Eating Her Curds and Whey, Part 2

Last time we spoke, I just finished making my first ever batch of mozzarella cheese.

Was it a quick process? No.

Was I really great at it? Also, no.

But I ended up with real life bag of cheese. When I started Mission Mozzarella, I had grand plans of a caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes and a balsamic vinegar reduction. When I ended Mission Mozzarella, I realized that would not be the case.

The cheese-making process roughly follows this outline:

  1. Warm milk and salts and stuff do some other stuff. Mostly science.
  2. Curds and whey! Insert Little Miss Muffet reference!
  3. Heat up the curds and knead it into mozzarella.

If I were to guess, I think everything went awry on step number 3. The instructions tell you to knead the cheese curds, and when the cheese “stretches like taffy”, it’s ready to go.

The instructions then go on to say (at the very end, after you’ve been kneading and stretching cheese for an hour and a half), if you want a soft mozzarella, don’t stretch the cheese.

Thanks.

And they’re not lying. My cheese is dense. I’m pretty sure you could build something with my cheese. I’m pretty sure you could play cheese Jenga with my cheese. Like string cheese on steroids. String cheese with an unhealthy sense of self.

So then what do I do?

I have a small, but well-intentioned cookbook collection. I get regular use out of two of them, but the third doesn’t get as much air time. The third is Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton.


It is my aspirational cookbook. It is the cookbook I’m going to use when I stop living in fear of sabotaging every recipe I attempt, and this picture is no longer a present fear when I cook:

IMG_1907

To put simply, it’s what I’m going to cook when I’m fancy. I just opened to a random page, and the first ingredient listed is “flageolets”. I don’t even know what those are. They sound made up.

When I bought this book, however, there was one recipe that made me laugh out loud. The Giant Frico in the Bar Snacks chapter.

I’ll break it down for you.

Step 1) Have cheese

Step 2) Grate cheese

Step 3) Melt cheese in a pan

Step 4) Eat that cheese

I’ve been doing this for years, Gabrielle. I just call it pan-cheese. Though, I’ll admit, your name is better.


For the unacquainted, you melt cheese in a non-stick pan. Let it crisp up (just past melted, and flirting with burnt), remove it from the pan, let it cool, and then you can eat it like a chip. A cheese chip!

Her recipe calls for parmesan. I don’t buy it. Mozzarella-brick-cheese, here we come! Because, science!

Fast forward 10 minutes and commence sighing.

This is the moment when everyone realizes that my blog posts are a very “seat of my pants” endeavor. Operation Cheese Chips was not successful, and I only realized it wouldn’t be when half of this blogpost was already written and there was a part 1 post promising a part 2.

Reasons my attempt was ill-fated and I’m not posting pictures of the autopsy:

  1. I did not have a non-stick pan. When the cheese started to enter the goldilocks zone (turning golden brown but not yet crispy) it became one with the pan. My pan may never be the same. RIP, pan.
  2. I don’t think mozzarella is supposed to do that. You cook pizza for too long, the cheese just bubbles more. It doesn’t crisp up like the picture. You do you, mozzarella.
  3. I made my cheese. It tasted weird. I probably should have tasted it before cooking it into my best sauté pan, but I was feeling brave. What can I say? New phrase: Live like there’s no tomorrow! Live like you know the cheese you made doesn’t taste weird!
  4. Melted homemade tastes-like-unflavored-gum-cheese is not attractive.

So, all in all, I’ve got some dirty dishes, round one of cheese making under my belt, and regrets. There is something cool however in taking a big jug of milk and turning it into something solid using a method that isn’t “leave it in the refrigerator for two months.” I made cheese, you guys.

Was it good? No. Did I learn? Kind of. Do I want to give it another go? Yes, actually. Maybe I’ll try feta this time. Or maybe I’ll just go to the grocery store.

You wanna try it? Follow this link.

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