Saturday, July 3, 2010

homemade cheese balls

despite what it may look like based on recent blog posts (or the lack there of), i have eaten this week. and quite well too, but i haven't had much time for experimenting in the kitchen. tomorrow i am moving to oregon and this week has been pretty hectic because of it. i did, however, manage to squeeze these little cheese ball appetizers in.

recipe (from a chow life*):

1/2 gallon whole milk
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
herbs, spices, seeds for rolling

the procedure of making this cheese is not as complicated as it might seem, but it is somewhat time consuming. in a large, heavy pot, bring the milk to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. this step will take apx 30 minutes, so it's a good idea to have a book or ipod handy. once the milk starts to boil, remove it from the heat and slowly stir in the lemon juice. the milk will begin to curdle and the whey should appear a clear yellowish-green color. if the whey remains milky, return the pot to the heat and continue to stir until it becomes clear. allow curds to settle beneath the way for 15 minutes.
prepare a colander by lining it with cheese cloth and placing it in a sink. pour the curds into the lined colander and briefly  rinse with lukewarm water. gather the cheesecloth around the curds and gently twist the to remove excess liquid. transfer the bundle, which will still be dripping at this point, to a plate and top with apx 2 1/2 pounds of weight (i used a jar of pasta sauce). 
allow to drain for 45 minutes, then unwrap the curds and transfer to a bowl (if you have a stand mixer, you'll want to use a dough hook to knead the cheese, but if not, it's best to knead by hand). add the salt and beat/knead for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese no longer has a grainy texture.
roll the cheese into a log and wrap with plastic wrap. refrigerate for 1 hour until firm. meanwhile, prepare the different crusts for the balls (or mini logs if you prefer). i used 3 varieties: zaatar (a blend of roasted thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds), a blend of roasted sunflower seeds with paprika, and a paprika chili flake blend. this part of the process is all about personal preference, a blend of fresh herbs would also be lovely.
once the cheese is cold and firm, you can form your balls or logs and roll them in the assorted crusts. serve with crackers or pieces of rustic bread and enjoy!

*a chow life has great step by step photos of the process that you should check out.


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