Dairy Man’s Dream; No-Rise, No- Knead, Quick Parmesan Bread

img_3785Why is this bread called “Dairy Man’s Dream”? It has cheese, yogurt, milk, and butter! I adapted this recipe from “Bread Illustrated” written by the editors of America’s Test Kitchen. I have loved this book, all the recipes have great step by step illustrations. Bread is intimidating for me and this book really helps me understand the process of making bread so I can, well, actually make bread! In fact this recipe was done with my 2 year old!

I tried this recipe out last night, we did not have bread for dinner and the kids were up to make something. I almost pulled our bread machine out, (the kids call him “crunchy robot”) but I put him back and flipped through the cook book instead. I love the idea of no knead quick bread you can literally make in 10 minutes pop in oven and serve! The recipe called for sour cream and I substituted my farm fresh yogurt instead. I also omitted the cheddar cheese and added extra parm. The results were impressive and my dairy man of a husband happy after another long day at the new barn.

Ingredients:                                                                                                   

  • 2 1/2 C All Purpose Flour img_3790
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Tsp Salt
  • 3 Tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 3/4 C Yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp Melted Butter
  • 2 Cups Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Directions: Pre heat oven to 350 F. Melt Butter over low heat. Whisk in milk, salt and yogurt. Set aside.

Mix flour baking soda, pepper and 1 C of the cheese. Butter a 8″ x 4″ pan and sprinkle 1/2 C Parmesan cheese on bottom. Fold wet ingredients into dry, until just incorporated. Do not over mix!

Dough will be very heavy and lumpy. Place in prepared bread pan and smooth top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake approx 45 minutes until golden brown! Let cool at least 30 minutes, slice and serve with more butter of course!

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The kids helping at the new barn

The “Gospel Garden” and a recipe for Salsa Con Queso

Early winter of 2016 myself and enlisted help including Cody Simar of Central Valley Sustainability and my dear husband met with the director at the Modesto Gospel Mission to discuss a future community garden at their existing 1 acre plot surrounded by employee housing, and located a block behind the mission itself.

Approaching the site I knew this was the spot. Since this time we have been blessed to have many hands volunteer and come together to donate, plant, care for and harvest from this garden. We have affectionately named our garden the “Gospel Garden.”

Some crops have not worked out, we have had weeds overtake some of our lettuce and tomatoes. We have put in a lot of work to keep up with our first year at this new site. Yet, every time I visit the garden, when I feel overwhelmed at the work, at the weeds, at what needs to be done and when I can barely keep up with the kids, animal, and yard at home, I come away with a sense of calm. Chris, a resident at the mission, will usually stroll out and remind me of just how much the garden is giving. He tells me he places tomatoes in neighbors mailboxes up and down the street; that families in the community come to garden and pick lettuce, peppers or tomatoes. Rita a volunteer informs me that the salad bar at the mission has never looked so good. (I owe a huge thank you to Westurf Nursery, Rick Grey of Plant a Seed Foundation and Waterford Irrigation Supply Inc as well as many others!!)

We had the opportunity to have a local Girl Scout troop visit our garden and we took along children from the mission as well. It was a day of discovery for many kids, including one young girl who informed me this was he first trip off the mission without her parents. As we took the five minute walk from the Children’s Center holding hands I couldn’t help but feel prideful as people peered from their windows in a neighborhood that is constantly on the look out for what is wrong, and instead catching a glimpse of what is right.

On one field trip morning, I remember feeling particularly overwhelmed and disappointed; that the corn had all died, that weeds were overtaking our garden, and that there was a huge leak in our drip causing mud and more weeds to grow among the melons. As I took the kids to the garden that same day I was again reminded of of useless our doubts are.  The kids could have cared less about the weeds, or the dried up corn, instead they exclaimed over tomatoes, melons, and bravely tasted jalapenos. One boy asked with hope, “Can we come next week again, and bring cheese this time for the tomatoes!” The joy this boy had found here replaced any feelings of failure I had had just an hour ago. What a reminder that God requires of us not to be perfect, but to simply give what we can and look for the blessings in each small thing; and that all our anxieties need to be reexamined, surrendered to and handed over to something much greater than ourselves. Something that says its ok, and that is satisfied with the smile and thank you of a child.

In looking for a delicious and versatile way to use our tomatoes and jalapenos harvested on our last field trip with the Children’s Center, I thought of Salsa Con Queso. This one is dedicated to Angela who gives her heart and soul to her kids at the mission, who made an amazing salsa to share with the Children’s Center, (made from vegetables from the Gospel Garden), and and who loves cheese. I give you the best of both worlds. img_1652

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Salsa Con Queso

  • 6-10 Ripe Tomatoes (of any variety)
  • 5 Jalapenos (more or less depending on desire for heat) Cored
  • 3 Large Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Large White Onion
  • 3 Large Squash (yellow or zuchinni)
  • 1/2 Head Roasted Cauliflower (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 Tbsp Flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Cups shredded cheddar cheese or blend.
  • 1/2 C Greek Yogurt (see recipe for homemade)

Directions: Coarsely chop all vegetables. In heavy bottomed pot heat vegetables with salt until softened. Add butter, melt and then add flour. Simmer until easily pierced with fork. Use immersion blender to puree vegetables.

May use blender for smoother consistency, cool to room temp before blending. Add Cheese and yogurt. Stir until melted and incorporated. Serve and enjoy! Use as a dip for bread, crackers, or chips. Best served warm. Try on your favorite sandwiches, tacos or as pasta sauce tossed with olive oil.

A Simple Way to Make Cheddar Cheese and Your Own Cheese Press!

This as simple a way to make a  pressed cheddar cheese, I will also include illustrated instructions on how to make your own press!  You can create fresh cheddar curds without the use of a press. They taste good and are immediately gratifying. The aging and use of  press for hard cheeses makes the cheese special and creates a depth of flavors as time goes on. You can get creative and try different pressing and aging times, then sample the cheeses as time goes on. I did not get that far. I put my lovely pressed cheese to dry on the counter and the kids and I got too curious. We tried it and it was delicious, and gone before dinner. Either way it was fun to create and making cheese is such an art form. You can try to measure temperatures, time, weight, and ingredients just right but it really comes down to intuition and taking the time to know the process and sticking with it. Like any art.  Cheese making is a skill I am still learning and to me that is the fun of it. I’m going to outline through my experiences the easiest simplest and least fussy way to have a successful cheese. There are a whole lot of other recipes out there that go into more depth but I’m going to keep it as fun as possible, kids love this because it is a science experiment with yummy results!

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Ingredients:

Directions:

Put the milk in large clean stainless steel pot and slowly warm milk to around 80F, or just until milk feels on verge of getting hot. Sprinkle the culture into milk and stir well with whisk.

Cover and allow the milk to culture for around 45 minutes. I put this in the oven with light on and towel over top. Mix rennet in 1/4 C water and stir well into the milk. Cover and allow to sit another 45 minutes. It is now that a curd will begin to form. Using the blade of a long knife ( I use a cake frosting knife) you can literally cut into the curd. Make long cuts length wise and across to form 1/2 inch cubes. See picture.

Be gentle as the less you handle the more delicate your cheese will be. Let the now cut curds rest for 10 minutes. Then move pot to burner and heat to a little over 100 F for 40 minutes, stirring gently to keep curds form sticking together. Scoop out the curds with a strainer or slotted spoon into a colander. Allow the curds to rest in the colander and drain over the still warm pot. Let the curds drain for an hour, turning the curds to drain well and keep the whey below warm to allow the process of “cheddaring” to occur.

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It is now that the cheese will take on a squeaky texture, which the kids love to sample. Then remove the curds form the strainer and cut into 1/2 inch chunks. Put them in a bowl and toss with the salt. It may taste very salty but as the cheese is pressed, the salt comes out with the whey, so it is better to be a little heavy with the salt.

Creating a Cheese Press:

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Directions for Pressed Cheese:

Line the cheese mold with cheesecloth, I use a tea towel, and fill with the cut curds. Place on center of cheese press with pan to collect whey underneath. Place follower on top. I then put an empty mason jar which fits in lid. Place top wooden board and add 10 lbs weight for an hour. Take out cheese and cloth and turn over.

 

Replace weight and press an additional hour. Add 10 lbs and press overnight. Remove cheese and let air dry for 4 hours. You may eat fresh . Will last 2 weeks in refrigerator.  Age for flavor in cool dry place with wax for 4 weeks and   up to 6 months, even longer if desired!  The longer the cheddar ages, the sharper the cheddar becomes! Enjoy the process and let me know how your trails go!

 

 

Simple Cheese Making: Ricotta from our Farm

img_8103Feel like doing a science experiment? This is such a fun thing to do and with kids or a partner even better! Such a simple cheese to learn.  You can get the hang of this after a couple of times and always have fresh ricotta on hand. Use ricotta similarly as you would use yogurt, in baked goods, and of course lasagna. Try with my Cheese Bread Recipe also. I love the process of making cheese, it really takes you back to a simpler time. I use raw milk fresh from our dairy farm, but you can also use store-bought pasteurized as well, just stay away from ultra pasteurized! Some grocers are carrying raw milk or non homogenized, low pasteurized milk which gives a much better flavor and texture for cheese making. I’ve included  a link below for ordering liquid animal rennet online.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 Tsp Liquid Rennet 
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Gal. Fresh Milk
  • Tsp Salt (Cheese Salt is ideal)

Directions:

Place milk in sterile 5 qt. pot. Slowly heat milk until milk is too hot to touch, (or 200 F on candy thermometer). Remove from heat. Slowly add rennet, lemon juice and salt. Stir gently. Leave pot to sit for 10 minutes. Check to see if whey (liquid) is separating from curds. Add more lemon juice if separation has not occurred and wait a few minutes. Scoop curds out with slotted spoon into strainer lined with tea cloth. See photograph for example. Strain for 60 minutes and place in air tight container. Store in refrigerator and use within one week. Enjoy the rewards of you experiment and try different recipes!