A while ago, my buddy Toby told me his wife Jennifer had found a recipe for me to try: buttermilk cheese.
I was totally on board. The recipe was from Matt and Ted Lee, two Southern chefs I wholeheartedly dig, and was published by Martha Stewart, whose standards are nothing if not exacting. Plus, who wouldn't like the idea of making cheese at home?
And whipping up a little batch of cheese was fun. My turned out a little bland, so next time I'd probably add a bit more salt. Martha and the Lee boys also suggest variations, including lemon cheese and herb cheese, that would help perk things up a bit. I will also say that my cheese turned out a little dry, but that could be because I really got into the squeezing-out the-whey step.
Oh, and if you don't have fancy-pants cheesecloth, paper towels will do just fine.
- 1 quart whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups whole or low-fat buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
Combine milk, buttermilk and salt in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan; heat over medium-high heat until mixture has separated into white curds and translucent whey, about 8 minutes. If using lowfat buttermilk, separation occurs at about 180 degrees and the curds will clump together readily. If using whole buttermilk, separation occurs closer to the boiling point, about 212 degrees, and the curds are finer-grained. When using whole buttermilk, let curds and whey stand off heat for about 3 minutes after separation, so the curds cling together and facilitate the straining step.
Ladle the contents of the saucepan into the prepared colander. Let the whey drain, 1 to 2 minutes. Lift the four corners of the cheesecloth and gather them together. Gently twist the gathered cloth over the cheese and press out any excess whey.
Cheese can be unwrapped immediately and served warm. It can also be cooled to room temperature or refrigerated until cool. Cheese can be refrigerated up to 2 days. Remove from refrigerator and let stand for 10 minutes at room temperature before serving.
The food: Buttermilk cheese
The verdict: The cheese stands alone, in a moderately tasty manner