a plate of tomatoes from the farmers' market and fresh mozzarella, both sliced, graced by fresh basil leaves and lightly seasoned with olive oil, salt and a hint of pepper makes a simple yet satisfying dish.
This is my contribution the third edition of the Home Creamery Event created by Kirstin of Vin de la Table. Update: The event is now called Kitchen Curds and it is hosted on Kirstin's new blog It's Not You It's Brie. Here's the roundup of the event, which includes the story of what happened when a typo in a recipe turned 180 into 108.
Once again, my lack of knowledge in the wine field becomes evident at this point: you are welcome to help me by suggesting a wine pairing for one of the dishes I mentioned above.
Going out for pizza was something I used to do as a teenager, with friends or classmates. The common beverage in those occasions was birra (beer). Not for me though, as it disagrees with my taste buds. Since my childhood, my favorite accompaniment for pizza is actually a follower: gelato. A nice pizza topped with fresh mozzarella (maybe di bufala) then a nice cup of gelato: Life is good.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the mozzarella audio file [mp3].