Intelligent Cheese - Places & Spaces
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Intelligent Cheese

A few weeks ago I was visiting a friend for a long weekend of cooking, eating and celebrating orthodox Easter. Before the celebration my darling friend was fasting for 6 weeks. She was on a strict diet consisting of juices, fish and vegetables. After six weeks of eating nothing but vegetables and drinking smoothies, she was craving for something other than veggies. Two weeks before the celebration we decided to throw a BBQ party with home baked bread, some traditional cake, meat and salads.

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Photos by Ivar de Jong

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The day before our celebration, I arrived in the early evening and after dinner she pulled out this recipe for making cheese (amidst all the things we’re making already). Yes, you heard my well: Cheese from scratch. Never thought it was so super easy. I know many Asians out there that aren’t a big fan of cheese. Except for very soft and young cheese. Known as “Jonge kaas”. Which tastes just like butter, in my opinion. I’m a cheese girl. I love Dutch cheese but I’m also very fond of the smelly French cheese, which I love even more.

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So back to the cheese making. All we needed was milk and yogurt and a cheesecloth. Super easy right? It sounded easy. We had 4 liters of milk and we ended up making two small to medium sized cheeses. We drained it in a sieve with an improvised cheese cloth and hung it for half an hour. After that we put it back in the sieve and let it drain overnight with heavy books on top. I don’t recommend to drain it for the whole night. Really bad idea. You will be left with hard, crumbling cheese that is too dry. Since we used books from Kafka and Goethe to drain the cheese, guests thought we should call this an Intelligent cheese. Hence the title. Don’t worry no books were hurt in this process.

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Homemade cheese with sweet honey plums.
(Serves 2)

For the Cheese:
1 liter of milk
2/3 tbs lemon juice
cheese cloth
sieve or pot

Honey plums:
3 or 4 red plums
knob of butter ( if you are vegan, use coconut oil)
1 tsp of honey

In a heavy bottom pan, heat up the milk on a medium fire. Stir throughout to prevent the milk from burning. When the milk is boiling turn the heat down. Then start adding the lemon juice. Start with 1 tablespoon and stir it in, you will start to see small curdles in the milk but no whey. Add another spoon and keep on stirring. Slowly, you will see that the milk is getting lumpy, that’s the curd and you will begin to see the greenish whey. Add another one and you will see clear greenish whey separating from the curdles. When that starts to happen turn the heat off. Let it cool off a little bit.

In the meantime, you can start working on a spot where you can drain the curds. Line your cheesecloth in a pot or a sieve. Just make sure that your cheesecloth is long enough to be bundled and hung. Slowly poor your mixture in, and you will see that the cloth collect all the curdles. Run the curdles trough cold water to remove the lemon taste.

Tie up the cheesecloth in a tight bundle and let it drain for an hour to an hour and a half. This is depending on the volume you have used, because you will be left with half of it. One and half hour is more than enough for 1 liter of milk. I didn’t press it and still ended up with a soft but firm ball of cheese.

If you use more milk let it drain longer and then you can place some weight on the cheese to get it flatter and drain out extra moisture. You can put it back in the sieve, place a plate over it and place some book on top. Let it sit for about an hour. If you drain too much water the cheese will become hard and crumble.

Warm up a frying pan on a low heat and put a tablespoon of butter in it. In the meantime, cut the plums in pretty parts. The butter should be melted by now, so put in plums with a teaspoon of honey. Turn down the heat a little bit and toss them around till the plums are covered with the honey. Saute them on a high heat until they turn golden brown.

Plate it with a bed of greens and a few pieces of your home made cheese. Put your honey plums on top and sprinkle with some shredded mint and lemon juice. Serve with some warm bread.

Enjoy!

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