30 July 2013

How to make Cheese ~ I'm well impressed!

Firstly apologies for such tardy posting - initially this was because we were on our fabulous Scottish hols with limited internet and now BT have "let us down badly" to say the least, please see here for the explanation 

Anyhoo - on the trip down from Scotland the milk which we had in the cooler bag turned seriously sour and separated so I thought I'd have a go, my first ever, at making cheese.  I am very pleased indeed with the results.  Here are some loose instructions  ...

How to make cheese ...

~   Warm the milk and all its lumps gently till it separates even more into yellow watery stuff and bigger lumps.
~   Turn off the heat and allow to sit for about 10 minutes.
~   Meanwhile (as we say in recipes) line a strainer with clean cheesecloth (or similar) and set over a capacious bowl. I first scalded my cheesecloth with boiling water just to be uber-hygienic, you might like to do the same.
~   Pour the mixture into the strainer and leave to drain for several minutes - there is a surprising amount or liquid which I threw away although there is probably something terribly interesting I could have done with it!
~   After a while carefully lift the edges of the cheesecloth, tie them together and dangle the whole doo-hickey from a door handle or something and over a bowl so that it can drip for a while.  A gentle squeeze is not ???
~   When you have a firm-ish lump in the cloth cut it down and chill it.

I ended up with was a block of crumbly fresh cheese - voila ...


I cut off a fifth of the cheese and set it aside for later.  To the rest I added enough double cream to make a soft cheese and salt and pepper to make a tasty one.  I then divided that into four and added some flavourings ...

~   Black Garlic - a clove of this lovely stuff sort of chopped and squidged into the cheese.
~   Heavily Peppered - just lots of freshly ground peppercorns.
~   Sweet Chilli - as it name suggests, just the addition of sweet chilli sauce.
~   Fresh Basil - we have green and purple basil so I added a bit of both.


I'm afraid I can't give quantities here for these; you'll just have to taste and feel as you go. The first three cheeses I ate for lunch with crackers and a glass of red, they were all good and the black garlic was my favourite.
 
For dinner I had Chorizo and Basil Pizza using the basil cheese which melted softly as Boursin does and tasted excellent.


You will remember I set aside a fifth of the fresh cheese as I had a cunning plan; to try making chocolate cheese, inspired by Philadelphia.  I mixed a spoonful each of cocoa powder and dark brown sugar to a paste with a few drops of hot water and then stirred it into the cheese a little at a time till it tasted good, which it did.  Amazingly I then found that the addition or either vanilla extract or cognac tasted even better!


As you can see from the picture it still had a cottage cheese type texture but perhaps it if I had whisked or processed it that would have smoothed out.  Instead I just ate it.

have loads more ideas for flavouring fresh cheese, roasted garlic, lemon and parsley, chilli and orange, and so on.  It's almost worth taking some milk for another long scenic drive or perhaps I'll just buy plain Philly and play with it!



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23 July 2013

BBQ Tips Infographic

As I mentioned in a recent post on my writerly blog I receive a few press releases and sometimes samples of foods and books and things to hopefully mention on my blog,  A few weeks ago I received from Tilda Rice an attractive and useful infographic of handy BBQ tips, this is just a teaser - for the rest of it click here.


Then a day or so before we left on our hols *** I received a pack of their Limited Edition Barbecue Steamed Basmati so took it with me and contributed it to a meal my friend was cooking - sticky pork chops which were yum. I think she was pleased with it!


It is not my normal way to buy pre-cooked anything in general and probably not something like rice in particular but I can see that if you were that way inclined this would be a good purchase. The flavour is fragrant, smoky and spicy with fennel, chipotle, smoked paprika and my friends' 15 year old daughter Ruby thought she detected a hint of five spice.  Mind you she is not just any 15 year old, she is a FutureChef 2013 finalist so may well be right. 


Anyhoo Tilda Limited Edition Barbecue Rice has a warm complex taste and now I find myself looking at the other flavours in their range such as Coconut & Lime Leaf, Mexican Chilli, Lemon, British Curry, Egg Fried and Pilau.

In other news ...

***  I have fallen in love again - with the Highlands and Islands.  We had a superb time and I could wax lyrical but instead I have started a new Pinterest Board of my photos here ...


Now I am home I hope to accumulate some new leftovers to play with and will report back asap.  

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16 July 2013

But is it Art?

Back story ...

When I lived at Trebarwith Strand one of our number built a cairn on top of the enormous rock, Gull Rock, a little off Trebarwith Beach.



It could be seen from shore (and is just visible in this photo) and if anyone asked what it was they were told "Oh that's a P.O.S." which, not wanting to show ignorance they generally accepted not realising that P.O.S. stands for Pile of Stones.  Thinking about it this may or may not have been an early "installation".

Now travelling around the Highlands I see small P.O.S.s erected all over the place so decided to create my own, it's pretty easy but here are the instructions ...


~   Sit on the ground near some stones.
~   Select a biggish flattish stone and set it in place somewhere.
~   Choose another stone.
~   Balance it on the first.
~   Carry on till you are happy with you cairn.
~   Stop.


Here is one I built at a place called Poolewe.
In seemingly other news have long wanted to try Scottish Tablet a crumbly variety of fudge which I have been told is similar to lovely Granny Wobbly's.  I bought some, ate it and agree. It is rich, sweet, buttery and goes particularly well with black coffee enhanced by the addition of a wee dram.  After trying this delectable combo inspirations struck ...




Now that's what I call art!  And this is what I call tart ...
Whilst cleaning up the kitchen before leaving Cornwall for Scotland I chanced upon a butternut squash labelled "best before 8th June" so brought him with me and the other day roasted him as per the instructions here and made a quick rustic tart for lunch.  There was Absolutely Nothing Wrong with the squash even though it was well over a month past its date and is just another case of this strange labelling system.

In other news ...

The weather here as been fab and we have been for lots of walks (a Scottish mile bears some resemblance, we find, to a Cornish mile), my real man whittled (you know what they're like!) a couple of walking sticks and we picked wild blaeberries (which are very similar to blueberries) to sustain us.  

We have seen an eagle, seals, deer, vast amounts of tiny fish leaping, tadpoles, maybe lamprey, a man travelling around the country on a mobility scooter for Help for Heroes and the aforementioned and best of all, so far, pine marten.  I'd really like to see an otter too but won't be cross if I don't.



P.S.  Sorry about any inconsistencies in this post - I am on a strange computer in a strange land!

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6 July 2013

The Scottish Highlands ~ up even Norther!


"It was such a lovely day I thought it a pity to get up."
~ W. Somerset Maugham ~

 Today when we woke up the sun was out, the birdies singing, the views spectacular and we were knackered so were of the same mind as W. Somerset Maugham and acted accordingly.  This is shame because now, unlike the rest of Britain it is cold, windy and wet with occasional fog here - dreich I think they say in these parts. 

I have been noticeable (I hope) by my absence so far as the internet is concerned for the past few days the reason being that we have been on the road, heading even more Up Norther than is usual for us.  On the way to the far north we spent a day in The Lakes which were good to see after many years away so we think we might return for a longer visit. 








In Grasmere (which was gobsmackingly busier than it used to be!) we bought Grasmere Gingerbread, of course, and saw a Grow you own Spoon garden which makes a change!  





We also visited Borrowdale where I spent a lot of time years and years ago and then ate in a remote pub and purposely chose to sit by the large window with this view ...




Sadly it was also right beside a speaker which despite every one of the several customers being over the age of 50 was playing ...


Even though I am very nearly a wrinkly old twat I actually almost like a bit of rap, it puts me in mind of reggae which I love (and this is why I have expressed myself above in Rasta colours) but surely this was not the time or the place!

The next day we headed up to the Highlands to beautiful Plockton where we are staying. 





We are here to house, cat and poly-tunnel sit for old friends - it's a bugger but someone has to do it!!!  My real man has his kayak and his bike, there are lovely walks around here, Skye is just a few miles away and I have lots of books to read. I do have very limited internet access which works both ways - I hope I don't miss anything good but on the other hand it will be pleasant to do nothing much.

Having said that I'll try and write about food in a day or two. 














PS.  I just looked up dreich in the Urban Dictionary where it says:

"A combination of dull, overcast, drizzly, cold, misty and miserable weather. At least 4 of the above adjectives must apply before the weather                   is truly dreich"
  
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