Archive for the 'cheese' Category



10
Jan
11

And Our Upcoming Wednesday’s Internet Radio Show Guest Will Be…


Gil Marks

We had a great show this past Wednesday with Gil Marks whose knowledge of all things food is truly encyclopedic. If you missed the show you can hear it here. It was fascinating to delve into the traditions of food, what’s behind a name, it was/it is well worth a listen.

This upcoming Wednesday’s show will feature another fascinating guest, Nina Shapir, a Brooklyn restaurateur with a difference. Who is Nina Shapir? I’ve spoken to her when The Kosher scene reviewed her Natural Village Cafe and this were my impressions:

Nina Shapir, who presides over this eatery is truly a fascinating personality, the personal journey that changed her life and motivated her to open this establishment is full of commitment and dedication.

Fourteen years ago, Mrs. Shapir – a very young mother of three – found herself sick and unable to move, unable to cope. It was not a question of being financially overwhelmed, any such concerns were well taken care of. Medical tests and treatments produced no positive results, on the contrary things inexplicably kept getting worse. She met Harav Chay Azoulay, from Herzliya, who told her the real malady was not physical but rather one that affected her neshama. After some thought, trying to make sense of Rav Azulay’s words, she went on a detox diet with the help of healthfood stores, intent on ridding herself of all negative energies. This decision was followed by six very hard weeks before she saw any measurable improvements but soon after she was her old active, curious, intelligent, enterprising self again.

At this stage, Nina decided to help others who, though similarly afflicted, may not be aware of the real source of their health troubles. She went on to study Healing Arts at The School of Natural Healing in Utah from which she graduated. Seven years ago her first organic restaurant opened its doors. Her partner, however, was not frum and it proved frustrating, eventually Nina bought her out. In 2008 she moved to the present location which combines her personal philosophy, her exquisite sense of aesthetics and the true love of a foodie for superb fare. She also has an an office adjacent to the restaurant where she treats the many in search of natural healing.

Please listen in on our show on Wednesday at 8:00pm on Jewish Radio Network. Click on the red “here” under the white “Radio,” then wait about 90 to 180 seconds for the application to start streaming.

CS

09
Jan
11

The World of Kosher Cheese – part 2b


Aside from Pomegranate‘s great selection of specialty cheeses, they have the biggest display of prepackaged cheeses I’ve seen anywhere.

Lots of choices!

From such small producers as Karen’s Bracha’s Cheese Co’s, Twisted Mozzarella with Zahatar; or Susan Gourmet’s selections of foreign styled cheeses to major producers such as Anderson International Foods cholov Yisroel Natural and Kosher line, their non-cholov Yisroel Les Petites Fermières to Fresh and Healthy, to Tnuva, you’ll find them all here.

Closeup of various cheese shelves

Sugar River Cheese Co.’s choices are among SYR’s favorite American made cheeses, Les Petites Fermières’ imported Camembert and Brie are her favorite imports. I’ve tried some of Fresh and Healthy‘s Capriccio collection and liked them all. The Cheese Guy also has some delicious cheeses but the company’s hechsherim vary by the cheese, be sure to check to make sure the individual hechsher is acceptable to you. Cholov is another company that produces an all time favorite like the Chevrai line of goat milk cheeses.

As a foodie, and expanding on Elizabeth Bland’s own blog, I could spend a whole day going and admiring the cheese choices with the same fervor, with the same passion, with the same delight with which I could through a museum filled with masterpieces! But… if you are a regular reader of this blog you already know that, of course.

Whether you are new to the world of cheese, whether you are connoisseur, whether you like raw milk, cow’s milk, or goat’s milk cheese, Pomegranate‘s got them all.

CS

07
Jan
11

The World of Kosher Cheese – part 2a


Back in ’70s when I lived in Tel Aviv, we would often travel to Europe – mostly to Paris – on any excuse we could master. Why Paris? On one one of our early jaunts we had discovered a small kosher fromagerie – cheese-maker shop (whose name I’ve long forgotten) in Les Marais, the city’s Jewish quarter. There, not only could we admire the creativity and beauty of their artisanal products, we could taste them and hear each cheese’s story and what gave it it’s particular character. Some were made with wine, some combined fruits or vegetables, some appeared as if plucked out of some colorful still life canvass. All delighted us with their looks and tastes…

Yesterday, on the second leg of my expedition in search of kosher cheeses, cheeses far superior to the old almost tasteless American kosher types of yore, Elizabeth Bland (cheese maven extraordinaire!) and I stopped over at Pomegranate (1507 Coney Island Avenue – corner of Avenue L – Brooklyn, New York 11230; Tel: 718.951.7112) and the memories of that little shop in Paris suddenly came back to me…

Pomegranate, at 1507 Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn

As we looked on at Pomegranate‘s own cheese creations – they have a state of the art cheese making facility on their second floor – as we looked at their selections of foreign cheeses, whether prepackaged on foreign soils or packaged on premises we felt like little kids in a quaint little toy shop filled with the most  unusual gadgets and toys. Ms. Bland proceeded to explain about various European cheeses, how to eat them, what their origins were. She especially delighted in talking about the Raclette from Ermitage. Gabe Boxer, the store manager (who explained the store’s philosophy of bringing and creating the best to suit the emerging gourmet kosher palate), told us that shortly they would be carrying the pans where one warms up the Raclette before consuming it. As I looked through the shelves I suddenly spotted the last piece of their Argentinian Reggianito Parmesan, which reminded me of my youth in Uruguay and a favorite cheese of those days… I also found what looked like a delightful Manchego

Small detail of a shelf in the specialty cheese section

They had quite a few unusual cheeses of their own creation or created specifically for them…

Munstarella with Olives, Cranberry with Port Wine, Burcin Pepper, Halloumi, Brie Filled with Fruits, Goat Cheese Rolled in Toasted Nuts and many more!!!

Elizabeth Bland and Pomegranate's Gabe Boxer

So many superb selections I can’t possibly cover them all on this short post, gentle reader, you’ll just have to go in and see for yourself. I’ll have to do another post on their wide selection of pre-packaged cheeses from various American manufacturers, including artisanal cheeses.

CS

Elizabeth Bland’s post on her blog

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The World of Kosher Cheese – Part 1

05
Jan
11

The World of Kosher Cheese – Part 1


I, Vasco de CS – your intrepid kosher Conquistador – in an effort to bring all that’s kosher and great to The Kosher Scene, set about on an journey to find the variety of kosher cheeses available in New York City. Accompanied by Elizabeth Bland a world class cheese expert whom I interviewed last week, (you can hear the recording here) we toured the kosher cheese sections (on Monday afternoon)  sections at Zabar’s on Broadway and 80th – in Manhattan – and at Fairway on Broadway and 74th.

Interesting store with a big selection of kosher items

Ms. Bland’s encyclopedic knowledge of all things cheese was immediately evident as she explained  the various types of kosher cheese and hechsherim from around the world.

Two partial views of Zabar's Kosher Cheese showcase

There were selections from Israel, France, Spain, Italy, UK, New York State, Wisconsin, etc, etc….. She had tasted every one and had much to say about each. The rich selection was comprised of both cholov Yisroel and non cholov Yisroel types. Made from cow’s milk, goat milk, raw milk, some were very pungent, some were very sharp, some were mild in taste and smell.Elizabeth clarified some major differences amoungst the manufacturers, their aging processes along with those individual aged cheeses that require the halachic  six hours waiting time before eating meat. It was great to find certain cheese companies listed how long the individual cheese had been aged, unfortunately, this is not a universal practice, but it certainly should be! It would make it faaaar easier to determine whether one is required to wait six hours or not.

Elizabeth Bland holding up a cheese by one of her favorite manufacturers, Sugar River Cheese Co.

We then trekked six blocks south to Fairway. It was my first visit to Fairway (we don’t have one in Brooklyn) and while more crowded and with narrower isles than Zabar’s, I found the variety of foods abundant and the clientele diverse. They too had a great selection of kosher cheeses from around the world, and we discovered some that we hadn’t seen at Zabar’s and some were not present here.

There’s nothing like traveling with a seasoned navigator; my outing with Elizabeth was educational  and informative; we plan a follow up with a trip to Brooklyn’s Pomegranate to compare their cheese section with those we visited in the city.

CS

Elizabeth Bland’s post

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Last Week’s Broadcast and This Week’s Upcoming One

Sugar River Cheese Co.

Cheese! Cheese! Cheese! – Part 3

Cheese! Cheese! Cheese! – Part 2

Cheese! Cheese! Cheese!

Les Petites Fermières Plus Organic and Kosher

Naturally Kosher

27
Dec
10

Last Week’s Broadcast and This Week’s Upcoming One


Last Thursday we had literally a last minute postponement by our scheduled guest. Rather than panic (mere minutes before taping!!) I had as guest the famed restaurateur (formerly of Lévana’s, in Manhattan; currently a partner at NoBo in Teaneck, NJ), kosher tour operator (partner at Presidential Tours),  Israel wine expert and all around nice guy, Sol Kirschenbaum. In spite of the fact I gave him no time to prepare, we had an interesting and fun show which you can listen to here.

Elizabeth Bland, Ph.D

This week we will be back to our to our regular spot on Wednesday at 8:00pm. Our guest will be Elizabeth Bland, who will discuss kosher cheeses from around the world. Who is Elizabeth Bland, whence her interest on cheese? As she explains on her own website:

 

My passion for cheese started in France where I first tasted raw millk. I continued my language studies and travels to Europe, and tried many cheeses along the way. I earned a Ph.D. in Romance Linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin and speak French, Italian, and German.

I abandoned academia and worked in the cheese department at Central Market in Austin, Texas, and taught cheese classes at UT Informal Classes. Along the way, I became enamored with wine as well, and incorporated the “fruit of the vine” into my tastings. For years I catered cheese/wine parties and led tastings for groups.

She has written extensively on the subject of cheese for such publications as Cheese Connoisseur, Deli BusinessMY FOODSERVICE NEWS, Metropolitan Restaurant Times and others.

Ms. Bland is informative, she presents her subject with passion and wit. Please, listen in on Wednesday at 8:00pm on Jewish Radio Network. Click on the red “here” under the white “Radio,” then wait about 90 to 180 seconds for the application to start streaming.

CS

24
Oct
10

Pizza at Basil


Recently, this blog was chastised on chowhound.com for not having any photos of Basil‘s pizza in either of my reviews of this superb restaurant (here and here), even though its menu offers a full array of mouthwatering pizzas. I had to agree the particular commenter was absolutely right, which gave me the perfect excuse to return to Basil (270 Kingston Ave; Brooklyn, NY 11213; Telephone: 718.285.8777) for the omitted shots. Ahhh, the things we do to keep our readers happy.

This past Thursday I made my way to the restaurant anticipating a superb pie. I entered their doors at 4:00pm to a front room overflowing with early diners, and was directed to the recently opened backroom. It’s a comfortable large room featuring two fireplaces that generate a warm and cozy atmosphere.

In spite of the early hour, there were some people there already. I ordered a Pizza Margherita a la Genovese, it came with home made mozzarella (made in house from  curd), fresh San Marzano tomatoes (most chefs consider these the world’s best for sauce) and pesto.

Pizza Margherita alla Genovese

Extreme closeup of the above...

I accompanied the pizza with a delightful glass of 2007 Ramon Cardova Rioja. Made fully from Tempranillo grapes from old vines around the Spanish village of Haro, in La Rioja, this bright ruby red wine paired perfectly with the pizza, totally complementing and enhancing its taste; a marriage made in heaven.

As I finished this superbly made dish, I got to to speak to Basil’s new Italian Executive Chef, Andrea Milazzo.

After graduating from the very exacting culinary school in Alassio, in Italy’s Liguria region on the gulf of Genoa, – Savona Province, Chef Andrea went to work in Montecarlo for world famous Alain Ducasse’s Le Roi Louis XV restaurant at the Hotel de Paris (regularly listed on the Conde Nast Traveller Gold List). After a while he left for Munich, Germany, where he operated his own establishment for 8 years.

A few weeks ago he accepted the position of Executive Chef at Basil. When you speak to Chef Andrea, his passion for food becomes all apparent. I asked him what is his main criteria in creating a new dish or a variation of an old classic, his quick response was: “I follow my senses!” To determine how good his senses are, I asked the Chef to prepare me a special dish – regardless of price – that I would take home; even I was unprepared for the resulting masterpiece…

Chef Andrea Milazzo dramatically flambeeing his special dish for The Kosher Scene

He made me Gnudi alla Toscana. Gnudi (nude) are close cousins to gnocchi but more tender. Whereas gnocchi are made from semolina, wheat flour, bread crumbs or potatoes, gnudi are made from Ricotta cheese.

Watching the Chef at work was like being a spectator at a George Balanchine choreographed ballet, the graceful, elegant and precise moves coupled with the facial expressions, all bespoke of truly inspired artistry at its highest levels.

Before starting the preparation of the dish, Chef Andrea had me inspect all the ingredients. Starting with the superbly aromatic in-house made truffle oil (truffles are infused for two weeks into pure Tuscan olive oil, the result is great scent and a very distinctive flavor), the fresh tomatoes, spinach and cheese all combined for a beautiful symphony of taste and aroma, well worth many an encore. Bravo Chef Andrea! Bravissimo!!!

CS

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06
Aug
10

Cheese! Cheese! Cheese! – Part 3


[My good friend, Eran Elhalal, gives us the third and last part of his Intro to Cheese.

Eran Elhalal is a chef/Entrepreneur working in Manhattan. An Honors Graduate of the  Culinary Institute of America,  Eran was Executive Chef of two Manhattan restaurants in the past few years and consulted several others. He began educating customers about food and wine pairing and cheese in 2007 while working as the Chef at UES’s BarVespa.

These days, Eran talks about food and wine pairing as the chef for the panel of Meetup, a wine club, dedicated to introduce and educate the American public about Israeli wines. Photos: courtesy of Eran Elhalal.

Not every type of cheese described below is, so far, made for the kosher consumer. That situation, however is changing fast as various distributors (here and here) and manufacturers are constantly introducing new and delicious cheeses into the kosher market. CS]

“How can you be expected to govern a country that has 246 kinds of cheese?”
Charles de Gaulle

Trying to Categorize Cheeses

There is no one set of rules by which to categorize the world’s cheeses. After thousands of years of cheese-making , we still are unable to agree on one set of rules, and here is why:

  • Some factors are very difficult to quantify – for example the classification relying on smell. Detection and rating vary from person to person depending on how accute their sense of smell is. No one category can address all types and nuances. For example, Classification relying on rind alone, puts hundreds of cheeses with no rind in the same category.
  • Another example is classification by aging, it would put a Danish blue cheese and a Farmhouse Brie in the same category. Traveling between different categories- Cheese is a living thing. Every cheese is released with a certain fat content and certain water content. As the cheese ages these percentages change due to water evaporation. Hence, the same triple creamed cheese , tastes much more pungent a month after you bought it! Moreover, a cheese that was classified as Semi-hard like a dutch Gouda will turn rock hard as it ages.

Knowing this, we can now learn to pickout, describe and appreciate cheeses using the more common categories for classification:

Queso Manchego - Spanish sheep's milk cheese, has a wonderful and unique bite to it

 

 

Texture

Classification determined by water content:

  • Very soft – 80 % water, spoonable, includes most fresh cheeses like Cottage cheese, Chèvre, Labane.
  • Soft – 50 %-70% water, spreadable, includes the double and triple creamed cheeses (Brie, Camembert, Robiola, Taleggio, Colummiers…), but also some Feta cheeses (cow’s milk mainly).
  • Semihard – 40%-50% water, sliceable, includes Edam, Gouda, Manchego.
  • Hard – 30%-50% water, very firm and dense, includes Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino, Piave, Ossau, Iraty, Mimolette
  • Blue -40%-50% water, a classification within the semi hard group of cheeses, may be sliceable, spreadable or crumbly, includes all blue veined cheeses, like; Valdeon, Cabrales, Roquefort, Gorgonzola

 

 

Noordhollander Gouda - Yes, there are some delicious kosher variations of this cheese

 

Aging

Length of aging prior to release:

  • Fresh – Un-aged, produced and released, include Cottage cheese, Cream cheese, Chèvre.
  • Brief Molding period – 2 weeks-10 weeks, produced and allowed to take shape in a mold ( tub or basket), or for the rind to bloom, includes Feta, almost all blue cheeses and bloomy rind cheeses (Grayson, Taleggio, Brie…).
  • Aged – Anywhere between 2 months and 5 years, depending on the cheese, produced and allowed to mature until the cheesemaker deems it fully aged and flavored, includes all hard and semi hard cheeses,like; Parmigiano Reggiano, Idiazabal, Pecorino, Cheddar, Gouda

Type of Milk

Classification by what animal produces the milk:

The most common are Cow, Goat and Sheep (ewe), but there are also cheeses made with a mix of milk from different animals, and even cheeses from Buffalo, Moose, Camel or Yak’s milk.

 

Taleggio

 

Smell

Classification by degree of pungency:

A very difficult classification,works mainly for bloomy rind cheeses like – Taleggio, Robiola, Camembert, Brie

Methods of cheese-making

Classification by main cheesemaking traditional methods:

  • Fresh Cheese – Unaged or matured, includes some slightly pressed cheeses(Feta),whey based cheeses that are only strained (Urda, Ricotta) and the spoonable, Cottage, Cream cheese, Chèvre.
  • Pasta Filata Cheese – The curds are cooked, then streched and folded repeatedly before molding or shaping. The cheese is then ready to eat or may be ripened further and even smoked (Mozzarella, Provolone, Paneer, Kashkaval).
  • Unpressed Ripened Cheese – The curds are minimally cut and allowed to drain . They are then ripened with mold or bacteria on the cheese surface (Camembert, Brie, Taleggio…) or using a starter culture that is applied to the surface or inoculated into the cheese (Stilton).
  • Pressed and Ripened Cheese – The curds are pressed before ripening. Examples: Manchego, Idiazabal, Cheddar.
  • Cooked, pressed and ripened – The curds are cooked in whey, then milled, molded and pressed. These cheeses are aged for up to 5 years (Parmigiano Reggiano, Piave, GoudaEdam, Emmental…).
  • Processed – After the initial cheesemaking process is complete (see 2nd part of this series), more milk and emulsifying salts are added, food coloring and preservatives. This yields a very consistent product, yet rather unhealthy. Unfortunately, these cheeses, sold in blocks, slices, tubes and even sprays are the most commonly consumed types in the US. (American cheese, Kraft singles, Cheez Whiz ….and other such varieties of poor excuses for cheese!)

Rind

 

 

Dutch Gouda -Uses an artificial wax rind, to lock in moisture and deepen the flavor as the cheese ages

 

Classification by type of rind:

The rind of the cheese controls the rate of water evaporation from the cheese, oxidation of the surface and escape of gases from within.

  • No rind – The cheese is produced and packaged or at most strained, salted and packed. Includes all fresh cheeses like: Ricotta, Urda, Cream cheese, Feta
  • White mold rind – The mold grows on the surface and is edible. The rind is sometimes brushed away a number of times throughout ripening, so the cheese will develop a thicker rind. The mold is white at first but as the cheese ages it darkens. Includes: Camembert, Brie, Robiola Bosina.
  • Washed rind – the rind is washed with alcohol, usually Marc (Grape pomace Brandy) or wine. The alcohol dries the surface of the cheese and the white bloomy mold turns pinkish/Orange. The rind is moist and a has a slightly grainy mouthfeel, thus it is not usually eaten. Includes Taleggio, Robiola Pineta, Grayson, Pont I’Eveque.
  • Natural dry rind – The rind is in fact the dry outer surface of the cheese. The rind can be brushed, scraped, oiled or wrapped in cloth depending on the desired result. The rind is inedible, types include: Parmigiano Reggiano, Cheddar, Piave
  • Organic rind – Leaves, spices and herbs applied to the surface of the cheese after its made. The reason is to impart flavor and protect from insects traditionally (Fleur de Maquis, Corsican ewe’s milk cheese rolled in herbs & Juniper berries, or Majorero Pimenton – rolled in smoked pepper). another reason is to lock in moisture. Examples include: Valdeon, wrapped in sycamore leaves; Banon, tied in chestnut leaves and tied with raffia.
  • Artificial rinds – Added after the cheese is made. Rind is generally inedible. Includes Gouda, Edam (wax rind), Cheddar (plastic) and ash edible in St. Maure (for example).

So… these are just the main categories. When I describe a cheese, I try to use all the categories that apply most, focusing on the ones that characterize the paricular cheese category more than others.

One last example. Morbier

 

 

Morbier cheese

 

Origin: Comte region, North East France
Milk: Raw or Pasteurized Cow’s milk.
Texture: Semi hard (40 %-50% water), sliceable.
Method of cheese-making: Pressed and ripened,with a layer of ash running through the center.
Smell: mild pungent
Rind: Natural dry rind,brushed for firmness.
Aging; 2-3 months
Fat content: 45 %
Interesting facts: This cheese was traditionally made for consumption by the cheesemakers themselves. Leftover curds were put in a tub, then covered with ash to repel insects, while waiting for additional leftover curds from the evening or the next day.

Eran Elhalal

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Cheese! Cheese! Cheese! – Part 2

Cheese! Cheese! Cheese!

Les Petites Fermières plus Organic and Kosher

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14
Jul
10

Cheese! Cheese! Cheese! – Part 2


[Eran Elhalal is a chef/Entrepreneur working in Manhattan. An Honors Graduate of the  Culinary Institute of America,  Eran was Executive Chef of two Manhattan restaurants in the past few years and consulted several others. He began educating customers about food and wine pairing and cheese in 2007 while working as the Chef at UES’s BarVespa.

These days, Eran talks about food and wine pairing as the chef for the panel of Meetup, a wine club, dedicated to introduce and educate the American public about Israeli wines. Photos: courtesy of Eran Elhalal. CS]

“Well, and what’s Cheese? Corpse of Milk!” (James Joyce)

The Cheese Series- Second Chapter


How cheeses are made

There are countless nuances to Cheese making, hence, Different countries produce different cheeses , which reflect the country’s Terroir , traditions and even mentality. Each one of the steps in the process is crucial to the end result ,the way the curds are cut will determine the texture of the cheese, the method and quantities of salting will affect aging or ripening.

The first Two steps of cheese making  however , are common to all cheeses. Essentially, cheese is made by extracting the water and whey from milk and allowing the remaining milk solids ( Curds ) to spoil in a controlled environment, monitoring bacterial growth, expansion of molds throughout the cheese and so on…

First step: Collecting and Preparing the milk

Artisanal cheese makers collect the raw milk from their own farm or nearby farms. That is the traditional way and the best one. Travel time , agitation , temperature and cleanliness of the transport vats are highly important factors to the resulting cheese. Much like wine proximity is crucial. The shortest the time between milking the animal and starting the cheese making process, the better.

A word on : Pasteurization

Not all cheeses are made from pasteurized milk, but for the majority of modern cheeses, this is when the process is applied. The milk is typically heated to a temperature of 160o F for 15 seconds or to a temperature of 114oF and held for 30 minutes. Un-pasteurized cheeses are more flavorful because the heat inactivates natural enzymes in the milk that help develop the final flavor of the cheese . Pasteurization also slows down the action of the Rennet , thus prolonging the ripening/aging step in achieving full texture and flavor. On the other hand, pasteurizing makes the flavor of milk homogenous, which large volume producers seek to maintain consistency of flavor from different batches of milk.

I say, that in the sense of depth of flavor and uniqueness, the difference between cheeses from un-pasteurized milk to those from pasteurized milk is the same as the difference between wines which are non-kosher or kosher to wines that are Mevushal (Hebrew for: cooked).

http://aftercheese.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/swiss-cheesemaking1.jpg?w=539&h=405

Second step: Curdling

Raw milk will actually sour and curdle on its own , but this natural method is inconsistent. Pasteurized milk does not sour this way ,so nowadays all cheeses are made by introducing an acid like lemon juice (Citric acid) , or vinegar, but in most cases a starter culture of special Bacteria is used to change milk sugars (lactose ) into lactic acid. The increased acidity denatures the milk protein (Casein), so it separates from the milk water into solid curds when a coagulating agent  (Rennet) is introduced. The protein molecules then lump together to a soft gel. The curds are allowed to settle at a temperature of 70oF-95oF for 30 minutes-120 minutes, depending on the type of cheese being made. Low tempo yield soft curds for soft cheeses and high tempo yields hard rubbery curds used to produce semi hard and hard cheeses.

Third step: Concentrating and processing the curds

First the curds are cut to release the whey . The method applied here will determine the texture and moisture content of the cheese. Softer cheeses are made by minimal cutting of curds and piling them up to drain naturally . Harder cheeses are cut horizontally and vertically to very fine pieces , thus releasing much more moisture that results in a drier, harder cheese.

Some hard cheeses are then heated to temperatures in the range of 100 °F–130 °F. This forces more whey from the cut curd. It also changes the taste of the finished cheese, affecting both the bacterial culture and the milk chemistry. Cheeses that are heated to the higher temperatures are usually made with thermophilic starter bacteria which survive this step—either lactobacilli or streptococci.

Salt has a number of roles in cheese besides adding a salty flavor. It preserves cheese from spoiling, draws moisture from the curd, and firms up a cheese’s texture in reaction to contact with the denatured proteins. Some cheeses are salted from the outside with dry salt or brine washes. Most cheeses have the salt mixed directly into the curds. Salting also slows down the starter bacteria culture, thus contolling the rate of ripening/Aging.

Processing methods:

Cheddaring: The cut curd is repeatedly piled up, pushing more moisture away. The curd is also milled for a long period of time, taking the sharp edges off the cut curd pieces and influencing the final product’s texture. (Hence- Cheddar)

Stretching: The curd is stretched and kneaded in hot water, developing a stringy, fibrous body.(For example: Mozzarella , Provolone , Kashkaval).

Washing: The curd is washed in warm water, lowering its acidity and making for a milder-tasting cheese. ( Examples: Gouda,Edam)

Whey based cheeses: Once the whey has been drained,it can be used to make some cheeses ,without the use of curds.(Ricotta,Urda).

Fourth step : Molding

Most cheeses achieve their final shape when the curds are pressed into a mold or form. The harder the cheese, the more pressure is applied. The pressure drives out moisture ,the molds are designed to allow water to escape , and unifies the curds into a single solid body.

http://lh3.ggpht.com/_YJWbOrG-e-E/S0pxGl9ultI/AAAAAAAABDA/baMEKCzbi0k/Cheese%20Aging,%20Molise%202.jpg

Final step :Ripening/ Aging

Ripening/ Aging is the stage where enzymes and microbes change the chemical composition of the cheese from complex organic molecules to simple ones and transform the cheese’s  texture and intensity of flavor. Temperature and humidity are monitored carefully. Some traditional cheese are aged only in near caves which contain unique molds and yeast which result in a one of a kind cheese. More often, cultures are used, giving more consistent results and putting fewer constraints on the environment where the cheese ages. These cheeses include soft ripened cheeses such as Brie and Camembert, blue cheeses such as Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Cabrales, Stilton, and washed rind cheeses such as Taleggio, Grayson.Soft Cheeses- like Brie, Camembert, ripen quickly and at a lower tempo than hard cheeses. Soft cheeses ripen from the outside in. It is all about controlled spoilage here. Bacteria multiplying too quickly results in uneven maturation of the cheese. High humidity ( usually 80%-95%)is crucial to a moist surface in cheese. The ripening/aging period (called Affinage in French) can last from days to several years. This transformation is largely a result of the breakdown of casein proteins and milkfat into a complex mix of amino acids,amines and fatty acids.

http://www.thomaswalshphotographer.com/_images/Cuisine%20Web%20Photos/Comte-Cheese-Aging.jpg

Eran Elhalal

RELATED POSTS

Cheese! Cheese! Cheese!

25
Jun
10

Cheese! Cheese! Cheese!


[Eran Elhalal is a chef/Entrepreneur working in Manhattan. An Honors Graduate Culinary Institute of America,  Eran was Executive Chef of two Manhattan restaurants in the past few years and consulted several others. He began educating customers about food and wine pairing and cheese in 2007 while working as the Chef at UES’s BarVespa.

These days, Eran talks about food and wine pairing as the chef for the panel of Meetup, a wine club, dedicated to introduce and educate the American public about Israeli wines. Photos: courtesy of Eran Elhalal. CS]

Cheese comes in a variety of shapes and types

Cheese: 8000 years in the making!
The first chapter in our love affair with manipulating milk

Cheese is one of the most uniquely varied and refined foods in the world. So meticulously formed and perfected in specific regions, we seek them out by origin and romanticize the process and the people making it. We want our Brie and Camembert to be from Île-de-France, our Gouda from Holland, our Parmigiano Reggiano from the Emilia Romana region in  Italy….

Cheese making’s true origins have long been forgotten, but many countries claiming the honors. Archaeological findings show it being made and stored in clay jars as far back as 6000 BC. There are murals depicting cheese making in Egyptian tombs from 2000 BC .

Cheese is mentioned in the Bible. For example, as David escaped across the River Jordan he was fed with ‘cheese of kine’ (cows) (2 Samuel 17:29), and it is said that he presented ten cheeses to the captain of the army drawn up to do battle with Saul (1 Samuel 17:18). Moreover, a location near Jerusalem called ‘The Valley of the Cheesemakers‘.

Legends about its origins abound, but one of the most commonly repeated themes is that cheese was accidentally discovered in the Mediterranean by an Arab nomad traveling through the desert.

Legend speaks of the nomad about to embark on a long journey on horseback, filling a saddlebag with milk to sustain him while crossing the desert. After hours of riding the nomad stopped to quench his thirst only to discover that his milk had separated into solid lumps and a watery liquid.

The combined heat, agitation from riding and rennets [rennet is a natural complex of enzymes produced in any mammalian stomach to digest the mother’s milk, and is often used in the production of cheese. Rennet contains many enzymes, including a proteolytic enzyme (protease) that coagulates the milk, causing it to separate into solids (curds) and liquid (whey). The active enzyme in rennet is called chymosin or rennin but there are also other important enzymes in it, e.g., pepsin or lipase. There are non-animal sources for rennet that are suitable for vegetarian consumption]. The saddlebag, made of an animal’s stomach parts and lining, caused curdling of the milk and separation into curds and whey.

Cheese, cheese, delicious cheese!

The watery liquid, and the floating whey were found to be drinkable, while the curds were edible and nutritious.

What makes some cheeses kosher? First and foremost, the facility producing the cheese has to comply with kosher rules of food handling and preparation-that is obvious! The above legend gives us another reason… Renin, the enzyme that helps fermentation and coagulation, is a meat byproduct and therefore can only be used under certain conditions in the production of cheese, which is a dairy product. Luckily , nowadays, technology has yielded plant based rennets which are used to create styles of cheese we could have before! Some delicious examples of this type are kosher Parmigiano, Grana Padano, Manchego, etc. Yayyyyy!

Eran Elhalal

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Les Petites Fermières plus Organic and Kosher


A small selection of Les Petite Fermieres and Organic And Kosher cheeses

I like cheeses, as does CS, I use them in cooking, I use them in sandwiches and even in between wines at wine tastings. Thus I was happy to find that Les Petites Fermières (distributed by Anderson International Foods in Mineola, NY), has an interesting collection of available cheeses and most can be found at supermarkets and kosher groceries throughout the US and Canada. Some of my favorites include Gouda, Fontina, Havarti and Havarti with Dill.

Gouda is a distinctively flavored cheese, first developed in Gouda (Netherlands), as it ages it develops a slight caramel like taste.

Fontina, like Gouda, is made from cow’s milk and it originated in Italy’s Valle d’Aosta. Today, however it is also made in the US, France, Denmark and Sweden. Les Petites Fermières’ selection is softer and creamier than its fully aged, darker, Italian sibling.

Havarti was first made in the mid 19th century in an experimental farm, just north of Copenhagen, Norway. It has a subtle flavor that makes it perfect for slicing, grilling or melting. I also like its sibling Havarti with Dill, which has a somewhat stronger yet delightful taste due to the herb.

When I want something sharper I go for their Cheddar or the Mediterranean Jack. Frankly, I found all of them delicious! I like a cheese omelette for breakfast, so I made one using various cheeses.

CS’ Simple Cheese Omelette

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup of Les Petites Fermières Chef’s Blend (natural cheddar and pizza style blend) Shredded Cheese
  • 1 slice of Mozzarella
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Roland Oven Roasted Tomatoes (optional)

Preparation

  1. Melt the butter in an 8” inch skillet, over a medium flame, until it starts sizzling. Tilt skillet until bottom is completely covered.
  2. Drop in the two eggs and tilt the skillet to cover as much as much of it as possible.
  3. Sprinkle the Chef’s Blend cheese on top of the eggs liberally. Within a few seconds it will melt.
  4. With a spatula reach under the omelette and fold it over itself.
  5. Immediately cover the top with slice of Mozarella.
  6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. I also added a couple of oven roasted tomatoes over of the Mozarella. Do not overcook.

Sometimes I also add other spices, when I mix the eggs, prior to folding them into the skillet. Delicious!

For those of you who prefer organic food, Anderson International Foods also distributes Organic and Kosher. If you love cheese you’ll notice the difference between organic and regular cheeses. I did and absolutely liked the difference.

SYR

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