Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pad Thai in the snow and a Stilton update October 21, 2012

A couple of weekends ago I went hiking in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park in the central highlands of Tasmania. I am always looking for new flavours for hiking food as I get rather sick of the same old combinations every time I go.  One of the friends I went hiking with recently did a 2 week hike in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia and has done a lot of other extended walks. She was a wealth of ideas for new flavours and one thing she suggested was Pad Thai. So when I last made a batch of Pad Thai, I saved half back to dry.
Pad Thai ready to dry...

 The weather we had on the hike was not exactly the hot sunny weather I had the last time I went to the Walls and meant I ended up cooking as it just started to snow. But with a down jacket on under my waterproof jacket, it actually wasn't as much of a challenge as it might look. My hands got a bit cold though.
 By the time we ate it, we were huddled in our sleeping bags in the tent though. And the result was excellent. Served on a bed of mashed parsnip, mixed with a bit of dried kale and topped with some peanuts.... a very tasty combination.
 So much so, I have a new batch in the dehydrator right now, ready for my next hike.

Meanwhile back in the Preserving Patch kitchen, I have not been idle....I just haven't posted anything as the things I have been making are one I have posted about before....Fetta and halloumi cheese, marmalade etc.
But in the cheese fridge, the Stilton is starting to look kind of blueish and the Camembert in the fridge is ready for eating.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sampling Stilton - in a few months I hope October 2nd 2012

Last weekend I plucked up enough courage to try another blue cheese after the absolute disaster of the last one. It has only taken me 18 months to have another go.
This time I followed the Blue Stilton cheese recipe in Tim Smith’s book  Making Artisan Cheese and also followed a video of the same recipe on The Greening of Gavin blog.  I have followed some other recipes on Gavin’s blog in the past and been successful so I have my fingers crossed. I am a bit wary of following Tim’s recipes to the letter as have found that sometimes he omits ingredients such as salt in the Cotswold (cheese without salt tastes really really odd!)
Stilton follows quite a different technique in the making so I am hoping I end up with the right result in a few months time. Penicillium roqueforti is added with the starter at the beginning of the process. After 40 minutes, in goes the rennet. The milk then sits for 90 minutes which is probably the longest I have ever left milk to coagulate.

 Then instead of cutting the curd, the curds are gently ladled out into a cheesecloth lined colander over a bowl. The whey drains into the bowl but then the curd sits in the whey for another 90 minutes. I then drained the bundle of curds for another 30 minutes.
Draining the whey

Soft pressing overnight
 Stilton is not really pressed but after draining the cloth bag is placed between 2 cheese boards and a 3litre bottle of water sits on top over night to help more whey to drain. Next morning, I broke the curds into pieces and put them back into a hoop. Since then I flipped the hoop every 15 minutes for the first 2 hours and then 4 times a day for the next 4 days. So that means tomorrow is the day it comes out of the hoop and I pierce the cheese several times to create holes for the blue mould to grow into.  We’ll see what happens then.

Next morning, the semi pressed cheese

Flipping in the hoop

Meanwhile I also decided to have a go at Bra Cheese the same day. Bra is a small town in northern Italy where they have a big cheese festival each year. I have never heard of Bra cheese but there is a recipe in Tim Smith’s book. It is made from low fat milk so I skimmed the cream off the previous evening’s milk. (The cream went into the Stilton) All was going well with lots of pressing steps until I got to the last stage. After a 20 hour pressing, the curd had to be broken up for the final time before pressing another 24 hours. The curd by now was quite firm and dry and even after the final press, it didn’t really press back together. This has left me with a cheese that is just a bundle of curds bits only just sticking together.
 Even after 24 hours in a brine bath, it is still the same. Now what do I do? I can’t mature it like that as mould is going to grow in every little crack and I can’t wax it as the wax is going to fall into every little crack and be difficult to remove. I have stuck it into the cheese fridge while I think about it. I think I might have to just grate it unmatured and stick it on the top of pizza or something.  I was so annoyed with the result after all the time I spent making it on Friday!!! If only I had left it in one piece after the penultimate pressing.