Thursday, 29 July 2010
Forging Fromage - labneh and gouda
Imagine my surprise and, um, delight when I realised that not one but TWO cheeses were due for Forging Fromage on the 30th July! Fortunately we'd had a good long run up to one of them, but that made the deadline for the second slightly stressful.
I'll take them in order of complexity.
Heather and Natashya, the hosts of Forging Fromage, realised that the challenges had been getting pretty scary, so they threw in this little mini-challenge, for yoghurt cheese.
Now, yoghurt cheese, or labneh, is just about as easy as a cheese can get. You take a pot of yoghurt, drain it until it is really thick and then eat it. Seriously, that is all there is to it. No cultures, no thermometers, no weights. Just a bit of time and a bit of gravity. I gave mine 24 hours in a (brand spanking new and scalded) dishcloth before I decided that it was firm enough.
The first dish we ate using the labneh was this wonderful warm salad of roast tomatoes in a saffron dressing. Amazing. The only real tweaks I made were using chipotle in adobo instead of harissa, and pinenuts instead of almonds. Absolutely gorgeous with barbecued rib eye steaks and halved courgettes. I will be making this one again really soon - the saffron is so pretty and the mellow, sweet heat from the tomatoes is perfect with the cool, tangy cheese.
The rest of the labneh I rolled into balls and marinated in olive oil, with garlic and peppercorns. I could have added some fresh herbs, but I didn't think of that until I had closed the jar and washed up, so I didn't bother.
A couple of days later I put some of the marinated labneh in a quesadilla, along with my first gorgeous, ripe cherry tomatoes and a few baby spinach leaves. I didn't add any salt to the labneh, to allow me to season each dish I used it in individually.
I have also used the labneh to stuff some little pickled red chillies as a snack, and I have designs on some more of it to add to a savoury tart. Very versatile and very delicious!
The more complicated cheesey challenge for this round (which actually started in May - told you it was complicated) was gouda.
Here's a fun fact - they eat a lot of gouda in South Africa, and my husband swears it is pronounced chowda, with a ch like in challah, Chanukah or loch. As a result I am now too paranoid to call it anything in case I mispronounce it and bring shame to my inlaws. Much like my last name, I'm afraid.
I bought an actual baby gouda mould for this one, so the shape was excellent, but my jury-rigged pressing contraption left a bit to be desired. I couldn't get the pressure even and it kept falling over with a loud clatter in the middle of the night.
This is the first fromage that we have forged that needed aging. I ran into some trouble with mould, although the directions said to just wash it off with vinegar. Which I did - but I still didn't feel comfortable leaving it any longer than the minimum time for aging.
You know what? It was really good. It was very pale in colour - South African gouda tends to be a lot yellower than mine turned out; I think they add annato colouring - but the texture was a perfect sliceable, fine-grained hard cheese, and the flavour was just spot on. Very gratifying!