Monday, June 26, 2006

What I learned in cooking class this week

This week was cheesemaking. Lots of pots of milk on the stove! I worked on making Camembert, simple enough as long as you are paying attention to the details. But the devil is in those details -- as we saw with some of the other cheeses, you get careless with proportions and things get messed up in a hurry. One person put in only half the milk needed for the mozzarella curd, and the full amount of citric acid. What we got was a grainy tangy mess that would not melt into the soft mass we needed to pull it into shape. So had to start over on that one. But we didn't toss the first batch -- I chopped up some fresh herbs and we mixed them with that, some cream, and some olive oil. Tasted good -- then we tossed it into a pasta salad with tomatoes, kalamata olives, and other good things. What I learned was more about the progression of proteins through denaturing and recombining, and what happens at each of those stages. That learning had an interesting effect on my breadmaking the next day -- I didn't have bread flour so we were using AP, and I could understand how to compensate for the lower protein content of the AP flour and not freak out when my dough needed more flour and more attention to get the result I wanted (which I did, see earlier post about the challah buns for lamb burgers). Also took the next step on our prosciutto. Washed off all of the salt, dried it nicely with towels. Coated it in lard, keeps it from drying out when we hang it. Then a coating of ground black pepper on all the flesh areas, keeps the flies away and gives more flavor. Wrap it all up in a couple of layers of cheesecloth, and then hung it in the garage. That will now take about five months, I guess, for it to finish drying. The other sausages are looking good -- can't wait to try them in another three weeks.

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