We're up at our Hill Country house for a little R&R after our daughter's wedding. One of our sons and his family are vacationing at our home in the Houston-area since it's spring break for their kids so the Hill Country quiet is what we needed.
My husband had asked me to pack the ingredients for a batch of mozzarella because he wants to "help" me make pizza. (I learned that recipe in Italy when we went.) That's one of the downsides of being a good cook--your family always wants you to cook rather than ordering out or going out.
In my romantic comedy OLD ENOUGH TO KNOW BETTER (Book 1, The Good, The Bad, and The Girly), my heroine is Stormy Clarkson, and her hobby is making artisan cheeses.
I guess you could say that Stormy taught me how to make mozzarella. In the opening scene, she's demonstrating how to make this cheese in your own kitchen.
When I wrote this book, I actually procured all the ingredients and did this myself to see how it was done. I mean, how can I tell others, in a scene, how to make mozzarella at home if I haven't done it myself?
So today I'm going to whip out my Kindle, open it to my copy of Old Enough To Know Better, click on the recipe in the Bonus Features section and make some mozzarella. I thought I'd print the recipe here in case you haven't read the book and would still like to make this cheese. It's easy.
Stormy's Recipe for Homemade Mozzarella Cheese
from Old Enough To Know Better by Joan Reeves
5 quart covered stainless pot with a heavy bottom.
1-cup Pyrex measuring cup.
2-cup Pyrex measuring cup.
dairy thermometer that reads 20°F to 220°F that's 20°C to 110°C.
long bladed knife.
cheesecloth or a non-terrycloth dishtowel.
8 inch strainer.
large container to catch the draining whey.
1000 W microwave oven.
Note: I ordered citric acid powder and Junket Rennet (Junket is a brand name.) online. I also purchased a dairy thermometer from online. All this is supposed to be available at health food stores, artisanal food shops that cater to home canners, and some pharmacies, but I couldn't find them in my local area.
1 gallon of milk of your choice
1 and 1/4 teaspoons citric acid powder dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water
1/2 tablet Junket rennet tablet suspended in 1/4 cup cool water
1. Warm milk over gentle heat 88°F (31°C). Be careful not to scorch the mixture.
2. Dissolve 1 and 1/4 teaspoons citric acid powder into 1/2 cup cool water in the smaller measuring cup. Add to the 88°F milk. Stir well.
3. Dissolve the 1/2 tablet of Junket Rennet in the 1/4 cup cool water using the smaller measuring cup. Stir thoroughly into the warmed milk mixture. Let set undisturbed for one to two hours, until a clean break is achieved.
4. Using the long bladed knife, cut the curd into 1/2 inch cubes.
5. Warm the curds and whey over low heat. Stir gently to keep the curds separated until the temperature reaches 108°F (42°C). Keep it at that temperature for 35 minutes. Stir every 5minutes to keep the curds separated and off the bottom of the pot.
6. Line the 8 inch or larger strainer with cheesecloth or a 100% cotton open-weave, clean dishcloth. Place the strainer over a 1 gallon container. Pour the curds and whey through this strainer. Let it drain for at least 15 min. At this point, you can save the whey to make ricotta cheese. (If you would like a recipe for ricotta cheese, please e-mail me.)
7. When it has finished draining, place the curd in a large bowl, break it up, and thoroughly mix in 1 teaspoon of salt.
8. Place 1 cup of the salted curd into the 2 cup measuring cup. Microwave on high for 45 seconds. (If your microwave is less than 1000 watts, you may need to adjust the time in order to get the desired elasticity.)
9. Separate the hot curd from container, using the back of a fork. Turn it out on a clean work surface or larger bowl if necessary. The curd is hot so be careful. Knead with your hands to distribute the heat evenly.
10. Return the curd to the large Pyrex measuring cup. Heat again in the microwave for 20 more seconds. Remove, stretch and fold the curd to make it smooth and elastic. Shape into a soft ball.
11. Place the soft ball of cheese into cold, salted water (about 1/3 cup of salt per quart of water) in an airtight container.
12. Place the container in the refrigerator, and let it age for at least a day. You can store in the fridge up to a week.
I love putting Bonus Features in my books. I also love this cheese. It is so good! Try it.