Saturday 26 June 2010

Forging Fromage - Feta

I'm back, did you miss me? Well, sort of back. I'm still on the spare computer and it has Paint, not Photoshop, which is very frustrating and I don't know how to use it properly so I don't know how much blogging I will be able to bear!

But I had a good incentive for persevering with Paint! The current Forging Fromage challenge is a two-fold one: feta this month and gouda next month, and I was very keen to show you the first half of my endeavours.

Our local supermarket sells goats milk reasonably cheaply, so I was able to make my cheese with all goats milk. I made a half-quantity, but that was enough feta for 3 meals.

I used a jellybag to drain the curds, and it has a seam down the centre, hence the brain shape of my feta!
I found this one really very straightforward. It came together very easily and looked exactly right at every stage.

I jumped the gun a bit - we ate the first half of the cheese a day early because I just couldn't resist. We had it in a Greek-ish salad of cucumber, tomato, avocado and red onion, dressed with oregano, basil, olive oil and white wine vinegar. It was delicious! Not too salty, not mushy, not too crumbly, with just the right hint of goaty tang.

The rest of the cheese was allowed to age for a week before we ate it. Some of it went in a warm broccoli salad with tomato and pinenut vinaigrette. Some of it was crumbled on top of roast lamb and aubergine. After a week it was drier and crumblier with a more pronounced tang, but it still had a lovely creamy mouthfeel.

This was a great success! Definitely worth doing again, the amount of effort was well worth it for the results!

forgingfromagebutton2 Do visit us at Forging Fromage after June 29th, to see what everyone else has been doing with their feta. And you still have time to get on board for the gouda challenge!

Sunday 6 June 2010

Taking a bit of a break!

Hi all,

Last week my computer died. It was very sad - we'd been together for 6 years and in fact was what I got instead of an engagement ring. Paul got most of my files backed up while the poor thing was in its death-throes, although he is still trying to retrieve the last 12 months of photos and the bookmarks from my browser.

So I am temporarily on Paul's laptop - which is very nice, but just doesn't feel like me. So I will be taking a bit of a break from blogging, until I get a new computer and get comfy again.

Take care!

Thursday 3 June 2010

Chuck another bird on the barbie

I've been a bit sidetracked from my stated aims for this summer's outdoor cooking season. Not a burger or pizza in sight. Instead, we've been trying a few other things, and have had great success with poultry. So much so that the burgers might have to wait until next summer!

It started with a compromise.

I had in mind to make some potstickers, and I'd bought pork mince, prawns and duck breasts to give myself some options for the filling. But then it turned out to be a really beautiful day and it would have been wrong not to light the Weber. So there was some discussion and some disagreement and it was eventually decided that I'd do pork & prawn dumplings, and that Paul would barbecue the duck breasts.

We slashed the skin on the breasts, not cutting through the flesh, and rubbed in some salt. Paul made a small fire (1 easy-light bag of charcoal) in the centre of the Weber. Once the fire had burned down the duck breasts went skin-side down, to one side of the fire and then he added a couple of tablespoons of lapsang souchong tea, soaked in a little water to the coals. The lid went on top, with the vent right over the duck to encourage the flow of smoke. After 12 minutes, the lid came off, the duck was turned over and finished over direct heat for 8 minutes.

After a couple of minutes resting, the fragrant, tea-smoked duck breasts were sliced and served with edamame, beanshoots pickled with beetroot, pork and mushroom potstickers and steamed pork, prawn and water chestnut dumplings.

The fat had rendered out of the duck, the skin was crisp and the smoke flavour subtle but delicious. Amazing. There is a use for lapsang souchong! Who knew? The duck wasn't perfect. I think next time it'd get a bit longer in the smoke - maybe 18 minutes indirect cooking on the smoke and then a quick 5 minute cook on direct heat to finish. Although it would be a longer cook time, it would end up slightly less well-done because of the gentler indirect heat.

Of course, having started so well, we both thought that we should do more poultry on the barbecue. As it'd been ages since we'd last had roast chicken, we thought a whole chook on the barbecue would be just the ticket!

I just untrussed it, to help the air circulate around it, and stuck half a lemon in the cavity. It was a medium-sized chicken - about 1.3kg - so we planned to give it about an hour of cook time.

Paul built two fires, on either side of a drip tray of water, added a good handful of soaked hickory chips to the coals, placed the chicken in the middle and put on the lid.

After about 40 minutes, a halved aubergine joined the chicken. Then after another 10 minutes the lid came off and some asparagus rolled in olive oil went onto direct heat to finish.

The chicken was absolutely delicious! Deeply smokey, very moist and just perfect. A crunchy little salad (more pickled beanshoots and some cubed cucumber) provided a nice tangy contrast, but some coleslaw would also have been very good. The leftovers were wonderful the next day.

I think the next thing is going to be a whole duck. Or maybe pigeon breasts. Or possibly chicken kebabs. So many options!


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