Sunday, July 31, 2011

More Cheese updates and time to put the spuds in.

 The Caerphilly that I made last week has only just dried out enough to wax this morning. Now it can join all the other cheeses in the cheese fridge.

Like this Parmesan which is now just about a year old. It looks a bit mouldy on the outside but it has a hard rind so I think it will be fine inside. Might try it out soon.

The Brie from February is not looking so white mould on the outside as it should have, and rather than soft and creamy inside, it is still hard. I think this might be one for the chooks.

Outside in the garden, where we pulled out the dead grevillea last weekend, the seed potatoes are laid out ready for planting. Three types this year - Bismark, King Edward and Dutch creams. Let's hope the summer is a bit better this year so that we have don't have the same problems with rot as last summer.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Caerphilly Cheese

It was back to the Preserving Patch kitchen to make some cheese yesterday for the first time in a while. As well as a batch of Fetta and the inevitable ricotta (using the leftover whey), I thought I would have a go at making Caerphilly for the first time. The initial steps were the same as most cheeses - add starter, add rennet, cut the curd, warm the curd slightly. The main difference in the process was cutting the curd into 2.5cm thick slices and stacking these one on top of the other and flipping every few minutes over a 10-15 minute period.
 This is similar to the cheddaring process used for ..cheddar. The stack of slices then gets milled into small bits and salted before a pressing regime.
Now the wheel is sitting on the kitchen table ready to dry out over the next few days. It then goes into the cheese cave but should be ready for eating in only a few weeks. 
It is also almost a year since I made the 2 wheels of parmesan which are sitting in the cheese fridge......can't wait to try them.
Meanwhile out in the garden, I can hear the chainsaw going. Yesterday we cut out a huge Grevillea that had curled up its toes and died suddenly. This left quite a big area of bare ground. I have been looking for somewhere to plant some potatoes soon so guess what.......Max has started digging it over with a fork, ready for the seed potatoes. Last weekend I bought some Dutch Cream and Bismark seed potatoes and they have been hardening off, suspended in baskets in the cold woodshed, out of reach of hungry vermin. Now that I have a spot to plant them, I am thinking that I might go for a third variety to fill up the space.....King Edwards perhaps. That way I will have potatoes suitable for all sorts of cooking - mash, salad, roast, bake and fry.
 I am going to start sowing in punnets the first of the spring plantings this weekend too. Kale is top on the list of things to sow. Kale is such a great vegetable to grow all year round and even though it is cold I can rely on it to germinate if I put the punnet on a north facing window sill. On these cold winter days, a Portuguese chourico and kale soup makes a hearty lunch. It was -10 degrees in the Tasmanian highlands this morning and it is still only 3.6 degrees on my back porch at the moment.... pretty chilly.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Checking out the food of New Caledonia

For the past couple of weeks I have been exploring New Caledonia, a stone's throw (2 hours flight) from Brisbane yet so unknown as a holiday destination for Australians. It is a real little piece of France out in the Pacific with very little English spoken once you are outside of Noumea. I was really interested to see what people were growing and eating on this tropical island. There were heaps of coconuts everywhere yet we didn't get to eat any of it......seemed like a wasted resource to me. I kept hoping some entrepreneurial local would have a little roadside stall selling green coconut milk but I was sadly disappointed. If only I had been carrying a screw driver with me so that I could get the husk off like I used to do when I lived in Mackay.
Also surprisingly, a lot of food is imported from France. The only cheese we could find anywhere (except for the tiny farm we passed which was closed) was all from France. All the milk we had tasted like UHT milk, so I guess this cow we saw tethered near a beach in the deep south east, must have just been for local use.
Seafood was certainly in abundance and a trip to the Noumea seafood market was mouth watering. So much to choose from : mussels, prawns, crayfish, and a huge variety of reef fish. Check out the huge chunks of fresh tuna on display!


       The other interesting crop we saw was some vanilla growing in a private garden. It was nice to try some proper vanilla ice cream in a nearby restaurant that night. There were lots of roadside stalls all over the main island but choice was pretty limited-  yams, passionfruit, oranges and occasional bananas.