I may not have been posting as frequently these days, but that doesn’t mean I’m not working on some great culinary projects. In August The Alchemist and I went to a cheese making class were we learned in a group setting how to make various cheeses. Our section worked on making Feta. As the class was only a few hours, it was condensed, and the finished product which we had to divide and share, wasn’t salted or complete. But we learned the theories and principles. So armed with my own copy of Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll. I found a great site for cultures and supplies and decided to commence on two projects. Feta Cheese and Petit Brie. Over the past year I also have aquired some supplies from this source. So you see it really isn’t that complicated to get started on your own cheese. Naturally raw milk, if you can get it, is best. Check with with your local CSA’s or farms.It’s worth the effort. However , if you can’t access raw milk, use PASTEURIZED but NOT ULTRA PASTEURIZED milk. I have found a good brand of goats milk from Whole Foods, but nothing compares to fresh. Read the labels to make sure it’s just pasteurized. In the beginning making your own cheese is not cheap, but its so worth it.
Feta is a Greek cheese that is soft and crumbly and is made from sheep (preferably) or goats milk. Feta literally means slice or piece and references the process of cutting the curds in the cheese making. As time goes on with the aging process, the salt added to the cheese draws out more liquid. It can be aged in Brine as well. Lipase is found in goats milk which gives Feta a stronger and distinct flavor. You can purchase lipase( from your cheese making supply) and add it if using another sort of milk. But traditional Feta is made with either sheep’s or goats milk. Today Feta has Protected Designation of Origin ( POD) by the EU. That means only cheese made in the traditional Greek style/ method of sheep and or goats and sheep milk can legally be called Feta. Unlike the similar Danish cheese made with cows milk, which really isn’t Feta under this law. Think of it like sparkling wine or authentic Champagne made in the Champagne region of France.
I followed three recipes and found they were mostly similar. I took my Feta an extra step and made a Brine with the leftover whey and salt to age for 30 days. The salt mellows out over time and it’ s wonderful but stronger in flavor than fresh Feta. So if you have the patience it’s worth it. If you don’t, you can have the Feta cheese in few days after aging . Count on setting aside a day for the process. A lot of it is waiting for it coagulate , ripen, stir, and mostly draining. So you wont be glued to the kitchen.
I have a recipe for you today for a dish I made with Feta. But here is a good recipe for the actual making of the Feta Cheese. I urge you to invest in Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll. You can get everything you need and the recipe here. I find that even though I used store purchased goat’s milk, my cheese held up in the brine . I used Angelic Farms recipe for the brine . 5 tablespoons of salt ( Kosher or sea salt) dissolved in 20 oz of Whey. It did not disintegrate. I also invested in Mad Millie’s Feta Mold and Brining Container.
I hope to share my Brie posts with you soon. It’s aging nicely in the fridge.
“Blessed are the Cheesemakers”
Monty Python’s Life of Brian
- 4-5 Boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 lb Fresh spinach
- 1 cup of Feta
- I small can stewed tomatoes or canned cherry tomatoes
- Black Pepper
- Olive Oil
- Pound your chicken breasts with a meat tenderizer. Salt and Pepper to taste and set aside.
- On a cutting board roll up and julienne your fresh spinach leaves and place ribbons into a bowl. Reserve some for the later.
- Add Feta and crumble and mix with the Spinach.
- Taking the breasts, sprinkle the feta and spinach mixture on top and carefully roll up.
- Place in a oiled casserole or stainless steel pan that goes into the oven. Seams side down.
- Sprinkle with Marjoram and more salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the stewed tomatoes and juice on top of the stuffed chicken breasts.
- Add the rest of the spinach and mix into the liquid so it stays moist.
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Cover with foil or cover and bake ½ hr . After ½ hour remove foil cover and let continue to cook until chicken is done and the liquid is bubbling. Be sure the spinach on top stays in the juices so if softens/ wilts and cooks. This will take approximately one hour.
- Serve with pasta or rice.