Monday, February 11, 2008

Wonder What Cheesemongers Do On Their Days Off?

Jessica Kesselman, a longstanding cheesemonger at Murray's Grand Central shares her Sunday:

It was no surprise to my five year old daughter, Emilia, when I announced that we would spend Sunday afternoon making mozzarella. We cook a lot together, and we keep upping the complexity of the recipes. Last weekend it was fried pork wontons from scratch. Now we were entering sacred territory- our beloved mozzarella of Friday night pizzas and birthday lasagnas, and memories of last summer's 'put-some-mozzarella-in-it' salads. We were armed with Ricki's Cheesemaking Kit and four quarts of Evans whole milk. We had a pot, thermometer and microwave. And we had all afternoon.

It turns out we only needed an hour. The process was so easy, Emilia handled most of the steps by herself. She measured out the milk, dissolved the citric acid in water, poured the rennet into the pot, and monitored the thermometer. I handled all things stove top and microwave. But we kneaded the curds together, releasing the whey, and shared our excitement that this milky, gooey mass in our hands was actually beginning to resemble mozzarella. We had turned milk into cheese in our house! Later that evening, as we sprinkled the mozzarella over our pizza dough, we laughed about the moment during the afternoon when, taking the curds out of the pot, it looked more like we were producing cheese jelly. And we both agreed- this was definitely easier than making wontons!