fresh Mozzarella and fresh Ricotta – Viking class

Yes, you read that correctly.  We made fresh, warm, mozzarella cheese from cut curd.  And, using whole milk and heavy cream, we made fresh ricotta with a subtle hint of lemon.  The Viking class was small and intimate, allowing ample discussion time.

Since purchasing this book last summer, I’m on a quest to taste as many cheeses as possible.  I choose a new one from the Whole Foods counter once or twice a month. Not knowing the flavor of what I choose is half the fun.

The class began with brief introductions and – let’s get started!

curd, previously frozen; it seems that finding curd locally is somewhat difficult
(online sources include Golden Age Cheese in NY and Todaro Brothers in NY)

cutting the curd as thinly as possible

smaller curds will melt more evenly in the boiling water
added a little salt to the curd and hot water; 
v e r y   s l o w l y work the warm, melted curd, moving as if tossing a green salad
The goal is to develop a smooth, creamy mozzarella; 
too much handling and the cheese will be rubbery.
We formed the cheese into a ball, pulling the sides toward the bottom as if forming a loaf of bread.
Mozzarella cooling in cold buttermilk:
Kelly removing her cheese from the buttermilk and placing it in a plastic bag for storage in the refrigerator.  We added some of the buttermilk to the bag to prevent crust formation on our newly-made cheese.
My mozzarella, pictured the next day coated with olive oil and Herbes de Provence.  Taste testers were impressed that I made the cheese and highly complimentary of the flavor.
my last bite—
cheese is beginning to form a crust on edge, but center remains smooth-day 6
Making ricotta-
Mise en place

 Though ricotta is traditionally made with whey, we used whole milk, heavy cream, lemon juice, and salt…
(vinegar, rather than lemon juice, would yield a more neutral flavored ricotta)
…and low heat

The class had an extended conversation related to stirring.
Our team stirred very little during the heating process.  Our cheese making process resulted in a smooth texture, fine curd ricotta, with a subtle hint of lemon. 
watch closely for the curd to form

 our first taste

 we always appreciate instructor Tanya’s assistance

 preparing several layers of cheesecloth
It’s time to pour our cheese into the cheesecloth; extra hands are very helpful
notice the thickness of the mixture
our yield

 preparing to tie the bag…

 …and hang to drain

The cheese tasting portion of the class included several cheese selections as well as parings.
Viewing the cheese plate, the wine glass is at 1:00.  
Our first tasting was the cheese at 12:00, and we worked clockwise around the plate.
Silver Goat
creamy white
goat’s milk; cheese produced in Canada
paring:  tomato jam and the most wonderful flavored almonds
(whole almonds, egg white, sugar, salt, pepper, and finely chopped rosemary)
waxed rind embossed with embossed black herringbone design
aged 3 months
mixture of sheep, cow, and goat’s milk; cheese produced in Spain
paring:  sweet quince paste, sweet chutney, grapes 
reddish brown rind developed from tomato/olive oil wash
aged 20 days to 4 months
(alternative to parmesan)
ewe’s milk; cheese produced in Tuscan region in central Italy
paring:  bitter spicy olives, nuts, grapes, Granny Smith or Pink Lady apple slices

Grand Camembert
edible soft, washed rind
cow’s milk; cheese produced in France
very mild cheese, wrapped in paper
(in Brie family)
paring: fig/almond cake, fresh raspberries

Chaumes (pronounced Shohm)
orange soft washed rind
aged 4 weeks
cow’s milk; cheese produced in south west France
soft, creamy, buttery cheese, melts easily and is delicious
paring:  grapes
(softer the cheese – higher the fat content)

herbal brine/wine/cider wash forms golden rind

  • “Classic”. Aged three to four months. The wheels are wrapped in a silver label.
  • “Surchoix”. Aged four to six months. Gold label.
  • “Extra”. Aged six months or longer. Black 
cow’s milk; cheese produced in north east Switzerland
firm cheese
paring:  sweet pickles, sweet German mustard (delicious!! with this cheese)

aged 1 year
cow’s milk; cheese produced in Ireland
semi firm, yellow cheese
paring: pickled vegetables with hint of worcestershire 

Center of cheese plate
cow’s milk; produced in England

forms it’s own crust/coat
strong flavor
paring:  chutney, raspberries, strawberries, Granny Smith apple slices, pears, steak

the table….after the feast

notice the footed cake stand in the center of the table…
cheesecake truffles – made of cream cheese, butter, amaretto, powdered sugar, dried cherries, chocolate chips, and rolled in finely crushed graham cracker crumbs

This was a very informative and enjoyable class.  If you enjoy cheese, this IS the class for you!

Viking Baby Cakes Class

Thanks to My Friend J (of Mrs. Ermel’s blog) for the gift of a Viking class.  We mixed and poured and baked…and ate.  What a great night!

We began with fondant glazed, sugar flower topped petit fours.

cut the cake into little 1″ squares or ovals…or hearts (instructor Tanya’s demo)

cute little cutters:

making the fondant:

pouring the fondant:

topping Pound Cake Petit Fours with sugar flowers

they are so cute, even if they are not completely coated
mixing strawberry jello and strawberry puree to make…

 …baby strawberry cakes in 4 oz jars

 cleaning the rims

 ready to bake Mini Mason Jar Strawberry Cakes

 class discussion

endless possibilities – but we filled the cups with lemon goodness and baked them in a pan of simmering water

 we needed lemon zest

and lemon juice

ready to bake Little Lemon Pudding Cakes
baked and cooling (I topped mine with lemon curd; these received rave reviews at work the next day)
pan smearing the bouchon mold

 bouchon (brownie) batter

baked and …

 …cooling on a wire rack

Some toast with wine glasses.  We bakers toast with strawberry cake topped with cream cheese icing!
petit fours are even prettier in the fancy fluted cups

 my great team (pardon weird facial expressions…the camera captures everything!)

Somehow, instructor Macrae is not in any of the photos (check out her blog here.)
Thanks, Viking Cooking School staff, for another fun filled, informative night in the kitchen.
iPhone photos

Viking Candy Class

It’s December.  Everyone loves candy!  Everyone wants to make candy (…well, those of us who love to cook), and that’s what we did during the Viking candy class.

Our instructor was patient while answering our numerous questions, kept us all safe from the cooking perils of hot sugar, and sent us home bearing boxes filled with candy goodness.

instructions related to candy thermometers

Kerrygold butter is very yellow and very tasty.  This was the beginning of ‘white chocolate cherry fudge.’  We made the fudge using Callebaut white chocolate, marshmallow cream, dried cherries, and the hot sugar mixture below.  Later we added sour cream to the fudge mixture to promote ‘creaminess.’

The white fudge must rest in the refrigerator several hours prior to cutting; however, our well prepared instructor had pans of fudge cooling and waiting to be added to our candy boxes.

another hot sugar mixture boiling away to make ‘Butter Nut Brittle’

coating hot toasted nuts with Kerrygold butter

stirring the hot toasted buttered nuts into the sugar mixture

cooking the sugar to different temperatures yields nut brittle colors from golden to dark golden

cooled nut brittle, cracked and ready for tasting

Thermometers were quite the topic of discussion during the class.  Properly calibrated thermometers are extremely important when working with hot sugar.

digital thermometer

notice two thermometers in the pan of hot sugar syrup

pounding the peppermint

tempering chocolate – heat the chocolate / cool the chocolate / heat the chocolate again
and—-stir, stir, stir

The heating and cooling and heating and stirring resulted in ‘Double Chocolate Peppermint Bark’ that was shiny and broke with a wonderful tempered chocolate ‘pop’ sound.

pecans waiting to be enrobed and become ‘Caramel Pecan Clusters,’ or more commonly called Turtles

add the caramel layer

add the chocolate layer

beginning to box all the goodies

my great team

The Viking classes are fun and informative.  If you have the opportunity to participate in a class, I encourage you to take the opportunity.  Click here to view upcoming Viking classes.
Thanks, Viking, for offering this class. 
(photos above taken using iPhone)
butter nut brittle:
double chocolate peppermint bark; isn’t it pretty

feet! feet! feet on French Macarons at Viking Class

We used a small cookie cutter dipped in flour to create circle guidelines on the Silpat mat. How creative! Sure was better than drawing all those circles on parchment paper!

It’s almost Halloween – purple macarons!  Notice the stiff peak in the lower third of the picture – very important.

Color in the lines, students – or pipe within the flour circles.

Oops – a few tails tapped flat with a little water on the pinkie

air drying (with the help of a large fan just out of photo range)

Just baked.  Now, ignore the rough tops and LOOK AT THE FEET!  We will try for smooth tops in lesson two, but for now we celebrate the feet.

Another angle

The Viking class was French Macarons (yes, only one ‘o’) and Whoopie pies.

Our instructor is seriously stuffing this pumpkin whoopie pie

Healthy hand size whoopie pie

A final look at my first ever attempt to make French Macarons.

Our instructor suggested we refrigerate the macarons for 24 hours.  I followed the suggestion and enjoyed the slight change in texture.
The most important lesson of the night taught us to lose our fear of mixing and baking macarons. Books have been written and blogs have been posted detailing all the scary aspects of making macarons.  
I have egg whites aging on the counter as I type…
(all photos are from my iPhone – use the camera you have at hand)
updated 10.24.10
Trying to achieve a smooth top on the macaron.  See blog post here.