Monday, May 25, 2009

Prawn and Bacon Curry

I mean really, just what DOESN'T go well with bacon? You can do loads of different dishes with bacon. Ahhhhh, the humble pig; Mother Nature's gift to the culinary world.

Don't worry about me abandoning the cheesy goodness, I'll be back with a How To Make Awesomely Good Feta Cheese soon --complete with pictures. But I've been told by the clan that I'd better write this one down cus they are going to want it again.

See, when I make curries I usually make them with whatever I can find in the pantry. They always come out great, but every once in a while one stands out. Two nights ago was a "once in a while" curry.

Note about the prawns (shrimp): I used already peeled and cooked prawns cus that's all I had at the time. Feel free to use fresh ones, no worries. Just make sure you keep the shells, tails, and heads as they make a very flavourful seafood stock when boiled and strained.

Feel free to use lemon grass or kaffir lime leaves if you'd like, they should go in at the same time you add the garlic. Speaking of the garlic, I used jarred, prepared, minced garlic as I was out of fresh garlic heads.

Alright, I've blathered enough! Let's get cookin'!

Prawn and Bacon Curry

What you need:

Prep wok-ing:
5 or 6 large rashers of bacon, diced (for you US'ns that'd be about half a pound of bacon strips chopped up)

For the initial wok-ing:
bacon fat (see above)
1 small onion, minced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp Tom Yum paste
1 small red capsicum (bell pepper), minced
1 small can (225 grams around 8 oz) whole water chestnuts

For the prawn part:
350 grams (3/4 of a pound) of shelled, deveined, de-tailed, small prawns (think cocktail shrimp size)
1/4 cup cornflour (called cornstarch in the US)
2 tsp curry powder --I used Clive of India, but any good one will do
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tbsp olive oil

For the cookin' part:
1 can (400 mls or 13 oz) coconut milk or coconut cream (whichever is in your pantry)
1/2 cup cream
semi-cooked bacon pieces from prep wok-ing

For the serving part:
Bed of cooked, white, long-grained rice (I used jasmine)
1 cup of greek yoghurt

Yeah I know, seems like a long list. You'll be happy that I broke it up into sections though, makes the instructions very easy to follow.

What you do:

Start with the bacon in the prep wok-ing section. Toss the cut up bacon into a large wok and cook on low heat till the bacon is about halfway cooked --you don't want it to be crispy. Take the semi-cooked bacon pieces out of the wok, but leave the bacon fat in the wok.

Next add the minced onion to the wok and cook in the bacon fat for a minute or 2 on medium-low heat. Then add the next four ingredients in the "initial wok-ing" section. Give it a good stir. Once it starts to really sizzle (and smell OH SO GOOD!), add the water chestnuts plus the water from the can they were in. Give it a good stir.

While the can water is cooking down (it'll only take a minute) you get to do the prawn part! Put the prawns in a large bowl and then add everything from the "prawn part" section. Toss to coat everything evenly.

By the time you take the bowl with the coated prawns over to the sizzling wok the water should have cooked down. Add the olive oil and then add the prawns to the wok (which is smelling really good by now). Stir and toss and then turn the heat up for a minute.

Add the coconut cream, the cream, and the semi-cooked bacon pieces. Give it a good stir to combine, turn the heat to low and simmer for 5 or 10 mins. Stir it every now and then.

Serve it over a bed of the cooked long grain white rice, and each plate gets a dollop of greek yoghurt on the top of the curry.

Why? Well, this could be a bit hot for some folks and the yoghurt takes care of the heat but you still get the flavours.

Some people will think this isn't hot enough! If you're one of those folks who likes your curries really hot, then double the amount of Tom Yum paste and add a few chopped up thai chilli peppers at the time you add the garlic. That'll be guaranteed to clear the sinuses!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lemon Cheese

This is going to be one of the easiest cheeses you'll ever make, guaranteed. Not much in the way of special equipment needed either.

I make my lemon cheese slightly differently than other recipes I've found as I like mine firmer. No, you don't need a cheese press!

And no rennet.

And no starter.

And if you don't have any cheesecloth you can use chux cloth (cleaned and sterilised, of course). And if that fails you can even use an old, small pillow case --REALLY cleaned and sterilised!

And you can use powdered milk! Actually I always use full cream milk powder cus that whey I don't have to pastuerise the milk first.

And you get a lot of cheese. 4 litres of milk (about a gallon) will yield almost a kilo (around 2 pounds) of cheese.

And there's no aging time!

Sounds good, eh?

Here we go:

Dingo Dave's Especially Easy Lemon Cheese

Here's what you need

1 gallon (about 4 litres) of pastuerised milk (just get a bag of full cream milk powder, mix up four litres of it and use it)
Juice of 4 lemons
2 tsp sea salt

extras you may want to try:
carraway seeds
dill weed
cumin seeds
chilli flakes
coriander (cilantro) leaves
lemon zest

I wouldn't suggest all in the same batch though...

Here's what you do:

Any utensil that will touch the cheese gets sterilised. I prefer the ole boiling water method. In a large, stainless steel pot put in your long-handled, stainless-steel skimmer, your cooking thermometer, your chux cloth, your cheese mat (a sushi mat works just as well) and your cheese hoop (I hoop this cheese even though no one else does as I like mine firmer) in the pot once the water that you should have put into the pot is boiling.

Do I need to tell you to be careful? No, of course not. I'm sure you can figure that out.

After two minutes everything is sterilised, no worries. Carefully pour the boiled water into a large pot. Why are you keeping the boiled water? You ARE going to make a batch of beer, aren't you?

Sorry, I just don't like to waste water or food.

Back to the Lemon Cheese...

Carefully lay out the utensils on a clean countertop.

Pour your milk into the stainless steel pot. Use the cooking thermometer to slowly bring it up to 100 F (or 38 C). If you are using goat's milk, then make it 145 F (62 C).

Turn the heat off, add your lemon juice, and stir slowly for 10 or 20 seconds with your stainless steel skimmer.

You'll notice little tiny white curds have already started to form. Neato! Let it sit for 15 or 20 minutes and you'll have a nice amount of little stringer type curds (not the kind you'd get from using rennet and starter).

Put a chux (or cheesecloth) lined colander over whatever saucepan you want to cook the whey (that's the greenish-tinged liquid that tastes ohhhhhhh so good) down to make mysost cheese.

Bring up all four corners of the cheesecloth that has the drained curds in it and tie em together --make it tight as the idea is you are not just draining the curd but helping to form them together. Then hang it up over the sink for an hour (tied to the kitchen faucet works fine --just don't use the faucet for an hour). This would be a good time to start the mysost, BTW.

After about an hour the curd should be well drained and clumped together into a semi-solid mass. This is where most people call it done and put it into a container in the fridge or to eat it straight away.

But what I do is carefully turn the curd out into a large mixing bowl, lightly sprinkle with sea salt and then with whatever herbs or spices I'll be putting into this particular batch. Carefully mix it together and then spoon the mixture into a cheesecloth lined cheese hoop that is sitting on top of a cheese mat. Fold the cloth over the top of the curd and the press it down slightly. Put a weight on the top (like a couple of big ole cans of peaches or a small weight from your dumbell set) and then forget about it till morning.

Don't worry, I'll be putting pictures up of all the goodies and procedures next time.

If you don't have a cheese hoop you can make one from a coffee can. Just take off the top and bottom, drill a few holes in the sides (smooth down the inside after drilling) and there you are. Also the top or bottem from the can should fit quite nicely over the top of the curd and give the cans a nice base to rest on.

The next day remove the weights and slide the cheese out. Carefully unwrap your glorious cylinder of homemade lemon cheese (seasoned exactly how YOU want it) and start eating. It'll keep for a week in the fridge, but I doubt it'll last that long cus it's very tasty.

I'll be putting pics up of all the utensils and some of the procedures next time, but I wanted to kinda get y'all excited about making your own cheeses first.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mysost Cheese

and the making thereof.

This is probably the simplest cheese you'll ever make. However, you'll need to have first made some other type of cheese as this is a whey cheese.

And a-whey we go!!!

Arrr, anchors a-whey matey!

Gee, I sound just like Geoffrey Rush. Cool. Did y'all know he's an Aussie? Well now you do. I'm sure I don't knead to mention that Errol Flynn was a Tassie. A true blue Tasmaniac, you betcha.

As I had previously mentioned, Mysost Cheese is a Skankelnavelian cheese (my spelling sux and my tiepoes are even worsered).

Alright, I'll be serious now. Maybe.

There's two different wheys (ways) to make Mysost and each method yields two very distinct cheeses. Trust me, I tried them both last week. Fortunately, you can use any type of whey for either method. Whether it's whey from a renneted cheese or from an acidic coagulation, it won't make a difference in the finished product.

BTW I'll be putting up a lot of simple cheese making posts, this one being the first. You'll learn how to make Quarg, Cream Cheese, Feta, Wensleydale, Mysost, Mascarpone and many others. I will not put up any cheese post unless it's something I've made so you can rest assured the procedure works.


What you need:
A batch of whey from your latest cheesemaking endeavour
A saucepan
A source of heat (a stovetop works well, I prefer gas)
1/2 cup cream (for the second of the two types)

What you due:
Pour the whey into the saucepan. Place the saucepan on top of (not below) your heat source. Heat on low as you don't want it to boil over. Simmer for a few hours till the whey is thick (it'll be reduced by around 75% in volume). Oh and don't forget to keep a close eye on it for the last 30 mins cus you don't want it to burn to the bottom of the saucepan (voice of experience).

Let it cool a bit and then spoon it into a container.

Ta-da! Done!

This method will produce a slightly grainy, beige coloured cheese spread. It's very strong tasting so a little goes a long whey :) It is basically concentrated whey. The taste is kinda like a strong Welsh Rarebit with a hint of Danish Blue. Very good for spreading on crackers or toast --in small amounts, of course.

The other whey, or method if you prefer, yields an entirely different result. The taste and texture is very different.

Ummmmmm, it's the same method as above, but whisk in 1/2 to 1 cup of cream before you start to reduce the whey. I used 1 cup of cream for the amount of whey left after making Feta Cheese from 5 litres of milk.

A smooth, creamy, light-coloured cheese dip is what you'll end up with. And it's very good! Next time I'm going to add a pinch of turmeric (for a yellow colour) and a few pinches of chilli flakes to the whey and cream as it starts to simmer. I should end up with the ultimate nacho cheese sauce.

I guess I should tell you how to make some simple cheeses so you can have the whey (and means) to make mysost, so stay tuned for that.

And beer makin'

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mysost is Whey-ing on my mind

... and a mind is a terrible thing to wheyst. I'm so funny!

Ok, let me be serious. How many of you have no idea what to do with the whey from your cheesemaking? Show of hands? A plethora of comments, perhaps? Hmmmmm, ok, guess not.

Here's what I like to do with the whey:

1) Drink it straight-up

2) Use it as a soup base --tangy and tasty

3) Make bread with it

4) Add a bit of mint and drink it chilled on a hot day

5) Make ricotta cheese

6) Pancakes

Here's some other things you can do with the whey:

1) It makes great feed for pigs, chooks, and probably skijoring dogs and fuzzy bunnies

2) You can make Mysost cheese

Mysost cheese??? What the heck is that? Well, I'll save you some googling and tell you that it originated in two Scandinavian countries; Sweden and Norway. Danes also make it, as do many people 'round the big ole woil nowadays.

I've personally never made it, but I'm going to making another 2 pounds of Feta cheese tomarra' (aussie slang, sorry) so I'll have loads of whey left.

Apparantly there are many different wheys to make Mysost. Some add cream, some don't. Some put it into cheese molds, some don't.

Let's go with the two simple ones, shall we?

I'll be dividing tomarra's whey into two batches, and each of those will be divided again, so I'll end up with 4 different types of Mysost. Cool, eh? Oh, and 2 pounds of fresh, homemade Feta.

Here's the "procedure" that I'll be doing.

Each batch will have a half gallon of whey. One batch will have cream added, the other won't. After each batch has been boiled down, then I'll take half out of each to refridgerate and then boil down the rest and pour into molds.

I'll be putting up a post about making Feta and all the accoutrements you'll be needing, and then I'll put up the post about how to make Mysost. Mysost is (supposedly) simple and easy to make, but I don't want to tell you about till I've had a go at it.