Mozzarella may seem like the epitome of soft cheeses, but as I’ve mentioned previously, it was the first cheese I learned to make. I have to thank the Cheese Queen, Ricki Carroll, for this: her books, kits, and company are the reason most people, including me and my young niece, started making cheese at home. Most of the recipes you’ll find today for quick mozzarella are nearly identical to her original kit instructions, including mine. But after years of making mozzarella at home, I’ve learned enough techniques and tips that I’m posting my own version, along with a recipe that will use the first harvest from your garden.
Learn to make Quick Homemade Mozzarella and Spring Pasta and Fresh Mozzarella Salad
Every April, I’m focused on two things: what I’m going to grow in my garden this year, and how I’m going to eat up everything I saved from last year’s harvest. Last week’s post used up not just the whey leftover from making yogurt but also the potatoes starting to sprout in my storage bins. This week, I dug deeply into my freezer and found all sorts of vegetables for an Indian dinner: cherry tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and cilantro pesto. Flavor them with my dwindling supply of home-smoked chilies and homemade curry powder, toss in some freshly made paneer, and the flavors explode.
There are several other fabulous things about this week’s recipes. If you already make Lemon Cheese, you don’t need to learn to make paneer: you just need to learn how to press your cheese. If you don’t yet make this cheese, which also goes by queso blanco, whole-milk ricotta, and farm cheese, you have another reason to learn how.
Learn to make Fresh Paneer and Paneer Tikka Masala
Let’s be honest: you’re going to have the most fun with this week’s recipes if you’re making your own yogurt at home. You generate a fair amount of whey every time you make yogurt. The simple step of pouring yogurt, homemade or store bought, into a strainer and letting it sit creates thick, creamy Greek-style yogurt by separating out the watery whey. As you read last week’s post, you waste that whey by pouring it down the drain. Instead, use the whey left after draining yogurt as a replacement for buttermilk or even regular milk, like I do in this week’s recipes.
If you’re not yet making yogurt at home, you can still get in on the fun. My recipe for Fresh Yogurt and my tips for making better yogurt will set you on the right path. For a hands-on experience, bring me into your kitchen for a workshop. Once you discover how easy and affordable it is to make good yogurt at home, you’ll be all set to stir your leftover whey into amazing mashed potatoes or bake it into flavorful muffins.
Learn to make Yogurt Whey–Berry Muffins and Mashed Potatoes with Yogurt Whey
When you regularly make cheese and other dairy products at home, you’ll be impressed by two things: the amazing creations you can make from a few ingredients and the amount of whey you generate. When you turn milk into cheese or yogurt, you separate the solids, or curds, by cooking and draining off the liquid, or whey. Commercial manufacturers of Greek yogurt generate so much whey it’s created environmental problems. If you make your own cheese and yogurt, you likely want to be at least as conscientious as the big brands. Corporations are testing large-scale solutions, but at home you have many small, easy, and tasty alternatives to pouring that whey down the drain.
Read more about using whey