Archives for posts with tag: cheese

a big part of my philosophy on cooking and eating is of course using products and produce that are organic, sustainable and local, but also unprocessed, or what i like to think of as ‘what would laura ingalls wilder do?’ she lived in a day where everything was made from scratch, all foods were basically what we know as organic today, and definitely pre-GMO.

she also didn’t grow up with processed snacks such as cheez-its in her cupboard like i did as a young girl. granted the list of ingredients in cheez-its isn’t nearly as long as many processed chips, crackers or snacks in the same demographic, and they don’t have the evil monosodium glutamate in them, but i have definitely cut way back on my intake of these addictive lil cheesy nibbles due to their processed nature. of course, when craft services puts out the little single serving bags on the table at work, they are very hard to resist, and i usually tuck one away in my set bag to eat in guilt later when i can blame it on the ‘late hours’ or ‘i’m tired’ or ‘i don’t want another fucking piece of fruit’.

so, when my upstairs neighbor, who is a chef, posted a picture on instagram of homemade cheez-its, i about lost my shit, because i fucking love cheez-its!

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thankfully she was willing to share her recipe.

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ingredients:

  • 9 ounces (about 2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 7.5 ounces (about 3 1/2 cups) extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • 2-4 tbsp ice water
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

directions:

in the bowl of a food processor add the flour, baking powder, paprika and salt. pulse to combine. add the butter and cheese, and pulse until very well combined. add 2 tbsp of ice water and pulse until the dough is just wet enough to come together when squeezed. add up to 2 tbsp more water if necessary.

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divide the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap. press each half of dough into a flat square, wrap well, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

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working with one square at a time, roll the dough out to a scant 1/8-inch thick. using a fluted pastry wheel, cut the dough into 3/4-inch wide strips, and then in the other direction to make 3/4-inch squares.

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use a wooden skewer, or chop stick, to poke a hole in the center of each square.

transfer squares to a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze the dough until firm, about 10-15 minutes. do the same with the other square of dough.

preheat the oven to 350˚ F.

brush the squares with the egg white and sprinkle with salt. gently break the squares apart and transfer the parchment onto a different baking sheet that hasn’t been in the freezer.

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bake until puffed, set, and browned on the bottom. make sure to bake them well, so that the finished crackers are crisp. (completely frozen dough may take extra time.) start checking them at 15 mins, but can take up to 20-30 mins.

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transfer the parchment with the crackers to a cooling rack. store cooled crackers in an airtight container.

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makes about 5 cups.

thanks to chef jamie lauren for the recipe, and my renewed addiction. 

who knew you could make cheese in just over an hour? well, besides many of the 1.2 billion people in india, several other peoples of middle eastern and southeast asian countries, most cheese makers, savvy chefs and a few other food nerds, not many. other than those scant few, i have just become aware of this recently. i was reading omnivorous, a food blog, by a local private chef spencer h. gray, and came across a beautiful picture of a capresesque salad: deep red tomatoes, bright green basil, and what looked to be some sort of cubed mozzarella. to my surprise it was paneer, a cheese that i had only had in the past at indian restaurants. being that one of my favorite ways to use tomatoes in the summer is a caprese salad, i had to try this out.

you will need:

  • 8 cups (64 oz) whole milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, strained of seeds and pulp
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • cheesecloth
  • an accurate thermometer, or a keen sense as to when milk is at the boiling point
  • a strainer or colander

mix the lemon juice and warm water together, and set aside. bring the milk slowly to a boil over medium heat in a stainless steel, non-reactive pot (not aluminum). when it reaches 212ºF (use a thermometer), pour the lemon juice water mixture in a slow steady stream while stirring continually and carefully.

the curd will then start separating from the whey. this is probably about the time you start reciting the old nursery rhyme ‘little miss muffet.’ turn the heat off.

line a strainer or colander with a few layers of cheesecloth. use a ladle and remove the curd from the whey and strain it through the cheesecloth.

gather the cheesecloth together and squeeze as much of the residual whey out.

rinse the bundle under cold running water, alternating with squeezing the whey and water out, a few times. when you have gotten as much water and whey out as possible, put the bundle back in the strainer, and put a saucer and something heavy (i used my sugar container) on top for about an hour.

the longer and more you are able to press out the water and whey, the firmer the cheese. unwrap the cheese, discard the cloth, and it is ready to eat.

i prefer to refrigerate the cheese in plastic wrap first before cutting into it.

for my paneer caprese salad you will need:

  • fresh tomato
  • fresh basil leaves
  • thin slices of paneer
  • good olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • s+p

slice the tomatoes thin. chiffonade the basil. layer the tomato and paneer as you wish, and sprinkle the basil over. drizzle a little bit of the balsamic and olive oil over the tomatoes and basil. add s+p to taste.

it is delicious! the only thing i might try next time is to get some salt into the paneer, but really, it’s not that important.

enjoy!

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