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Making a spoonable cheese from goat's milk. It has a tang like yogurt or sour cream.

The light, fresh tang of newly made goat's-milk cheese (chevre) is a treat for the cook who is willing to wait a few days and let nature take its course. You'll enjoy this cheese if you like dairy products with a cooling sharpness, such as yogurt, sour cream, or even creme fraiche.

The process--from milk to cheese

Making the cheese is quite simple. Buy goat's milk (available at health food stores), warm it, add buttermilk to culture the milk, then set the mixture aside for several days. The milk will thicken or clot to make soft curds. Using a cloth-lined colander, drain the clear whey off the curds. A few days later, you have fresh cheese as soft as yogurt or as thick as sour cream.

Lactic acid--forming bacteria are added to commercial buttermilk to give it thickness and tartness. When you add the buttermilk to room-temperature goat's milk, the bacteria continue to grow as they convert milk sugar to acids, giving a pleasantly piquant taste.

For best results, use fresh buttermilk,

maintain proper temperature

Start with freshly purchased buttermilk. If it is too old, the bacteria will not be active enough to start the cheese-making process. To check buttermilk's freshness, inoculate the goat's milk with buttermilk, then let the mixture stand 24 hours. If the mixture doesn't begin to sour within this time, discard it and start over with fresh buttermilk.

To promote the growth of the lactic acid-forming bacteria, you need to keep the inoculated milk between the temperatures of 70[deg.] and 85[deg.]--fairly easy to manage during the summer.

If the milk mixture gets too hot, you'll either kill the bacteria and the milk will begin to spoil instead of thicken and sour; or a foamy, spongy, or grainy layer (actually another kind of milk curd--but not very tasty) will form on top.

If the milk gets too cool, the bacteria become inert, and other organisms, usually undesirable, will start to grow. If desired, you can stop the bacterial action at any point by chilling the milk to 40[deg.].

The reward--tangy cheese to enjoy

Eat plain fresh goat cheese with a spoon, as you would yogurt. Or try our other recipe suggestions. It's delightful with breakfast fruit or breads, in salads of many kinds, or over a fragrant pizza.

If the goat's milk is raw, you must pasteurize it before using: heat to 140[deg.] on a cooking thermometer and keep it at that temperature for at least 20 minutes.

Fresh Goat Cheese

2 quarts pasteurized goat's milk

1/2 cup very fresh cultured buttermilk

In a 4- to 5-quart pan or in a nonmetal bowl in a microwave oven, warm the goat's milk to 85[deg.] on a thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in the buttermilk. Cover milk mixture and set in a draft-free spot where it will stay between 70[deg.] and 85[deg.]. Check milk temperature several times a day (use an instant-read meat thermometer or one for body temperature); move to a more suitable location if necessary.

Do not stir the milk at any time. If milk hasn't soured within 24 hours, discard the mixture and start again.

Let milk stand about 72 hours, until curd is firm enough to hold a soft impression when a small spoonful is scooped out. Do not let stand more than 72 hours, or it may develop an odd flavor or texture.

Line a colander with 4 layers of washed cheesecloth, lapping cloth over rim of colander. Set colander in the sink and gently ladle the curd into the cloth. Let stand until clear liquid (whey) stops flowing. Set colander in a larger rimmed pan and cover the whole unit airtight with clear plastic wrap (to prevent cheese from picking up other flavors). Refrigerate and let curd drain (occasionally pour whey from pan) until it's the consistency of soft yogurt (2 to 3 days) or of thick sour cream (4 to 5 days).

Scoop drained cheese from cloth into a small bowl or crock, then serve; or cover and chill up to 3 weeks. Cheese should always have a fresh, clean, tangy taste; it's spoiled, if it has an unpleasant soured odor, signs of mold, or odd colors.

This recipe makes about 2 cups yogurt-consistency goat cheese or 1-1/2 cups of cheese with the consistency of sour cream.

Enriched Fresh Goat Cheese

Follow preceding recipe for fresh goat cheese, but add 1 cup whipping cream to milk when you heat it. The resulting cheese is thicker and smoother in flavor and texture. Makes 2 cups with the consistency of yogurt, or 1-1/2 cups with the consistency of sour cream.

Here are some ways to use the cheese:

Fresh goat cheese and apple breakfast. For each serving, spoon about 1/2 cup fresh goat cheese into a bowl. Serve with rye toast and tart green aple slices.

Middle Eastern luncheon plate. Offer fresh goat cheese as a dressing to with dolmas (homemade or canned stuffed grape leaves), salty Greek-style olives, sliced tomatoes, sliced red onion, and fresh mint leaves.

Country French supper. Offer fresh goat cheese with hot boiled potatoes and crisp salad greens. Eat the cheese plain with these foods, or accompany with shallots, fresh basil leaves, parsley, walnut oil, and salt and pepper. In the kitchen or at the table, chop the shallots, basil, and parsley and mix to taste with the cheese, adding a little oil and salt and pepper, also to taste.

Fresh Goat Cheese Pizzas for Four

About 1/3 cup olive or salad oil

1 loaf frozen white bread dough (1 lb.), thawed

1 medium-size onion, chopped

2 medium-size tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded jack cheese

1-1/3 cups lightly packed chopped cooked spinach (fresh or frozen), liquid squeezed from it

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Salt

1 cup fresh goat cheese (preceding)

1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese

Freshly ground pepper

Heavily oil 2 baking pans, each 10 by 15 inches. Cut dough into 4 equal pieces. Put 2 pieces on each baking pan and shape into 6-inch rounds. Pat a slight depression, 4 inches across, in center of each round. Brush dough lightly with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until puffy, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place a 10- to 12-inch frying pan on medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and the onion and stir until onion begins to brown; set onion aside. Add to pan 1 more tablespoon oil and as many of the tomato slices as will fit; cook, uncovered, turning slices occasionally with a spatula until they begin to brown. Remove from pan. Cook remaining tomato in the same manner. Set aside.

Sprinkle jack cheese equally in depressed centers of dough. Cover evenly, in layers, with spinach, basil, onions, and tomato slices. Sprinkle lightly with salt, top with goat cheese, and sprinkle on parmesan. Bake in a 450[deg.] oven until crust is dark golden brown, about 10 minutes. Brush crust edges generously with remaining oil. Add pepper to taste. Serves 4.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Publication:Sunset
Date:Jul 1, 1985
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