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Nasturtium Queso Fresco

Making cheese is on my summer foodie bucket list. I mean, I've made cheese before, I just want to get more adept at it.


Earlier this week a friend posted a photo that she had tons of nasturtium in her yard and asked if anyone would like some. Me!!! I miss my nasturtium plants from our old, old house.

Last night - when I was already in comfy clothes (read: pajamas) - she texted and let me know that she had some for me. So, I pulled on a dress, grabbed a bottle of wine, and headed to her restaurant. She gave me a container of blossoms, a jar of pods, and a bottle of coffee sake to try. 
Sweet deal! Sometimes when I get beautiful ingredients, I am inspired immediately. Sometimes, I just want to hoard them and look at them for awhile. These fell into the former category. I decided to head back into the kitchen - even though the floors had already been mopped for the night - and make some fresh cheese for dinner tonight. I love this queso fresco recipe because I can have fresh cheese ready in less than 90 minutes. I did infuse the milk with some fennel fronds and added in pink Himalaya salt and lemon zest with the nasturtium petals.


Ingredients
  • 1 gallon whole milk (make sure it's not ultra-pasturized...best is raw milk, if you can find it)
  • a bunch of fresh herbs (I used the tops of some fennel bulbs), optional
  • 1/2 C freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • unfiltered apple cider vinegar, as needed
  • 1/2 t pink Himalaya salt
  • zest from 2 organic lemons
  • petals from 5 or 6 nasturtium blossoms
Procedure
Line a colander with a cheesecloth and set aside. In a large souppot, add in milk and herbs, if you're using them.


Over medium heat, bring the mixture to 185 degrees F.


Scoop out a majority of the herbs and continue to heat until the infused milk reaches 200 degrees F. Pour in the lemon juice and stir with a spatula until the milk separates into curds and whey. If it doesn't seem to be separating completely, add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. You may need to add as many as 3 T to get it to coagulate.


Pour the curds and whey into the cheesecloth. Let drain for 5 minutes.


Once it has cooled for 5 minutes, stir in the zest, petals, and salt. Let drain for another 5 minutes.


At this point, it should be cool enough to handle. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth and squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. This can be used it immediately as a ricotta-style cheese. Or you can press it, like I did, to get a more firm cheese.

To press it into a solid cheese, place the cheesecloth - wrapped into a bundle - in the middle of a plate with a lip to catch the liquid that will be expressed. Put another plate on top and press until the bundle has flattened into a disk approximately 1" tall. Leave the plate on and weight it down with something heavy - I used a gallon milk container filled with water.

Press the cheese for at least an hour. Drain off the liquid and unwrap the queso fresco. Use or refrigerate immediately. The cheese will firm up even more in the fridge. You'll see this cheese stuffed into arepas for dinner tonight!

Comments

  1. Looks lovely Cam. I am going to have to pull out my whey bread recipe and make it up so that you have it for the next time you make cheese.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Would love that. I used the whey to cook rice. Added a saltiness to it...and the grains didn't stick together. I didn't expect that.

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